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Panasonic GH2 Hacked Further, Now Records to Advanced 176Mbit Codec

10.13.11 @ 1:47PM Tags : , , , , , ,

The Panasonic GH2, arguably the most aliasing-free, highest-resolution hybrid camera out there (pictured here with the $500 ReWo GH2 cage), natively records to a 24Mbit Long GOP codec. “Long GOP” means that redundant information is retained across moving frames, which is a very efficient way of compressing video, but can also leave behind compression artifacts. In addition to the original hacked firmware by Vitaliy Kiselev, a new hacker named Driftwood has managed to drastically increase the bitrate of the GH2, in addition to switching the codec to a 176Mbit intraframe codec, which could offer even better image quality with less artifacting.


The codec works in 1080p/24p/4:2:0, and will require a high-speed SD card (such as this [easyazon-link asin="B003VNKNF0"]32 GB Class 10 model[/easyazon-link], which should hold about 30 minutes of 176Mbit footage). When you stop and think about it, it’s pretty crazy that the GH2′s processor is able to record and play back this codec (in fact, your computer might not even be able to play back the codec without transcoding to something like ProRes first). It goes to show what the next generation of HDSLRs will be capable of — but whether or not manufacturers decide to push the envelope and include this kind of codec in a factory model remains to be seen. Note that the difference between a 24Mbit interframe and 176Mbit intraframe codec will be hard to see on web video, since we’re watching an even more highly-compressed final version. However, everyone who has tested it has noted the quality is higher when seen prior to web compression. Here are a couple of clips for the hell of it…

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=30232392" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

Hit the following link for the new codec. You will need PTools, (Mac users may also need WineBottler), and there are also a number of other hacked codecs available. Also, GH2 shooters should check out Noah Kadner’s GH2 Guidebook (DISCLOSURE: Call Box is an advertiser on NFS). Please correct me if I got something wrong here, I own a Canon 5D Mark II and not a GH2…

Link: Official Low GOP topic Discussion Thread

[via EOSHD]

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  • this is awesome, but i feel like, at a certain point you hit a wall, where exponentially increasing file sizes yield undetectably small improvements in image quality. i’d rather see a much lower mbit intra-frame codec at 4:2:2.

    • bit of perspective here… it’s a GH2! Think about the price and today’s market… It’s the MFRs who need to lift their game… colour subsampling is probably limited at the AD converter or at least very early on in the pipeline. I seriously doubt any firmware hacker could access that…

      • well, the mjpeg codec is 422 on these cameras, so that information is in the “pipeline” somewhere. but i really don’t know whats possible or not in a “hack” context. i’m just grateful for anything really.

  • RevBenjamin on 10.13.11 @ 4:32PM

    Has anyone implemented the hack on nofilmschool? Is there a danger or bricking your gh2, or could you simply retain the old settings on another card or something?

  • Frasier Seth on 10.13.11 @ 4:40PM

    Agree with 4:2:2 (rather than higher mbit codec), and a standard HDMI for recording or monitoring which would include audio. But kudos to maestro Kiselev nonetheless for his generous contributions to a better GH2.

  • In light of these kinds of announcements, and the fervor of waiting for Canon/RED’s big announcements, I can’t help but smile knowing that soon, the metric is ONLY about talent and taste; technology is no longer the limiting factor in cinematic storytelling.

    Hopefully this means we’ll get MORE great films, though likely the increase in mediocre poorly-conceived but well shot garbage will make those gems harder to find.

  • Have heard that the depth-of-field is not so great, due to the Micro Four Thirds size sensor (40% smaller than APS-C). Do GH2 users have any comment on DOF that can be achieved with a) kit lenses or b) more expensive primes?

