Testing the GH4 in 96fps Slow Motion

Surfin' Portugal - The GH4 @ 96fps from Joerg Niggli on Vimeo.

The new Panasonic Lumix has not only the much discussed and praised 4K video quality. It’s also a major step up in the capabilities in 1080p (FullHD). One of the feature I’ve tested with a pre production camera (Firmware v0.5) on a trip in Portugal was the 96 frames per second slow motion mode. The clip of some surfers on the western coast beach Praia do Amado were all shot in the 96fps mode. Shutter speed was set between 1/250s and 1/400s. The lens used was a vintage manual focus Canon FD 300mm f4 L Lens. BTW: I really like the feel and quality of old FD lenses adapted to Micro43 cameras. They are ultra smooth to focus, often more compact than their Nikon Ai counterparts and focus in the direction I’m used to from other cameras.

Peaking - a godsend
One of the killer features of the GH4 compared to the GH3 (still a good camera tough) is the new electronic view finder. It’s more detailed, has zebra and - finally - peaking. This is very important when using a lot of vintage lenses or the great Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 with a Metabones Speed Booster adapter. From the menu you can select three colors. For the shots on the beach I’ve switched from the default blue to yellow to better check the focus.

Enough room for some grading
I’ve used the CineD picture profile. The original files have a rather flat look (good for grading). Some contrast and vignettes were added in Final Cut Pro X. There’s some room for grading however with 100Mbps for 96fps it’s more limited than in the other modes (100Mbps for 4K, 1080p @25fps or even 200Mbps for 1080p).

First conclusion: excellent
I’ve had the pre prod camera for 10 days and was shooting a lot of video (mainly 4K) and a lot of stills with it. My first conclusion: it’s an excellent step up from the still very capable GH3, especially if you are a video shooter. One thing I really like is that unlike my various Canon cameras which change the layout from generation to generation all the buttons are still on the exact same place if you upgrade from a GH3. And for my hands at least the GH3/GH4 form factor and controls layout is the best I’ve ever had from a camera, on par with Canon’s 7D. It’s a pleasure to shoot with the GH4. The additional battery grip gives some additional hold while the system still remains compact and lightweight compared to a APS-C or Full Frame DSLR.

Panasonic GH4 with the Canon FD 300mm f4 L Lens

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