Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 review

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PANASONIC GH4 RESPONSIVITY

Overall operation speed is excellent, the camera turns on and is ready to take a shot in around a second. All the menus and options are displayed instantly (the same milisecond, no delay whatsoever what cannot be said for some other mirrorless cameras). Playback is extremely fast, just look at the video review on Youtube… when is the last time you have seen such fast browsing through the images?

PANASONIC GH4 AUTOFOCUS AND BURST PERFORMANCE

Auto focus is supreme. And I’m not saying that just like that. GH4 simply flies! When using single (one time) focus, this camera is subjectively faster than Nikon D4 and Canon 1DX (I’ve reviewed both). Tracking is also good, but still not at the precision level phase detection in DSLR’s can provide. Since Canikon have 25-30 years experience with AF cameras and Panasonic only 3-4 years with mirrorless technology, this is respectable performance that will just get better over the next few years.

You can switch between single, cotntinuos and manual focus with the mechanical switch strategically placed close to the place where you thumb rests. Focus points have  various options – face detection, trcking, 49 area, customizable multi area, single point and pinpoint. Excellent thing about single point is that you change its size in 8 levels, something no DSLR can do with phase detection system.

Pinpoint AF uses extremely small fraction of the frame to focus – excellent for critical focus when using large aperture lenses. It’s a bit slower to focus (up to a second) but it doesn’t matter since this option will be used mostly on stationary subjects (portraits, macro and similar). Single and multiple AF-points configurations are the ones that are blazingly fast.

GH4 can shoot up to 12 frames per second (7.5 with autofocus). Buffer is big enough for around 40 RAW+JPEG shots. If using JPEG only, around 90 shots will fill the buffer.

PANASONIC GH4 VIDEO RECORDING

Besides being one of the few cameras that can record 4K video (4096 x 2160), GH4 has all imaginable video features. It lets you choose between four recording formats and “standard” full HD video doesn’t look that standard once you realize it has 60p and insane 200 Mbps bitrate (no other camera has bitrate as high as this). 4K video lets you grab 8 megapixels still image, crop video to full HD, down sample it for even higher video quality and record today’s memories in tomorrow’s resolution.

Realistically, GH4 has no competitor in video features and quality. Only full frame cameras can surpass it in low light conditions.






PANASONIC GH4 REVIEW CONCLUSION

So, to round things up, GH4 is a camera I would not object owning myself. The thing that makes it special is simply the way all the important factors come together like ergonomics, operation speed, auto focus speed, battery life, LCD, EVF and  image quality. It is not flawless though; LCD-EVF switch could have been faster, several ergonomics details needs to be polished and image quality can also be perfected, but those are far from “deal breaking” flaws due to which I would not recommend this camera.

Competition is very strong in this category which is dominated by Canon and Nikon DSLR cameras and Panasonic will have to invest into marketing to push GH4 sales. Nikon D7100 offers more resolution and, better AF tracking and twin memory cards but lacks GH4′s superb video. Olympus E-M1 is smaller and has a bit better high ISO performance and the latest Canon 7D mark II is no joke either (I hope reviewing it before Christmas).

Class-leading video aside, there are two aspects which make GH4 more advanced than DSLR competitors: silent shutter and superb electronic viewfinder which allows you to see how the image will look like even before you capture it. Once you get used to amount if information available in EVF, going back to optical viewfinder on DSLR will be hard. I would not recommend GH4 only for two applications: sport (stick to DSLR) and regular low-light use (get a full-frame). For everything else, GH4 fulfils all expectations.

PANASONIC GH4 PRO:

  • Build quality
  • Ergonomics
  • Customization options
  • Blazing fast single auto focus
  • AF point size selection
  • Superb video recording capabilities
  • 4K video
  • Excellent LCD and EVF
  • Image quality
  • Battery life

PANASONIC GH4 CON:

  • Non-standard USB connector
  • Single SD card slot
  • AF tracking
  • Back control dial too recessed

PANASONIC GH4 PHOTO EXAMPLES

Full resolution samples, all from RAW, setting to personal taste:

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