Panasonic has launched the BGH1, a new box-style camera that's designed for drone and multicam applications.
The GH line from Panasonic is a wildly popular series of small cameras built around the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) sensor size and lens mount. This sensor size is roughly equivalent to Super 35, so filmmakers are used to it. The MFT lens mount is popular, since it's easy to adapt to PL and EF mount glass, and native MFT lenses are themselves very affordable.
Today, they released the newest camera in the GH lineup, its new box camera, the BGH1.
Rather than being built around a still camera layout—wide, flat, and designed to be held in your hand like the rest of the GH units—the GH1 is a cube, with one side being the lens mount. This is to make the camera as compact as possible, making it easier to mount in a variety of tight spaces, like for drone and gimbal work. But it also opens up a host of other possibilities and layouts that are compact and easy to rig, including handheld and shoulder mounts.
The BGH1 gives a maximum resolution of either cinema (4096) or UHD (3820) 4K, shooting at 60fps in 10-bit resolution. It can output the full 4K 60fps resolution over HDMI and features 3G SDI for HD monitoring and video out.
It also works to deliver power, signal, and control, all over an Ethernet cable. For livestream or permanent install situations, getting power to the unit and getting control and a signal back from a single cable will simplify cable runs and setup. With the new Panasonic LUMIX Tether application, you can control up to 12 GBH1 units at a time over Ethernet if you are doing a multi-cam setup.
Why the cube form factor? Heat.
Most stills style cameras have some issues with heat when shooting extensive video, and Panasonic wanted to build the smallest possible camera with enough cooling to keep the camera running indefinitely for long shoot days. In addition to an internal heat dispersion system, there is also an internal fan that works to keep the system cool.
The major thing lacking is, of course, a built-in monitor. As we move toward more frequently working with external monitors, either wirelessly for a gimbal or drone, or just to have a bigger 5" or 7" view, getting rid of the built-in monitor offers a lot of perks over keeping it.
However, it's something to be prepared for if you are thinking about this camera since you'll need some sort of monitoring solutions. It's also lacking XLR audio inputs, though there is an available breakout accessory for XLR when it's needed.
For the price point, coming out with 10-bit 4K DCI 60fps with V-log recording enabled makes this a really appealing camera for action and sports users who want lightweight gear for long shoot times. Combined with the right lens, this could make a dynamite skate cam with more resolution and control than a traditional action camera, but it's still light enough to use all day.
Considering the fact that a lot of film folks are working from home, it might make a dynamic livestreaming camera for when higher quality images are required, especially with the single Ethernet cable interface. Since it features genlock in and timecode out, those of you still shooting stereoscopic 3D (are any of you still out there?) might give this camera a look as well.
The Panasonic BGH1 is available for preorder for $1,998.