GH4 – Tests & Profiles

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When I received my GH4, I didn’t expect much as I’ve owned a GH3. Not in a way as I thought it’d be no good, just in a way as I thought it’d be the same but 4K.

I mainly bought the camera as I own a RED EPIC, but when it hires out…I get bored and camera lonely.

So I thought i’d pick up this bad boy.

When the box arrived, I thought…wow such a small box, then I opened it up and the actual camera box was half the size

I thought, christ…forgot how small these cameras actually are.

To roam around with a 4K camera and 96fps 1080p in this small size…in fact, being able to carry it around by the pinch of your fingers is…INSANE!

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First questions for me was…do I get native lenses for the camera or use my EF mount lenses.

I love how fast tech moves but….new native lenses with a new camera, I felt the image would just look to sharp

no feeling and just look too boring.  Sharp, colorful but nothing I look at and think…wow that looks nice.

Nothing wrong with the Panasonic/Olympus glass, just personal taste.

But the image stabilisation with the 12-35mm, 42.5mm 1.2 and 35-100mm 2.8 would be great to have for handheld shots, no time for rigs etc.

For now I stuck with my EF glass…but also just bought the Panasonic 35-100mm 2.8 OIS

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Now with the crop factor, even more so when shooting 4K as the GH4 crops in.

Do I get a metabones speedbooster, but wait…there is no EF to 4/3 speedbooster mount

so do I have to buy another Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 in Nikon mount, then buy a speedbooster etc

too pricy, annoying and I hate the reverse focus rotation on Nikon glass.

So I thought…there must be a company doing something similar to Metabones, so I searched around and found this:

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Its called a Focal Reducer not a speedbooster, and for only £70…wow

can’t go wrong, thought I’d give it a try.

Can you control aperture, does the lens speak to the camera…NO!

So you either have to set your aperture in an active EF mount camera, then put it on your GH4. Or leave it wide open, or what aperture you desire and set your shutter speed

or ND to adjust.

You can order them here, but they take a little while to arrive…about a week or 2 tops:

Generic Focal Reducer Speed Booster adapter For Canon EF mount Lens to Micro 4/3 M4/3Camera

Generic Focal Reducer Speed Booster adapter For Canon EF mount Lens to Micro 4/3 M4/3Camera

Buy from Amazon

Only issue with the mount, is there is a little bit of wiggle to the direct mount on the camera…works fine. You’ll notice it a bit when zooming or focusing.

Here are some comparisons with and without the Focal Reducer, so you have a rough idea. There is some slight ghost/milkyness to the adapter, so be careful with some shots

Here is the Sigma 18mm with the Focal Reducer

18MM FR

Here it is without the Reducer

18MM NORMAL

Here is is at 35mm with Reducer

35 FR

and without

35 NORMAL

now with the new Sigma 50mm with Reducer

50 FR

and without

50 NORMAL

 

UPDATE: I no longer use the Focal Reducer as I think it ruins the image a bit. Now just use a standard EF to 4/3 adapter

Here is a video test I did with my new Sigma 50mm Art 1.4

 

The camera battery life is insane, I bought 3 batteries and every time Im out shooting I only use 1 haha. Good to have spares though!

Regarding cards, everyone mentioned to use the new U3 cards, but mine didn’t arrive by the time the camera did. So I used my old Sandisk U1 hanging around

and it worked fine for 4K video…but I also use the new U3 cards too… U3 will be good for people using the 200mbps 1080p mode

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So lets get shooting…my first real test I never posted.

I thought ok, everyone loves and says to use CinelikeD profile…so I went out and started shooting. Set everything -5

When I got back I was shocked…I didn’t really like it. To me, CinelikeD has a weird fakeness to it…I didn’t feel apart of the image (whatever the that means, haha)

It felt a little toy looking to me, kinda like Cinestyle on the Canon Cameras. So if you use CinelikeD, def grade it …even if its minor to get rid of its weird look.

CineV looks great just less DR and Natural looks nice too

Thats when I found magic…this camera can do so many things, different profiles, settings for what you need.

