Panasonic’s GH4 is lauded as the world’s first 4K DSLR and has been making all kinds of waves in the industry. Many have viewed the new camera’s 4K resolution as more of a gimmick rather than a serious contender for your filmmaker dollar. However, for the indie filmmaker familiar with DSLR cinematography, the cost comparison is nothing to be sneezed at – that is a $1700 (USD) camera VS a $40,000 (USD) camera. Essentially, for the price of a few days rental on the Alexa you can outright own the GH4 and use the money saved to hire quality lenses.
But is it worth the purchase price?
Thai cinematographer Sittipong Kongtong has made a number of comparison videos of the GH4 vs the Arri Alexa for youtube. Despite the terrible compression (streaming is always hard on film) you can still see a differences between the two.
The first test is shooting at 24fps. This comparison is unfortunately let down by the colour spacing between the two.
The Alexa is shooting at a very flat LOG 12-bit ProRes 4444 in 2K whereas the GH4 is shooting ina normal colour mode in 8 bit 4:2:0 in 4K H.264 (reduced to 2K in post).
Kongtong writes in the comments that the GH4 is using a “gamma curve high light -5 and lift shadow to +1. That is very close to LUT 709 in Alexa” and despite the colour differences he didn’t want to grade in post at all “because I want to show original look of both camera. The both camera could speak for them self”.
The second test is shooting in 96fps comparing the slow-motion range of both cameras. Again the colour spacing is very wide.
The cinematographer writes that he “put the Alexa footage to DaVinci Resolve Lite for just only applying Rec709 and then render it out to ProRes4444. For GH4 I also brought the footage into DaVinci Resolve Lite only to bring high light down and then render it out to ProRes4444″.
However, his grade on the GH4 isn’t the best, with the footage looking under exposed and loosing dynamic range.
Despite this, the GH4 definitely holds its weight compared to the Alexa. For the most part it looks smooth with little to no motion blur when pausing. Although, the jagged movements on those reflectors being swung around (in the first vid) really screams DSLR; something you’ll need to consider if your film calls for action scenes. The results show that in daylight the GH4 is absolutely worth the price tag and a bit of a godsend for indie filmmakers; particularly with the YAGHY interface attached (upgrading the camera to a professional workflow, adding two XLR input terminals, four parallel outputs with 4K RAW 4:2:2 / 10-bit and timecode). Then again, whether or not it does as well in low light conditions is another matter entirely.
UPDATE: Prices for the GH4 and kits (including the YAGHY) are now available here.
What do you think?
Comment below or on our Facebook discussion here.
Arri Alexa : Log-C ProRes4444 2048×1152 24P
Lens : UltraPrime 24 mm
ISO : 200ASA
Shutter : 11.25 degree
T-Stop : 5.6
Price: $40,000 (USD)
Panasonic GH4 : H.264 100mbps 4096×2160 24P
Profile : Natural Contrast -5, Saturation -5, Manual Gamma control : height light -5
Lens : UltraPrime 16 mm
ISO : 200ASA
Shutter : 11 degree
T-Stop : 5.6
Price: $1700 (USD)
Feature Image by Matt Brown.