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GH1 vs GH2 vs GH3 vs GH4. Better looking sensor.
  • We have been discusing features, specs, footage and all that stuff since GH1 when out on 2009 on DVXuser forum. Time has passed really fast, and here we are with 3 cameras from the same lineup allready. Panasonic has made some grate inovation and pushed the frontier more than their competition on very much all the aspects of its camera.

    Now that almost 4 years has pased, and we can happily review all GH series camera and drive some conclusion about their appeal.

    *GH1 sensor has the best cinematic image from the 3 models. dynamic range, better color no stange color cast.

    *GH2 sensor has the better resolution, and more detail, less dynamic range and green cast on footage.

    *GH3 has even better resolution even more detail more dynamic range and a magenta cast.

    For all of you forum GH partners, which is the best sensor from the 3 when talking about CINEMATIC image.

    Remeber cinematic is almost WHAT YOU SHOW AND WAHT YOU DONT. If not take a look at hobbit mess at HFR 4k. So more detail and image quality is not always better.

    THe best GH1 footage ive ever seen Grate DOF control and amazing cinematography (thank you @arnarfjodur )

    One of the best GH2 result out there. Tipical Low Dynamic range, high contrast on flat image. Grate final picture (thank you @cekrem )

    If you have grate footage from GH2 and GH3 please feel free to share for better comparison.

    Long live GH series, and VK for hacking them.

  • 85 Replies sorted by
  • @endotoxic

    I think you go about it backwards with the topic title. It´s not just you, the in-word for long has been wether something is cinematic or not. To talk about "best cinematic image" is just ridiculous, IMO.

    Let me just say that the whole GH series can look both filmic, cinematic and camcorder like or just plain "DSLR". The same holds true for basically any contemporary digital image making boxes that we like to talk about.

    Are there differences in look between the GH series cams? Yes, absolutely. But to specify these things as more or less cinematic is completely ignoring that it´s all about the hand and eye that wields the tool that he/she chooses and how the footage is edited, processed.

    Most people would say that the Alexa gives the most cinematic image if compared to the GH cameras (plenty of DR, beautiful grain). YET, 80-90% of the time I see it immediately (when it has been used) and most of the time it doesn´t look cinematic or filmic at all. Just Alexa. Or dslr. (because people have fallen in love with it´s flat look and abuse shallow DOF)

    To sum this up, I´d applaud attempts to bring together good looking stuff that has been shot with this series of amazing little cameras. (and by all means, why not include some tech specs of the equipment used, post work e.t.c.) But to discuss the "cinematicness" of this or that cam is pretty boring.

  • @RRRR

    My intention was never to overate the ''cinematicness'' or not from this cameras. Lol, maybe the correct title of this thread should be "the better looking sensor" and i will change title, i agree with you.

    Post prossesing, and and a correct selection of light, is enough to make grate looking footage. What i really ment was which sensor has the better overall look.

    You cant deny that some sensors have better image than others. Of course some people can make bad sensor or lenses look really good, that is talent and vision. you can see the short make by Park chan wook "paranmanjang" grate cinematography made with iphone. He took advantage of its limits and made grate work.

    What i was trying to show out was the diferences and easy aquisition of good looking image from each sensor, and i think GH1 at low iso has very pleasing image, better than GH2 or GH3 for me.

    The word cinematic is wrongly used here.

  • Don´t take it personally @endotoxic as it´s just something that has been getting on my nerve for a while now; it certainly wasn´t intended as criticism of you, more voicing my concerns over this trend that doesn´t benefit anyone (except perhaps marketing?) – I think we have pretty similar views of this, at least it seems that way! :)

    Saying: I think this (or that) looks good is factual. Your next guy doesn´t have to agree. It´s open for discussion and it´s open for other suggestions. I like it.

  • From how I see it, there is so much that goes into the "Film" look that the camera used is a small part of the entire process, so for me I'm looking for techniques that help anyone with just about any camera get a more "Pleasing" look that we often refer to as "Filmic" but that has a wide range of characteristics over the years. There is no ONE FILMIC look. There are so many different Film Cameras, Film Stocks, Lighting styles etc. I less concerned with reaching some specific ideal. I'm most interested in getting the best possible look to what I shoot. I'm still learning how to get the best out of my GH1, but I like the camera still despite the advances in DSLR and other large Sensor Cameras that have been coming out since the GH1.

  • @aria @RRRR

    nothing personal taken, this is forum!! :)

    I have one question then. When choosing light, lenses, and postproduction process, and you are given GH series to choose, which camera would you use for shooting and why?

  • I think the optical factor influencing in any case a Nokton, Zeiss, Leica or some old lens can give that cinematic look. Not a unique work of camera sensor.

