This will also be a somewhat of a review/opinion on the GH4.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the camera. I use it for one project and it blows me away and then on another I lose faith in it. Something that has really killed me is the struggle to get somewhat of a flatter picture profile and not have the shadows obliterated with noise and just general MUD!
I’ve been trying this camera in different settings. From Doc’s to Films. My issues are two fold;
1. ANY hint of over exposure and this camera turns to a baked heat ball. You just get hot spots that bleed and glow. It’s horrible!
2. The camera can look very plasticy and over sharpened with the wrong picture profile
The danger with having Cine Like D and the highlight/Shadow setting is that you will set it to something like ‘Cine Like D, H-5,S+5 and Master Pedestal at +15. We all have a fair idea of how horrible that will be but you understand what I’m getting at. I just with I could get my GH2 look just a little flatter (and 4K of course)
So what do we have to work with? We have a 4K Camera with a nice set of user controls. I’ve been experimenting with a few of these different settings. Have a look at the video below where I test a few different settings
The documentary side of footage wasn’t great, the noise level even at low ISO’s made the run and gun style very hard. Of course I don’t expect the camera to see in the dark but I do expect it to at least perform as well as its predecessor the GH3.
When I got the GH2 I was totally in love with it. I shot some of my favorite work with it. Here’s an example of my favorite piece on the GH2
After this I Shot with the BlackMagic 2.5K MTF. The image was a dream. If you could port that image into a GH4, then we have the perfect camera in my opinion but I digress. I then traded up my GH2 for a GH3 and after I eventually returned my BlackMagic because of reliability issues. I though the GH4 would be a no brainer based on the results I have gotten from previous incarnations…
Back to the image.
The GH4 can produce some stunning work when set correctly though. The setting that I have found the most success with is Cine Like V set with H-2 (sometimes -4) and S +2. This is the important part, Master Pedestal at +10 to +15 depending on the situation. i-Dynamic and i-Resolution set to OFF! I repeat SET TO OFF! more on this later…
The reason that I would use this set up over Cine Like D is because I find that Cine D makes fine lines very brittle and high detailed and textures very muddy, I’ve found this particularly bad with women’s hair. MY GOOD GOD does this camera fall apart when you shoot hair! Cine V gives you something a little more contrasty and gives you a sort of go between Cine D and the Natural setting we all know from the GH2&3. Now the issue is it actually is still quite punchy and this is where the highlight/shadow and MP comes into play. By setting them to the above settings I’ve found that you can achieve a more flat milky style picture without your image being caked in noise
WARNING! DO NOT USE ‘i -Dynamic’ EVER! IT WILL RUIN YOUR FOOTAGE!
I shot a little promo recently for a film that I am crowd sourcing for at the moment called RUBBLE. I had been experimenting with some of my Canon Flashes the day before shot on a few different modes, in the process I must have inadvertently switched i-Dynamic to AUTO. This actually made my footage look like it the promo was shot on a cheap phone. I was able to grade a lot of it out but it thank god I intentionally Over-lit the scene knowing I’d be grading down (which you have to do a lot on the GH4 I find)
When we shot the intros I had resolved the problem but this is a setting to be left off.
In all the camera gives good bang for your buck, with the 96fps mode and assortment of video settings, headphones port and of course 4K image, is what makes this camera worth it, the important thing is to use the right picture profile for the right situation, sometimes the Cine D profile is great but it is just a case of knowing a few ‘go-to’ profiles and settings and then having them ready to go!
As far as the new V-Log goes, I really hope this is something great. My worry is that it will do the same things to the image that Cine D does. we are dealing with an 8-Bit image after all. It may be a case of V-Log being a companion for an external recorder but this means another 2 thousand Euro to have to get the most out of it.
Time will tell with this camera, even though its been out almost a year it feels like a new camera that we will grow up with…. Until the GH5 comes out!