GH4: First Impressions

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amtberg
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GH4: First Impressions
5 months ago

Took delivery of my GH4 this afternoon (thanks, Samy's!) and I've had just a little while to get the lay of the land. My overall impression is very positive.

My biggest reasons for upgrading my GH3 were as follows:

1. Improved video features -- primarily 4K and the new Cinelike D profile. Still very early days, but so far these look every bit as good as I'd hoped. FYI, the Cinelike D profile provides much flatter footage than Panny previously offered for wider DR and more latitude for color correction. Need to do more testing, but it also seems as though 4K modes work fine with my older Class 10 SD cards;

2. Focus peaking: I was very disappointed that this never made it into the GH3 and so far I'm thrilled with the way it's working with the GH4. It makes working with fast manual lenses SO much nicer!

3. Zebra stripes: I've always been jealous of Olympus users who had those blinky highlights in record mode as an aid to setting exposure. The zebra display works brilliantly for that purpose;

4. Improved EVF optics: I found the GH3's EVF perfectly useable but still unpleasant due to its very small sweet spot. I'm pleased to report that the GH3's EVF is miles better. Not only is it sharp from edge to edge, but it's also sharper overall. The rear monitor is noticeably sharper, too;

5. Better AF tracking: not a huge deal for me since I don't use it that much, but I found it virtually useless with the GH3 and GH2. In early tests it seems to work very well indeed with the GH4 ... at least for tracking in video. I haven't had a chance to see if it's up to BIF. I don't think it will be as it will probably struggle to acquire such a small target. In terms of straight AF speed, to be honest, the GH3 was perfectly adequate for my needs. The new burst rate is just silly without AFC. With AFC it seems slower than advertised, but I will have to test more;

Random observations:

1. The addition of auto ISO to manual mode is great, but it's limited to stills recording. This seems nonsensical and hopefully it can be addressed in a firmware update;

2. All of the function buttons can now be assigned to any of the available functions. This is nicer than the GH3 where certain FN buttons were limited to a subset of available functions;

3. The movie record button is less recessed than before. I think it strikes a nice balance as I thought it was too hard to activate on the GH3;

That's it for now. In the coming days I'll do some detailed photo/video comparisons to the GH3 and post additional thoughts.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
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