I still love organic looks…I love the Alexa, RED look so I thought. I will compare the GH4 to my RED EPIC.

IMG_0557

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Its not a test in terms of, which is the better camera…

But to simply look at the image on the EPIC and do my best to match a profile with it on the GH4.

I am still messing with settings, not there yet…but very close to what I like.

After profile settings, whats next!?

Well all this 96fps news was crazy…but everything I’ve seen looked too soft and not enough resolution, kinda as you’d expect going from 4K to 1080p. I’d never use it when the EPIC shoots 120fps in 5K and 300fps in 2K.

But…never say never, give things a try.

Again, I was quite shock how well it performs in 1080p at 96fps.

If you leave the camera in 50hz PAL (system frequency setting in menu) you can record 200mbps All-Intra 50p

or in 24hz mode which allows 4K recording with the 1080p Vari-mode, that records 50p and up to 96fps at a lower bit rate of 100mbps,

few people asked… does the 50p look better at 200mbps rather then 100mbps?…to be honest if there is any difference, its nothing crazy to worry about

so I stick with the 24hz mode and use 50fps to 96fps when I need it

So here are my tests below, shooting 4K and 1080p 96fps:

 

 

 

Now one thing I haven’t mentioned til now is…….I actually upscaled the 96fps 1080p footage to 4K. Why? Well the camera is already naturally sharper then the EPIC.

So why not try the softer 1080p footage upscaled to see how it performs. I did the same thing when I had the Black Magic pocket camera.

The first 2 videos above…all the slowmo footage is upscaled to 4K.

Its a weird thing, the tiny resolution mess upscaled kinda becomes a little less noticeable as its not so bitty looking.

But it still looks good in 1080p, just figure out what you prefer.

Here is another fun test. 5K RED EPIC footage at 96fps and the GH4 at 1080p 96fps

Yes EPIC Wins but…damn damn good performance from a £1,200 camera that performs 96fps at only 1080p:

 

The camera also has curves options…more amazing features.

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But be very careful…raising your shadows can get noisy and lowering your highlights can get milky.

Test, test and test to find your sweet spot.

Some people also love i resolution and i dynamic, which does work well. Just watch your noise in the clips, especially when switching from 4K to 1080p for the 98fps

Thats whats so great… tweak and find your favourite settings…have fun as this is one amazing camera.

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Here’s another 96fps test

another new test here:

 

Seen some people saying the GH4 skin tones are horrible and that the camera is just a 4K camera, good for landscapes.

So I thought i’d do a quick Skintones test between the GH4 and RED EPIC. They look great to me!

RED EPIC:

red

GH4:

gh4

I wasn’t in the exact same spot, but you get the point of the test.

 

Also, here is another quick test at the beach:

Monitor Solution:

Ok, so I think the EVF and monitor on the GH4 are great. But no one shoots with the evf to their eye all the time and the monitor on the back can sometimes be hard to see in bright daylight or for critical focus while handheld or steadicam etc.

I came across this cool monitor by Sony Called CLM-V55.

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Its a 5 inch monitor and i think its a great solution for the GH4. Not as pricy as the SmallHD DP4, which is also a great monitor but I owned that before and wanted to try something different.

The feed is live and doesn’t knock out the monitor from the GH4 so you can view both if needed.

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Its looks great, only downside is the monitors lowest kelvin setting is 6500 not 5600, but still looks great.

You have options for peaking, contrast, sat, brightness etc etc

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Its also comes with a cool clip on sun hood that looks pretty snazzy too, not to mention great for those bright days haha

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As I mentioned, its fairly cheap. I got mine off of amazon here:

Sony CLM-V55 5 inch LCD Monitor for Video Shooting

Sony CLM-V55 5 inch LCD Monitor for Video Shooting

Buy from Amazon

Since this is probably my last GH4 update, I thought i’d leave an important message.

Any cinematographers, videographers etc looking to use this as a professional tool. Beware!

Not that it isn’t good enough as I truly believe this camera rocks and can easily stand with the big boys.

