As you have probably read elsewhere, Panasonic released firmware updates v2.1 for the GH4 and v1.1 for the YAGH last night. You can download these updates here.
Along with a couple of other minor fixes, the headline updates add timecode and a start/stop command to HDMI out when the camera and/or YAGH are connected to the Atomos Shogun.
Panasonic has also added 30p and 25p native output to HDMI at 1080p - a big deal for 25p shooters.
This is great news for owners (and potential owners) of the $1995 Atomos Shogun - and for shooters in PAL areas, especially Europe.
But it is a little disappointing for the rest of us.
While Panasonic fixes the GH4's compatibility issues with Shogun, other 4K camera manufacturers (e.g., Blackmagic and Samsung) are moving ahead with more substantive fixes and upgrades. And the Sony A7s remains the only camera in this class with a LOG profile.
To stay competitive, Panasonic might want to aim the next GH4 update at fixing more fundamental problems for the entire user base - such as:
- Lack of a LOG profile. GH4 shooters need a flat, gradeable profile we can dial in without having to memorize a bunch of sharpness, saturation, contrast and master pedestal settings. Without a LOG profile, the GH4 is less competitive with the Sony A7s and S-LOG2.
- Single, fixed 4K/24p frame rate. Blackmagic added 4K/80p to the URSA after release. 4K/60p for the GH4 would be nice, but I'd even take UHD/60p.
- Single, fixed autofocus speed. The GH4 needs a variable video autofocus speed control to make autofocus plane changes less jarring. Samsung added this feature to the NX1 after release.
In my view, firmware update strategy has become an arms race. The manufacturer that can match or outpace its competitors in this race over time will maintain leadership in the marketplace. Those that are slow to respond are likely to lose out to more agile companies.
The GH4 is a great camera, and still a very good value for the money, but Panasonic needs a more competitive firmware update strategy.
If the company isn't careful, the GH4 could become this era's "AF100" - a camera that invents a whole new category - and is then eclipsed by more agile competitors.
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