Panasonic’s GH4: video test and review

4K cameras

Depth of field and looks

A short film produced on the GH4, in low light

The question of depth of field is a more personal one.

With the range of lenses available for Micro Four Thirds, it is possible to create a shallow depth of field, albeit at the cost of using specialist – and often manual – glass. In some applications, including videojournalism and live production work, too shallow a depth of field can lead to missed shots.

In our experience of using the GH4, very pleasing results are possible with the Panasonic 12-35mm and 35-100mm f2.8 lenses, with the option of using a 20mm f1.7 (or a Nikon f1.4) for lower light and shallower depth of field. Again, though, it comes down to the “look” that suits a particular production. Personally, we like the look of the GH4, whereas we find Canon video footage can be a little soft. But, again, that is personal preference.

In most other respects, aside from audio – noted above – the GH4 performs flawlessly. We have had no reliability issues with our sample during over six months of use.

The EVF is generally excellent, and the touch-screen, flip-out display is good enough for composition and camera control in most conditions. For many applications, there is probably no need for a third-party EVF or loop, although of course one can be added via the HDMI output if needed.

Battery life is generally good, and not an obstacle to day to day filming. This is certainly an improvement on the GH2, and puts the GH4 ahead of battery-hungry cameras such as the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera.

Again, the GH4 is relatively conservative when it comes to using storage, so recording to a 64GB SD card works perfectly well, even in 4K (see our separate review of the YAGH adapter for other recording options).

One criticism of the GH4 is Panasonic’s maintenance of just one, SD card slot on the camera. Pro cameras should have two card slots, even if they are both just SD. Nor are we fans of the micro-HDMI socket on the GH4. A mini or better still, full-sized socket would be very welcome. But these are just minor reservations about the ergonomics of what is, otherwise, a pleasurable camera to use.

Next: Conclusions and verdict