    • RevBenjamin on 10.13.11 @ 5:29PM

      I’ve got the 20mm 1.7 prime, which has outstanding dof. The 14-42 kit isn’t great as a zoom obviously (only opens to 3.5), but the camera is so easily (and cheaply) adaptable you can pretty much use any nice lens you already have. For example, I had two Olympus OM lenses, a 50mm prime and an 80-200mm tamron zoom, and both of them have outstanding dof and sharpness. I would note though that the much hyped Extended Teleconversion Mode, while a cool feature, still seems sort of off to me. I think it has to do with the ISO noise. Anyway, yeah I’ve been incredibly happy with the footage from that little cam, and once I get my head around this hack, only moreso.

    • (By “good DOF” I am referring to shallow)

      • When videoing, there is a limited amount of benefit from going shallow DoF. Even with a 2x crop, F/1.4 is short as you ever want to get (in say 50mm equiv). Panasonic are doing a 25mm F/1.4 which should be short enough. There is always the rediculously short voitlander nokton 25mm F/0.95 with an MFT mount. It’s really only usable at F/1.4 even for stills. Really, F/2.0 should be short enough DoF for any artistic purposes. Stop worrying about the sensor size.

        • Please, let’s not get into this.. but everyone is open to their own opinion. But in the this case I agree with @
          Chris Poynton… Razor thin DOF can help tell a story, and there is not a right or wrong number. NONE!

          • In other words you can easily get razor thin DOF with the GH2 if you want. Just get a fast prime like with every other camera. End of story.

          • I would like to see some feature film or good short shot with razor thin dof. The first reason is the practicality of it. I am not saying some test shot done by some blogger, but a true production quality movie. Either every actor is more or less static or it becomes a nightmare. Now the second thing is I find it distracting when the dof is too thin that it really cuts out the actor from the scene. It is as if the scene does not exist anymore, he just levitate in a world without form. It can be use as a special effect but it is just plain silly to think that you need that type of dof to tell a good story. The scene is there for many good reason in a story.

      • RevBenjamin on 10.14.11 @ 8:47AM

        Yeah I’m with you man, and yes that’s what I meant as well!

      • I’d be really careful with this line of thinking. “good DOF” shouldn’t be thought of as uber shallow…

        I understand the want for the ability to go super shallow but, in most cases you’ll want to pull back a little and give more breathing room for focus in your shot. Besides crushed blacks, I think, the most obvious sign of an amateur film maker is the misuse of razor thin DOF and images that are either struggling to stay in focus or are just plain out of focus and the excuse of artsy or indy is used to cover it up.

        I think razor thin DOF has it’s uses, and certainly the ability to go to either end of the DOF range is good to have. But one shouldn’t associate “good DOF” with uber shallow or just sensor size.

        I think a more important drawback of a smaller sensor is the light capturing ability. But thoughtful lighting can overcome this easily.

        • People have been looking too much at those glorified test called short movie by some blogger. They have no production value, because they are just a set of random shots. No one is going to complain about the acting etc but just tell these people to do a true short movie and full feature one. When they will have to discard 90% of the actors take because the shot was missed because he stepped 5 cm to close to his mark. Tell them if they even know about a mark. People should sometime try to do some focusing test to see how it is difficult on a set. Imaging if the actors had to do 3 times the number of take because the dof is in cm or even mm.

    • Just shot my film, “Ten Questions” with my GH2 and Nikon Prime lenses. I bought the GH2 because it has a closer DOP to film than 5D or 7D. (Also antilacing problem in Canon DSLRS) The DOP gave me enough room with main actors so I didn’t have to constantly pull focus and at the same time was shallow enough to keep your eye focus on main subject. You can see the teaser here. http://vimeo.com/29285190

    • to clear up a common misconception – depth of field is a product of the focal length of your LENS, not the size of your cameras sensor. a 50mm lens at 1.4 has the same DoF on a gh1 as it does on a 5d. it’s the field of view that’s different. point being, it is extremely easy to get “cinematic” DoF with a m4/3 camera. it’s just trickier if you want very shallow DoF in a very wide shot.

      • Wrong. Depth of field is determined by the aperture, the focal length, the distance to subject AND the size of the negative (or, in this case, the sensor size).

