2015 Roundup: Interchangeable Lens Cameras $1200-2000
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
16MP Four Thirds LiveMOS sensor | 2.4M-dot OLED electronic viewfinder | 4K video capture
What we like:
- Excellent image quality
- Excellent video features and quality
- 12 fps burst
- Touch LCD
What we don't:
- Wi-Fi can be awkward to set up
- Focus peaking can be too subtle to assess focus point
- Continuous AF and subject tracking not as good as the best
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 offers incredibly high quality video features in a reasonably small and well-priced camera body. It features a 16MP Digital Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor with 4K video capture in 24p and full HD capture in up to 60p.
The body is a tough, magnesium alloy affair that handles like a slightly down-scaled enthusiast DSLR, thanks to its twin dial interface. An articulated touchscreen and some clever on-screen controls mean that video handling is also unusually good for a stills/video hybrid camera.
Autofocus is also impressive. It offers the single AF snappiness that we've come to expect from Micro Four Thirds cameras but adds a capable focus tracking system. The GH4's Depth-from-Defocus system interprets the out-of-focus characteristics of Panasonic lenses to minimize focus hunting and give a noticeably decisiveness to its subject tracking. It's not up with the best on-sensor phase-detection systems and it's certainly no pro sports camera but it's pretty capable in a range of conditions.
"...we've found the Panasonic GH4 to balance itself nearly perfectly as a video/still hybrid camera."
The GH4 isn't just a video machine, though. On the stills front it offers solid image quality with nice out-of-camera JPEGs and flexible Raw files. Color and tonality are much improved compared to previous Panasonic models and in-camera Raw processing is a nice addition. Also, considering its Four Thirds sensor, the GH4 handles itself well at higher ISOs even compared to some of its APS-C format competitors.
It's video where the GH4 really excels, though. The GH4 offers a range of industry-standard video features that stretch far beyond most of its still/video peers. There's focus peaking. zebra and that 4K option, of course, but it's the choice of high bitrates, luminance level options and 10-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output that make clear the camera's intentions. The camera is relatively easy for a novice to start shooting with but shouldn't feel too restrictive when handled by seasoned pros.
The camera's handling has been carefully considered, whether you're shooting stills DSLR-style or staring intently at the flipped-out screen as you gently pan with the action you're recording. Its balance of features and capabilities are impressive, across a broad range of requirements. And, while competition is extremely fierce at this price point, we've found the Panasonic GH4 to balance itself nearly perfectly as a video/still hybrid camera.
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