For some time now I have been looking to purchase a new camera. Before I knew I was going to bite the bullet and break down and get a camera I knew that it needed to field a few requirements for me as a videographer. I knew that I wanted something that was small and mobile, as I am constantly out in the field when on a shoot. I also wanted a camera that was future proof. Now when I’m saying future proof, I’m referring to a camera that has some life to it. I didn’t want to buy a camera that would be replaced by a newly released model a month later. For the longest time I was leaning towards a Canon 5D Mark III as my camera of choice. I chose this DSLR for the high quality stills and video. Up until a few months ago I was convince that this was the camera for me, until I caught word of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4. I first demoed this camera while attending the NAB conference in Vegas and at first I wasn’t incredibly impressed. It wasn’t until I returned from the conference and the reviews started to roll in that I began to give this camera some serious thought. At first glance this cameras fit a few of my initial requirements. The size was just right, in fact it’s much smaller than the Canon 5D Mark III, and the camera shoots video in high-res 4K, which was something after leaving the NAB that I discovered to be very important when choosing a camera. I figured that if I was going to give this camera a try then I needed to give it a test drive and use it in a scenario that fits my normal everyday work. So I rented the camera and a few lens from LensRentals.com and put this camera through it’s paces. Here is a short video I put together after demoing the camera.
After renting the camera for a few days I decided that this camera was for me. So I broke down and bought the sucker and I haven’t looked back. After having the camera for a few months I have found a few items that have stood out for me.
- 4K: The ability to shoot in 4K and then down-res to 1080 is awesome. I love being able to shoot footage that is so incredibly sharp.
- Slow-mo: This camera can shoot at 96 fps, which can be over-cranked for some gorgeous footage. I knew that I wanted a camera that can shoot at at least 60 fps, and the 96 fps is an added bonus
- Photography: I utilize this camera to shoot photos quite often and the stills are quite good. I utilize the RAW settings when shooting stills and then I bring them into lightroom or photoshop to sweeten up the final image.
- Time-lapse: Originally when I was leaning towards the Canon 5D Mark III I was going to utilize this camera to shoot time-lapse video after I uploaded the Magic Lantern firmware to the device. After utilizing the built in time-lapse function on the GH4, I couldn’t be happier.
- Size: The camera is alot smaller than I like, but this can actually work in my favor when shooting clients who may be turned off by such a large camera like the Canon 5D.
- Limited Dynamic Range: The footage that this camera gets has a very limited dynamic range for color correcting. You have to tweak the settings to get a flatter image which you can push and pull in post.
- Poor Low-Light: This camera does not perform well in low light. To adjust for this you must shoot with a fast lens or add additional light.
Why I recommend
I would recommend this camera for a number of reasons. For starters the price is just right, coming in under $1500 for a body only. Compared to a Canon 5D Mark III you can purchase the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH4 and a lens and still have a few bucks left to spend. Also the camera functions and overlays are great any videographer. I love the ability to turn on and off focus peaking, zebra overlays, and histograms. I love utilizing these features when shooting videos. Hands down this camera is great for anyone who is looking to get a fresh start in the video business. It is a great camera camera for someone who is looking to dabble with 4K video or for someone who is looking to get a camera that stands out from the rest. I couldn’t recommend this camera more. If anything rent it for the weekend and come back here and tell me what you think.