I had the pleasure of playing around with the new Panasonic GH4 earlier today. However, very briefly. I only got about 10 minutes or so. This is not enough to do a full review, however enough to make up a couple of thoughts, and first impressions.
I didn’t have time to stroll through all the menus, and check out every little function. I just grabbed the camera, ran out, and did a couple of video test shots. After all, the 4K capabilities of this camera is all the rage!
First of, just by holding the camera I really like how it sits in my hands. Light, but heavy enough. The weight and balance also depends on the lens of course. I used a heavy prime, the 45mm 1.2, and it balanced nicely. The build quality seems good and, to be honest, what I expected. I did not look closely at the buttons and dials. However, they seemed logically placed, and I didn’t spend any time looking for any of the buttons. As I’m used to handle DSLRs, I found that the different buttons were exactly where I expected them to be. The GH4 have a bunch of buttons for easy access to different settings, and at first glance, it seemed to have the buttons you’d expect. It also had a lot of programmable Fn-buttons. This is really nice, though I did not look into the programming options.
Then for the video testing. What I first realized was how great the display is! It’s very sharp, and detailed. It’s very easy to work with, and it’s easy to tell focus when focusing manually. Though, focus peaking, and other tools help as well. I, of course, set it to 4K 25p right away for this test. I wasn’t sure my 45MB/s off the shelf SD-card would handle it, but it did actually! As my testing was quite brief, and I didn’t want to spend it in menus I don’t know what codec, bitrate etc, I landed on. However, I it surprised me to find more than just a couple of options. Compared to most DSLRs or system cameras, you have a vast number of options when it comes to choosing formats, codecs and bitrates.
As I mentioned earlier, the 4K capabilities of this camera is all the rage and for good reason! The image quality is very good and the images looks clean, sharp and detailed. Very detailed. The details and sharpness is in fact really amazing and not only in 4K! Down-sampled to HD and the images still looks smashing!
All in all, my first impressions of the GH4 are very good! It’ll be interesting to try it some more, and see what other people think of it, as new reviews surface. I most definitely think the GH3 have a worthy successor in the GH4, and I think the GH4 will be a very successful, and popular camera. I suspect Panasonic have done a lot of things right with this camera. I don’t think this is the camera that will make me cross over from a DSLR, though. Still images are still the most important work I do, and the work I do most of, so the still image capabilities comes before the video capabilities. While the smaller mirror-less cameras are getting better and better, I still prefer the superior still image quality, and capabilities of the DSLRs at the moment. That being said new cameras like Fuji XT-1, and now the GH4, come pretty close in convincing me otherwise!
Below you can see the test shots I did, nicely edited by Andreas Kalvig Anderson. I shot everything hand-held, so it needed a bit of stabilization here and there. These shots were down-sampled to HD, and of course compressed for YouTube, in the editing process.