Panasonic GH4 Review

Last year I purchased a Panasonic GH4 to take on my summer road trip, along with the Sigma 18-35mm art lens, a metabones speed booster, and a couple other accessories.  I would say for the price point I think it's a great little camera to have with you if you like shooting video from time to time...I had a couple video ideas that I wanted to shoot with it over the course of the year and so far I've enjoyed the results of what it can do...

First, I wanted to build a rig that shot video through the ground glass of my film camera's viewfinder.  I built an L shaped wooden rig that held the GH4 vertical, pointing down into the viewfinder of my Mamiya C330.  Building it was easier than I expected, the majority of the time I spent making a cardboard flag to attach to the lens to avoid reflections and flares.

 I tested the rig in the woods one weekend with my girlfriend Heather.  She's thankfully patient with me when it comes to trying out new camera equipment. :) 

 I'm hoping to use this rig again, perhaps for some kind of time lapse project in 2016.

A shot of the rig...can't say it looked beautiful...but it worked well enough.

A shot of the rig...can't say it looked beautiful...but it worked well enough.

Panasonic in late 2015 came out with a V-LOG firmware update to enhance the camera's sensor to increase the dynamic range for grading in post.  I went out to Rocks State Park in Maryland to test out the new firmware on the autumn colors.  I'm glad that I got the update, I am really happy with how the footage turned out.  I can't attest to how much different it would be had I not gotten the update, but I felt the $99 was worth it for making the camera the best it could be.

I also got a chance in this video to test out my Dynamic Perception Stage R tilt/pan head, shooting video instead of just time lapses. I think it works well, although it's quite heavy to lug around hiking...

I also took it to a little beach near my house and shot a sunset, to see how the new firmware looked when confronted with highlights and shadows.

Another thing that I wanted to add to my setup this year was a stabilizer of some sort.  I didn't have the budget for anything expensive, I just wanted a simple cheap option as an alternative to handheld.  Initially I bought a Glidecam HD2000, but I didn't like the quality of how it felt. Although, I thought it still did the job well. Here's the test video I made with that... 

I ended up returning the Glidecam and looked into something a little cheaper but well reviewed. What I found was the Laing P-04s.  It's a pretty simple knock-off product of a Steadicam and other stabilizers, but I think it's actually built a lot nicer than the Glidecam.  It has a carbon fiber pedestal, a nice dense metal cheese plate quick release, smooth gimbal, and an easy to use counter-weight system.  It was only around $279, and I'm really happy that I got it.  The only drawback I would say is that it's a weight on your wrist after a while, but they sell a vest and arm that can go with it for about $400 more on eBay.  Also, it has a bit of an issue with pendulum swings, but that may have been user error too since it was my first time using it.

Here's a video I made to test it out...

Overall I really love the GH4.  I love the built in 4K, the slow motion capabilities (though I only shoot up to 100mbps/48fps usually, I've noticed the video starts to look a low lower quality when the bitrate is stretched past that), I love the size and feel of the camera, and I've always been a big fan of Panasonic's cameras because they are workhorses.  For the price I couldn't be happier with the camera.

I'm looking forward to using it a lot more in 2016...(and very curious what the GH5 will look like when that's announced.)