October 23, 2013

4K Panasonic GH4 May Arrive This Spring to Compete Against Canon Cinema Cameras

panasonic gh3 rumors higher bit rate wide dynamic rangePanasonic has done a tremendous job with the video quality on their mirrorless photography cameras (especially when hacked in the case of the GH2), but their video options in a dedicated camera have lagged behind both Sony and Canon, who chose to go with larger sensors for their dedicated video cameras. Now, it looks like Panasonic is trying to come back at the game at the lower end with a 4K-shooting camera, and give excellent capabilities in a small form factor.

Thanks to 4/3 Rumors, here is the rundown of the possible 4K Micro 4/3 camera:

16mp
1/8000 shutter
1mil dot OLED screen
21mm OLED viewfinder, 3,000+ dot.
Time code
200mbps mp4 All-i/100mbps IPB
4k/30p
4:2:2 10/8bit output
3G-SDI and XLR adaptor (An adaptor that the camera sits on with XLR x2, HD-SDI x4)
Price: €2799

They have given this a very high rating, but as with all rumors, everything has to be taken with a grain of salt until it's announced. 4/3 Rumors also mentioned that the camera is a bit bigger than the current GH3, which apparently will be even bigger with the SDI and XLR adapter underneath. If there does turn out to be some truth to this, I would imagine that this will represent a new line in the Panasonic lineup. Since it seems like it's going to be coming in a mirrorless/DSLR form, it's not going to interfere with the high-end video in their lineup.

Panasonic was at the very forefront of high-end digital cinema with the Varicam (which still looks great, by the way), and at the lower-end with the DVX (and then the HVX), but the AF100 never took off the way their cheap mirrorless cameras have, possibly due to the fact that it had a smaller sensor than Sony and Canon's products. This meant it wasn't as good in low-light, and there was a crop factor on lenses you probably already owned. When the GH2 was hacked, the very good image quality compared to other DSLRs at the time (like Canon), combined with the inexpensive price of the camera, meant that people were more willing to overlook sensor crop issues, and it did very well in the low-budget filmmaking world. Now they could be trying to capitalize on some of that following with a slightly more expensive product.

panasonic_af100_gh2

As much as I prefer the ENG style for video cameras, this move would make a lot of sense. This new line wouldn't cannibalize their higher-end the way that the GH2 did to the AF100 because the larger and more expensive cinema-oriented camera they've been showing off at a few NABs will have a Super 35mm sensor. There was a second rumor source over at 4/3 Rumors who mentioned that this would be all of Panasonic's best tech and would also compete with the C300 (probably on image quality and form factor). It's unclear if it will have ND filters, but there have to be subtractions in order to make it affordable and still leave something for the their higher-end.

Not all the specs are perfectly clear at the moment, like the part about the 10/8-bit output. Up to 4K 30fps (and presumably good downscaled 1080p) and good bit rates would be welcome in a small form factor, and it would not be surprising if Panasonic has also noticed what a certain Australian company (Blackmagic) has been doing with their cameras. While the latter company has faced a few delays getting their products out, they have been in very high demand, proving that sensor size can be less of an issue when the image quality is there and you're getting RAW and ProRes formats. Blackmagic has worked to give the highest possible quality in the most affordable package possible, and the fact that two of the cameras can utilize Micro 4/3 lenses makes for more directly competing products than they otherwise would have been.

I wouldn't mind seeing them put this new sensor into a body like the AF100 with ND filters -- and we very well could get that at some point. For now, all we've got is rumors, so we'll just have to wait and see what they've got up their sleeves come NAB time.

What do you think? How much would you pay for a more professional GH camera with 4K and presumably better image quality than the GH2 and GH3 -- something close to the C100/C300?

Link: (FT4) Full Panasonic GH 4K camera specs! -- 4/3 Rumors

Your Comment

117 Comments

Christ I just bought a GH3. It better have 120fps, bigger sensor and RAW, then I will buy it..

