My GH4 indepth review
So after almost a year of use here is my GH4 review. Where to start? Well, let me first tell you what I used before GH4. That was a GH2 mostly for video and EPL5 mostly for stills of course.
Why did I go for GH4? Strangely, video while important was simply one of the reasons. So what was it:
- DFD promised much better action shooting (withC-AF) and reviews showed it deliverd.
- (thus) 7.5 fps with C-AF
- Handling and ergonomics (EPL5 is of course far behind, but that is expected)
- IQ on par with EPL5
- 4K video which I wanted to use for weathershooting
- Great batterylife, good timelapsing
When I shoot with this cam, I almost exclusively shoot with the 12-35 f2.8 and 35-100 f2.8. At times the 100-300 f4-5.6 and Oly 45 f1.8 are used too.
So how did it fare? In this order I will tell you what I think of:
1) Handling, ergonomics and ease of use etc
2) Screen (EVF and display)
3) Still IQ and (auto)focussing
4) Video IQ and (auto)focussing
5) Others things
6) Some examples of video (no 4K) and pictures.
First, some background on me:
First of all I am a bit taller than the worldwide average (5'10"). What fits nice in my hands might not be so nice if you are 6'5" or 5'5"....Or when you are a female. I am also fit because I row and run on a daily basis. If it means something to you: my regular heartbeat is 40. I have no injuries so I am not hampered at all. If I have problems with weight it is quite likely that the majority has at least similar or more problems...
Second point: how do I use this cam?
- I use it for landscaping where I have to walk over hills and mountains at times, so total weight and size of the kit is important to me.
- I shoot Noctilucent Clouds and Aurorae. NLCs are very frequent in The Netherlands, Aurorae less so. In some years with solar activity we get fantastic displays that are to my mind the most beautiful thing I ever experienced (bar my current GF of course..cough..).
- I am a weatherbuff which means I shoot extreme weather like blizzards, supercells, lightning and tornadoes which all occur more or less frequent in The Netherlands. Weathersealing is very important too because of this.
So with this in mind, here we go.
1: Size, handling, build quality, ergonomics, ease of use etc.
Size and weight: this is the largest and heaviest mFT cam. If "small and light" tick the most important boxes for you, the GH4 is not the cam you want. Did I notice it? No. More on that later.
Handling and ease of use
- To my mind the button layout, the way the buttons are placed in the body or stick out is right. I never inadvertently pressed a button or changed a setting.
- The menusystem is very logical and easy to navigate. I found it intuitive and I never needed a booklet to figure it out, with one strange exception. Now I used a G1 and a GH2 which share a very similar menusystem so that might be an important reason. However: I never read a booklet to use these cams either.
This in sharp contrast with the Olympus EPL5 which I also have and comes across as labyrinth in comparison.
The exception: they chose to put the systemfrequency setting in a completely unrelated menusystem. This setting affects whether you can or cannot chose timelapserecording (which you can set in the photomenu) or what kind of video you can shoot (24Hz cinema or 50 or 59.94 4K video). These choices should be made available in the respective menu's, may be with a remark on what you can no longer do when you change the setting so that you are aware.
Having said that: the camera has a pelthora of settings, attach personal prefered functions to 5 hardware and 5 software function buttons. The booklet of this cam is wel over 300 pages. And even with that load of information you'llprobably only need to use it for some very specialised shooting. That is how it should be. Kuddo's to Panny here!
-> The camera is easily mastered and works very intuitively.
The cam is weathersealed, with the right lens. On my trip to the Scottish Highlands in February I stood in sleet and snow combined with the spray of a waterfall for hours and the cam was just fine. Not one problem.
When I had it for a couple of months I bumped it of a table to a woodenfloor. That is a 80 cm fall. With the 35-100 f2.8 on it. The most expensive combination I have. OMG! Well: not a scratch on the lens nor the cam. It has worked like nothing ever happened.
The cam is letdown by one incomprehesible choice of Panasonic in such a high end cam: the glass (or is it plastic used) for the EVF optics....It is the same as in the GH3 and it scratches very easily. What makes things worse is that the eyecup is quite lose and when it falls off in your bag, the spherical frontglass of the EVF sticks out. Mine got badly scratched while in my backpack. And now it is in repair. I am not the only one who has had this problem, more GH3 and GH4 users hvae had the same problem. And it is not repaired under warranty!
