Thursday, March 27, 2014

Panasonic GH4 - "C" Cam for Alexas?

Panasonic DMC-GH4 with DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface Unit - $3298

Another video from Thai cinematographer Sittipong Kongtong - scouting locations for his next picture with the Panasonic GH4 . Interestingly, the movie will be shot with two Arri Alexas, and, if he can get production firmware for the GH4, he'll use it as his "C" camera.

Once they get their hands on this camera, my guess is that a lot of professional cinematographers will use the GH4 to complement their REDs and Alexas.

As usual, if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please order through the links above or the display ads below. It won;t cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these blog posts coming. Thanks so much for your support.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

See the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera on the Set of Dallas!

Fabulous BTS pictures of Rodney Charters (ASC, CSC) using the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera as a B cam to the Alexa on the set of the hit TNT show, Dallas (from a great Debra Kaufman piece at Creative Cow):

For more great BTS pics and an in-depth interview with Rodney Charters, please see the full article here.

Charters says a couple of really interesting things in the interview. The first is that he prefers the Pocket Cinema Camera to the BMCC for ergonomic reasons. The second is that he prefers BMPCC ProRes to RAW - something that I agree with him on 100%. In my view, ProRes is all you need for most professional work.

To get your own $995 Hollywood ProRes camera(!), click on the picture of the BMPCC above or the display ads below. It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep posts like this coming. Thanks!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Panasonic GH4 Low Light Footage

Panasonic DMC-GH4 with DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface Unit - $3298

Another clip from the preproduction Panasonic GH4 from Sittipong - this time beautiful 800ASA low light footage on the streets of Bangkok. Please watch at the highest resolution possible on your monitor:

There are a couple of rough spots with focus and exposure, but this was unplanned shooting and I don't know what his settings were, so I'm not that worried about that. In my view, the dynamic range and resolution look pretty good in this example, although I continue to take everything I see on YouTube with a grain of salt.

As usual, if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please order through the links above or the display ads below. It won;t cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these blog posts coming. Thanks so much for your support.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Panasonic GH4 versus Arri Alexa Round 2 - 1080/96p Slow Motion!

Another side-by-side of the Panasonic GH4 and the Arri Alexa from Sittipong Kongtong in Bangkok. This time at 1080/96p conformed to 24p for 4X slow motion. Once again, the Arri is shooting a flat LOG 12-bit ProRes 4444, while the GH4 is shooting a normal color profile and h.264 8 bit 4:2:0.

But this time, the originating resolution and the delivery resolution is the same (even though compressed for YouTube). As in the previous GH4 96fps examples from Sittipong and from Jordan at The Camera Store, the GH4's 96fps looks to be very smooth and detailed. Freeze frames show no, or very little, motion blur (e.g., as is seen in Twixtor interpolation). Please watch at your monitor's highest resolution:

Again, at least for YouTube delivery, the $1700 GH4 stands up very well to the $44,000 Alexa.

For filmmakers on micro-budgets, this is very good news. For about the same price as a two day daily Alexa rental, filmmakers can buy a 4K GH4 with the YAGH audio video interface.

I am certainly grateful to Sittipong for posting these comparisons, but it would be nice to see a comparison between Panasonic's CineLook D color profile and Arri LOG. Perhaps next time.

As usual, if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please order through the links above or the display ads below. It won;t cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these blog posts coming. Thanks so much for your support.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Panasonic GH4 versus Arri Alexa - How Does 8-bit 4K compare to 12-bit 2K?

Sittipong Kongtong, a DP in Bangkok, Thailand has his hands on a preproduction Panasonic GH4 and has posted a few interesting clips. The latest is this side-by-side comparison (below) between the GH4 and the Arri Alexa.

Sittipong is a working DP and seems to be shooting these clips on the margins of his day job, so they're not as scientific as many of us would like. This test, for example, is not really a color space test - the Alexa is shooting a flat LOG 12-bit ProRes 4444 in 2K, while the GH4 is shooting a normal color profile and h.264 8 bit 4:2:0 in 4K (downscaled to 2K in post). This is more a resolution, 24 fps motion, moire and dynamic range comparison than anything else - and, in my view, the GH4 intercuts pretty well with the Arri in every one of those categories (at least on my small screen):

Panasonic GH4 4096x2160 vs Alexa 2048x1152 24P from Sittipong Kongtong on Vimeo.

I just booked my flight to Vegas for NAB - I am really pumped to see this camera in person. I have to make sure to order a Kingston UHS-I Speed Class 3 card before I go so I can record the usual shaky, dark trade show footage.

Seriously, I hope I can bring back something that is steady, in focus and decently lit so that people can make real judgments about what the camera can do. Hopefully, my familiarity with the GH3 will allow me to at least turn the camera on and record something useful.