October 23, 2013

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Visual

I know a guy that bought an iPhone 4. Two weeks later iPhone 5 came out. I'm thinking of saving up and buying a HP Z820. But if I do I may wish I hadn't since something newer and better will come out months later and I will regret it. My brother builds computers for fun. I should just have him keep me up with things, part by part. With this kind of playing field one thing I won't do is buy a camera, or computer, that isn't future proofed. 4K is needed in a camera for future proofing. By the end of this year WalMart will be selling a line of 4K tvs, though I don't know if it will be in store or via their web site. It is likely it will be via their web site for a while, then in store. 4K is very quickly coming into the mainstream. And I can see why. At Fry's today I saw 4K tvs next to 1080p tvs. Fry's, unlike Best Buy, has 4K tvs on display next to 1080p tvs. Best Buy stores have been told to keep them apart. So they display them standing alone . But with 1080p and 4K next to each other at Fry's the difference is immediately apparent. 4K makes 1080p look flat and even blurred. 4K is more beautiful, more interesting, and easier on the eyes. I am very, very curious to see video from this GH4 4K!!

October 23, 2013

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Gene

this is a different class, you probably paid around $1100 for a GH3 (I did 5 weeks ago). This is 3000 euros, quite a bit more.

October 23, 2013

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Derek

Amazing news! I'd prefer a DSLR with 4K than whatever Blackmagic puts out. I like removable batteries, and quick-access buttons (like ISO, shutter) on the body. But will it do RAW?

October 23, 2013

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I would rather have 1080 raw than 4k. I can't even watch 4k anywhere within 400km of where I live.

October 23, 2013

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Tyler

I love the old battery argument. Imagine your DSLR had an internal battery that kept your camera alive while you swap external batteries seamlessly. Cool feature huh?

October 23, 2013

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Kraig

Sending in your camera to the manufacturer to have the battery replaced isn't so cool (as it is with BMD).

October 24, 2013

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Do you even laptop?

October 24, 2013

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Louie

You are right in one respect though - buttons (of all things) would be a nice feature on the BMCC. Still doesn't make me love the images I get from my camera any less though :)

October 23, 2013

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Kraig

Sounds exciting. I've personally loved the GH line especially since the hack. Still have my trust GH1. Also, I trust Panasonic. All good ideas so far. Ready to see product!

October 23, 2013

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Ben

$4000 sounds about right for a GH4K, considering the upcoming Blackmagic 4K camera is $4000.

I'd buy that for that price in a heartbeat. Not interested in raw as much as I am in the 4K resolution with the battery life and ergonomics of the GH3.

October 23, 2013

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It may not need to be $4K. If it doesn't offer Raw, the price will be closer to $3K, which is what many are guessing. It also will not be called a GH4 probably, as 4 is bad juju number in Japan.

October 23, 2013

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Chris H

The price in Euros across the pond usually translates to the same price in the US dollars in North America, so €2,700 should still be under $3,000. Mind you, GH3 is currently sold for about a grand, making the GH4 (let's use the rumored model number) carry a $2K premium over its 1080p brethren. For comparison, the current Samsung Galaxy Note 3 carries very little premium over the previous Samsung models, despite having the 4K recording capability and the very powerful Snapdragon chip.
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BTW, Sony's Z-100 has already seen an MSRP drop, being currently listed by B&H at $5,500. And Z-100 has a 600 Mbps 4:2:2 recording compared to 200 Mbps expected on GH4. It's also be interesting see what Sony does with its sub-FS 700 models, such as VG-900 and FS-100. Both seem overpriced for 1080p.

October 23, 2013

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DLD

Well, heck, I won't complain if it's $3000! I already have all the lenses I need for Micro 4/3, so a GH4K (or whatever it's called) would fit in very nicely. Is it Spring yet? :)

October 23, 2013

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I expect more 4K camcorders to be revealed at this winter's CES, something to compete against the already announced Sony line - AX 1 ($4,500) and Z-100 ($5,500). I am surprised that there hasn't been any 2.5K announcements - which is a solid intermediary step in resolution - but that may appear in the $2K-$3K cameras soon. Or not.

October 23, 2013

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DLD

Everything in the video world is going to 4K... for now. Red Dragon 6K will make people want 6K. And from there it's step by step to 16K. What would make people want to slow down for 2K and 2.5K?

