Panasonic GH4 “Budapest Cityscape” Film

May 2, 2014
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My friends at Texas Media Systems received their Panasonic GH4 shipment the day before I left for my trip to Budapest, Hungary, it just happened to be perfect timing. I was also lucky enough to have a few extra days before my workshop so I knew I would be able to do some testing. I’m also trying to constantly learn new techniques and improve my shooting so this was a chance to try hyperlapses.

As most of you know my main workhorse cameras are the Canon C100/300because of their image, lowlight, size and versatility. I use these cameras on 90% of our projects. I also own a GH3, Black Magic Pocket Camera and Black Magic 4k that I use on some projects

To be honest the reason I purchased the GH4was to put on my DJI EVO S800 hexacopter. I’m currently using the GH3 since that is the camera my gimbal takes, with the GH4 being the same size I knew it would be a worthwhile upgrade. So in order to prepare to use it I wanted to test out various settings to see how to get the best image out of this little beast. I packed the GH4 along with my Panasonic 12-35 f/ 2.8 IS lens, this is my go to lens with my GH3. One thing that I have always enjoyed about Panasonic cameras is the color pallet as it has a shift towards yellow/orange and produces nice landscape colors as well as skin tones.

Before I get to far into this I want to say that this is not a scientific test, no charts were setup, no calculated DR test done. This is me using my eye as a DP and opinions on what I like. Everyone has different likes/dislikes, needs and purpose for their cameras. So take this as an experienced users thoughts.

The first thing I did was to test out various codecs and frame rates. I knew that I was only looking to use the 24p 4k setting as well as the high-speed 96fps, so that is where I started. I immediately noticed that 96fps was really soft in comparison to the 24p 1080, and especially soft to 4K. I tested this shooting wide scenery from my hotel balcony, as these scenes are the hardest to resolve, here is the short little test of my findings –

My first thought was that the GH4’s 1080 footage looked the same as my GH3. It was a bit soft as most DSLRs are, but the 4K footage looked amazing! It was sharp and resolved all the fine detail in the scene, the only other DSLR that currently does this is the Canon 1DC.

The next thing I wanted to do was test the color profile’s to see what would work best. I prefer to have flat image that will give me as much dynamic range as possible and then color in post. This allows me to capture high contrast scenes as well as have lots of post color grading options. I found that the Cinelike D looked best for me, I adjusted a few of the Cinelike D settings to fine-tune the look. Contrast to – 5, sharpness to -3, saturation to -2, now it was looking pretty nice but I was still not getting the dynamic range I wanted.

This is when I discovered the “Highlight Shadow” setting; this setting is basically a curves function then gives you additional control over the highlights and shadows. I played with a few different options until I settled on -5 highlights and +2 shadows.

The last setting I adjusted was the “Luminance Level” it comes set at 16-235 and I wanted more range so I changed it to 0-255.

 

Once I had made these adjustments the look of the camera was really feeling great. The DR of the log setting I created looked the same as my C100 so I was ready to set out and do some filming. I packed my Lowerpro backpack with the camera and attached my Benro carbon tripod and my Freefly Systems MoVi 10 to the outside. Over the next 3 days I walked around Budapest filming lots of different things that caught my eye. It was a lot of fun to put the GH4 though the paces while at the same time seeing many of this beautiful cities landmarks. The MoVi was awesome for getting those flying shots as I was walking around, I even had a few people ask me if it was a MoVi which was cool. But a lot of people looked at me as if I was crazy haha. The MoVi is such a versatile tool because you can use it for moving shots or even just hold it still to create a monopod/tripod style shot. I used the tripod mostly for doing the Hyperlapses, this was my first attempt and I learned a lot quickly. They are not perfect but I’ll be ready to improve for the next time I do them. I will do a separate how-to write up about those later.

So before I give my final thoughts on the camera, check out the short film “Budapest Cityscape” I created. Everything was filmed with the GH4 and Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8 lens.

Music – marmosetmusic.com – “Dusk” by Marmoset

While using the camera I noticed lots of things, and I thought it would be best to create a pros and cons list. Every camera is a tool, and each of them has a place. Although this camera does create a great image, it does have its issues.

