September 8, 2014 at 5:30PM

0

GH4 v A7S

The two cameras getting nearly all the attention right now seem to be Panasonic's GH4 and Sony's A7S. If you had to buy one, which would it be and why?

20 Comments

Personally, I feel like I'll be leaning towards the GH4 over the A7s (hoping to get one by this summer, NZ time). Largely I reckon due to the price difference, which is US$800 but that goes up hugely more when you consider the cost of 4K (as the A7s doesn't do 4K internally) because the Atomos Shogun is not even out yet and when it is the price of it will be US$2k which then puts a huge price gap between the A7s and the GH4. Others though may be less price sensitive than I and will see it as worthwhile. Certainly if you want insane low light then go for it.

Another more minor factor to consider is the GH4 is a more "mature product", as it is the latest in a long line of succesful cameras used by indie filmakers: GH1 / GH2 / GH3 (I started out with the GH1 myself! Still using it, is a great camera. Which possibly may be slightly biasing me towards preferring the GH4....). While the A7s is in many ways a "first generation" camera (while the A7 and A7r came out before the A7s, they are more or less all released at the same time and are just variations on the first generation of Sony's FF E mount camera range). So I'm hearing people are finding the UI and other aspects a little less polished than on the GH4.

Anyway... either of those two cameras are going to be absolutely fantastic and I'll love to get either! Which is why the decision is going to be so hard.... but *because* they're so close in how good they are, and because I prefer to save money than spend it, it does mean I'm leaning towards the GH4 over the A7s.

September 9, 2014 at 3:47AM

3
Reply
avatar
David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2326

Another factor to consider is that there are very few native mount lenses for full frame E mount (and zero made by third parties), and they tend to be kinda pricey I think in comparison to m4/3.

While Micro Four Thirds has the most lenses made for it (by two big manufacturers, Olympus and Panasonic, plus a bunch more third party manufacturers) out of any mirrorless system on the market.

So when you look at the wider ecosystem, going for the Panasonic GH4 can make more sense than picking the A7s (plus all the third party accessories made for the GH3, such as cages, work great with the GH4 too).

September 9, 2014 at 4:04AM, Edited September 9, 4:04AM

8
Reply
avatar
David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2326

GH4. It's as simple as internal 4k for me. I realize this isn't a long answer, but thats a huge difference considering I would mainly be buying one of these cameras to upgrade from a 6D and C100 (not really an upgrade).

September 9, 2014 at 4:26AM

7
Reply
avatar
Alex Smith
Documentary/Cinematographer
1359

I was torn on this before deciding to buy the a7s. I shot with a colleague's GH4 for a couple of projects. After that, I still went with the a7s.

Here is why, and what I am jealous of from the GH4:

Why a7s:

1. I already was invested in several nikon-mount lenses for a full frame sensor. Even with the price difference between the two cameras, the cost of buying comparable wide-angle lenses for micro 4/3 actually made the GH4 a significantly more expensive purchase for me. Go figure.

2. Low light. Look, I consider lighting an essential part of shooting. But I don't have that much lighting kit at my disposal without renting, so the ability to do less with more is important to me. Plus as a one-man-crew more often than not, the ability to rely on less lights just to raise ambient light saves time.

3. Stronger codec and s-log2. On the other hand, the ability to manipulate the image in post is extremely important to me, and after shooting and grading GH4 footage, even with the Cine color profile options, I just wasn't impressed. It was as fragile as any other SLR footage I've worked with. Yeah, the a7s is 8-bit, and that has limitations, but I still have a lot of room to work with the footage.

4. APS-C mode. You wouldn't believe how helpful this is on a shoot when you're solo. Or even if you're not, I can go from a WS to a MCU on a steadicam without having to change glass and rebalance.

5. Audio. The XLR add-on for the a7s is a big deal to me.

Things I'm jealous of from the GH4:

1. Weather sealing. Although I find the a7s to look prettier, the GH4 body is way, way more practical.

2. LCD - The rear LCD of the a7s is borderline silly. It's not terrible, but certainly not as big and nice as the GH4. Plus, the GH4 LCD can flip around a lot more than the a7s LCD.

3. Better overcranking.

4. Battery life. I used to shoot with a GH1, and even then the battery life was ridiculously good.

5. Native lens support. IS is so nice to have. Autofocus is helpful for stills. And the native lens selection for the GH4 is so much more robust than the Sony line.

6. 10-bit through HDMI.

4K isn't very important to me right now, but in the shooting I've done with the GH4 it is admittedly nice being able to crop in post and have more flexibility when cutting. Even still, I decided to not go with an internal 4K camera just yet because, personally, I believe that by the time my work and freelance clients start wanting 4K, it'll be available in a better camera for the same price if not cheaper than a GH4, even possibly in a stronger codec. I can just about promise my day job and freelance won't want it for at least a year, maybe even two. If they do, I'll rent. Easy enough.

September 9, 2014 at 9:35AM

23
Reply
avatar
David S.
2810

Mr. Sikes perhaps you can help me with a decision: I like GH4 for the same your reasons, but I need to work with natural low light (no extra light). Anyway I tried to think a GH4 set that could match my need as much as possible: for example using exclusively fast prime lenses like Lumix G 42.5mm f/1.7 and Summilux 15mm f/1.7, the new V-Log profile, and 10bit 422 prores via HDMI to Atomos or PIX-E5H. Do you think this set could do a good job in low light? Or do you definitively advice A7S for this job? Thx

October 4, 2015 at 8:29PM

20
Reply

The GH4 is good, but the I hate that it works really bad in low light, like, really bad.

