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Do we really need the GH4 and 4:2:2, 10 bit, 4K, Raw file? GH1 and GH2 still rock for me
  • I am just asking myself a simple question I would like to share with the independent filmmaking community: Do I really need all of this? 4:2:2, 10 bit, 4K, Raw file, ProRes… Do I really need to invest as soon as something new and fancy is coming out?

    On my own experience, I would say not so sure as I am very pleased with the result I am getting out of my GH1, GH2 and now GH3. And my GH3’s video is not making a huge difference compare to what I got with the GH1 or GH2. I am still using the hacked GH1 every summer, as a copy is stored in my home country (France) and I love its color rendition compare to GH2/3. FYI, I am living and working in China since 9 years.

    Every year I am shooting a short movie or an experiment with the hacked GH1. Some complained about the AVCHD format, but I never got problem in post with it as I am using Premiere CS6 on a powerful enough PC (Dell M6400). I also tested heavy color grading without problem on my GH1 footage, as you can see here on the following videos. Sorry one of the short film doesn’t get English sub yet, but I am posting a link to those video for their visual quality first, so enjoy that part. La Deuche from Hell HD (US sub Version) (there is a longer French version too)

    Revolverte HD (F)

    In China, I am also using my GH camera beside a Panasonic AF100, which is well known to NOT be the most exciting camera on the market (4:2:0 8 bits, AVCHD at 28MB/s, what a shame!). I had to buy an AF100 as no serious client in my field would accept to pay my usual fee (I was working with a HVX200 + Letus Ultimate prior to the AF+GH) if I were shooting with a GH2 only. After 2 jobs my AF100 got paid back and I can enjoy the use of it with my GH2 and GH3 on project now. ,

    AVCHD, 4:2:0, bits… Nevertheless, I shot this Making Of video on huge project with my newly arrived AF100 and GH2 (not hacked yet). Production house, agency and client were delighted by the result. I did everything: shooting, lighting (for interview), sound recording and editing… I am a one man crew shooter (kind of MacGyver sometime) and I prefer to keep things, cheap, simple and light. CrossPolo TVC Making OF HD (US)

    To keep the story short, since 2012, I had completed bunch of projects with my M43 equipment without any complain from clients (VW, Audi, French Consulate, TV Channel…) and I might invest in the GH4 if it solves the 3 main problems of the GH3: Viewfinder definition (GH3 is a nightmare compare to GH2 for manual focusing) + real video assistance (Peaking + zebra + waveform) + full time display of histogram and sound recording level while shooting.

    4K or higher bit rate are not important to me as my video will NEVER be projected on a big screen and the file of the GH3 are already big enough in term of storage. Quality wise, I really like some of my GH1, GH2 or GH3 shots, and I don’t see much of a difference in term of emotion, and I think this is a more important feature for an independent filmmaker than pixel count or comparing numbers on data sheets…

    You can see more of my work here: http://vimeo.com/channels/659428/videos

  • 64 Replies sorted by
  • I love my GH2 and still use them. But the unbreakable 422 color I get from my Black Magic is awesome for color correcting and it's something I've wanted for a long time. AVCHD would break up if pushed too hard. The increased dynamic range also allows for shots I couldn't get with my GH2's. I'm with you on 4k though. 2k display is good enough for Hollywood theatrical releases so it's good enough for me. Actually, quality 480p still looks great to me.

    I thought the GH4 is still 420 color sampling btw? I haven't followed it too closely.

  • Thanks for your comment I know all the advantage of 422 color, DR and so on, but since GH1 came in, I had read so many stuff every time a new model came out: GH2 is huge improvement compare to GH1, GH3 is a huge improvement compare to GH2 and now the GH4 is described as so much better. Out of pixel peeping, I didnt see any amazing improvement since the gH1. Unfortunately GH4 is still 420 which is a shame as 422 is more useful than 4K And as I said, I never had problem with AVCHD break up on Premiere as there is no need of changing the format to edit. I think the bad experience comes from Mac user. You can watch my video, which is vimeo compressed anyway, so does all of this matters so much?

  • Agree with most points here. Would have loved to have seen 1080 10-bit 422 internally from this camera. For all it's shortcomings, I think the Pocket camera is my next upgrade.

  • Hi mrbill Pocket camera is very attractive on price point and the quality of the output, but for my kind of work the ergonomy of the GH series is something I really like, being a 1 man crew most of the time. I never need to plug anything to my GH (except a mike), I am using the viewfinder and focus directly onto the lens, without follow focus. The only think I am using outdoor is a COKIN filter holder, but no mattebox. I can freely change my POV by opening up the screen and get it into the right position instantly.

