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2014 Neighborhood Fireworks at 96fps

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 4.27.51 PMOver the Forth of July here in these United States there are lots of fireworks celebrating our Independence Day. I decided to take the Lumix GH4 out and shoot some of our local fireworks at 96 frames a second. One of the nice new features of the GH4 is the ability to shoot slow motion in the camera. That way when I play it back it plays in slow motion. I set the iso of the camera at 1600. I used the new Lumix 14-140mm lens. I am real happy with the results. I hope you enjoy them.

GH4 Firmware Update

Panasonic has released a firmware update for the GH4. The improvement is: 1. Improved the reliability of video recording performance. It was issued today, 2014/07/01.

Also the lustrous Leica G 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron got an update as well. The lens is know as to Panasonic as the H-NS043. The improvements are: 1. Improved the motion picture quality under high sensitivity in use with GH4.

For those of you who have a Lumix GM1 there is an update as well. The improvements are: 1. Connection problem with Apple iOS devices via Wi-Fi is fixed.

The update can be found here: http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/download/fts/index.html

The GH4 Users Report Part 1

The Lumix GH4 has become a very popular camera. Most of this is because of the 4K video feature at a reasonable price point. Some other bloggers are discovering the joys of using these 21st Century cameras that I have already known. Here in Part 1 of my user review I will explain some of the reasons why I like this camera.

GH4 & GH3

GH4 & GH3

Even though they are very similar in many ways, the Lumix GH4 is a major improvement over the Lumix GH3. As regular readers of this blog will know I am a great fan of the GH3. For Panasonic to improve the camera is quite an accomplishment because the GH3 was already a great camera. The new camera would have to be considerably better for me to like it a lot more. It is. They look the same except for a small detail, locking mode dial. Inside Panasonic has changed the camera considerably. Because of this, I find it hard to pick up the GH3 anymore because of the GH4. Here are some of the reasons why.

The viewfinder is miles better than its predecessor in the GH3. Not only is it sharper but it is easier to see without the edge Rainbow colors of the old viewfinder. I just don't like looking at the GH3’s viewfinder anymore. They even improved the eyecup. It is now softer and more comfortable. With the extra pixels in the viewfinder the image is a lot clearer. Sporting a new sensor with a faster read out, the image quality has improved in both stills and video. This faster sensor has improved the viewfinder as well. This is the first electronic viewfinder that I find looks almost like an optical view finder because of the faster readout and higher pixel count that adds to the clarity of the image.

One thing that I have wiped about the GH series is the swivel LCD. Swivel LCDs were put on videocameras many years ago and I have always liked them. I am glad that Panasonic put them on all of the GH series cameras. They have improved over the years. By adding more pixels Panasonic has improved the clarity of the swivel LCD on the back of the new camera is much better than its predecessor. So much so that I could now use it as an auxiliary viewfinder with my HoodLoupe. Still there on the LCD is the wonderful touch control that worked so well on the GH3. I have always liked the touch focus.

The new locking mode dial is very convenient in that when you push it down it locks the dial. Leave it up and the dial spins freely. This is a better arrangement than having to hold the button down to turn the dial like I'm some other cameras. I like being able to lock the mode to movie shooting.

It is wonderful that the improvements that came with the GH3 are still there. Having dedicated buttons for white balance, ISO asked and exposure compensation is great. I use them all the time. Having so many other function buttons is great too. I have always liked cameras with two Control wheels. One for aperture control, the other for shutter speed.

In Part 2 of my user review I will write about the improvements on the inside of the camera.

Shot with the GH4.

The GH4 does a Parade

Framegrab from 1080p

Framegrab from 1080p

Here is the 2014 Sequim 119th Irrigation Festival Parade in all it's glory shot in AVCHD 1080/60p. With the limitations of YouTube the video was reduced to 480p at 30 frames a second. YouTube does not do 60p. I reduced the video to 480p because the parade video is 105 minutes to keep the file size down. The lens used is the New Lumix 14-140mm f4-5.6 O.I.S.

Doing long form video on the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is wonderful.
Number one: Unlimited Recording. There is no limitation on how long you can record, unlike most other HDSLR's. The bigger the SD card the longer you can record. The camera does not stop till you stop the camera.
Number two: No Overheating. The GH4 does not overheat and shut down, period. That was a problem with other cameras that I have used.
Number three: Long Battery Runtime. The camera battery lasts a long time. I have had one battery cover an entire opera, symphony concert or musical.
Number four: Buit-In Viewfinder. The viewfinder works while shooting video. In sunlight, in shade, in the dark, does not matter.
Number five: Adjustable LCD. The rear OLED LCD is adjustable. It can be viewed from any position.
Number six: Bright LCD. The OLED LCD is bright enough to be seen in daylight without a hood. Wonderful while working on a tripod.
Number seven: Audio Level Display: The audio levels display on the screen and stay on screen as long as you are recording video. On the GH3 display the audio levels went off after a short time.
Number eight: Focus Peaking. Being able to manually focus on the fly with the LCD and viewfinder is great when the subject is constantly changing.
Number nine: Zebra Bars. Being able to see what will wash out in exposure is very helpful. They can be set to 80% or 100%.
Number ten: Low Rolling Shutter. 1080 60p has the lowest rolling shutter on the GH4. A noticeable difference. 4k has the most rolling shutter.

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 replaces a video camera.

Unboxing the GH4

Unboxing The GH4 ProjSo far I am very happy with the Panasonic Lumix GH4. The features are wonderful and I like that Panasonic has listened to it's customers. This is a very impressive camera indeed.