    For my eyes these shots has a cinematic look:

  • @endotoxic It depends on the project really. There are both practical and aesthetic considerations to make..

    For the gh series I sold my gh1 after getting the gh2. It´s much more useful for me overall. Not that I think the gh2 is perfect, but it´s a very handy little tool that I don´t hesitate to use.

    Both cams can look very good, the gh3 too. That much is clear!

  • @RRRR, funny but i'm a bit different. I prefer great DR over the ultimate detail. For me there's a certain naturalness i'm looking for when it comes to an image and in truth the level of detail is one factor, but IMO it's a relative thing. Meaning that sometimes you don't even notice the slight difference in detail between relatively close cameras before you'd notice DR and Color rendition. You'd have to do direct comparisons and pixel peep just to see the difference on many of the current crop of cameras. ie. i'd give up a few levels of finest detail in order to not have to deal with a hard to remove greenish cast or a lack of ability to handle a wide dynamic scene.

    DR is also important to me since I can't always control the light situation and in many cases I don't want to have to use a lot of lights and other things just to make up for a lack of DR. I want as much of it as I can get from my camera. This is one of the reasons i've been leaning towards a D800/600 or BMC for my future camera. I could care less that there are cameras out there than can resolve a bit more detail, when I can get as much DR as those cameras can give under less than perfect conditions. Great DR and color always looks good, but sometimes the ultimate in detail can reveal too much.

  • @aria, the thing is, I prefer to soften up footage with the lenses or likewise in post over having a "digitally" soft image to begin with. For me, I find the kind of organic feel I want in soft detail, but if it feels pixelated/sharpened soft, (or overly soft, excessively short DOF) then it´s the exact opposite - it screams digital/dslr. I like detail, but hate sharpness and digital artifacts.

    Normally, I can control the DR (of the scene) when I need to - and color rendition too, so that is rarely an issue for me. I´m looking forward to the BMD cam for hard light situations, big views / landscapes e.t.c. In other words, for such occasions when you cannot control the DR of the scene.. But like I said, I´ve found such situation to be relatively rare and they can usually be handled in other ways. I just love the look of the BMD image, I have to say.

    Great DR and color doesn´t always look good IMO. Neither does excessive amounts of detail (could be described as sharp).

  • @RRR i also prefer to soften up footage, but i doit for not showing what i dont want to. It happens that sometimes detail and sharpness are disrtacting. As you say, in post you can make lot of stuff.

    About DR, i find it challenging to play with the DR you have. Also this gives you a distinct look, cos you are forced to work with limitations on light.

    About color rendition i leave that to post.

  • @RRRR, I think it's about trade offs tho. Unless you pay a lot you usually have to sacrifice one thing or the other. So at the lower end of Cameras we usually don't get it all and if I had to chose i'd prefer more DR and better Color over absolute best detail. I also tend to disagree that Great DR and Color doesn't ALWAYS look good, unless you want something to look flat for artistic reasons. I'm talking about the nature of the cameras imaging and not the final grading of the footage.

    When looking at the BMC what we're seeing is the more natural look of a high DR image with good detail and flexibility of Color. So in that sense it's a more "Filmic" look. You're not getting a lot of NR or anti aliasing filter so it's got a grain and noise, but it's more natural as opposed to a processed look. That's what i'm looking for. I personally felt that the D800 HDMI output to Ninja had that kind of look too. Just enough detail but with a good deal more DR that I feel helps to make the image look more like the way I see a scene. I do my best to try and get that from my GH1, as limited as it is.

  • First of all my IQ isn't that high on the whole filmlike/cinematic topic so excuse if I use the terms wrong at any point but I would like to share my limited view on how footage makes me "feel".To be fair I only used dialed down settings on my GH1.

    I think a lot of factors go into getting a so-called cinematic look out of these cameras.I also know from the many films I have viewed that there are many different looks that can be achieved using identical cameras"whether it be from filmstock or clever post production.The "FILMLOOK" thing will always bring about debate amongst dslr's or digital cams so I will use the word texture in collaboration with filmlook.

    I think which image looks best from each camera is quite subjective but having owned a GH1and presently a GH2,I have to say the GH1 "Image texture" is just different to say the least.It may be attributed to the sensor or whatever the case but when equipped with the same lenses as its successor"manual lenses in particular"the images straight from the camera remind me more of film or should I say "feel" more like film"subjective I know".

    I know the GH2 and GH3 have greater specs on paper which some may translate as better images.I think straight out the camera the images from the GH1 appear more filmic or should I say give me the "feeling" of viewing film minus the grain factor.I can't explain it but the texture and the way it renders images seem more organic than the GH2 or anything I have seen from GH3 thus far.To be perfectly honest if I could get a hack that looked liked GH1 images but with the benefits of the GH2"better high iso performance,no fpn issues,better stability" I would be a much happier camper.I just like the image of the GH1 better at low iso's,appears cleaner/smoother.Believe me at the price point of these cameras they already do enough so I'm not complaining.