As usual, if anything here has helped you to make a buying decision, please order through one of the links or display ads on this page. It wont cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep these posts coming. Thanks again for your support!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Zacuto First Look at the Panasonic GH4 - An Even More Awesome Hands-On

Panasonic DMC-GH4 with DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface Unit - $3298

Who doesn't love Steve and Jens? Another two guys who have contributed a lot to the community (remember the Shootouts?). Well, here's their take on the Panasonic GH4 . This camera looks like it might be the Grail for still/video shooters.

First Look at the Panasonic Lumix GH4 with Zacuto from Zacuto on Vimeo.

If you haven't pre-ordered this camera yet, you might want to click on these links to get your name on the list at Amazon or Adorama. My guess is that these cameras will be very hard to come by.

Hands On GH4 Review from Chris and Jordan at The Camera Store!

Panasonic DMC-GH4 with DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface Unit - $3298

I admit it. I really like these guys. I bought my trusty Panasonic GH2 from The Camera Store in Calgary based on a review Chris did on it back in 2010, and I have watched their videos with interest ever since.

Here is their latest review - a fairly comprehensive hands-on with a pre-production GH4 . Watch out for the truest statement ever made in a camera review video on the graphic at 7:20:

If you're in Canada, please pre-order your camera from The Camera Store. They are great folks, their service is top-notch and their videos are a real service to the community.

If you're in the States or elsewhere, please pre-order your GH4 and accessories through these links to Amazon and Adorama - or through the display ads below - it won't cost you anything extra and it will help to keep the blog up and running.

Thank you so much for your support!

Monday, March 17, 2014

McDonalds’ “SuperGood” Ad Campaign Shot with Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera!

In a press release today (see link below), Blackmagic Design announced that the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera had been selected as the POV camera for an upcoming McDonalds ad campaign. During the shoot, the camera was attached to the mouthguard of a motorcycle helmet and recorded first person point of view video in 12-bit RAW, which was later transcoded and graded in DaVinci Resolve 10.

Production Company: Native Sons Films, Woodside, CA for Stern Advertising, LA

Interesting quote from Director and DP Joe Murray of Native Sons Films explains why he didn't use 8 bit cameras or a GoPro:

“I also wanted it to look authentic, as if you are looking through a human eye, not a camera, so the footage had to have a sophisticated, cinematic look. Even though it’s a roving, quick point of view, I didn’t want over sharpened, highly compressed images or barreling distortion with a fish eye look. I wanted a naturalistic wide lens look with correct corners and smooth, high quality images, and I couldn’t have done it with any other tool...” Not bad for a camera that costs less than $1000 !

Full press release with more production photos at here.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Panasonic Posts New GH4 1080/96p Slow Motion Video!

EDIT: I'm leaving this post up - although Panasonic seems to have pulled the video. I will re-post if I find a new link. A little frustrating that they would put this out there and then pull it down.

Although we have seen some 1080/96p slow motion from the camera, it is always nice to see more.

Panasonic's real point in posting this video, however, is to showcase the new CineLike flat color profiles and the Master Pedestal feature. With Master Pedestal, shooters will be able to set the "black level" in-camera - either raising the blacks to bring out detail, or "crushing them" to make them blacker. There's a better explanation on page 20 of the HMC150 handbook here.

 Here is what Panasonic says in the "About" section of the video:

"The new Panasonic GH4 is a great tool for Indie Filmmakers.
With its new CineLike D and V features you will be able to record videos with up to 13 stops of Dynamic Range with a cinematic roll off.
It also features the Master Pedestal option, which will lift your shadow areas, giving you an even better Dynamic Range.
That means that you wont have to worry about your Highlights or your Shadows, because the new GH4 will deliver a beautiful, cinematic image.
Use it in 96fps 1080p, to create a wonderful slowmotion, or even in 4k, to deliver a high-end, powerful image!"

Even without 4K, this is going to be a powerful camera for filmmakers.  I've already pre-ordered mine - if this post has helped you to make a buying decision, you can reserve yours by clicking on the display ad below.  It won't cost you anything extra, and it will help to keep blog posts like this coming. Thanks!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

One Day Only - Brand New Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera for $895!

Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera marked down $100 to $895 for one day only from Adorama via eBay. 12-bit RAW video from camera that costs less than $900! This is an unbelievable deal.

Limited number available at this price - if you want one, you may want to pull the trigger now.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Panasonic GH4 Pre-Order Link Up at Adorama and Amazon!

Adorama has their Panasonic DMC-GH4 4K camera pre-order link up, as does Amazon.

If you want to get one of the first few cameras when they start shipping, you may want to click on the one of the links above or the display ad below right now and get in line.

Good luck!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Panasonic Announces Pricing and Availability for GH4 and 4K Interface Unit!

