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Panasonic unveils Lumix GH4 that can shoot 4K video

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ghpana6Panasonic has raised the bar in its weight class yet again with the release of the Lumix DMC-GH4 Micro Four Thirds DSLM camera.

The headline feature is the camera’s ability to capture in the newer 4K standard, also known as Ultra High Definition, which provides four times the resolution of the current HD standard, with 3840 x 2160 pixels to play with against the HD pixel dimensions of 1920 x 1080.

At first reckoning, you might think of the GH4’s 4K capture capability as perhaps a bit of window dressing but not so, it’s been designed for broadcast applications.

Panasonic also announced support for professional workflows with its Interface Unit, a docking base, that provides balanced XLR inputs and four parallel outputs for 4:2:2 10-bit output with timecode.

Panasonic has raised the bar in its weight class yet again with the release of the Lumix DMC-GH4 Micro Four Thirds DSLM camera.

The headline feature is the camera’s ability to capture in the newer 4K standard, also known as Ultra High Definition, which provides four times the resolution of the current HD standard, with 3840 x 2160 pixels to play with against the HD pixel dimensions of 1920 x 1080.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4

At first reckoning, you might think of the GH4’s 4K capture capability as perhaps a bit of window dressing but not so, it’s been designed for broadcast applications.

Panasonic also announced support for professional workflows with its Interface Unit, a docking base, that provides balanced XLR inputs and four parallel outputs for 4:2:2 10-bit output with timecode.

A range of settings for video capture include the option for high bit-rate capture at 100Mbps in 4K or up to 200Mbps in HD and variable frame rate to 96fps for real slo-mo playback.

What that should tell you is the 4K capture ability ain’t no dog and pony show.

Panasonic is serious with this camera. It carries a price tag starting at $1999 body only and at $2999 as a kit with a 12-35m f2.8 lens.

Pro video shooters will need to budget $2649 for the Interface Unit or consider it bundled as a kit with body only at $3999.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 starts at $1,999

Among other outstanding features, two that shone out was the camera’s auto-focus innovations, among them a newly developed Depth from Defocus system, which Panasonic claims helps lock on to a target in 0.07 seconds.

The other was a customisable AF point pattern, which allows the user to specify via the rear touch display shapes or patterns to the AF detection system that will lock on to a very specific subject or activity/motion of the subject.

This feature promises new imaging solutions to photographers who can figure how to exploit it to full effect.

For instance, I’d love to try matching the AF detection pattern to specific sporting moments such as a tennis backhand or racing motorbike in full lean into a corner.

Other tasty features include a new quad-core Venus Engine bringing beefy performance to video and still image processing, high-speed burst shooting at 12fps with a 40-shot buffer for RAW images and 100-shot buffer for JPEGs, a max shutter speed of 1/8000sec, focus peaking, Eye Detection AF with a choice of eye recognition, and a capability to impose basic editing to a RAW file for exporting as a JPEG.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 can shoot 4K video

I had only a short while to put the sample camera through some basic tests but what I saw was very impressive – pin-sharp stills, AF detection and responsiveness that met with Panasonic’s claims, and detail-rich 4K movie clips with impressive dynamic range.

To help cope with the massive data streams the GH4 can generate, Panasonic has developed the Gold Series SDUC cards with a minimum write speed of 240Mbps.

An opportunity for a full hands-on review is eagerly anticipated with this camera, which is showing the gap in capabilities between DSLM and DSLR cameras draws even closer to being fully bridged.

If you were thinking of buying a new DSLR system, perhaps you should wait for the verdict on this camera’s performance once Tech Guide puts the device through its paces. It’ll be worth your while to wait.

The DMC-GH4 will be available in May.

* Chris Oaten is a professional photographer from Insight Visuals

www.insightvisuals.com.au

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