    Yes color correction/color grading does aid in reaching a more cinematic look but these are things done after the fact.These are treatments put on top of a existing texture.I'm mainly speaking on images straight from the camera and the way they make me feel before post work.I have yet to find a combination of setting and hack for the GH2 to give me the feel of a hacked GH1.I'm not sure but willing to bet it's sensor related.

  • @RRRR the word "cinematic"hasbeen used wrongly millions of times, but we know what is being meant by it - how closely can a camera emulate the look of a 35mm film stock. That's it there's no need to get hung up on it. Cinematic... filmic... etc

    I have bought my GH1 secondhand because back then only 2009 models were hackable. And I hacked it with LPowell Maximum patch (I don't know if there are better patches now). I'm not a videographer- just an enthusiast who wants to make a movie (or at least a digital video that looks to closely to a film that audiences wouldn't notice the difference). So far, I have been getting images so nice, that I have not purchased a GH2 yet. Maybe when the prices will fall further,I will get a secondhand GH2 only because it has higher workable ISO for dark scenes. So GH2 will be my B-cam. I will not be getting a GH3 because it's colour handling is becoming "cold" like most Sony digital cameras, which I hate. The next step up for me would probably be a BMC, but I'm still not sure about many of the factors surrounding it. As far as I'm concerned, GH13 (with legacy lenses, good Lighting kit and good audio gear) is a perfectly good enough tool to make a full-feature-length low-budget movie.

    Yesterday, I have written an e-mail to Steve and Jens at Zacuto asking them to include GH1-hacked in their 2013 shootout along with Kodak 5219 film stock, GH2, Alexa, BMC etc. Why? Because the hacked GH1 has never been featured in their shootouts. It would be interesting to see what their response would be.

    IMO, one of the reasons why GH13 produces such a cinematic imagery at ISOs below 320, is because it's sensitivity is actually lower than that of any other camera in that range. Watch this video to understand and pay attention to how low is Kodak 5219 film sensitivity:

    Combined with GH1's colour rendering and codec, and Vitali's hack and IPowell Maximum patch, GH13 delivers very filmic looking imagery. In other words, GH13 could be a one-off "lucky accident" , a "freak of nature" . What GHx project should have done is keep the sensitivity low (or give an option to keep sensitivity low) and increase it's DR. That would achieve a more filmic/cinematic look.

  • Part of being a film director is having a vision, knowing what you want and sticking to your guns. In a way it has to do with confidence, rather than stubbornness. When I first saw the GH13 vs hackedGH2 footages, I immediately knew that I liked GH13 more, and that I wouldn't be getting a GH2 any time soon.

    The funny thing is, when GH2 came out or when it was first hacked, these kinds of debates that would argue that GH1 was somewhat "more preferable" or "more filmic", were pretty much forbidden, or at least met with a lot of criticism.

  • Combined with GH1's colour rendering and codec, and Vitali's hack and IPowell Maximum patch, GH13 delivers very filmic looking imagery. In other words, GH13 could be a one-off "lucky accident" , a "freak of nature" . What GHx project should have done is keep the sensitivity low (or give an option to keep sensitivity low) and increase it's DR. That would achieve a more filmic/cinematic look.<

    ITs the best example i have read!! thanks @Kronstadt, your humble opinion makes a lot of sence here.

    I think too that GH1 has better "texture"

    its like GH1 had fixed ISO to work with, like film.

    @EYESOUL i have one question...how can you describe the "texture feeling" tha make GH1 series better for you?

    For me as i have expresed before, lack of detail, and better color reproduction is the base. Maybe its its pixel bining...maybe its matrixed. We could maybe call @lpowell or @cbrandin @driftwood . They maye have a better inside about why is GH1 image more pleasent when even detail is not that good. Maybe they think all this is not about sensor...maybe code... i dont know.

  • Just for saying:

    @kronstadt @aria @endotoxic @EYESOUL

    prefer GH1 over GH2 and GH3 sensor.

    Anyone else?

    @shian can you make a comment here? you have experience with 3 of them and even post!!

  • @endotoxic I agree and also liked the pictures taken with GH1 better.

  • @EYESOUL , damm you right, even pictures (on raw). They should have improved upon that sensor i agree...the question is not why the didnt... Its more like..how can we achive the best out of it.

    This is very important topic to me. From a cinematographic poit of view, its important to determine the diferences of sensor and its behaviour in type of light, iso, filter, lenses, and damm even temperature.

