Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Solid, comfortable-to-use camera body
- Excellent still image quality
- Industry-leading video capabilities
- Highly detailed video capture
- Extensive support tools - focus peaking, synchro scan, zebra...
- 'DFD' system improves continuous focus ability
- Good viewfinder and rear screen
- Well thought-out touchscreen interface
- Good battery life
- In-camera Raw conversion and Wi-Fi
- Optional accessory adds industry-standard connections
Conclusion - Cons
- DFD system limited to Panasonic lenses
- Focus tracking poor at subject identification
- Focus peaking often too subtle to assess focus point
- No Auto ISO in manual exposure video shooting mode
- No option to cqpture 1080 video from 4K crop region to minimize aliasing
- Wi-Fi can be awkward to set up
The DMC-GH4 sets a new bar in terms of the video capability available in a camera that a significant number of people can afford. That's not to say it's cheap, but if you consider the fact it can shoot essentially broadcast-quality footage, it's remarkably accessible.
The tools provided mean that, with a little bit of practice, anyone can get good video results from the GH4. There are a couple of tweaks that would make it even more beginner-friendly but you don't need to be a professional to get high quality results from the Panasonic. Stills shooting has been refined on this latest model, helping ensure it's not just seen as a movie camera.
The constant improvement in video capabilities in stills cameras means the GH4 faces competition not only from HD-capable DSLRs but also some very interesting mirrorless models. Stand-outs amongst these have to be the more expensive (and more creatively flexible) Sony a7S at one end of the scale and the more affordable Sony a6000 at the other.
In a professional setting the GH4 is unusual in being compatible with an interface unit (the DMW-YAGH) that adds industry-standard 3G-SDI and XLR connectors. This changes the size/capability balance of the camera but also means it can easily be rigged-up with standard power supplies, external recorders and mic setups.
By keeping most of the camera's handling unchanged from the GH3, Panasonic has made sure the GH4 handles really nicely. Its design encourages the use of the dedicated buttons for functions such as ISO and white balance and provides plenty of customizable buttons, such that you're unlikely to often need the (also customizable) touchscreen Q.Menu. The ability to use the fold-out touchscreen as an AF-point selector with the camera to your eye deserves a special mention for being particularly well designed and quick to use.
In video mode the camera is equally solid - the buttons and dials make it easy to set the camera up, prior to recording and the on-screen touch controls allow adjustments to be made during capture without ruining the footage.
Overall, though, the GH4 feels like the mature, incrementally-improved product it is. A cleverer Auto ISO implementation would be nice, as would better tools for re-confirming focus during shooting, but these are simply things I'd personally benefit from, rather than critical, missing features.
Image Quality and video
The GH4's image quality is very solid, producing nice JPEG images and usefully flexible Raw files. The color and tonality of its images seem improved over previous generations of camera. The GH4 gains in-camera Raw conversion including brightness, shadow and highlight adjustment, to help fine-tune an image or make a usable JPEG from a shot-for-Raw Raw file, so that it can then be Wi-Fied off the camera.
It's in terms of video that the GH4 really stands out. It produces some of the best video we've yet seen - losing out only to the Sony a7S's moiré-free 1080 output. The ability to capture good quality 4K, whether for use at full resolution, downsampling to 1080 or cropping to 1080 adds real flexibility to the camera. Low light performance is solid if not exceptional - so you'll need to think about lighting and bright lenses for low light shooting - but in many situations the GH4 produces good footage with a little subject/background distinction.
The final word
Despite the increased competition, the GH4 remains the king of accessible stills/movie hybrids. The enhanced movie capabilities are well integrated such that both types of shooting work well, without impeding the other. The result is a remarkably capable all-in-one package that lets you capture good quality footage and excellent stills from a sensibly-sized standalone camera.
The GH4's video quality and well implemented touchscreen control system give it the edge over less expensive cameras, such as the a6000, while its price and ability to capture 4K internally will give it broader appeal than the a7S. It's the GH4's balance of capability, size and price that makes it so strong. Its ability to slot into a professional setup, via the optional interface unit can only help expand this appeal.
If you're only interested in stills then it's not quite such a compelling proposition - the competition is fierce at this price point. However, if you have any inclination towards moving images, there's not a camera that offers nearly as much capability and support as the GH4 does, for anywhere near the price.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
Category: Semi-professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
Despite increased competition, the GH4 remains the most complete stills/video camera on the market. It's a competitive stills camera in its own right but the attention to detail when it comes to the provision of movie-shooting tools and capabilities makes it a stand-out camera.
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