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September 22, 2010

Will the Panasonic GH2 be Better for Filmmakers Than the GH1?

If you have a Panasonic GH1 manufactured prior to July 2010, you can hack the firmware and shoot at astoundingly high bitrates. However, anyone who has a GH1 manufactured more recently is stuck with the stock firmware, as Panasonic locked it down recently -- presumably so the forthcoming pro Micro 4/3-based AF100 won't be cannibalized by a much cheaper, hacked still camera in the bitrate department. Now Panasonic has announced the sequel to the GH1, the aptly-named GH2, and the question worth asking is: will an unhacked GH2 will be better than a hacked GH1?

The stock bitrate has been increased to 24Mbps from the GH1's standard 17Mbps setting, and DPReview seems to think the camera is a significant upgrade for movie shooters:

Like the GH1, the GH2 is distinguished from its G-series contemporaries by its video shooting capabilities. The GH2 is a far more serious video shooting tool than the G2, and indeed the majority of its competitors - both mirrorless and DSLR. The GH2 offers a similar video specification to the GH1 but with one important difference - the sensor no longer doubles-up its sensor output in order to create its highest-speed video (the GH1 sensor could capture at 24 or 25 fps, which was then put out as 60i or 50i footage). Instead, the latest sensor can capture progressive (whole frames) at 60 or 50 fps. Its output is still limited to 60i or 50i because there are no common ways to distribute 60p or 50p footage, but this should certainly improve the output quality. The GH2 also has the ability to save footage at a different frame rate from the one captured - allowing slow-motion or high-speed effects.

Of course, as filmmakers we're primarily interested in shooting at 24p, but the GH2's 60p mode will yield much better slow-motion footage (shoot at 60p, slow down to 24fps). The question is whether anyone will hack the GH2's firmware; otherwise, filmmakers looking to get the most bang for their buck (and those not shy about hacking their GH1) could view the GH2 as a downgrade. On the other hand, there are some interesting new features that, depending on your needs, could prove to be valuable -- for example, autofocus that refreshes 60 times a second might actually be viable for casual use. The higher ISO setting of 12,800 is likely unusable in video mode, but the simultaneous HDMI output should be a boon for monitoring.

Here's a video on the features of the new camera from Panasonic UK:

While searching for more info on the GH2, I came across this hilarious press release, which I can only assume was machine-translated:

The cinema-like 24p movie with the bit rate of max. 24 Mbps provides overwhelming image quality with richly expressive afterimage. Furthermore, together with the Cinema mode, which is newly added as an option of popular Film mode, 24p movie enables the movie to have a characteristic superior gradation shown in movie. The new Variable Movie mode makes it possible to record motion images in variable frame rate for creating a fast/slow-feed movie to look it unusual.

In that case, I'm in. Coming soon to a theater near you: richly expressive afterimages that look unusual.

Link: Panasonic GH2 Preview at DPReview

Your Comment

12 Comments

I'm a newbie to using smaller cameras/DSLRs for video work. I was leaning toward getting a Canon 60D, but am intrigued by the GH2. Are there any huge differences between the two that would sway you one way or the other?

September 22, 2010

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Mike

I have the same concern!
60D or GH2?!
Advice would be much appreciated?

September 22, 2010

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Sal

That's a good question -- I haven't gotten my hands on the 60D yet, but there will be plenty of opinions out there very soon...

September 22, 2010

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

The GH1 / GH2 does not do Pixel Skipping like the 5Canons do. Have a look at the Vimeo forums with GH1 samples. The GH1 ( specially with the hack ) dos not have half the video artifacts the Canons do.

September 23, 2010

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Tulio

You're absolutley right Tulio -- and if Tester13 (or someone else) is able to hack the GH2, it might be the one to beat in that price range. We'll see...

September 24, 2010

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

I'm afraid that hack may never come

all the latest panasonic models, and even the recently produced GH1's, come with encrypted firmware, with doesn't allow tester13's hack to work its magic

http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=218181

September 24, 2010

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> Since Canon, Panasonic and Nikon seem not really interested in producing the right camera for the right price for us don't buy in the first three years to come but rent your camera. Some manufacturers have to protect their investments in their video line of procucts. But technology isgoing to move fast and rental companies usually have the cameras their customers want. I refuse to fill the manufacturer shareholder's pockets.
I want the best technology. All mentioned manufacturers do not apply the right technology, but manupulate their existing technology and it becomes a fad. Large sensor RAW is what we all want. CinemaDNG is the way to go.
Capture in camera but process your images outside the camera, as simple as that. But always remember it is not about the tools but about your skills and creativity. Many seem to forget.

September 26, 2010

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I hope due to stop! This is one of the greatest blogs Ive ever read through. Youve got some crazi skill here, man. I just hope that you choose to dont lose your layout because youre definitely one of the many coolest bloggers out generally there. Please keep it up as the internet needs someone as if you spreading the word.

January 7, 2011

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How can one set up recording in 50p on the GH2?

January 11, 2011

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Myles

I got my hands on the GH2. Delivered within 48hrs and all I can say is "amazing".

February 25, 2011

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UMMMMM WHAT I CAN"T BELIEVE THIS. This morning I came across b&h selling the whole gh1 with the 14-42 kit lense for $499. I was in shock, I thought it was a misprint, so I looked on a few other sites and they were all selling at like 1100, so I said I can't believe this there is no way this camera could go any lower then 500 with the kit lense and I also read about the hack for the GH1 before so I said I have to act now and get 2 of them.

I just bought 2 of them. I have been so hyped about this that I have been looking at videos of all the hacked gh1 stuff, then I came across some site that said the hack no longer works and new gh1s are encrypted/locked in some way. I CAN"T BELIEVE THIS. I just shelled out over a grand for them and now I find out on some dudes blog that the new ones I can't hack anymore, man I guess I am screwed big time. Maaaaaaaan I wonder if I can sell them to anyone but everyone else probably wants to hack them too and I couldn't sell it to them without telling them so I will no doubt end up with them. Blah.

GH1 hacked encrypted locked firmware tester ptool does not work on new GH1.

April 29, 2011

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Max

You know it can be hacked now right?

July 30, 2011

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Whappo