        • actually, true

          but you wouldn’t stick to a 50mm lens if you switched from a 5D2 to a GH2 for the same shot: you’d go 25mm, and that is what affects DoF… in exactly the way that people guess when using the “misconception” that he refers to: if you move from 1.6x crop to 2.0x crop, and want to keep the same FoV and DoF, you have to divide both your focal length and aperture by 1.25 (=2/1.6)

          these four options will give you basically the same image( identical field of view, depth of field, motion blur, and exposure):
          * 50mm lens set at f/5.6, 1/50s and ISO 1600 on a full frame camera
          * 31mm lens set at f/3.5, 1/50s and ISO 600 on a 1.6x crop camera
          * 25mm lens set at f/2.8, 1/50s and ISO 400 on a 2x crop camera
          * 13mm lens set at f/1.4, 1/50s and ISO 100 on a 2/3″ camera

          and so that it is not just theory, some empirical tests here:
          http://www.similaar.com/foto/doftest/doftest.html

  • incredible. I’m surprised that any SD card can keep up with it! Nice one…. can this guy hack my AF100???

    ;)

    • No Vitaliy wants the management of Panasonic video to be replaced by the lumix division, when you see what is in the guts of a $ 800 camera compared to its $ 5000, you can understand why.

  • I would get a Sandisk SD card before I ever did anything important with that kind of bitrate. There is a reason the Transcend brand costs less…I’ve had it wig out on a T3i.

    I’d look at this:
    http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Extreme-SDHC-Memory-SDSDX3-032G-A21/dp/B004P1V8TM/

    or this:
    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/733801-REG/SanDisk_SDSDXP1_016G_A75_16GB_Extreme_Pro_SDHC.html

    I don’t have a GH2, so I’ve not tested these, but I would always err on the side of excessive over capability, than trying to be economical….unless you just shoot as a hobby and can afford to test out different cards.

  • Andrew Jakobs on 10.14.11 @ 9:28AM

    You wonder what would be possible with these camera’s if companies like Panasonic and Canon would just opensource their firmwares (for the parts where it’s possible, as they also use licensed stuff which they cannot give away) and only concentrate on the hardware itself.. Yes that propably means less different models, but to me that’s only a plus as there are waaaaaay too many models out there..

  • This is good stuff. I’ve seen some very organic images produced from footage shot on these hacked GH2′s. To me, they look the most filmic when shooting anamorphic (most digital films do, IMO). I think at this point it comes down to flavor preference of 5d, 7d, or GH2 hacked.

    • One thing that has not been stress about this hack is the cinematic feel. You have some very good hack at much lower bitrate, but the particularity of this one as it is intraframe you get a much better motion as like a film stock, every frame is a single image as with this 176 mbs hack. Below you have one sample that really shows that.

      http://vimeo.com/29930815

  • I really appreciate the work these hackers are doing and the amazing results achievable – but is it just me? Nearly evey link to a ‘new’ hack seems to take you to a page with an old one. Why can’t there be one easily found resource site where you can download these. PTools3 – no problem but the hacks themselves are very illusive beasts. Can anyone help?

  • I have been looking at footage from G2 and GH2 online for a few days now (at least 20 clips). Every one of them seems “jerky/shaky.” Even shots on tripod. My current thinking is that these cameras can’t do smooth video at any bitrate, fps or settings. At first I thought it might be because I was watching HD quality streaming online, but even with HD setting off and downloading the video and watching it from my hard drive it has the same jerky/shaky look. It is subtle, but definatly there. Does anybody else see this “elephant in the room?” By the way, I see it in other camera footage too, like with the Canon 5D and even the new high end nikon. Anybody else not convinced these cameras can really do pro video?

  • Luz Vandemark on 02.6.13 @ 1:57AM

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  • Anyone in here from melbourne who could help me with hacking
    My gh2. Cheers Nic nichaxaw@hotmail.com

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