So to Panasonic: this is a bad, inapprorpiate choice for such an expensive cam. Use gorillaglas or at least use a much better coating in the GH5 please!
THere is no protection available like some plastic you can put on it, so be very very carefull with your cam!
-> Build quality is topnotch, but the EVF is made of plastic rather than glass and easily scratched!
Ergonomics, size and weight:
So it is the largest and heaviest mFT cam out there. I got into mFTs for size and weight loss. With DLSRs I was the one who lost weight taking it up and down hill. With mFTs the cam should lose some fat. GH2 and G1 did, GH4 not so much. However: this is the nicest cam I ever had and I have never noticed it being to heavy at all.Even not with semifrozen hands and the 100-300 mm on it. That is not because of my superhuman powers, the reason becomes clear when we put things into perspective.
Let's compare the Samsung NX1 with its comparable lenses and the GH4 with its counterparts. This combo is still lighter than any APS-c DSLR with comparable lenses, but not so much.
Samsung NX1: 610 gram
16-50 f2 f2.8: 622 gram
50-150 f2.8: 915 gram
60 mm f2.8 macro: 450 gram
45 mm f1.8 portrait lens: 115 gram
Totals: 2712 gram
GH4: 560 gram
12-35 f2.8: 305 gram
35-100 f2.8: 360 gram
45 mm f2.8 macro: 225 gram
42,5 mm f1.7 portrait lens: 130 gram
Totals: 1580 gram.
The Samsung kit here weighs 71% more than the GH4.The Samsung 50-150 has a bit more reach and the 16-50 is a bit faster (reaches f2.8 at 30 mm though). But these differences are negligable. Exchange this Samsung for an APS-c DSLR with similar lenses and you will easily hit 3 Kg or more.
On my last trip to Scotland I also could have taken a D800e with the 24-70 and 70-200 f2.8. the teleconvertor with me. On such terrain, walking for hours the cam with the 24-70 on it in my hand became a nuisance. The bag and the tripod on back were okeyish, but far less so when walking on slippery rocks or through boggy fields. When looking at the pics I shot and comparing them, the better IQ of the D800e was not worth it for me. After day 2 (out of 10) I left it at home on days I needed to walk a lot. Which was almost all days. I never have regretted that choice. The mFT system, even with its largest cam, is like a feather when it comes to weight, but not in IQ.
Panasonics 12-35 and 35-100 f2.8 lenses are in fact amazing in IQ, but most certainly also in size and weight. To my mind they epitomise the raison-de-etre of the mFT system as can be seen in the calculation above. And as we can see, the lenses make the difference in the system more so than the body.
With low weight comes small size: you can easily fit the fast zooms, the 100-300, some filters, a battery etc in very small rucksack.
With all that said I still think that ideally the maximum size and wieght of a mFT cam should be like the GH2 or Olympus E-M1. The upcoming G7, which will be a GH4-lite, seems to be an answer for those who appreciate less bulk more. If Panny could keep all what is good in the GH4 in a cam the size of G7 I think they should go for that.
-> GH4 body is quite large and heavy for a mFT camera, but when you add some lenses it is significantly smaller and lighter than the APS-c comeptition.
Much more can be said probably on this
2: Screens (EVF and display)
The EVF is a big step up over the 1.44 MP GH2 or of course the very small VF3 I used for my EPL5. But it also shows Panasonic listens to its critics. Where the 1.7 MP GH3 EVF was criticised for its optics, in general the 2.3 MP EVF on the GH4 is hailed with praise. It is one of the best and largest such viewfinders in the business. It refreshes very qucikly so you can keep up tracking a bird or an athlete passing by while shooting bursts, colours are nice and can be changed in the menu to your liking. It provides + or - 4 diopters for those wearing glasses (and leaving not using them while shooting)
The swivlescreen works fine, also reasonably well in sunshine. Swivle screens are less forgiving when you want to shoot inconspicuously: a swivle screen that is in use sticks out to the left hand side of the cam, a clear sign of you using the cam. Either for stills or video, it does not matter. A titlable screen is a better option in these situations.
On the flipside: for video swivle screens simply work better, you can shoot from virtually all angles and especially portrait shots from the ground up are next to impossible without you laying on the floor if your screen is of the fixed or tilting type. It is easy with the swivle screen. In nature, with ticks (Lyme), with dirt or mud laying on the ground is not something I want to do too often...