But thats where things get tricky, no matter how many clients I show how amazing the GH4 can look. As they know I own/shoot on a RED EPIC, they want me to shoot on the EPIC. If I mention the set up time is faster, won’t have to offload as much, won’t have to switch/charge batteries as much, audio is a bit easier, won’t miss shots due to being faster etc etc.

They don’t care!

unfortunately…most people think the bigger the better and the big RED logo on the side attracts their attention.

I honestly thought we were past these times and that the talent/content was the key. But looks define our reactions to most things.

So anyone thinking of ditching their gear for more gear, quadcopters etc…..or hoping that this awesome little GH4 or A7S will take over some jobs and make some shoots easier. 80% of the time they won’t …

Its a real shame

 

 

23 Comments

  1. VAISSE says:

    thanks very interisting and your color profil setting is ???

    THANKS

  2. Ceptor says:

    First off thank you for tests, this is the best looking GH4 footage I have seen.

    Just wandering about the 96fps upscale thing tho..

    Did I understood correctly that first you up scaled to 4k and then down scaled it back to hd for Vimeo.
    To my eye the first slow motion clips seem sharper than the last comparison one (gh4 vs epic).
    Did you upscale the gh4 footage in that one as well?

    All the best,
    C.

    • Heya

      Many thanks for the kind words, I appreciate it

      Yes…I upscaled the 1080 to 4k
      Then downscaled for vimeo

      Also, the red video was all edited in a 1080 timeline. So for the gh4.. no upscaling to 4k

      • Ceptor says:

        Ok cool. But after this info I have formed a theory – might it actually be that 96fps material will look better (meaning a bit sharper, less artifacts) when you upscale it to 4k and then back to hd? Just some kind of weird pixel interpolation magic happening there maybe..

        Another question is that is there any noticeably quality difference between different fps options? For example some guy on blackmagic forums motioned that 60fps looks a lot sharper than 96.

        As I’m contemplating whether to by GH4 myself – I have a lot of questions. But your stuff has pushed more in 80% yes 20% no direction.

        Thanks again,
        C.

  3. yeah I mentioned this on vimeo…

    I think leaving it at 1080p, you notice the little artifacts more, where as upscaled they become a little less noticeable

    Havent messed with 60fps but it looked great on the GH3

  4. Hugo says:

    Best looking GH4 footage ever seen for sure! Maybe an update soon of your blog post, with all the GH4 settings you are using ?

    Thanks,

    Best Reagrds.

  5. MarcusT says:

    Interesting article, even though not very scientific. Some of the shots look really good. Pity about the blasphemy and expletives…

    • Hi Marcus

      I blog what I like about cameras & think what might help people with the cameras. I don’t blog about every camera going and do scientific tests with them, I’m not that kind of blogger.

      Apologies if I offended you, just the way I explain things.. in case your on here viewing future posts.

  6. This might be a bit random but you mentioned your issue with technicolor’s cinestyle profile, which would you recommend in place of it? I’m curious since i just picked up a t3i with magic lantern loaded and want to try stuff and any tips would be much appreciated.

  7. Paul says:

    Hello Daniel, thank you for this post, it is very helpful. I am currently deciding between the 6d and the gh4. It seems like the lens compatibility is a large issue with this camera. Would you recommend the gh4 over the 6d? Also, this may be out of context but what variable ND filter do you use? Thanks a lot and have a good one!

    • Hi Paul

      With adapters I think you have great lens choices with this camera, plus all the Panasonic lenses with image stabilisation, 12-35mm, 42.5mm and 35-100mm.

      I would choose the GH4 over 6D, but thats just my opinion.

      I use the Tiffen Vari-ND, I love it

      Hope that helps man?

      • Paul says:

        Yeah thanks that helps a lot! I just have one more question then. Will I still be able to get a shallow depth of field with those lenses? I’ve heard due to the smaller sensor size, shallow depth of field is difficult to get. Would that mean I would need to get a speedbooster and nikon mount lenses, if I wanted a good shallow depth of field. Or do you think that lenses you suggested will work just fine? Thanks Daniel!

