Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?

Started 7 months ago | Questions
Kawika Nui
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Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
7 months ago

I have been shooting surf videos using both an FZ150 and a GH3 (mft). Both set for AVCHD 1920x1080p 60fps. (I shoot 60fps because it lends itself to great slo-mo and freeze frames later.)

I am hard-pressed to see any qualitative difference in the footage. It seems that the 2mp format really levels the playing field for IQ, at least in good light.

However, the FZ150 offers one major advantage: I can focus at wide angle, start shooting, and zoom all the way in without losing focus. This is something like 28-600mm range, all in focus.

With the GH3 (using 45-175mm lens, which is 90-350mm equiv), I can’t do this. I quickly lose focus as I zoom. (CAF doesn't help; it creates blurry footage each time it refocuses. So I don't use it.) There is a work-around: zoom all the way in, focus using AFLock, and then zoom back out. Start shooting when ready, and zoom in as desired. But even with this there will be a loss of focus at the widest angle (it's less noticeable because it's video and because the subjects are seen as small and far away, but it's there).

I'm sure there are a lot of correct theoretical explanations as to why this is so. Frankly, I don't much care. All I know is how to use the equipment that is available to get as close as possible to the results I need. The FZ150 allows me to do very long duration shots, all in one shot, going from wide angle, zooming all the way in, and drawing back again as the subject approaches, with no worries about focus (DOF). The mft does not.

Subjects are from approximately 150m to 50m distant.

My question: is there really no discernible difference in video IQ, or am I missing something? I'm tempted to shoot everything with the FZ150 because of the better DOF when zooming.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3
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lancespring
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

I have been shooting surf videos using both an FZ150 and a GH3 (mft). Both set for AVCHD 1920x1080p 60fps. (I shoot 60fps because it lends itself to great slo-mo and freeze frames later.)

I am hard-pressed to see any qualitative difference in the footage. It seems that the 2mp format really levels the playing field for IQ, at least in good light.

However, the FZ150 offers one major advantage: I can focus at wide angle, start shooting, and zoom all the way in without losing focus. This is something like 28-600mm range, all in focus.

With the GH3 (using 45-175mm lens, which is 90-350mm equiv), I can’t do this. I quickly lose focus as I zoom. (CAF doesn't help; it creates blurry footage each time it refocuses. So I don't use it.) There is a work-around: zoom all the way in, focus using AFLock, and then zoom back out. Start shooting when ready, and zoom in as desired. But even with this there will be a loss of focus at the widest angle (it's less noticeable because it's video and because the subjects are seen as small and far away, but it's there).

I'm sure there are a lot of correct theoretical explanations as to why this is so. Frankly, I don't much care. All I know is how to use the equipment that is available to get as close as possible to the results I need. The FZ150 allows me to do very long duration shots, all in one shot, going from wide angle, zooming all the way in, and drawing back again as the subject approaches, with no worries about focus (DOF). The mft does not.

Subjects are from approximately 150m to 50m distant.

My question: is there really no discernible difference in video IQ, or am I missing something? I'm tempted to shoot everything with the FZ150 because of the better DOF when zooming.

.

For this one particular application: shooting surfing videos, the FZ150 is probably the better tool for you to use. You are shooting in good daylight, need to do a lot of zooming, and need good autofocus performance. And as you noted the smaller sensor of the FZ150 will give you greater depth of field. The camera simply will not have to adjust its focus as much, because of that, giving the impression that it has superior Autofocus. At low ISO, not much of any difference in IQ may be noticeable.

However, most GH3 users record using the 1080/60p 50 Mbps IPB MOV format, not AVCHD. If you want the best possible performance from your GH3, I would suggest giving it a try.

For most videography uses, I would say that people would by a large majority prefer to use the GH3. But for surfing videos, you are probably best off sticking with your FZ150.   1080/60p is ideal for that.   So the fact that 1080/60p is the only AVCHD recording option offered by the FZ150, is not going to be any limitation at all.
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Sean Nelson
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to lancespring, 7 months ago

I agree with Lance - in good light the FZ150 probably does a pretty decent job.   I don't actually have an FZ150, but I have shot some test footage with it in the store and I thought it seemed pretty capable.   But I do find that the GH3 is sharper, and in low light with a fast lens the GH3 really shines.