The screen is touchsensitive, which is very nice when shooting video and photo. You can just tip on a subject and the cam will focus on it. SUppose you have a bird on a tree. A cam does not know if you want to focus on the branches or on the bird. Tipping the screen while pointing on the bird makes this very easy.
-> In short for me, it is the best combination out there.
3. Still image Quality (RAW exclusively) and (auto)focussing.
As can be read above I also can shoot with the D800e Nikon FF 36 MPixel cam. Not always, as it is not mine but my sisters but almost as often as I want to. But I rarely do. But that is what I can compare with on one hand. We are talking about the still some of the best IQ with some of the best zooms (and macrolenses) out there.
On the other hand, I have used the G1, the GH2 and the EPL5 which I all still have.
Even though IQ is a very important part I think we can keep this one short: the IQ out of this cam is the best I have ever seen in any mFT cam.
Compared to the Nikon D800e ( May be bordering pointless, but bear with me):
The Nikon has a clear advantage here. It has better noise characteristics, it has better dynamic range, it has beter tonality and colour depth and with 36 MP a much higher resolution than the 16 MP of the GH4. Significantly better, at least on paper. And, when the situation is right, also in reality. My sister has shot a concert at night indoor of Lenny Kravitz and at 12800 ISO the shot looks nothing short of amazing. mFT camera's cannot touch that of course and won't do so for the foreseable future (in this case I think at least 5 years and most likely much more).
But when things become less demanding, the difference is less obvious. As I said, I took the D800e for landscpaing which is task well suited for it. But in the end the difference was muc smaller than I expected it to be. Also in situation which for instance demanded higher dynamic range.
One obvious difference though: when used right (which means on a tripod mostly) the resolution and detail of the D800e is the only thing I really want to have. Well... the res too of course but that much resolution is easily notable at larger print sizes.
Compared to the EPl5: between these two there is not much in it. The difference between the EPL5 and GH2 was big. This was visibly the cam that bridged the gap between mFT output and APS-c. Still, actually to my amazement, I think the GH4 is a step up still. It is difficult to say what it is. It might be that it exposes better right from the get go, but it seems dynamic range and (therefor) shadow noise is just visibly better on this cam. Also: the colourtones or depth just seem more fluent. Again: quite subjective, but that is how I see it.
Although I have not experienced it, with very long exposures (beyond 15 s) the Panasonic sensors are know to introduce much more noise than their Sony mFT counterparts. Just so you know.
IQ on its own: The maximum ISO I am happy to use with this cam is ISO3200-4000. 6400 is pushing it just too far. ISO3200 means the colour, noise etc are good enough, at least to me. ISO6400 and higher in good light btw look okey but why would you use these setting sin good light? Above ISO3200 black and white are usable to may be even ISO10000 or a bit more.
This means with the right lenses the camera is quite versatile. It can be used in almost any situation. In the examples below you'll also find shots of noctilucent clouds, taken at 2 o'clock in the morning in july (when it never gets really dark where I live, but dark enough). The shots look really nice even. And I can go on for ages where this cam is suited for, so let me tell you where it is not good enough for: indoor action shooting. To freeze motion of footballplayers, basketball etc to my mind you need ISO6400 and what I said about it applies: colours especially look muted, washed out and gloomy...And with F2.8 I needed ISO6400. As there are no F2 zooms or even better f1.4 zooms here is one solution. We need sensor that is 1 stop better (at least) for this. f2.0 zooms might do it too but just forget those. It will never happen.
There are some downsides. The main one concerns the electronic shutter. A good point is that April 2015 FW update has brought the fastst shutterspeed down from 1/8000s to 1/16000s. It simply means that you can use a fast lens a stop wider with the same amount of (bright) light.
Also: electronic shutters prevent shuttershocks which mechanical shutters induce at certain shutterspeed with various lenses. That is great. But in the case of the GH4 (and some other models) this introduces 10bit in stead of 12bit files. There are various theories why this is. some indicate that 12bits won't matter in the case of an electronic shutter because it is already hampered by the way the data is processed through the camera. Wahtever it is: it is notable. You have less dynamic range and (related to it) more noise. Visibly more noise.
Let's hope newer Panasonic models can get us 12 Bit eshutters with the exact same IQ their 12bit mechanical counterparts get us.
However: with a timelapse setting that can be set to 9999 frames an electronic shutter is a godsend as the mechinical shutter has a 200.000 actuations lifetime....
