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The Lumix GH4 – Could It Be The Best New DSLR for video?

I don’t make a habit of posting rumors on this site, but this one comes from a very reliable source (43rumors) and is very, very likely to be spot on.

For those of you that are readers of my blog, you know I’m a fan of the Lumix GH line of cameras. I started with the GH2 and to this day use the GH3 on many of my projects, despite having many other cameras. It’s simply one of the best tools for many of the productions I work on. I’m mentioning this to put in context my excitement for the upcoming GH4 camera by Lumix which supposedly will be packed with many features that I will outline below, but the most important of which is that it will shoot 4K!

Before giving you my thoughts on the camera, take a quick look at the rumored specs:

  • 4K/24/25/30fps
  • 16mp sensor with full pixel readout
  • 10bit 4:2:2 codec (likely AVC Ultra)
  • 200Mbit MP4 ALL-I and 100Mbit IPB options
  • Adapter that sits on the camera has 4x 3G-HD-SDI and 2x XLR
  • Up to 30fps in 4K mode
  • OLED monitor, 1 million dot
  • 21mm OLED viewfinder, 3 million dot
  • Form factor similar to the GH3 but slightly larger, all output jacks facing out of the left side
  • Time code

The biggest deal on this list for most of us is of c0urse the 4K capability. The only other DSLR that can shoot 4K is the ridiculously expensive and overpriced 1DC, and it does so with a poor codec. Assuming these specs are accurate, the 200Mbit ALL-I and 100Mbit IPB options are bound to produce video quality that far exceeds anything coming from the very outdated motion jpeg format of the 1DC. We also know that the camera can shoot 30fps in 4K mode, which means it is very likely that we are going to see high frame rates in other resolutions. 120fps in 1080p could be in the cards. I haven’t heard anything about this specifically, but I do feel that Panasonic are really trying to make a mark with this camera and by integrating a 120fps mode, they will be way ahead of the game.

The camera will likely be priced in the $3000 range, which raises the question of whether or not this will be a replacement for the GH3, or rather a new flagship camera in the GH lineup. It is highly likely that there will be a cheaper camera (let’s call it a GH5), that will be a 1080p replacement for the GH3, and the GH4 (if it is in fact called that) will be the top of the line model.

I can say right now that if this camera is released in the next few months with these specs, Panasonic will have sold me unquestionably. I absolutely love the Micro Four Thirds format, as it is highly adaptable and allows you to use just about any lens on your camera body. Having a Micro Four Thirds camera that can shoot 4K in a body that will likely be quite small, is absolutely incredible. If Panasonic goes the extra mile and adds in built in ND filters, they are going to make a huge wave with this camera and will likely steal a lot of new camera sales from Canon and Nikon. The big advantage Canon and Nikon will still have is of course the fact that some of their cameras have full frame sensors, which for some shooters is essential. Like I said though, for me personally – I love the Micro Four Thirds format. And in many cases I prefer it over full frame as I don’t love overly shallow depth of field. However, the only issue I have with the smaller sensor size is the fact that it traditionally is not as good in low light. Even shooting at ISO 1600 on my GH3 is usually pretty noisy, so I am really hoping that Panasonic have addressed this and figured out a way to get a clean image out of the GH4 at higher ISO’s. The low light capability of a 5D currently still blows the GH3 out of the water. It’ll be tough for Pansonic to compete with this given the smaller sensor size, but let’s see what they have up their sleeves.

So for now we’ll all have to play the waiting game, but the next few months are going to be very interesting!

What do you guys think, is this camera for you? Will it revive the DSLR revolution, or is it one final attempt to steal the spotlight back from cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cam?

If you missed my article last week on How To Make Video Look Like Film, be sure to check it out here as the tips will very much apply to any DSLR including the GH4!

 

 

About Author

Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!

17 Comments

  • Aus_Roh
    December 31, 2013 at 6:28 am

    > $3000 range

    Too expensive! This wouldn’t make it a DMC-GH3 upgrade, but a completely different line. Lost interest. Lost it’s value charm.

    For that money, would a Blackmagic Cinema Camera would be more inviting for your video cash?

    4K? Personally I think ~60 1080P fps & good colour tone, dynamic range is rather more important than 30P 4K. Also, having more fps not only makes a picture feel solid & flicker free, but there is a sort of boost in resolution per second as well, up to a certain point.

    Now, every one would have to take not if its higher bits (12 bit like would Blackmagic would do it better) and other features were at cheaper current GH3 prices. Vibrant stills performance? It would be killer. Priced too high, its out in lonely land.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 14, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      I should update this post as it looks like Panasonic have just announced the camera will be under $2000, which makes this a steal! I agree that over $3k would have been a bit much for this line… and yes I agree with you on dynamic range/color being more important than resolution! In fact I wrote an article on it a month or two ago.

      Reply
  • Rusty Earl
    December 29, 2013 at 4:48 am

    While we are waiting for the GH4 to come out. Have you seen this guys work with the GH3? https://vimeo.com/82541009
    Holy Cow id it impressive nature footage!

