The headline feature of the Panasonic GH4 is that it's a Micro Four Thirds camera that can shoot 4K video for under $2000, capturing either Quad HD (3840 x 2160) at up to 29.97p or 'Cinema 4K' (4096 x 2160) at up to 24p. With a newly developed 16MP Digital Live MOS sensor, the GH4 enables shooting at maximum ISO 25,600 and claims to suppresses the rolling shutter effect even when using the electronic shutter.
Seattle-based photographer Erik Hecht recently took the new Panasonic GH4 for a spin to test the dynamic range and to see how well it takes color correction (see above video). We asked him a few questions on his experience using the GH4. Here's what he said. Our questions are in blue.
Tell us about yourself Erik - what do you do?
I've been a camera man for about nine years, mostly shooting documentary and commercial work. I was Chase Jarvis's video guy for about four years until recently moving on to focus on my freelance career. Working and traveling with Chase really gave me a passion for working light and efficiently, so the GH3/GH4 were godsends for me and my style of shooting.
How has it been shooting with the GH4?
I fell in love with the GH4 after seeing what it could do when combined with a Metabones Speed Booster. The adaptability of the camera is what really sets it aside from other cameras. I'm a proponent of small camera systems that I can build up when the work calls for it and keep small the rest of the time. I mean, everything I used for the aerial footage fit into my Think Tank Retrospective bag that I carry with me everywhere I go. It's brilliant.
What kind of setup did you use for the aerial shots?
I shot the aerial footage with the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm F2.8 ASPH Power OIS lens. The image stabilization built into the lens does a great job of removing the high frequency vibration of the helicopter. I also used a $60 chest support and a SmallHD DP-EVF for extra points of contact. I ran most of the shots through the warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere to get the footage as smooth as you see in the final product. This was my 9th video flight shooting with a setup like this, so I've had just enough practice to know what I can and can't get away with in post production.
I think the camera will be popular for aerial video because of it's size and the sharpness and dynamic range the camera delivers. I was in a two-seater helicopter, so space was extremely limited. If I were to do it again I'd get a little more practice with a Movi M5 and take that combination in the air.
How is it different working with 4K video vs. HD?
Working with the 4K video is my only issue with the camera so far, but it's not the cameras fault. I edit on a 2012 Macbook Pro and the laptop does not play nice with the footage. I had to do some ridiculous workarounds to keep my computer from melting, and I'm sure I lost some image quality in the process. I'll definitely need to make a serious upgrade if I want to edit more 4K footage with any efficiency.
What are you hoping to do with the GH4 in the future?
This camera is my documentary dream come true. It's so versatile with its various frame rates, time-lapse modes, etc. There's just so much bang for your buck, and the my whole kit, lenses, accessories, shoulder support, audio, everything fits in a backpack. I look forward to traveling with this camera, for work or for pleasure, it'll stay close by. My vacation videos are going to be insane from now on.