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Kawika Nui
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to lancespring, 7 months ago

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly.

I hope you can clarify a bit.

1. Shooting with the GH3

I've shot MOV and AVCHD with the GH3 and frankly, I couldn't see any difference.  If anything, the AVCHD seemed a little more crisp.  Since I create a lot of slo-mo and freeze-frame in post, this is important to me. To quote a couple of posts from a different thread:

"Very bluntly, I see no spellbinding advantage, in high bitrates or low compression, for any purpose I am likely to encounter. The point of diminishing marginal returns probably begins at around 17mbps, flattens out at 28mbps, and the slope above that point must be close to flat. Most Web video gets streamed at much lower rates anyway."

" Is the rule ALWAYS that higher bitrates mean better video? Is it that mythical 1% that only the most well trained eye will notice?"

Do these posters have a valid point?  Although the MOV offers a higher bitrate, is the IQ of the video truly better?

2. Shooting with FZ150

I'm still wondering: for any still photography use that I can imagine, the GH3 is going to generate better images.  Higher resolution, bigger sensor, etc.  BUT for video, does the 2mp frame spec of video negate the advantages in IQ that otherwise go to the m43 camera?  In other words, will the FZ150 generate video comparable to the GH3?  Not for youtube, but for HD monitors of up to 30in.  So far I've viewed on 17in and they look quite comparable, but that may be my bias or my HD monitor's limitations.  (There's "HD" and then there's HD.)

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

Do these posters have a valid point? Although the MOV offers a higher bitrate, is the IQ of the video truly better?

Putting aside the use of a 4:2:2 colour space and higher colour depths than 8 bits per channel (which neither the FZ150 nor the GH3 do) the higher bitrate isn't nearly as important for scenes that are relatively free from a lot detail or a lot of random motion. But when you get into scenes with a lot of detail and a lot of random motion, then the 50MBit/sec data rate can do a much better job of capturing all the information. Typical "acid test" subjects are a screen full of leaves rustling in the wind, or reflections on wave-ridden water.

But much of the advantage of the higher bitrate will be lost if you have to render the final result at a lower bitrate anyway. Short of watching the movie on your own computer, there aren't a lot of delivery mechanisms for high bitrate video.

So far I've viewed on 17in and they look quite comparable, but that may be my bias or my HD monitor's limitations. (There's "HD" and then there's HD.)

Viewing distance is just as important as screen size. HD resolutions are meant to be viewed from a distance of about 1.5 to 2 screen widths. If you're not that close to the screen and are trying to make judgements about the quality, then you're probably not getting the "whole picture".

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thorn-
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

" Is the rule ALWAYS that higher bitrates mean better video?

Short, simple answer: NO, it doesn't.

There are so many factors involved in quality of image. Bitrate is only one of them. If Bitrate was the only thing that mattered in image quality, Canon wouldn't be selling any C100s because everyone would be hacking GH2's for the same result (which you won't get).

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Kawika Nui
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to thorn-, 7 months ago

The main question still remains:

For video, does the 2mp frame spec of video negate the advantages in IQ that otherwise go to the m43 camera? In other words, will the FZ150 generate video comparable to the GH3? Not for youtube, but for HD monitors of up to 30in.

(the "higher bitrate ALWAYS..." was a quote from another poster, which I presume had to do with the fact that the available AVCHD has slower max bitrate than the available MOV.  I wouldn't have put it that way, but then I was quoting.  In any case that's not my question.)

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Sean Nelson
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

The main question still remains:

For video, does the 2mp frame spec of video negate the advantages in IQ that otherwise go to the m43 camera? In other words, will the FZ150 generate video comparable to the GH3? Not for youtube, but for HD monitors of up to 30in.

