September 13, 2015 at 9:34AM
GH4 vs A7s
My name is Diogo and I'm a videographer from Lisbon, Portugal.
For the past 4 years I have been shooting with a Canon 7D and I must say I loved every second ... except for maybe the past year. With the release of the GH series and Sony A7 series, it made me realize how out of date the 7D was. The image it delivers just isn't enough for me anymore. This been said, the time has arrived in which I need to change my body.
I've been saving some money and I will be buying a new body (and respective adapters if needed), as well as a DJI Ronin and a DJI Phantom 3. I might buy a new lens, depending on the body I end up going with. This been said, I have around 8K/9K euros to invest.
I think it's relevant to also say that besides my 7D, I have a Canon 50mm f/1.8, a Samyang 35mm f/1.4 and a Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 (APS-C Lens). I also use a Glidecam HD-2000 and a Slider.
It's also quite relevant to mention that I shoot a lot of action sports such as Parkour. I also shoot videoclips, documentary and events. So the body I will be buying will be mainly focused for this kind of work.
Even before I started my quest, for obvious reasons, I excluded Canon cameras. This is quite unfortunate, as I'm very used to my 7D and would gladly continue to use Canon cameras, but the Canon 5D MKIII and the Canon 7D MKII are just miles away from Sony and Panasonic in almost every aspect as far as videography features go.
After reading many reviews and investigating, I'm currently between 3 cameras: The Panasonic GH4, Sony A7s and Sony A7RII.
I was quite anxious about the release of the new Sony A7RII, as all its amazing new features, especially the internal 4K and 5 axis stabilization, seemed very interesting and appeared to fill in some gaps in which the A7s didn't perform so well. However, now that I came across with the first reviews, I'm not too excited about it anymore. I heard it has some overheating problems, the 4K isn't that impressive, lowlight appears to be worst than the A7s (as well as overall image quality) and the truth is that the 5 axis stabilization isn't that important if you have a Ronin and a Glidecam. For all these motives and for almost 2K more, I decided to forget the A7R II.
Now, with the Sony A7R II out of the way (if you disagree with this, please let me know why!) I am now left with the GH4 and the A7s and to be completely honest, it's driving me crazy! I can't decide which one to go with.
As far as the GH4 goes, it seems it would be the obvious choice, as it costs almost half the price of the A7s (allowing me to invest in a new lens), has internal 4K, the image is surprisingly good, it's features are great and well thought for videographers and with a Metabones Speedbooster, I believe I could survive when shooting in lowlight conditions. I heard battery life is also very good too. However, there are a few things that drive me away from it:
1 - The GH4 was released almost a year and a half a go, meaning Panasonic might be releasing the GH5 in 2016, a few months from now. So in terms of an investment it's not very smart and I don't want to be salivating for a GH5 a few months after.
2 - Sensor Size. Although it's not really that much of an issue, I would prefer to have a full-frame body as it would allow me to have better DOF and more light.
3 - Although internal 4K is good to have, even if only to downsample to 1080, I believe that by the time 4K becomes standard and clients start to ask for it, the 4K the GH4 delivers won't be that impressive anymore.
3 - I will probably be buying the Metabones Speedbooster, and if I go with the Sony it would probably come in handy if I decided to one day upgrade to an FS7 or even when it released newer cameras. However, if Panasonic decides to change the sensor size to say, APS-C, I will have spent 800€ on an adapter that will be then useless.
4 - Although it's awesome for a camera to be light and portable, I have to say that the GH4 seems way too light for me. I was able to test it for a few days and it feels like a compact camera, almost as if I have a toy in my hands. I just missed a more heavy and robust body (yes, I love my 7D!).
As far as the Sony A7s goes, what's really making me consider it is it's overall image (which seems better than the GH4) and lowlight capabilities (which would come in handy for some events and night shots). Although the GH4 has all these amazing extras, the truth is that it all comes down to image quality and in this area, the Sony seems to have a better dynamic range and a much nicer image. Having APS-C mode also comes in handy as I basically end up doubling my lenses. Lastly, investing in Sony gear just seems more interesting, as it has been making major statements regarding videography and I believe there is more to come. However, it also has some disadvantages:
1 - Rolling Shutter. This is probably one of the biggest blockers for me. I shoot a lot of action sports and having rolling shutter issues is not what I'm looking for. And from what I've seen it's pretty bad. I know that it gets better in APS-C mode but still it appears as a big issue for me.
2 - Internal 4K. As I mentioned earlier, not having internal 4K isn't that much of an issue but it counts when deciding which body to buy.
3 - Price. The truth is that the A7s costs almost twice as much as the GH4.
4 - Battery Life. I heard it's pretty bad compared to the GH4.
This is my analysis at the moment. I might have forgotten to point out some things, but I think the main idea is there.
I had a crazy idea last week, in which I would forget the Ronin and the Phantom 3 and invest the money in an FS7 and a Speedbooster, but I'm not sure if 5K more is a good investment as the GH4 and A7s are enough in terms of image quality for now. But the truth is that probably a year from now I will be salivating for a new body, as if I went with the FS7 I believe it would probably suit me for the next 4 or 5 years. Any thoughts on this? Do you think it's worth it?
As far as the Phantom 3 goes, I'm also kind of worried because I believe they will create some sort of legislation in the next year for drones and I would hate to invest almost 2K and then not be able to fly with it. Do you think it's worth it? It certainly makes the difference to have some drone shots in a video, especially with the kind of subjects I normally shoot.
Regarding the Ronin, I'm not sure if I should go with the Ronin or Ronin M. I heard the original Ronin is quite heavy, but once again if I decide to one day buy a heavier camera it wouldn't fit the Ronin M. What do you think?
I would really appreciate it you could give me your advice, as it's driving me nuts and I really can't decide what to go with. I'm aware that ultimately it will be my decision but hopefully I can get some important feedback from you.