  • Unfortunately GH4 is still 420 which is a shame as 422 is more useful than 4K

    Agree with most points here. Would have loved to have seen 1080 10-bit 422 internally from this camera

    Guys, please remember that GH4 HAS internal 1080p 444 recording. It is just called 4K :-) Simple convert utilities will appear after GH4 release that will make 444 lossless formats out of 4K videos.

  • Thanks for the important point Vitaly. In term of potential developpement GH4 seems to be the biggest step up since GH1 came out. I take benefit of this answer to thank you again for all your hard work. GH13 opened a new and great area for all of us.

  • Gh4 should be pretty hot then. Panasonic cameras are built pretty well.

  • They are and the main limitation I see, is my own... Another fun stuff shot on GH2/AF100 FingerUp HD (US)

  • @eurocameraman, I just watched the first of the videos you posted here, and it literally blew me away. I'm in the process of downloading a bunch of others so I can watch them without the dreaded Vimeo buffering! I also appreciate that you're so generous with information on your Vimeo channel, unlike many, who make viewers post countless messages to find out what settings and equipment were used. Also, your own analysis of the shorts, which is quite illuminating. I just finished watching a Danish movie by Ole Christian Madsen, Kira's Choice, panned by many critics, but which I thought was amazingly powerful (the camera movement, angles, the acting, editing). The film was shot on DV in 2001, around the time of Festen, yet another stunning picture from the early Dogme days. The actual image quality of both films is pretty terrible, but they are gripping emotionally in a way that many slick productions can't hope for. But I can't help but thinking that they would have been even more rewarding to watch (especially Festen, which practically flaunts its lack of technique), if they could have benefitted from the advances made in digital video... I live in Vietnam, and I'm just a novice, but I'm seriously considering coming to Shanghai to take one of your classes. Thanks for posting.

  • One of my First short film experiment with the hacked GH1, 3 of them actually (multi cam shots) Might be the short film shot in the smallest place with 4 actors in it, 9 square meters... Marlene (US)

  • Hi Jonpais Thanks so much for your comment and your willingness to join the class. This is trully rewarding to read your comment, thansk so much and you write this after watching only one of my video. I like to share technical information, I think this is part of the interaction with the community. I hope you will enjoy the following one. Here is the album with all the short film I had done during the filmmaking class. There is a kind of random weirdness into every of my film, and the funny part is that my students enjoy to step into it and to share it with crazy characters. I am feeding my passion for filmmaking that way, and I can feel you get the right feeling to give it a try on your own. FYI long before GH1 existed, I shot a short film with safety B&W camera with C-mount lens on it... I did one once with a Hi8 camera, the format prior to DV. That was lots of suffering in edit! Here are some of filmmaking class final result, everything is there: MY FILM SCHOOL SHORT FILMS https://vimeo.com/album/2111565

    Sweet and Sour HD (US)

    WMatching Future HD (US)

    12th Floor HD (US)

  • Concerning the sharing of information, it's interesting in the context of the upcoming GH4, where several people who had the good luck to be able to use the pre-production camera can't even answer basic questions about the tools they were using. Such as, is the EVF any better than the one on the GH3? Answer: I never used the GH3! Or better still, I don't use a viewfinder, I use an external monitor...

  • I think Vitaliy was right - if I may put words in his mouth - so many posters in the forum are so arrogant in attacking Panasonic for the features that the GH4 doesn't provide, or the cost of the "brick", etc., yet they really don't know how to take advantage of the tools they already own.

  • Hey, if tech you already have works for what you intend to do for foreseeable future, that's just fine. But some of us could use the new improvements in technology, for whatever reason.

    BTW, starting a thread about this kind of "everlasting" question and posting loadsa evideo of your own making surely is a cunning way to advertise ;)

  • You are right. I am old school and back to basic user of cameras. If my client don't ask for it, I never plug a monitor on the GH or the AF. I do for the class for my students to follow the process of framing/lighting, acting and follow focussing, but trully, the greatness of the GH1/2/3 is compacteness and until the GH3, the viewfinder was always good enough for me to be able to focus, to frame and get my exposure right with the live histogram. Unfortunately, on the production market, Canon 5D became such a standart that I have to work with it (renting) more often than I would like, and then comes the burden of plugging cable, setting up a monitor, having to carry an extra battery and to find the balance of a complete rig on the shoulder. 5D is a great tool, but you need a team and enough budget to use it. GH1/2/3 are a total different story. Little budget and single man story. As soon as I get an idea, I can go instantly, start to shoot it and then a craxy stuff like "La Deuche from Hell" was born. I think that things start to get wrong when gears slow down the process of inspiration.

