Movie Mode

The GH4 is the fourth generation of stills/movie hybrid cameras that Panasonic has made and the company makes a big play of how carefully it listened to filmmakers when developing the latest model. The result is a camera with an extensive range of features that will be alien to most stills shooters but recognized and welcomed by professional and semi-professional videographers.

Despite this care and attention to offer a product acceptable to professionals, the GH4 doesn't offer a tone curve as 'flat' as the logarithmic response curves available on the Sony or Canon's cameras. Log curves are used to incorporate as much of the camera's dynamic range into the footage as possible - giving greater flexibility for color grading during post processing. It's also not possible to import or significantly adjust the GH4's color profiles, so there's no way to add this option. As such, although the GH4 offers the fairly flat 'Cinelike D' profile (with the option to further lower the contrast), it's not possible to match the Sony's very wide dynamic range footage for maximum flexibilty in post.

Video recording options (internal)

The GH4 can output and capture video in a dizzying selection of codecs, bit rates and frame rates (with a choice of audio codec as well, in the case of MP4). Most of these modes use the IPB compression system that records 'key' frames at regular intervals and only retains information about any changes between those key frames. The GH4 also offers 'All-I' capture modes that treat every frame as key frame, retaining full detail about every frame.

To add to the complication, the GH4 can be booted in three different system frequency modes: 59.94, 50 and 24fps. The frame rates available (along with the Synchro Scan and Variable Frame Rate options) will vary depending on which mode the camera has engaged.

System Frequency Mode 59.94Hz / 50Hz

Format AVCHD / MOV / MPEG4
Sizes

• AVCHD (Dolby Digital Audio)
1920 x 1080 60p ~28 Mbps
1920 x 1080 60i ~17 Mbps
1920 x 1080 30p (60i PsF) ~24Mbps*
1920 x 1080 24p ~24Mbps*

• MP4 (AAC Audio)
3840 x 2160, 30p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~28Mbps
1920 x 1080, 30p ~20Mbps
1280 x 720, 30p ~10Mbps
640 x 480 30p, ~4Mbps

• MP4 (Linear PCM Audio)
3840 x 2160, 30p ~100Mbps
3840 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 60p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 30p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 30p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 30p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 24p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 24p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 24p ~50Mbps

• MOV (Linear PCM Audio)
3840 x 2160, 30p ~100Mbps
3840 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 60p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 30p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 30p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 30p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 24p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 24p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 24p ~50Mbps

• AVCHD (Dolby Digital Audio)
1920 x 1080 50p ~28 Mbps
1920 x 1080 50i ~17 Mbps
1920 x 1080 25p (50i PsF) ~24Mbps*

• MP4 (AAC Audio)
3840 x 2160, 25p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 50p ~28Mbps
1920 x 1080, 25p ~20Mbps
1280 x 720, 25p ~10Mbps
640 x 480 25p, ~4Mbps

• MP4 (Linear PCM Audio)
3840 x 2160, 25p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 50p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 50p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 50p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 25p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 25p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 25p ~50Mbps

• MOV (Linear PCM Audio)
3840 x 2160, 25p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 50p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 60p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 60p ~50Mbps
1920 x 1080, 25p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 25p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 25p ~50Mbps

Audio • Linear PCM (MOV or MP4) / Dolby Digital (AC-3) (AVCHD)/ AAC (MP4)
• Stereo audio capture via built-in or optional mic.
Recordable time Approx 29 mins for XAVC and AVCHD, 20 minutes for MPEG4 (1440 x 1080)

In 59.94Hz mode, all frame rates are NTSC multiples (frame rates reported as 60p are actually 59.94p, 30p is 29.97p and 24p is 23.98p). *Variable frame rate recording is available.

System Frequency Mode 24Hz

Format MOV / MPEG4
Sizes

• MP4 (Linear PCM Audio)
4096 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
3840 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 24p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 24p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 24p ~50Mbps

• MOV (Linear PCM Audio)
4096 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
3840 x 2160, 24p ~100Mbps
1920 x 1080, 24p ~200Mbps (All-I)
1920 x 1080, 24p ~100Mbps*
1920 x 1080, 24p ~50Mbps

Audio • Linear PCM (MOV or MP4 / AAC (MP4)
• Stereo audio capture via built-in or optional mic.
Recordable time Approx 29 mins for XAVC and AVCHD, 20 minutes for MPEG4 (1440 x 1080)

Features

The GH4 provides videographers with an impressive set of tools. As you'd expect, you can adjust shutter speed and/or aperture. Sadly, in manual ('M') mode, the camera won't offer Auto ISO, so you can't set your shutter speed and aperture and let the camera deal with providing the correct image brightness. Beginner videographers in particular are likely to miss the simplicity this brings.

More pro-orientated features include time codes, markers, and Picture Profiles, all of which will be discussed in detail in the coming weeks. For amateur videographers, though, the GH4 still makes it possible to access a lot of the camera's capabilities. Here we'll discuss the more fundamental features that all users are likely to find useful.

Manual focus and exposure warning displays

The GH4's two main video guides are peaking (which indicates in-focus areas of high contrast on the screen) and zebra pattern, which highlights areas of the scene that exceed a specified brightness threshold.

The threshold at which zebra stripes are displayed can be set in 5% increments from 50 to 105%. The GH4 can store two Zebra settings if you have different requirements for different lighting or wish to quickly check exposure of two different brightness regions.

Zebra stripes continue to be visible while you're shooting movies (without affecting the recorded footage).
Zebra can be combined with focus peaking, if you're manually focusing your video. (Visible very vaguely as green flecks in this image)

Both can be turned on and off using customized buttons (including the on-screen buttons), as necessary.

The GH4 allows the use of some functions while recording but doesn't give access to the Q.Menu or main menu The other key feature to discover in the GH4 is 'Silent Operation' mode, which adds a video-specific 'tab' to the right-hand side of the camera's touch screen, rather than having to turn any dials, which could be captured by the outboard microphone.

Like the a7S, the GH4 offers control over audio capture level (expressed in dB), which can be adjusted, during recording, using the touchscreen if Silent Operation mode is engaged. In common with the Sony you get the option of whether then headphone output is realyed live or delayed to match the captured footage. A three-level Wind Cut filter is available, with Off and Auto settings along with a Mic Level Limiter which reduces the recording volume if the sound gets too loud.

The GH4 can output either a 'clean' signal or one with with settings information overlayed, across its HDMI socket. Unlike the Sony, it provided the choice of 8 or 10-bit 4:2:2 output. 10-bit mode is designed for used with an external recorder, so the settings overlay is switched off. The camera cannot record internal video at the same time as outputting a 10-bit signal over HDMI.

Sample 1

Low light sample. ISO 200 1/50th second shutter speed.

1920x1080 24p 200Mbps, MP4, 25 sec, 151 MB  Click here to download original file

Sample 2

Daylight pan to check for rolling shutter. ISO 200, 1/50th second shutter speed.

1920x1080 60p 200Mbps, MP4, 16 sec, 154 MB  Click here to download original file

Sample 3 - Slow-motion sample

Shot in variable frame-rate mode. 96fps played-back as 24fps. Focus fixed at a single distance.

1920x1080 24p ~25Mbps, MP4, 8 sec, 19.8 MB  Click here to download original file