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      December 30, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Thanks Rusty! I’ll check this out later today.

      Reply
  • Joe Borg
    November 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Mr Noam Kroll,
    Congratulations & God Bless You…

    You give us pleasure with your precise comments, you’re accurate and when you not 100 percent you’ll continue doing tests then you’ll let us know the full results…

    For starters I don’t have the knowledge and the time to check all the necessary details and the specs…

    With your variable comments I’ve learn a lot & still learning and I THANK YOU for that…

    I bought 2 x GH 2 cause you sold me with your reports and I’m very happy with them, and I was just about to buy the GH3 but I’m waiting to hear more about the GH4 and how much it will be, cause the price of the GH3 it’s expensive at the moment and you seems over the moon with the GH4 SPECS…

    The lenses of the GH2 will work just as good on the GH3/4???

    Thanks Again, Please continue with your feedback, because for me you’re a GOD SENT …

    Kind Regards
    Joe Borg

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 23, 2013 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Joe, I appreciate the kind words! I’m also glad that I helped you decide on the GH2 – you definitely made a great choice. That will always be a favorite camera of mine.

      Although the official specs haven’t been released yet on the GH4, I am fairly certain that you would be able to use all of the same lenses, as it will still be a micro four thirds sensor. And you can absolutely use those lenses on the GH3, as the mount is identical.

      Hope this helps and thanks again for visiting.

      Reply
  • June
    November 8, 2013 at 12:28 am

    It’s supposed to be a DSLR and not mirrorless like the GH3?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      November 8, 2013 at 8:23 pm

      No, it will still be mirrorless. The title of this article can be a bit misleading, but I typically lump in mirror less cameras with DSLRs are that’s the category they best fit into.

      Reply
  • Lucas
    November 6, 2013 at 10:48 am

    A 4K sensor would make the pixels 4x the size, (It’s currently 16K for stills use) and make them absorb much more light. In this way they could compete with the 5D Mk3’s low light performance, but it would make the max resolution for stills 4MP, which for many casual uses is plenty enough!

    Reply
  • Rick Idak
    November 1, 2013 at 2:25 am

    I too am excited about the GH4 news. I agree with your comments regarding the price of the 1DC. Actually all Canon cameras. The 1DX, C100, C300, C500, etc. A 4K cam with XLR’s and a superior codec is what we camera people deserve.

    I would love to also see a Panasonic 4K camcorder with this sensor and record to P2 cards ( bullet proof). So one could have the camcorder and a couple of GH4’s and cover interviews and event shows. (My bread and butter).

    I also find a full frame size sensor difficult for video work, and on some higher ended weddings I am hired with another videographer with a Canon 7D or 5D. The DSLR user gets the wedding rings on bed and early prep scenes doing some beautiful shots. But then in the edit it is really annoying when you see shot after shot of pull focusing and sometimes some shots are not in 100% focus.
    I joke that 99% of the wedding video is mine.
    I have been doing fashion parades and I hate editing in DSLR footage from others where I have to insert only a second or two of DSLR footage of a model stopping on runway. Sometimes the DSLR user gets one girl spot on but the next model stops for her stand and twirl only half a metre difference, and she is out.
    I’m hoping that the love affair with micro shallow focus and blown out windows and everything soft is only a fad and goes away.
    A MFT sensor gives you that extra chance. But it’s still 4 times the size of a 2/3 inch shoulder mount
    which of course was the top end not so long ago.

    Go Panny I say.

    Rick

    Reply
    • Noam
      November 1, 2013 at 6:23 am

      Thanks for your two cents Rick – we’re definitely in the same boat as far as our taste in sensor size. I’ve been in many situations like the ones you described and like you, have faced some tricky situations as a result of shooting on full frame. For heavily planned shoots, or specific types of productions the full frame look can be hard to beat, but generally speaking, I think the M43 format allows for the camera to be much more universal and adaptable to various shooting environments, including run-n-gun and event coverage.

      Reply
  • Annie
    October 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Wow, this sounds so impressive. I think I will have to sell my other cameras and start saving!

    Reply
    • Noam
      October 30, 2013 at 4:13 am

      I’m as excited as you, trust me. Although I’d wait to start selling off your livelyhood until it’s officially announced… just in case!

      Reply
  • Flaaandeeers
    October 26, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Sounds nice actually. But it’s definitely out of my league… and sort of overkill for my type of work.
    I’ve just ordered the BMPCC, we’ll see 😉

    Reply
    • Noam
      October 30, 2013 at 4:14 am

      You really can’t go wrong with the BMPC. And chances are it will still have much more dynamic range than the GH4, which to many of us is preferable – not to mention raw capability!

      Reply
  • Skeptikal
    October 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    I also am very much looking forward to this camera. If Panasonic are sensible and don’t purposely hold back features it’s going to be a real winner…

    Reply
    • Noam
      October 25, 2013 at 7:28 pm

      That’s what I’m hoping as well. There are so many possibilities here, but let’s hope it’s potential isn’t held back by Panasonic!

      Reply

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