Panasonic’s Lumix GH line, built around the micro four-thirds standard, has been notable for bringing a lot of power to the “low end” DSLR market. It was a pioneer of video recording on interchangeable-lens form factors, and it’s currently blasting through a new barrier: Making 4K video cheaper for all of us.
4K For All
The 4K video is really the Lumix GH4’s selling point, and unsurprisingly Panasonic is bearing down pretty hard on how it’s the tiny little production camera of choice. One of the Lumix GH4’s accessories is a “grip” that adds a whole number of professional inputs and outputs, such as XLR connectors and external drives. It also essentially turns the camera into a brick, but hey, 4K shooting.
That said, there are a few drawbacks.
Roll, Shutter, Roll
The main problem is that while the image processor is better and rolling shutter is reduced, the rolling shutter isn’t gone. Another problem is that Panasonic has come up with a “custom” data card to record the 4K video that’s fairly heavily compressed for this sort of thing: 4:2:0 color space, to specific. Not to get excessively technical, but that’s not as good as a camera that shoots RAW files and won’t stand up to color-grading. With the aforementioned grip, you can record in less compressed video, such as 4:2:2. But it’s still a situation worth noting.
It All Comes Down To Price
For low-budget filmmakers, the question is really price, especially since the Blackmagic 4K is $3,000 and addresses these issues. But the GH line has been sub-$2000 for a long time, and if the “professional grip” costs little enough that it’s cost effective, this will be a camera that will see a lot of movies and documentaries shot on it. The Lumix GH4 will be out sometime this year.
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.