13 May 2014

Panasonic's 4K GH4. All things considered, is this the best camera ever? Featured

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Panasonic GH4 + YAGHE base Panasonic GH4 + YAGHE base Panasonic/RedShark


Fine tuning.

Because the internal SD card recording formats are 8 bit it's advisable to create the best look that you can in camera and the GH4 offers the tools to make this possible. Highlight and shadow curves can be selected and custom created, pedestal levels set, and both Panasonic's D and V film settings are available and fully customisable.
White balance even offers a dial in K mode which is useful for shooting under sodium lights or in other tricky situations.



Photograph taken from the screen of a Dell 4K monitor, showing playback of GH4 4K ProRes, recorded on Blackmagic Hyperdeck Studio. Note the lack of banding on the green background


Expanded Focus, focus peaking and zebra zones may be normal to video camera users, but are a very welcome addition to monitoring on the GH4, but it's the quality of the 2,359,000 dot OLED viewfinder and 1,036,000 rear touch screen that will really impress here. The blacks are so black, just like my plasma at home. When I was shooting at the Grand Canyon in bright sunlight I didn’t need an expensive rig and even with my ‘toy town’ tripod and ultra-cheap circular polariser I was delighted with the results. The expanded view when in manual focus mode really helps confidence of focusing for 4K especially as you can touch the specific area of the screen that you want to expand.


Without the YAGHE the camera offers 3.5mm audio input and headphone output as well as micro HDMI output. Micro HDMI is not the world’s most secure connection, but it's all there is room for on this 560g body. What really elevates the camera to broadcast specifications is the availability of the YAGHE base which can securely be fixed to the body like a chunky battery grip, offering full size HDMI, Quad 1.5 GB HDSDI, 3G SDI, and balanced XLR audio in with phantom power. It also has 12v 1.5 A 4 pin XLR power input (which it needs to run) and timecode input on BNC. It's not the prettiest box but its LED audio level meters, dual audio level controls and robust tripod fixings mean I've grown to love it anyway.
If you want to record externally the YAGHE's quad SDI outputs are available at the same time as HDMI, and if you don't mind turning off the SD card recording 10 bit 4:2:2 is available from both.

The YAGHE injects digital audio straight into the heart of the GH4 without having to go through a 3.5 unbalanced external input, this ensures the best audio recording possible on a camera like this. Also as the camera is powered through the YAGHE it will not go to sleep even if you are not recording internally.

It’s a whopping £500 cheaper to buy the GH4 as a bundle with the YAGHE rather than buying it separately later, so bear this in mind even if you think you might not use it that often. Don’t forget that it doesn’t come with a 4 pin XLR power supply so factor this or a battery solution in too.

I've been recording from the YAGHE via Quad SDI into a Blackmagic Design Hyperdeck Studio Pro recorder in UHD in ProRes. It takes up a whopping great 5.5 GB per minute, but the quality and subtlety of colour recorded in 10 bit 4:2:2 is a pleasure to behold. Panasonic had theirs connected to an AJA Ki Pro Quad at NAB so it will work with those too.

The 10 bit 4:2:2 output also works through the micro HDMI without the YAGHE, but I’ve found only on a very short, high quality cables.  SDI is so much more robust, especially important as remember in 10 bit 4:2:2 output mode, there is no backup from internal recording.


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