4K In The Real World

4K video recording in Cinema 4K (4096×2160/24 fps) and QFHD 4K (3840×2160/up to 24/25/30 fps in MOV/MP4)
16.05-megapixel Digital Live MOS Micro 4/3 sensor
VFR (variable frame rate up to 96 fps in 1080p) time-lapse shot/stop-motion animation capability built in
Professional video functions (time code, SMPTE/EBU/ARIB color bars, focus peaking, synchro scan, Cinelike D and Cinelike V gamma settings, zebras, highlight/shadow control)
Numerous bit-rate recording options up to 200 Mbps
Dual OLED high-resolution displays (LVF and monitor)

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 camera began making waves well before it was released. Introduced to the world at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the GH4 promised a tremendous amount of exciting features, including 4K on-board recording, at an unheard of price point of well under $2,000. Soon after CES, interest and expectations about the final cost and the camera’s release date began to build.

Since its introduction at the end of April 2014, the GH4 has received a lot of coverage, with many discussions and tests focused on the camera’s technical specifications. In the interest of enlightening the few readers who aren’t familiar with the GH4, here’s a brief list of what I consider its most relevant and exciting specifications.

The GH4 has an optional DMW-YAGH interface that attaches to the bottom of the camera that adds XLR audio inputs with phantom power, 4K 10-bit BNC output, audio meters and several other features. But the YAGH interface costs more than the camera and reduces the ergonomics of the GH4 from a tiny Micro 4/3 body to a larger, clunky, tripod-mounted package, plus the YAGH must be externally powered. As of today, the DMW-YAGH is actually the only way to record 10-bit, 4:2:2 4K with a third-party outboard recorder.

I recently bought my own Panasonic GH4 and immediately began keeping notes on how the camera performed in my real-world situations. I’m the principal of a video production company called Big Little Films. Over the past few years, I’ve employed many different camera systems on our projects, ranging from the ARRI ALEXA to DSLRs like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III, both as primary cameras, as well as B-cameras on larger shoots.

With these considerations in mind, I’d like to share my experience in using the Panasonic GH4 on the first couple of projects I shot with the camera since receiving it at the end of May 2014.