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!
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
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:
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:
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
Here it is without the Reducer
Here is is at 35mm with Reducer
now with the new Sigma 50mm with Reducer
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
Its also comes with a cool clip on sun hood that looks pretty snazzy too, not to mention great for those bright days haha
As I mentioned, its fairly cheap. I got mine off of amazon here:
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