Same is of course true when you use the stopmotion setting, which can wear out a mechincal shutter as well if used extensively.
The only other thing that is a point of concern is the resolution of the sensor....or is it? This to my mind is mostly for marketing reasons. But marketing reasons are very important reasons to get sales going. 16 MP is, well, not an eyecatcher. In fact I think it is one in a negative way.
On the other hand though, for a specialised cam for more specialised users this is not a big problem. People who buy this cam tend to know very well what those numbers mean. Which is why the Sony A7s can "get away" with 12 MP. No...it is much more of a problem for the upcoming G7 I think, which is in a pricerange where quite a few buyers will listen to what a salesperson will say. And a salesperson will say whatever appeals to the buyers. 24 MP simply sounds better. And with Canon, Nikon and Sony offering such cams at similar prices it must be good. So something must be not so good with the G7.....
Where mFTs cams were the first on the market with a "mirrorless" interchangable lens cam, they were of course frontrunners. And they have kept that advantage mainly in the lensdepartment which is especially well spec'd below 100 mm (200 m equivalent. In 2010 Sony NEX (now A-series) introduced some nice features that meant mFTs were no longer the so innovative. Sony had focuspeaking, which made the camera's much more usable for the many manual focussing lenses out there. Sony's NEX7 simply showed that Sony listened to the market (many wanted a RangeFinder type cam). It has to be said that the Sony NEX7 also got them an APS-c sensor that was leaps and bounds beyond what mFTs could do.
But this all made not too much difference to what we can actually shoot. A gamechanger here came out of the blue and I think somewhat unexpected: Nikon entered the market with a 1"sensor, almost exactly 50% the size of a mFT sensor. And it wasn't a good sensor even considering its size when it cam to IQ. However: it was very much so when it came to a specific way of autofocussing. The Nikon sensor, made by Aptina, had Phase detect sensors incorporated ON the sensor (rather than a seperate unit we find in DSLRs). In short: OSPDAF was introduced. And it worked like a breeze. If you wanted to shoot action, like birds in flight or sports you only had the Nikon.
Importantly though: the Nikon with its OSPDAF switched to its less than stellar contrast based form whenever it got a bit murky. In 2012 similar but less well implemented OSPDAF was introduced in the Sony NEX6, in 2013 in the Samsung NX300 and in september that same year in Olympus E-M1 and Fuji's X-T1. Not all were created equal. The Nikon 1 was still the best when it could use its OSPDAF and prbably the worst when using CDAF. The NEX6 CDAF was good its OSPDAF mediocre which was also true for the NX300. Fuji and Oly whad very good OSPDAF. Fuji's CDAF was mediocre wereas Olympus CDAF was the best out of this group. It only had one contender to deal with: the Panasonic GX7 which had easily hte best contrast based autofocussing of all, focussing down to -4 eV (translation: really, really, really low light).
So what did Panasonic do? Even though they in fact produced the sensor for the E-M1 and could have used that one for the GH4, they took another route. They developped their CDAF and enhanced it over time as demonstrated by the GX7. Undetected by most on their radar is the fact that the G6 from 2013 was really good for action for a CDAF system. It just wasn't nearly as good as Nikon 1 for that kind of shooting. It was not good enough. But in various tests it was easily better than NEX6 with its PDAF (!).
So with GH4 came their next iteration of CDAF systems. DFD (depth from defocussing) is a rather cryptic way to say that the system it uses detects what is in or out of focus based on lensprofiles stored in a database in the cam. With high-performance processors in the GH4, this was checked and adjusted for every 0.0041 seconds. To put it in perspective: an object that travels at the speed of sound will travel about 1.50 m in that timeframe. In theory, unless that object is really close by, you will freeze it and it will be perfectly sharp with the right shutterspeed. As long as you got the shutterspeed right too...
Another pointis that CDAF based systems in particular are notorious for not being able to track of subject moving directly from you or to you. That is where DFD comes in as it detects what is out focus.
So....all nice and well. How does it work? Well...it is not flawless to begin with, but it is good. It is very good. Not Nikon 1 good as Nikon has upped the ante here too. You need a lens with a good focussing motor though. And while these are available, there are too few of them. In theory, again, you shouldget 7,5 fps in C-AF max. With the 12-35 and 35-100 f2.8 I seem to get this. Did not measure it. But it works like a machine. I'd say 80% of the time subject moving to and from me are in focus. Well...sharp enough to me. Pinsharp I'd put thatnumber down to 50-60%.