IMHO, close but no cigar. The GH3 images are sharper, it does better in low light, and despite the discussion about lower bit rate, the high-bitrate MOV recording moves also capture a bit more colour depth because they don't follow the AVCHD convention of recording the full range of brightness in only 220 levels (16-235) but rather use the full range of 0-255.   That gives you a little more dynamic range to work with, which can be useful for high-contrast scenes.

These advantages may not be that apparent for every kind of subject material, but they are very real.

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nelsonal
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

If you want to zoom and maintain focus, you need to explore the exciting world of parfocal zooms.  Most photography zooms are varifocal, but if you adapt zooms designed for film, and get the back focus right, most will be parfocal.

The best value lens options (Canon, Sony, and Fuji TV zooms) will require either a crop or engagement of ETC (1:1) mode.  They were built for news feeds, so they're fast, have good zoom ratios 6-10x and are quite sharp if they've been kept in decent condition and are properly back focus adjusted.  Also, it'll be tough to find a true wide angle lens.

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Kawika Nui
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Sean Nelson, 7 months ago

Sean,

Thanks!  Sounds like at the end of the day it's gonna be a judgment call (in a way, aren't they all?)Since I'm currently shooting surf footage, low light is not an issue, nor is color--I can live with a limited palette for the ocean, most wetsuits are black, and most boards are pretty basic - white with maybe blue or red or yellow.  Nor is there a lot of subtle motion (quaking aspen leaves, etc.) that matters.

I'm very happy with the FZ150 footage on a 17in monitor; my main concern is that some sort of noise or grain would show up on a larger screen.

If it's OK to add another related question:

To what extent would post (combining clips to make a longer video, using Premiere Elements 12--or comparable) have an equalizing effect in terms of reducing the difference between FZ150 video IQ and GH3 video IQ?

Again, I'm trying to get the best *practical* result.  I want the finished product to look good and professional, but it's not worth it to me to lose footage (due to DOF issues) for a 1% or 2% improvement.

BTW, when it comes to ambient audio, the FZ150 seems to do a much better job of capturing the sound of waves.  The ocean sound from the GH3 is more of a blurry sound like running water.

Thanks, All.

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Kawika Nui
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to nelsonal, 7 months ago

nelsonal,

Thanks, I'll look into it

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Noirist
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

The main question still remains:

For video, does the 2mp frame spec of video negate the advantages in IQ that otherwise go to the m43 camera? In other words, will the FZ150 generate video comparable to the GH3? Not for youtube, but for HD monitors of up to 30in.

FWIW, to my eye the FZ150 footage is consistently inferior to the GH3 footage when viewed on a 30" monitor with 2560x1600 pixels.

What resolution is your 17" monitor?

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Vesku
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Re: Does video level the playing field between, say, FZ150 and M4/3?
In reply to Kawika Nui, 7 months ago

Kawika Nui wrote:

I have been shooting surf videos using both an FZ150 and a GH3 (mft). Both set for AVCHD 1920x1080p 60fps. (I shoot 60fps because it lends itself to great slo-mo and freeze frames later.)

My question: is there really no discernible difference in video IQ, or am I missing something? I'm tempted to shoot everything with the FZ150 because of the better DOF when zooming.

GH3 is a high end system camera and FZ150 is a small sensor "pocket camera". There is always image quality difference  with these and it is not "leveling". I think biggest difference is dynamic range and video "clarity"

At sea shore there is moving water, heavy backlight and bright reflections so you benefit of better codec and dynamic range of GH3. But you cant notice GH3 better dyn range if you watch clips with same settings than FZ150 because you trough away "super whites and super blacks" (levels 235-255 and 16-0) For example Media Player cant show GH3 better levels if you dont change video card settings. Potplayer can with auto levels boxed. And you must think this same matter with your video editor.

I think that FZ150 complex and very viderange superzoom is way worse than high end bigger systemlenses GH3 has.

You cant see these differences clearly with 17inch monitor. Pixels are so small that almost everything looks good.

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