December 5, 2016 at 8:46PM


GH4 lenses

After many months of research, I've decided to get the Panasonic Lumix GH4 as my next camera (Nikon D3300 being my first and only). I have very limited glass for the nikon, so switching it up isn't a big deal.
I'm wondering what lenses to purchase to get the most out of my GH4. I plan to use it mostly for video, but would love to use it for photography as well. I'm already getting the Lumix 12-35 2.8. But beyond that, what would some other good lenses be?
I've seen wonderful things done with a Sigma 18-35 1.8 and a speedbooster, but if I were to get that should I get the EF mount or the Nikon mount?
Any other suggestions on glass, for either video or photo, would be welcome.


There are several ways I've seen people use the GH4. The most natural (to me) is as a m43 camera with m43 lenses. This is the most compact, ergonomic, and economic. With Olympus PRO lenses or Lumix Leica lenses or Veydra Primes or Voightländer primes, it seems almost unfair that such a small package can deliver such great results, especially 1080p video.

In that way, the GH4 is also a good, but not quite ideal 4K camera. The next bump in performance comes from using an external recorder (such as ATOMOS SHOGUN) to capture 4K in 10-bit 4:2:2 instead of 8-bit 4:2:0. The SHOGUN seriously changes the ergonomics of the camera, but it also enhances them by adding much better video tools (Waveform, Vectorscope, RGB Parade, 1:1 and 2:1 focus, etc). But it takes you definitively out of the super-sleek format of the GH4, which can otherwise sit comfortably on small tripods, sliders, gimbals, etc.

The final way I've seen the GH4 is as a much improved imaging platform for people with large collections of 35mm lenses. This almost always requires adding a speed booster, and it results in funky ergonomics where the lenses completely overwhelm the camera body's form factor. Pairing a GH4 with many 35mm lenses requires building out the camera just so one can attach it to a standard video tripod plate. Since you don't have a large collection of lenses, I would shy away from this use case and really concentrate on whether you want the sleekest camera (and easiest to mount on a gimbal) or something more substantial (and clumsy).

One thing about the GH4 sensor size is that it very much lives in a different universe than the ultra-shallow DOF of FF35 sensors. I bought 3 Voightländer f0.95 lenses so that I could create the same effective DOF as one gets with a 35mm f2, 50mm f2, and 85mm f2 lens. The speed booster does have the effect of giving you back some of the DOF you lose with the smaller sensor size, but it doesn't give it all back, it adds weight and bulk to an already-heavy and bulky lens, and it adds lots more optics to what already is probably a lot of glass.

My recommendation is to look at the GH4 as what it is: a brilliant m43 imaging platform, and to look at the lenses that come from that universe.

December 6, 2016 at 4:41AM


I've been shooting with the Micro 4/3 format for almost 5 years now ( GH2, GH3, GH4 cameras ), and the lenses I use the most are...

Panasonic 12-35 f/2.8
- good general purpose workhorse lens, great for hand-held shots

Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AI-S lens with Metabones 0.71x SpeedBooster
- my favorite "headshot" lens for interviews. Looks great and it's fast at f/1.0

Nikon 85mm f/2.0 AI-S lens ( with or without Metabones SpeedBooster )
- great medium telephoto lens ( fast and compact )

Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AI-S Macro lens
- Sharp macro shots with good working distance. Can also be used as a medium telephoto.

...I owned the Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 zoom for one year and then sold it because of the "jitter" from the stabilizer which messed up hand-held video shots. Great photography lens, but not my favorite for video. I plan on checking out the new Panasonic 50-200mm lens when it arrives, which hopefully will be a great lens for handheld video.

I also owned the first version of the Voightlander 25mm f/0.95 lens for about a year, which is a gorgeous lens for Micro 4/3 cameras, but I absolutely hate this focal length for Micro 4/3 cameras so I sold it. ( I also hate 50mm lenses on Full Frame cameras, where my "standard" lens is the wider 35mm lens for Full Frame shooting, or the 17.5mm for the Micro 4/3 format ) I might buy the Voightlander 17.5mm lens next year.

I also own 5 other Nikon AI-S lenses, which I use from time to time when I need something wider or longer for the shot.

And I own a Samyang 7.5mm fish-eye lens, which I use when I want super-wide distorted shots. ( great for fun "b-roll" footage )

...One other lens I've had my eye on for the past year is the Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 lens, just because it's so wide and would be great when you need super wide effects shots.

Right now I'm holding off buying any more lenses until the GH5 camera is released in April / May 2017, as I want to be certain anything I buy will be a good fit for the GH5.

December 6, 2016 at 12:00PM, Edited December 6, 12:04PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

I have Panasonic and Olympus lenses that i use on my GH4. I wouldn't recommend the Panny lenses for video. I haven't used mine since I got the Oly 12-40 f2.8 and the 40-150 f2.8 and 7-14 f2.8 about 8 months ago. The Oly 12-40 is a much better lens for video than the Pany 12-35 if you don't need image stabilization. I've never been that impressed with the in-lens stabilization of the 12-35 anyway. It's nowhere as capable as the in-body stabilization cameras I've used. My Oly E-M5 mkII with in-body stabilization makes me realize how useless the OIS on the Pany 12-35 is. It's OK if you're shooting on a shoulder rig and concentrating on being still but otherwise I find it useless. If you can wait a few months and can afford it, i'd wait for the GH5 for image stabilization that works if you need it.

The Oly 12-40 has real manual focus capabilities with mechanical focusing and so repeatable focus pulls, great glass, a bit more reach and the same aperture as the Panny 12-35, It's not a true parfocal lens but it's pretty good. Depending on the subject and how smooth you are, it can yield pretty good zoom results. The Pany lens is useless that regard due to aperture shifts while zooming. The Oly lens is way more solid and durable but about 2.5 oz heavier. It also doesn't seem to auto-focus quite as fast as the Panny lenses on my GH4. It seems faster on the E-M5. It's still not bad and I use it for static stuff, especially when my eyes are getting tired.

I've also got a pile of Nikon lenses that i use with a speed booster. I use them when i'm trying for a look, but they are nowhere as sharp as the Panny or Oly lenses either with a speed booster or a glassless adapter. I have both old A-I and A-IS lenses as well as newer auto-focus Nikons. I actually prefer the AF glass as the newer coatings/glass seem to control chromatic abberations and flare and such much better than the older glass. I shoot mostly nature documentary stuff so much prefer the sharper look of the native glass. I find that the Nikon glass has to be stopped down several stops to be anywhere near as sharp as the Oly lenses I prefer to use. If I was shooting other stuff, then i'd look into the Veydras but they're not cheap. Good value, perhaps, but not cheap.

Good Luck.

December 9, 2016 at 11:14AM

Rex Sorthab

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