This unboxing video does not have footage from the camera or goes into depth of features. Those videos will come very soon as well as the full review. This is just a look at the camera.

4K Video of Kenmore Camera on YouTube

GH4

GH4

4K – it is insane. I cannot even play it back on the screen of late 2013 MacBook Pro Retina. 4K video has more pixels than my screen so I cannot view it in all it's grandeur. I have posted on YouTube at 4K the footage I shot at Kenmore Camera’s Grand Opening on a preproduction GH4. For those of you can view 4K it is there for you to see. The rest of us Will have to view it at lower resolutions.

The GH4 is the first camera that I will own that has more resolution than my computer screen. I have experienced 4K video before using a RED camera. The RED camera files were difficult to use because that camera only shoots RAW so the file sizes are huge.

Screen Grab from 4K video

Screen Grab from 4K video

At 100 Mb per second the GH4 files are much more easy to use. I like that the h264 files are in a QuickTime wrapper in the camera. I had no real trouble editing this footage. Final Cut Pro X is already set for 4K. Your performance on another editor may very. I imported the footage from the SD card and it did not take that long because the file sizes are reasonable. FCPX has smooth playback while editing this footage. I did not add a lot of effects or layers so rendering times were quick. Later I will do some heavier editing to push my editor to see if I have any problems.

Shooting with the GH4 requires a very fast SD card to have the camera continue recording without stopping. It appears that 95 Mb per second cards seem to keep up with the 4K video. These faster cards also make importing the footage faster.

Also I will post some 4K screen grabs from the 4K video in my Flickr Set.

Hands On With The GH4

GH4
GH4

Preproduction GH4 taken at Kenmore Camera

It is here! On Friday Feb. 20th, I posted on this site that I was going to the Kenmore Camera Grand Opening. I tweeted it and Kenmore camera reposted that tweet. They also sent me a note that a certain 4K camera would be at the show. It was.

When I arrived at Kenmore camera, there was Mark Toal from Panasonic with the preproduction GH4. He warned me that this camera had beta software and from time to time would crash. Fortunately all I had to do was turn the camera off and turn it back on to continue shooting. I was able to shoot stills and 4K video at the store. All of the footage in my video besides his interview were shot with the preproduction GH4. How lucky was that! There are only four preproduction GH4’s in the country.

My thoughts about the GH4 after handling and shooting with the preproduction camera:

The first thing you will notice is that the camera looks like a GH3. It uses the same battery as the GH3 and battery grip. But a GH3 it is not. So much has been improved on this new camera that it is a major step forward.

The next thing you notice when putting it up to your eye is that the viewfinder has been improved dramatically. The viewfinder image appears very large to the eye. with no color fringing on the edges. It has a much clearer view because of the increased screen resolution and better optics in viewfinder. The eye cup is much more comfortable then the one on the GH3.

GH4 Top

The screen refresh rate has been increased so it doesn't not look like the traditional electronic viewfinder. The viewfinder image is much clearer. The pixels are so small that you don’t see them. Also the auto focus is blazingly fast because of a faster refresh rate and new quad processor.

There is a locking Mode Dial but it does not lock in the traditional way. If you leave it up the dial freely turns, if you push it down it locks. I like this arrangement much better than the way other camera manufacture’s do it.

All the buttons and dials are in the same place as the earlier camera. So anyone familiar with that earlier camera will be familiar with this camera. The menu system is very similar and more extensive add new features. There are a lot more controls for video in the new menus. With all these improvements we can tell that Panasonic is listening to the photographers who are using their cameras.

GH4 Back

But the main reason I came to see this camera was its biggest new feature, 4K video. It has been said before and I will say it again, 4K changes every thing. Panasonic has put together the most affordable 4K camera on the market. It does not have raw video, but the video it does have is damn good. Four times the resolution of full HD video is an incredible feat to put on an SD card. Mind it you need very fast cards for this camera. On this preproduction model with good cards it could shoot about 10 seconds of video before it quit. What a very fast card rated at 95 Mbps it could shoot 4K video without stopping. The 4K at this camera creates is at 100 Mbps. I tried the 1080 video at 200 Mbps and again on this very fast card I was able to get just a few seconds worth before it quit. To take advantage of this new camera, new SD cards will needed. This is not a big surprise but a necessity. The only video mode that you can still use regular cards is the slower AVCHD mode. This is a saving grace for wedding photographers and others who shoot long programs. 24 Mbps is a lot easier to record.

People are asking what is the benefit for still photographers with this new video centric camera? One of the major ones that I have thought of is that mirrorless cameras have never been thought of as good cameras for sports and other action photography. Most of them use contrast detection of focus so the camera usually is not good for tracking action. My solution is to shoot short 4K video clips and then pull out a still image from the video, a frame grab. 4K video yields an eight megapixel still, good enough for a lot of uses. Unlike the still photographers that use DSLR’s who get maybe 10 frames a second, with 4K video you get 30 frames a second with no viewfinder black out. That is a lot more frames to choose from. Still photographers are already doing this with the RED camera but the GH4 is only a fraction of the cost of the RED camera. In fact the GH4 is a lot less expensive than those DSLR's that the sports photographers are using now.

The better viewfinder, faster focus and better low light performance are also improvements for the still photographer.

Will I be adding this camera to my arsenal? You bet! Does it replace the GH3? No. It is now a higher tier camera then the GH3. It depends upon the shooter.

Here are the pictures I shot with and of the GH4 at Kenmore Camera at Flickr.

Here is my video recorded on February 21 at the Kenmore Camera Grand Opening.