Pros –
– Beautiful 4K image, rivals the look of Canon C100, 1DC, Black Magic 4K
– Great resolution, sharpness and image texture
– Small and light
– Great DR
– Lots of fine tuning profile adjustments
– 100/200 mbit codec
– Did not have banding issues with blue skies or gradients
– No aliasing or moiré in 4k
– AF function is quick, has face detection
– Built in timelapse function
– HDR function that combines photos

Cons –
– 1080 is soft and resolves little detail
– 96fps is soft, but works well in MED/CU scenes
– Micro 4/3 sensor, hard to get shallow DOF, extreme wide lenses, bad in low light
– Low light is terrible, anything over 1600 iso is unusable, too noisy and blocky
– LCD screen isn’t too sharp, hard to manual focus

So what do I think about this camera? I think it creates amazing images, is it perfect, no. Personally for me I will use it mostly for my aerial rig because the image will cut in nicely with the C100/300. But it will also make a great B/C camera for shoots as well as a great travel camera when I need to pack light. The GH4is pretty freaking amazing for how small it is, I can’t wait to shoot more with it and get it on my DJI EVO S800 this weekend. Thanks for checking out the video and my thoughts.

 

 

 

34 Comments. Leave new

You Budapest piece is very nice and is a nice stress test for those looking out to what the new GH4 can do in capable hands. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience.

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Nice review and awesome work on the Budapest video. Was this video mostly shot in 4k? Also what version of the S800 do you have? I know they make 1 or 2 different ones. Thanks and keep up the sick work

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Hi Joe,

A beautiful piece of work and no nonsense write-up. Thank you for sharing, your work is an inspiration to me.

Interesting you find anything over 1600 ISO unusable, I find 1600 fine on my GH3/GX7, but guess I’m not spoilt by those low-light monsters from Canon!

Also a shame the LCD and 1080p are not sharper. Think I’ll be sticking with my GH3 for now, but think Panasonic are onto a winner here!

Thanks again,

James

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Wow, wonderful, well done!
This is by far the most helpful review and footage combo I’ve come across so far.
I am a new GH4 owner and I am learning the vicissitudes of this little beast!

Here is a link to a quick video I just shot to test out a real world ‘mini-shoot’
This was all shot with the 35-100mm/2.8 , handheld and graded from 4K CinD.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjLoZxXMaB8

Look forward to seeing your further explorations with the GH4.
Cheers!

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Thank you very much for sharing! Your opinion is greatly appreciated! Questions: When you say “LCD screen isn’t too sharp, hard to manual focus” compared to the C300? Would it be about the same as C100 screen?? Also, 1080p softer than GH3’s 1080p with comparable settings OR softer?? Thank you again! Have a great day!

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did you just test the 1080p at 96fps? Apparently 25 & 50p are nice and sharp without the issues mentioned above. Also surprised with your conclusions re noise. That’s not what I’ve been reading from other sources.

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I tested out 1080 in all modes and it’s way softer then 4k…. WAY. Check it out yourself if you get a chance

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Wow!!! i love the edit of “Budapest Cityscape” beautiful creative shots, carefully craft with GH4, i respect your act and salute to all the team including the editor, Nice job, i will also like to know how you do the timelapes zoom @ 01:47 that was amazing i can’t get my eyes off that scene.
Thanks again
Bobby.

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Thanks! That shot is called a “Hyperlapse” You shoot on tripod and move it a few inches at a time to create that effect.

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i love budapest ,i want to see:-)

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Hi Joe,

Why again Budapest!
I can show you more and better Place as Budapest in Hungary.

Why mean Hungary=Budapest?
It is not real.

We have thousend most wounderful places.

– Bakony
– Őrség
– Köszegi hegység
– Alföld
– Mecsek
– Bükk..ect

I can help you…..

Sorry for my Englisch
Laszlo

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Thanks for watching. Unfortunately Budapest was the only place I was able to visit on my trip. I can’t wait to come back and check out the rest of the country! Thanks for the tips.

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Beautiful film. Thank you for sharing your findings. Still waiting for the GH4 to arrive in the post, when it does, I’ll be giving your settings a go.