September 9, 2014 at 1:26PM

0
Reply
avatar
Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

The GH4 is good, but the I hate that it works really bad in low light, like, really bad.

September 9, 2014 at 1:26PM

15
Reply
avatar
Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

The GH4 is good, but the I hate that it works really bad in low light, like, really bad.

September 9, 2014 at 1:26PM

6
Reply
avatar
Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

I hate I can't delete my comments when I mess up -.-

September 9, 2014 at 1:27PM

5
Reply
avatar
Tommy Plesky
Director / D.P / Editor
1936

GH4 all the way, low light is the only downside, everything else goes above and beyond for a dslr

September 10, 2014 at 5:11AM

12
Reply
avatar
Daniel Raymond Turner
Cameraman, Editor
84

The most imporan factor for me is the image and A7s has much better image.

September 10, 2014 at 8:59AM, Edited September 10, 8:59AM

0
Reply

I have a GH4 and a Canon 6D. The GH4 isn't that good in lowlight however I can use my 6D for low light and wider shots. The 96fps and 4K on the GH4 does open up a ton of possibilities on top of zebra, headphone jack, flip out screen, focus assist and other authenticities that make it a video first and photo second camera.

With the GH4, I can do a time lapse shot and manually pan in post reducing the need for a motorized time lapse system. Interviews are much sharper downscaled from 4K and the ability to punch in closer is great for a one man set up. The dynamic range is great however you need to make sure shots aren't underexposed. The 6D is much more forgiving. I'm still experimenting with fxDegrain in Speedgrade. The grain on the GH4 is larger/blockier compared to the finer grain on the 6D. I have an adapter for my full frame canon lenses and the depth of field appears just as sensitive.

Overall you're in trouble in situations with low light, but other than that the GH4 is a much more sophisticated and videographer friendly camera.

September 10, 2014 at 3:52PM

2
Reply
Nick Bacigalupo
Cinematographer/Editor
74

Both seem like great cameras and after shooting with both in low light and daylight situations It is tough to call, it's like comparing a toaster to a doorstop really. These cameras are so different in terms of what the user benefits from. For me it comes down to the pixel science as to why I perfer the a7s. whilst the Gh4 is a 4k camera internally and that's great, it has a 4k pixel resolution in an APS-C sized sensor, meaning really small pixels that are less robust with noise, low light and overall information held pp. even though the a7s is 8 bit out by the time you factor in the stronger format and the larger pixel size it may even hold it's own in comparison, and you get the added benefit of more DR, a larger sensor, and that absolutely insane low light performance! :) unfortunate about the base ISO in slog2, though. 2 more pieces of glass to shoot through after ND + IR filtration.

September 10, 2014 at 8:14PM

0
Reply
avatar
Shayne Archer
Freelance Camera Operator / Editor
82

If you shoot a lot of low-light work then buy the Sony AS7.

For everything else it's GH4 all the way...
- Internal 4K with 11 stops of dynamic range
- External 10-bit 4:2:2 4K recording
- Compact and fast native glass
- Can mount almost any lens ever made
- Supports a wide range of CODECs at bit-rates up to 200 Mbps
- Super fast low-light still-photo AF
- 12 fps still photo mode ( 7.5 fps with auto-focus )
- One battery lasts 3+ hours
- Good mic pre-amps on the factory fixed GH4 cameras ( most in store stock are the factory fixed cameras, there was a small audio-buzz problem with the initial stock of GH4s )

September 17, 2014 at 9:12PM

8
Reply
Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
29812

I love the flexibility m43 form factor has with lenses. A lot of primes available cheap, and adaptors are simple and cheap as there is no glass in them.
So yes, GH4 for me. Though the colors and looks are video-y.

September 20, 2014 at 9:30PM

23
Reply
avatar
Anna Lorentzon
Producer, Director
241

a7s, full frame, amazing low light (sees in the dark), and aps-c crop option. I don't need 4K and hate the crop factor so the gh4 is not for me.

September 24, 2014 at 2:43AM

2
Reply
avatar
Sean Conley
Cinematographer
154

GH4 sounded good, i don`t know much about the sony one.

September 24, 2014 at 3:38PM

0
Reply
avatar
khireddine Ouazaa
Director, screen writer, camera operator, VFX
88

I say Sony in this case. Low-light capabilities and greater dynamic range are far more important than resolution in this day and age of 720p still serving the majority of our streaming and broadcast needs.

October 10, 2014 at 1:17AM

0
Reply

I can´t recommend the A7s because the colors I get - no matter which picture profile I use - are simply wrong. I also read about this in many forums, but, interestingly, except for Dave Dugdale, no reviewer seemed to find it important enough to mention. However, I saw the strange colors in almost every review I watched if they would compare the A7s to other cameras. If I can´t shoot anything without heavily grading it, it is simply not interesting to me if I have to do a job in a short period of time. And the A7s material isn´t as easy to grade as the footage of other cameras.

October 16, 2014 at 6:16PM

0
Reply
avatar
Michael Stohldreyer
freelance videographer
74

I own an A7s. I like the dynamic range, I like that you have a full frame sensor and a super-35 sensor packed in one, I love that it's capable of 4K, I love that you can mount virtually any lens on it, I like the flexibility of Slog-2, and I love how freaking small it is.

In regards to color: it's fine. You have to nail the white balance, and you have to figure out how to handle it in post. Practice with it and you'll figure it out.

December 13, 2014 at 5:34PM

0
Reply
avatar
Steven Bailey
Writer/Director/Composer
1012

Your Comment