October 23, 2013

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Gene

Because it's easy to upres 2.5K. Because it's far less expensive to make the 2.5K suitable media cards and data transfer cables/related accessories. Because a high bit rate 2.5K generates less heat. Because it provides for an easier workflow. Because it should suffice for the next couple of years. Because a less expensive but a more feature laden camera allows for a quicker shoot. Et cetera, et cetera.
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Sure, in two-three years, everyone will be able to shoot a 16-bit 4K lossless Raw into a 4 TB SSD with a perfect baked-in look, no blown highlights or crushed blacks and subsequently copy that data into a 12" tablet, that will then automatically assemble the full daily edit according to the shot sequence.
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But we're not there yet.

October 23, 2013

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DLD

Yeah, acquisition, upload, editing, rendering, all slower with 4K. But it's worth the wait. 1080p is faster for those things than 2.5K too. But faster and easier isn't what life is all about. We have a microwave mentality in America. If you want ultra convenience go with 720p. Memory cards are smaller then. And man, what a nice rendering time! Like making microwave popcorn. But it will be 720p when you're done. Truth is, the video world is going to 4K, and beyond, because the end user wants it, because it looks so good, because humans will always want to go for more. The inconvenience of handling 4K, and beyond, all the way up to the end user is actually not inconvenience but the way to earn a living, a way to future proof yourself. You're keeping up with the times then. You're rolling with the changes. That's life. Taking the easy way can lead to the poor house. Life doesn't give a lot of reward to those taking short cuts. It's about the end users, isn't it? They may not find the product handed to them at lower resolution attractive. Yep, taking the easy way looks so good up front. But the bill ends up being expensive. Pay the price and create something great.

October 24, 2013

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Gene

"We have a microwave mentality in America. If you want ultra convenience go with 720p. Memory cards are smaller then. And man, what a nice rendering time! "

I kinda see your point, but for me (and everyone I know personally) not going 4k yet isn't really about that.

It's about the best possible scenario vs. reality. In reality, there are deadlines to meet, and to meet those deadlines, corners have to be cut. The trick/talent is in knowing what corners to cut without affecting the quality of the end result.

Like if I have a 3D mograph-heavy project for online delivery, I'll go for 1080 or even 720p over 2.5k. Why? Because it's going to web and there will be no perceivable difference in the end product online. If it was going to a big screen, that's one thing—but it's not. It's going to social media. My salary doesn't go up if I spent 3 days rendering vs an afternoon, or if a freelance client, they sure won't appreciate paying for that extra render time and get essentially nothing extra for it.

Same goes for video acquisition. Could we get a 4k raw camera? Sure. We'd also need faster machines, more storage and more lenient deadlines to handle the extra ingestion, rendering, etc. all of which are not free and give us almost nothing in return right now because everything we make goes to web or broadcast.

It's not about the "easy way out" for us—it's about reality. Deadlines have to be met.

October 24, 2013

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Plus, there's probably $1,500 worth of price difference between 2.5K and 4K and, for that difference, you can get a bunch of pro features included:- from zebras to histogram, from XLR's to focus peaking, from Phase Detect AF to time code. And we haven't even started with the lenses.

October 24, 2013

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DLD

David S.

I see what you are saying. What I said---is trumped by what you said.

A much faster technology for handling 4K must be developed.

October 25, 2013

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Gene

Nikon doesn't seem to think 4 is bad luck.

October 23, 2013

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AdRath

$3000.00 also seems very low considering the Canon 1D C that does 4K (4096 x 2160) video, for the body only is $11,999.00:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/855962-REG/

October 23, 2013

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Gene

Sounds interesting. Curious about dynamic range though as that seems to be missing from the rumor. I'd take 4k 10-bit with pro codec over RAW as well, so long as the DR is in the 12-13 stop range.

October 23, 2013

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Scott

Please be true

October 23, 2013

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Michael Heiland`

On paper it looks like a strong competitor against the Canon 1DC. It's nice to see 4:2:2, 10-bit recording in a camera at this price point. Frame rates above 60 FPS at decent resolutions would be the cherry on top.

October 23, 2013

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Marc B

Yeah, it's the 4:2:2 that makes my ears prick up.

October 23, 2013

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Tom

I worked on a shoot recently with the 1DC and was quite impressed. Except for its price. If this camera is anything like it I will consider it. My fear too is that it will top out at 60 fps at the higher resolutions. There were rumours Canon was updating its firmware for the 1DC to handle 120 fps but it was still only available at 720 in our rental.

October 23, 2013

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claude riban

If I remember correctly the 1DC is only 8bit.