    I have secret passion for sensors, that is true..and the impression that GH1 was never fully explored by cinematographers cos GH2 buzz was around the corner, and VK making hack for it so quick, that took over GH1 maturenes

    Silicon can behave diferent in such complex systems... i wish i new more.

  • repost sorry..

  • @endotoxic Yea I understand,I'm not a techhead at all I just liked the hacked GH1 image for whatever reason.Far as the GH2 I have settled on the softer version of "AN Cluster 7" thinking it would resemble the GH1 more.I'm not all at a fan of the overly detailed hacks.

  • Difficult to say. I definitely like the GH2 hacked over the GH1 period. But there are things to like about the GH3, and things that aren't so great. Until the GH3 is hacked and we can see what is possible I can't make a determination.

    I really feel that the GH2 and GH3 are neck and neck, except for the banding and dynamic range. The GH3 is the clear winner there, but it doesn't yet possess that nice "filmic" grain, and slightly softer image like the hacked GH2 running the high end @driftwood hacks like AN 444 and Intravenus. When the GH3 has those characteristics, it won't even be a competition - the GH3 will be king. For now, it's just in the running.

    that's MHO

  • I'm actually somewhat intrigued by the new AF100A based off the idea that it might produce smoother gradation from it's new Faux 10bit output. We have a bunch of options with the AF100A, GH3, GH2 and GH1. It's really a nice little family of cameras that one could have as a tool set, all with slightly different characteristics. I like the idea of flexibility and variety. No single camera will be perfect for every situation. We can kind of think of these cameras as different Film Stocks!

  • Wow... there are quite a few people who prefer GH13 texture over GH2 and GH3. For a while now, I was beginning to think that I was crazy, or maybe of just bad taste.

    @endotoxic one of the most recurring confusions is that sensitivity is ISO. Not really. They are quite distinct from each other. Watch that video that I posted from 2:20 onwards.

    Another reason why I like GH13 is that it emulates closer the traditional cinematographic workflow - in a way that it does not make your life immediately easier by easily making available higher workable ISOs. So you have to light your scene, and by doing so, learn from the cinematographers whose movies you liked. You might think that I'm a weird guy for loving difficult workflows? Well, very often I type my screenplays on a typewriter (because the quality of writing improves dramatically), and if I had the resources to shoot on film stock, I would prefer that, but then the costs would sky rocket, especially with montage and sound mix.

    But then one has to ask which particular "cinematic" textures one likes. My personal favorite films are from 1990s and 1970s, so even the modern Kodak 5219 film stock is too "High Definition" for me. I watch those films in BR 1080p along with my own footages from GH13 and I'm quite satisfied.

    Panasonic should have worked to improve the DR and colour space (4:2:2, 4:4:2). Instead, they have improved sensitivity, resolution, ISO, etc, which is great, but does it deliver a more filmic look? No. Why they did it? It's straight economics -- so that they could put an improved chip into a bigger camera and sell it for much much higher price.

  • @Aria

    We can kind of think of these cameras as different Film Stocks!

    Yep, that's one way of thinking about it. GH13 for a normal day 100-320 ISO, GH2 for 800 ISO and GH3 for even higher, but what I have noticed from footages by others is that GH3 treats colour in a totally different way to GH1 and GH2, by having a whole lot less green. In most situations I quite like how GH1 and GH2 treat green, which is closer to film-stock.

  • @kronstadt

    The usage of "cinematic" as a buzz word is promoting stupidity / obscures clear defenitions. It´s far better to talk in terms of "I think, I like or In my opinion.." preferences of different kind of images than to try and make a one clear definition of the cinematic/filmic image (all such attempts hitherto has failed quite miserably and only succeeded in terms being swung all the more recklessly without any real thought put into it). In my opinion, this is all the more important since there are so many popular "sources" around that simply promote stupidity.

    I can fully subscribe to the idea of describing different camera outputs sort of as different film stocks.. Although it doesn´t paint the whole picture since they behave rather differently. What is cinematic / filmic and what isn´t? We all have different opinions on what´s nice and what isn´t and preference for certain characteristics over others. Many on them depend on how we process the footage and for some (me) it also depends on the project.

    For me, the gh1 can succeed very well in emulating s16mm film stock.. The gh2 on the other hand is a bit more in-between and can emulate both s35 and s16. It´s one of the choices I like to have with it.

    @aria I get what you are aiming at but I think we have two different approaches to getting what we want. For me, DR is nice, useful to have and great fun to play around with but it doesn´t always look nice (especially straight out of the camera) and it´s far from always necessary. For me the moldability of the BMCC is the key (while it preserves a natural looking image - with pleasant organic grain). F.i. I hate the "Alexa look" these days. It looks lazy, dslr and not one bit filmic.