A rather formidable let down is the lens people would use for wildlife, birds, airshows and probably football matches (european and american style): the 100-300 mm. This lens has nice but not great IQ. That is not the (main) problem though; in this case it is completely hampered by not being able to keep up with action. It slows down to 2 to 3 frames per second. If it does find a focus in the first place.. So at best I got 1 to 2 frames per second. A very huge disapppointment.
Things become even more disappointing when we see that Panasonic has exactly ZERO long zooms on its roadmap. Well...there is no roadmap. Panasonic has not announced anything in that zoomrange.
So on behalf of ALL actionshooters out there I say this to Panasonic:
- Get us a 100-300 mm f4 to f5.6 Mark II with much faster focussing motors
- Better: get us a 100/125 - 250/300 mm ~f4 zoom, better IQ and environmental sealing.
Seriously: I appreciate all those sub 100 mm lenses. Thanks for your effort. Now with DFD making actionshooting really available to your users, get them a lens that fits in there!
So...is it DFD that makes the difference....Well that is split between still and video shooting. I have used the 45 mm f1.8 Oly for action and it held up really well. I got the same amount of keepers albeit at a 5-6 fps framerate. To me at least, a very acceptable performance.
How does it fare when the lights go down? We saw other systems reverting to their not so good CDAF, most of all not at all usefull for action shooting. Panasonics DFD still works there. It even continuous to do C-AF when I shoot at ISO12800 1/50s shutterspeed! The main problem here is that you'll get motion blur. But looking at things that did not move it is easy to see it mostly focusses on the right subject! So you can guess what happens when we are shooting static subjects in almost pitch dark. The GH4 focusses almost instantly even when I need to set the cam to ISO12800 and 1/8s shutterspeed with the 12-35 mm at f2.8! Don't know what you would like to shoot with it, but it works!
What can be better? When you shooot a burst and zoom in and out while doing so, the cam loses focus immediately. It will remain so as long as you keep on zooming. When you are done, it almost always finds focus within 2-3 frames.
In short: DFD seems to be the best autofocussing system by far available currently inany ILC!
- When you happened to have kept the cam in C-AF and shoot on a static subject, there is a pumping effect. Many times the subject will be out of focus!
- manual focussing: I have the feeling that beyond 50 mm or so focuspeaking is not really accurate (!). And it simply won't focus on clouds (but S-Af will work here). On special occasions that is a serious problem though...
- Next version of DFD should keep the subject in focus while zooming in and out.
-> Still IQ is the best you can get from any mFT cam. You are only hampered in really low light action shooting.
-> The autofocussing system is another revolution (almost). This seems to be the best systemcamera when we combine C-AF and S-AF in all possible situation.
Manual focussing needs some finetuning of the focuspeaking system though...
4) Video IQ
Stellar in good light. Usable up to ISO 1600, may 3200. 4K video on a 4K screen is breathtaking. So detailed and so sharp! And there is no pixelbining going on either, but a small downside is that the image is slightly cropped by 15%. And sadly, that is a notable difference.
Apart from 4K there is 96 fps slowmotion shooting, but without sound. Also there is multitude of settings in 1080 etc. Bitrates up to 200 Mb/s (!).
Also Panasonic added Zebra's striping which can be combined with focuspeaking. So you see in screen how you exposed the shot and what is in focus. Great but also a must for more advanced filmshooters
Recently, in april 2015, a firmware update added an anamorpic 4K setting. This format is quite different from standard 4K It is not 4000 *2000 (roughly) but 3356 x 2496 in 24p (exactly). To use this setting, you need a very expensive anamorphic lens. So this is directed squarely at very rich amateur videographers or simply professional moviemakers.
Another, to my mind very important feature is to be released as I am writing this (17 may 2015): Vlog settings. Vlog is much like RAW for stills: it gives you the most pure data to work with. It looks very flat and noisy right out of the cam but it offers you the most leverage in post. Betaversion have been sent to some reviewers and a tangible difference on top of more dynamic range etc is that it deals with some strange skintones that pop out out of nowhere with the GH4. You need to look close, but the faces seem to have some sort of uniform beige colour for some seconds or even longer. Vlog takes care of it too.
This move is kind to its users. It is above all a very, very smart move! Why?