Several sources are reporting that Panasonic has announced official pricing and availability for the new DMC-GH4 4K camera and its DMW-YAGH pro audio video interface.

Prices and estimated arrival dates will be:
Preorder links are up at some of the smaller retailers (and at Adorama) already.  They are not up at Amazon yet, but should be soon (EDIT: the pre-order link is now up at Amazon ).

It looks like my earlier estimate for the price of the GH4 was about right - but my guess on the price of the YAGH was off by $200 to the high side.

This is very exciting news.  It means that existing micro 4/3 shooters will be able to step up to 8-bit 4K from their existing cameras for less than $1700.  And new micro 4/3 shooters can step up for $1700 plus the price of a lens or adapter.

For indie movie shooters who want to step into the world of 10-bit 4K motion picture production this means that for less than $7000, they can record true cinematic 4096x2160 4K.

That $7000 number is based on $3300 for the GH4 /interface kit, plus either a $2295 for a Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q or a $3495 Aja Ki Pro Quad).

Yes, this setup would be several thousand dollars more than a $2995 Blackmagic Production Camera (and would lack RAW recording capability) - but it would allow indies to start at the lower $1700 entry point (lower than the price of a $1995 Blackmagic Cinema Camera), and would give them an upgrade path to:

  • Real 4K recording as opposed to UHD
  • The same bit depth and color space as ProRes
  • 2 XLR mic inputs on the YAGH (and 2 more with the Ki Pro Quad) with decent sound quality - instead of the Production Camera's 1/4" input jacks and dodgy preamps
  • The ability to perform simple camera functions, such as the ability to erase clips in-camera
  • A built-in EVF
  • A pretty good still camera to boot.
As for Canon and Sony 4K cinema cameras - when it comes to price, they are not even in this conversation.

Welcome to the next phase of the hybrid still/video camera revolution!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Just Went Over 100,000 Page Views - Thank You!

Dear Friends,

After not looking at the blog for a couple of days, I just opened the Dashboard and noticed that, sometime yesterday, the page view counter had clicked over 100,000.

I wanted to write this post to say "thank you" to everyone who has stopped by.  I hope that you have enjoyed, or been informed by, some of what has been written here.  I also hope, that in some small way, HCR has provided you with useful information as we seek together to become better photographers, videographers and cinematographers - or at least smarter consumers of camera equipment.

Your support over the past couple of years, as you have read the blog and supported our sponsors, has made what we do possible.  We look forward to many more years of providing you with news and information you can use to turn your still or video vision into reality. Thank you again.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Great GH4 Product Demo with Panasonic UK's Mark Baber

Hat tip to for staying off camera and letting Mark tell us about the camera without interrupting him.

We learn a few things here that go beyond the specs, e.g.:

- There are only 8 pre-production models of the GH4 in all of Eurasia, outside of Japan

- "Face Detection" autofocus now includes "Eye Detection"

- Panasonic seems to have fixed the GH3's SD card door problem

- There is a new 15mm f1.8 in the pipeline and a new, smaller 35-100 constant f2.8 in development

It's a little long, but worth watching all the way through.

If you'd like to have your 4K-capable SD card in hand before your camera arrives, you can get a Kingston 64GB UHS-I Speed Class 3 for $110 or a Panasonic 64GB microP2 Card for $372.

You would only spend the extra money for a microP2 card if you planned to make the GH4 a "B" camera to a Panasonic VariCam or other camera that records to even more expensive full-sized P2 cards. I may invest in microP2 because I'd like to rent the new Panasonic Super 35 VariCam someday - but shooters who plan to stick with the GH4 should get the Kingston (or the new Panasonic Gold Series SDUC when it is released).

Panasonic Posts Autofocus Shootout Between GH3 and GH4

Here is an interesting marketing video on the GH4 's new autofocus system. Google Translate calls the video title "Spatial Awareness AF" when translated from Japanese. Panasonic's English language marketing folks, on the other hand, call it "Depth from Defocus" or DFD.

As I understand it, with DFD, the camera knows which Panasonic system lens is mounted, and compares a database of that lens' "blur" (or defocus) characteristics to the scene that it "sees" through the glass. It uses that comparison to calculate the distance to the subject and set the focus of the lens. With the GH4 's quad core processor, this process is almost instantaneous - advertised at 0.07 sec.

As the video demonstrates, this is noticeably faster than the GH3 - and may rival the awesome autfocus performance of the Canon 70D.

It will be interesting to see which lenses have their defocus characteristics programmed into the camera at rollout. It's almost certain that Panasonic micro 4/3 system lenses will be programmed in. How about Oly m.Zuiko lenses? Sigma micro 4/3 lenses? Classic 4/3 lenses with the MA1 adapter? If non-Panasonic lenses aren't in the database at the start, Panasonic should get them in as soon as possible. It would be a shame to limit this capability to Panasonic OEM lenses only.