  • @neokoo Franc Peret has made some good points, and backed them up with evidence... "for whatever reason"??!! That's a heck of a way to justify spending thousands of dollars for new equipment! And I don't think Mr. Peret is in any way discounting technological improvements - he's already said he began using digital from its infancy, and has used lots of different gear. And I can't help agreeing with him - as much as I'd like to purchase the new GH4, and will - it won't make a damn bit of difference if I have nothing to say in my videos. Finally, if you think it's self-promotion, too bad. Do you have any videos you'd like to share with us, Mr. neokoo?

  • Hi Neokoo Sorry for the missunderstanding. I have nothing to sell, but I got some enthusiastic message on Vimeo and directly in my mailbox from people asking for more. I am posting videos which are just here to balance somehow what people are discussing in most of the forum all the time. I am reading lots of negative posts everywhere latelly and my feeling is that so many people are always complaining about the camera available on the market or the newest one, not released yet. Always the same routine: AVCHD, 4:2:0, 4K.... It seems that all those guys might be so advanced in their skills, working for huge project and feature films so that they meet the limit of their equipment all the time. Nothing is never good enough to them. Unfortunately, we NEVER see a sample of those people's work on forum, not a link, nothing to judge the guy who is criticizing camera or other people choice. In this post I am taking the opposite stand point. Ok, I am enjoying all my simple gear including the GH1, even now, and I really think that the limit of my work is coming from my own limitation, my imagination, my ability to build up a team around me or not, but it never comes from the camera. Then, I post my video to illustrate my point. If those videos are not good enough, I dont think it is because of the GH1 or GH2, AVCHD, or 4:2:0. It is just because of me. That's it. BTW, I am living in Shanghai, working there and all my client or student are based there and this forum is not the best place for me to get any extra income. I am just passionate and once in a while I want to share.

  • I'm not totally onboard with the notion that 4:2:0 4k can be down sampled to 4:4:4 1080p, as the 420 4k is compressed. Yes, I agree it look better overall, but I don't think it will yield colour integrity as good as 4:4:4 1080p directly compressed.

  • Yes, I agree it look better overall, but I don't think it will yield colour integrity as good as 4:4:4 1080p directly compressed.

    I do not know that you mean here. As with good downsample it must look better than usual 1080p 444, as you can use better algorithms in software.

  • @itimjim The point of the thread is not whether 4:4:4 will look better: the discussion is whether you are going to make better videos that engage the viewer as a result of the improvements. In other words, it's not the limitations of the hardware that is the problem, but your own imagination. I know discussions like this have been booed off this and other forums (because we are all gear heads), but I think it is a legitimate point.

  • @eurocameraman very wice words..... if we want to progress, we will never gain anything by blaiming others or the gear, we need to learn to progress within the limits, and push our own limits with hard work, including practising, exploring, listening, develloping, inspiring... and be respectfull to those we can learn so much from.... on whichever level we are in... excuses dont bring us anywhere... action and pain will do.... and it makes no difference if we are in to business, documentation, filming, develloping, whatever.... just be a little more smart and persistant than others!!! Do we need the highlevel gear?? up to you how much you need to substitute your missing skills... ;-) have FUN!

  • @jonpais ...I disagree, we're talking tech. However, will I make better videos? Answer, yes. Instead of fretting over 1:2 or 1:4 ratios while on set, I can now relax a little bit and more easily achieve the look I want. Previously I was super constrained by 8-bit 4:2:0, now I'm not.

    I'm least bothered about 4k, but as VK points out, down sampling from 4k to 1080p has some serious benefits. Lower SNR, better colour repro, etc. All these things give you more latitude so you can concentrate less on the technical and more on your story.

  • Fair enough - we're talking tech - but in the interest of telling engaging stories - whether it's advertising, personal work, whatever. And have we exhausted all the means at our disposal? Judging by what I've seen so far, I don't think so. And it's not the tech that's holding you back.

  • Nobody forces anyone to upgrade the equipment. If it works and you are happy with its quality, it's fine. At the same time, "I'm happy I have HD clips from prior decades, before HD televisions were widely available, so I can view them today in all their glory".

  • I specialized in historical printing methods in college - cyanotype, gravure, gum bichromate printing - and it has only been two years since I started shooting digital video. People viewing my prints back then usually discussed content, not technical issues. And the same went for most of the other students, whether they were shooting with Canons or Nikons. We knew the only limitation was our own inspiration, not the hardware. I welcome technical innovation as much as anybody else, but once again, the point of the OP is not to denigrate technological innovation. He is simply pointing out that it isn't for lack of the proper tools (DR, frame rates, codecs, etc.) that digital videos aren't as good as they could be. And unlike 99 percent of posters, he is willing to back that up with evidence.