- Doing this simply gets you loyalty. Those who bought GH4 will trust their money when GH5 or GH6 comes around. Panny listens to you, it is aware of your needs and it will supports you after you spent your money on them.
- G7 which will be here tomorrow, May 18 (my birthday so guess what I asked for...) to be exact. It will be quite similar to the GH4, lacking environmental sealing and the YAG (which is a cumbersome and expensive addition for most anyways) connectors. It will also surely not get Vlog or anamorphic settings. At least not soon I am sure. This ensures GH4s viability and its price. G7 will sway stillshooters who want excellent video IQ. GH4 will be the choice for serious videographers. With these firmware addition it is still a bargain 4K videoca, even a year after its introduction.
"How important is 4K?" one might still ask. Well if you just go to a venue nowadays, where big names like Black Magic, JVC, Panasonic and others show their latest greatest you can see how important by looking at the visitors: you see many people with a GH4. Many. But also another specialised cam has taken firm root: the Sony A7s. Not 4K internally, but gets you 4K with an Atomos Shogun connected to it. even during the days of GH1 and GH2 Canon was the cam that stood out. This has changed in a very short time, as GH4 and A7s are barely a year old!
We can also look at the items displayed by these companies. It is 4K here and 4K there and some, like Black Magic are going a little beyond that already (4.6 K). These are trendsetters.
True: for a small crowd. For now. Because 4K IQ demands 4K screens. Which were either suboptimal in size (you need > 28" to get the full benefit) or a steep price.
So I will get me a 4K monitor in June. 32" BenQ or LG (31") which both scored really well in various reviewss. I can get such a bigscreen, UHD monitor for 800 euro's. Which is another decisive factor: 4K screens are now affordable for a growing group. And with more of them on display in shops, people will easily note the difference in IQ. You will want one not only because of the marketing hype, but also because of the fantastic image quality it provides.
One thing that is may be not missed but would be a fantastic addition: an image stablisation system like the on that can be found in the Olympus EM5 MarkII.
Where the autofocussing in stills leaves very little to be desired, the same cannot be said unfortunately for video. I have used the latest FW update to see if anything changes but alas..
- In anything but 4K shooting, the autofocussing works reliable and fluent. It nicely changes focus from subject (nearby) to subject (further away), nothing abrupt just at the right speed.
- manual focussing is helped greatly by focuspeaking, it needs some finetuning though.
- in 4K mode troubles begin. No focus is found sometimes. When the subject moves the cam will either lose focus and not find it back or find it back only to lose it again. In harsher words: autofocussing in 4K video is unreliable and worthless.
What can be better? An open door: 4K autofocussing needs to be brought up to the level of its 1080 focussing. Especially for inexperienced shooters or everyone else who is not so serious about video. Videographers probably will go for manual focus anyways in which case focuspeaking can be better still too.
DFD makes more difference here it seems. When shooting video in low light the Olympus 45 mm f1.8 perfomed a lot worse than the 12-35 and 35-100 fast zooms...
-> GH4 was truely revolutionairy when it was introduced more than a year ago. It added 4k video but also a load of other features that set a new standard for ILC filmshooting.Now, a year onwards, it still has only one true competitor (Samsungs NX1) in its pricerange. With the addition of the fw updates GH4 is still the state of the art ILC filmcam in 2015. An amazing performance!
-> GH4 needs a FW update for 4k autofocussing and badly so. As this has not happened it probably means GH5 MUST be much better here.
5) Other things (batterylife, spare batteries, things I missed)
I know I have probably missed quite a few things that should have been in this review. Sorry for that. There is actually one thing that I thin deserves a lot of attention: the batterylife for a systemcamera is nothing short of amazing! Do note the GH3 had this too and in fact GH3 and GH4 batteries are identical.
How good is it? Well I shot a timelapse with one shot every 2 seconds or so. I got up to over 5000 shots ( I think even over 6000 actually) before the cam stopped. It wasover 4 hours of continous shooting.
Second example: I mentioned I shoot noctilucent clouds. They appear shortly after the sun goes down at northern lattitides when skies are clear. These clouds hover at 80km height and look neonlike blue, sometimes other colours are mixed in there aswell. So on hte second of July 2014 I started shooting at 23.00 hours just after sundown and continued to 5 oçlok when the sun was up again. I also shot film. The battery cam was still not empty.....While this is not exceptional at all with many DSLRs, all other systemcams would have taken their third battery by that time. At least my EPL5 would. Only GH3 and Samsung NX1 share this great behaviour.