October 23, 2013

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Dave

I can't believe all of the bitching ive seen today in the forums over what this spec list doesn't have, lol.
A Gh series camera with 4k at 200+Mbps with an OLED display, 10 bit 4:2:2, and FULL pixel readout of
The sensor for $3k.

"No ND filters!? Wtf!! This camera is a no go for me.. "

Spoiled kids. Lmao.

October 23, 2013

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XML

lol

October 24, 2013

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Gene

Subtracting ND filters would be a no go for me. I still like working with the Af-100 over the Gh2, because it has them. Variable ND filters suck.

October 23, 2013

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moebius22

Just by a proper set of regular ND filters. Who cares if they are built into the camera.

October 23, 2013

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Lucian

For the documentary, tv and event shooters out there ND wheels & switches are a godsend. I'd care!

October 23, 2013

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Chris Lambert

+1

October 23, 2013

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Pat

-2

October 23, 2013

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vinceGortho

Exactly. Takes 1 second to hold an ND filter in front of the lens to see if it's the right strength. I have no Idea why people complain about having to use regular (non-variable) ND filters. They're cheaper and better quality than the variable NDs out there.

Would I *like* a built in ND filter wheel in the GH4? Sure, why not? But if it doesn't have it, will I hesitate to buy one? Absolutely not.

October 23, 2013

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Well, maybe some people complain because they are predisposed to being negative.

October 24, 2013

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Gene

I think a lot of people here are clueless about documentary and event shooting.

October 24, 2013

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moebius22

buy a camcorder :)

October 24, 2013

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Lucian

It takes much more time to change the ND filter... And then change it again and again because the sun moves. If you do documentary you understand how valuable it is.

October 28, 2013

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Martin

Joe, there is something that you repeat here that I feel is a bit inaccurate. You imply that the GH2 only became superior to the other DSLRs of the time once it was hacked. The unhacked GH2 had vastly superior image quality over its contemporary DSLRs even unhacked, at least in terms of resolution, detail, moire, and aliasing. It actually still is superior in those areas to most of the current DSLR offerings, unhacked. From what I understand only the latest Nikons and hacked 5d Mk3 (perhaps the BMCs?) get anywhere close or better. It was, however, always average to mediocre on dynamic range and highlight rolloff/clipping, but those are at least somewhat controllable through lighting and exposure.

In other words, the hacks added some icing to the cake and brought some extra attention to this hidden gem, but the cake (camera) was already superior in most measures even without it.

October 23, 2013

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Shenan

Wasn't implying that at all, but the hack made it much more popular than it ever would have been otherwise, and the hack made the footage better for grading.

October 23, 2013

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Joe Marine
Editor-at-Large
Shooter/Writer/Director

I guess that's how it reads to me, but it sounds like we agree. Thanks for the response.

October 23, 2013

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Shenan

Yes, all measurements except for color, dynamic range and rendering of skin tones. Resolution doesn't help everything, otherwise most productions would've used the GH2 for all DSLR requirements more often. But, it wasn't for those reasons primarily (and of course popularity in other cases).

The GH2 was certainly great for resolution. Unfortunately that's really where the offerings ended.

October 24, 2013

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I think the GH2 is superior in color, and skin tones as well. It's the dynamic range were it fails for me. My last job we used both a GH2 and a 5D3, and un hacked the GH2 killed it in every way except for DR. I have other gripes about the Gh2 but it's a winner in my book.

October 24, 2013

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ArchiCine

I shoot on GH2 for paid work all the time. Clients really rave about the "fantastic" looking footage. It's really easy to make great images with that cam. There's something about Panasonic that "gets it" in regards to video. The various models highlighted within the article are a perfect example. This forthcoming 4k cam sounds really good.

October 24, 2013

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Jim

seems unlikely they are gonna put ND wheel in a DSLR. Heliopan variable ND is suppose to suffer less from the IQ pollution of other variable NDs. I prefer to just stack regular ND's but I can see if you are running and gunning it might slow you down a bit.

October 23, 2013

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Lucian

Didn't see anything about a global shutter, so I think I'll pass.

October 23, 2013

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Bolex16

I didn't see anything about 4K in the DigBolex so I am passing on it as it is not future proofed.

October 23, 2013

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Gene

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