Many thanks,
Ian

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Hi Joe,

Thanks for the review.

You mention the LCD was difficult to manual focus with. Did you experiment with the new peaking features?

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Not a fan of the peaking function, it clutters the image up too much. The AF mode works pretty good to focus when you need to.

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Hi,

I just want say thank You!

This is a beautiful video of our wonderful Hungarian capital city, Budapest.

I wish you good luck for your work!

Greetings from Budapest 🙂

Eszter / Esther

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Thanks!

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This Review is Fantastic. I was very curious about the GH4 and this review has informed me so well. The Budapest film was beautiful and shot so well! I have followed your work for a long time since I Lived in San Antonio. I live in Austin now as well and am part of the UT3D program. I know you do a lot of Travel work, but if you are ever testing in Austin and are in need of free hands to assist I would love nothing more to help or observe. I know its a long shot, but regardless , Your work is fantastic and deserves major recognition (especially at my film school.) Thank you for educating your audience so diligently online and I cant wait to see what you create next
Cheers!

-Isaiah Rendon

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Thanks for checking it out. Send me an email and I’ll let you know if we need an extra hand sometime.

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Great review and amazing video!… I hope you don’t mind me asking, but how did you take that shot at 1:48? It was gorgeous and kind of blew my mind.

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how its grading? does it grade easy?
A lot of room to push for? thats all I need to see and know now. If it grades easy i’ll order soon,

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Grading is great when shooting in 4k, the image holds up really well. I used DaVinci to grade this edit

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Hi Joe
Beautiful work and nice editing. Just got my GH-4, so your comments and insights were much appreciated. Have been using the 5Diii, so will be an interesting change to 4k. The hyperlapse scenes look like fun. Would enjoy seeing your comments. Best regards.

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Hi joe,

very nice work…
I love it.
I have also a GH4.

Let me ask some things:

– why using framerate 24,98fps ?
– what Editing-Software (Color-Grading) ?
– are you satisfied with the 12-35/F2.8 ?
– is there a chance to get an original 4k-clip only for testing with my EDIUS 7.3 ?

Thanks for answers and information…

Greetings from Hamburg

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Thanks. The frame rate is 24p, this is used for USA and NTSC.
– Color graded in Davinci Resolve 10
– I like the 12-35mm lens, it’s a great all around lens to use.
– Sorry I don’t have the original 4k clip. This was edited in a 1080 timeline and down-resed everything.

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Hey, I has recently got the GH4 myself. I was just wondering if you shot in RAW or jpeg, or simply used the built-in plugin to make finished 4k footage? I have had troubles with the rw2 files because Adobe don’t support it yet..

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I did all my photos in Jpeg as I didn’t have support for the RAW images yet. I hope Adobe approves it soon.

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hi joe, thank for your tests and suggestions.
lots of panorama and large scenes in your video so i think you went on F higher than 4, 5.6. maybe i’m wrong, anyway, do you prefere to work with ND filter to stay wide open or decrease shutter speed?

ciao
G

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My F/stop was all over the place depending on my subject. Most wide scenes were 5.6-8, for the people shots I had it at 2.8 to create more DOF. Yes I love using ND filters to control my DOF and aperture. I use Sighray variable ND filters.

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In your pros and cons you do not mention the Voightlander lenses…bokeh can be achieved very nicely with the 25mm if you lower the f stop to around 2.00 or below. I just filmed a bridal prep with the Olympus 75mm… outstanding results. The speed booster offers some interesting possibilities with Nikon lenses. These lenses along with the speed booster can help make up for the camera’s poor low light performance.

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Thanks for the comment. I haven’t used the Voightlander lenses, but any fast lens will help… but it also get’s pretty soft when you shoot wide open. I am waiting for the EF speed booster as that would be a nice mix with all my Canon L glass.

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Great film and review! Thanks for sharing.
Any idea what the native ISO is on the GH4?

Kind regards from Munich

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Native ISO is 800

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On your first photo it says Image Sensor Output 23.98
I don’t have that option. What’s up with that?

Also, Did you make any adjustments to the iDynamic, iResolution, & Master Pedestal Level?

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