Spare batteries...Are to be found on the net. I took a Patona OEM as it was so much cheaper. I payed about 15 euro for one spare. I have shot a timelapse with it too after a couple of charging. It gets me about 90% of the power the original gets me. At the price it is a bargain. A word of caution though: this and many other OEMs lack thermal protection and overheating detection. So when used in the cam a problem might arise with overheating, potentially seriously damaging your cam. I have never had any such problems at all, but I will use the original whenever I can and save the spare only when I really need it.
There are also things I miss which the EPL5 has. The most important one is Live Time. This function let you chose an update interval. It works like this: you start shooting a (low light) pic and every 0,5 s (of you set it to it) you can see how it develops on screen! Suppose you have a thunderstorm and want to shoot lightning, you can use this mode and stop when it gets overexposed. In the newer EM5 MArkII there seem to be more of this kind of very handy features Panasonic lacks.
Also: Olympus High Res mode is really nice to have to say the least. Understandibly this is not available in the GH4. But would be a very nice addition for stillshooters in the GH5.
Again: I probably have forgotten quite a few things that should be mentioned here. But I'll stop here.
Low light shooting:
A sequence of moving subjects. Note the cam does not focus on grass in front or branches on the back:
Low light: ISO3200 f2.8 1/20s
Lower light: ISO 6400 f2.8 1/40 s
Some landscape pics I took in Scotland:
In the movie below which is not shot at 4K I am afraid some of the above pictures can be seen again. Sorry for that. It is the only example I have in which you can see some slowmo and the IQ you can get out of the cam. What I do have concerns parties, weddings etc which remain private I am afraid...
The Panasonic GH4 to my mind is a joy to use under almost all circumstances. It is a jack of all trades and master of some (video), easy to carry though not coatpocketable. A lot of nice, small and lightweight glass is available too. Handling is great, so are the ergonomics. There is a lot to like if you ask me and this all together makes it the finest cam I ever used by quite a stretch!
- With lenses compared to APS-c competition it is small and lightweight.
- Ergonomics and handling, added size makes handling easier too (no too small switches and button for largish hands)
- Intuitive (menusystem) and easy to master
- Built quality (can take a hit, excellent weathersealing)
- Performance (snappy, reliable and accurate autofocussing for stills)
- Video capabilities are even a year later topnotch (compared to anything below $4K)
- Excellent IQ for the sensorsize, usable for large print to ISO3200 and with carefully PP ISO6400.
- Can be used for many different types of shooting, like landscapes, action and portriats
- Fantastic feature set with FW updates for videographers, V-log soon to be released in FW too.
- Battery is excellent for a systemcamera. Very few others come close.
- Autofocussing in movie in 4K mode is virtulaly useless
- Great AF system is hampered by too few lens that can fully use it, especially beyond 100 mm.
- Electronic shutter 10-bit only and introduces strange artifacts in timelapse mode (rarely)
- EVF is made of easily scratched, soft plastics. Eyecup comes of easily.
- Body is comparetively big and heavy (but understandable)
- Camera frequency is in a different menusystem, hampers your timelapse or 4K shooting if not set properly. This setting should be in both the still and video part.
- Potentially much better image stabilsation is available (but from OLy and difficult to implement in a 4K cam currently).
- Higher ISO noise above 1600/3200 in moviemode is prohibitive.
- Focuspeaking is not precise and cannot detect clouds at a distance. I shot two tornado's with it but on both occassion neither an enlarged view nor focuspeaking could show me I focussed correctly....
What should GH5 ideally have?
- Sensor that allows for better high ISO (most of all in moviemode)
- > 24 MP sensor for photoshooters probably mandatory in 2016
- 12 bit eshutter
- Internal 8:2:2 4K video without the cumbersome YAG would be nice
- EVF (and touchscreen) made of very hard glass
- Olympus EM5 MArkII IBIS that works in 4K video especially would be a very good reason to ditch the already excellent GH4.
- In video Full sensor readout without cropping. The sensor is cropping things enough already
- May be introduce High Res mode a la OLympus EM5 MarkII
|Average community score||
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bad for good for
|Kids / pets||
|Action / sports||
|Landscapes / scenery||
|Low light (without flash)||
|Flash photography (social)||
|Studio / still life||
= community average
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|May 17, 2015||13|
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