  8. The 42.5mm you would get nice shallow depth of field, kinda the same with the 35-100 due to the focal length…not so much with the 12-35mm

    • matsy1 says:

      Hi. Random question? Im an ex canon user so still getting used to this monster. Im trying to set up a custom dial for 96fps so I can switch easily between 4k and variable. When I turn the dial to C1, it sets it for photos, I hit menu go to video settings but 4k and variable rate is not available? What am I doing wrong? Matt

  9. timaloney says:

    As someone paid for gigs using Canon glass, 5DmkIII, and C100, C300, I found it interesting how your clients want the RED regardless of the expertise going into the image with a GH4. The GH4 is a remarkable camera for the price, although certainly not a replacement for the Epic but a compelling tool nonetheless. As someone seriously looking to step up one’s game, does just owning an Epic make that much of a difference for booking gigs? Suppose you never bought an Epic in the first place and put all that hard work into say a GH3 or DSLR from the get go do you think you could have forgone the Epic purchase altogether with tools now coming out that are rivaling the image and ease of use?

    • timaloney says:

      And I should qualify that by saying the line of work you’re in, not work that might require the likes of a C300 over that of a Epic like event stuff.

    • Its a tricky situation Tim.

      I believe owning a C100, C300 etc will trick their minds into thinking… big camera, big production, so you don’t need to go F55, EPIC.
      I don’t think owning an EPIC will make a big difference in booking gigs, it will if you only owned a 5DMKII or 550D.
      I started with an HVX with 35 adapter, then 5D2, NEX5N, Scarlet and now EPIC – (yes sold all cameras to move forward, haha)
      Most clients when I started with it, had no idea what an EPIC was.

      The problem I found and why I moved to EPIC was, everyone was shooting 5D2. Its was affordable.. that the clients booking me ended up buying one and shooting it themselves.
      Despite the talent, they see cheaper…..we can do it, but the catch 22 is, they also want professional looking pieces with pro cameras. This is also good for them when other clients, competition see any behind the scenes..They look more professional.

      Now that also works in a different way, if I only had GH3, 5D2, GH4 etc. They want to hire in cameras, or I mention we can’t do such and such shot unless we had this camera.
      They start to think, this is too pricy. We have to hire him, then a camera. Most of the time, the location hire gets paid more then me…sometimes 3 times more, so hiring in cameras for them is extra and a pain.
      So already having the gear makes things easier.

      I got fed up with buying a new camera every year, this ones better lowlight, this ones better codec, this ones raw with slowmo. So I thought I’m safer getting a 5K RAW camera with great slowmo.
      That should do me good for a few years.

      Then GH4 comes out, 4k and 1080p 96fps slowmo for £1,200. I thought I was screwed for jobs, as people will buy that…shoot on it or hire people with it.
      But I’ve tried shooting 3 jobs on it recently and they all wanted EPIC.

      So my main point is, be very careful in investing in great native glass, rigs for that new camera, media.
      A7S will be the next one…but nearly £5k for the camera and 4K recorder is a lot….especially when the client will probably prefer to book you with a C100, C300.

      This industry is one big mind game.

      This is another reason why I hire out my EPIC cheap, cuz Ive been there and its a nightmare.
      So I figured £250 a day with lenses helps a lot of people as its a pretty good price for an EPIC and it also helps me pay bills.

      Hope that helps?

      • timaloney says:

        Thanks for the feedback! I totally understand where you’re coming from. It’s just not that clear cut but it does seem to matter how “professional looking” you’re gear is and how that justifies the costs you incur up front and how much of that is being borne by the client.

  10. Ricard says:

    Hi Daniel!
    Amazing review; loved the shots and the way you talk about the camera.
    I have a question maybe you can help, need to use Panasonic lenses for the gh4 but I wanna get rid of the clinical look or oversharpness. Apart from reducing it in camera I was thinking about a diffusion filter but I have no idea about the topic, could you guide me? Thanks man!!

    • I Ricard

      Thanks for the kind words man, appreciate it

      Im currently testing my 35-100mm panasonic lens to see how it does. You could use filters or maybe de-sharpen is post.

      Hopefully my footage is ok so you can see how the panny 35-100 performs haha

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