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Video Action! I'll buy a Panasonic GH2...

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Old Jan-23-2012, 12:40 PM
#1
THX1965 is offline THX1965 OP
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I'll buy a Panasonic GH2...
Yes, that's the plan. And here is the reason why this post is in the Action! forum.

I currently own a Canon 60D and I love it - both for shooting video and taking pictures. And when I put the amazing Magic Lantern Firmware hack on it, it got even better: http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Unified

Four things I love most about the Magic Lantern hack:

1) it adds volume meters to my LCD while I am shooting
2) it gives me a great "always-on" spot-meter in the center of the picture
3) it allows me to put a big "not-recording" sign on my LCD when the camera is not recording (very handy!)
4) it allows me to automatically bring up a magnification window for focussing WHILE recording!

But the list of great features goes on and on (including a built-in intervalometer for taking time-lapse pictures....)


Here's why I want to add a GH2 as a second camera for my video work:

1) There is a great hack for it now too that increases the video resolution dramatically. Philip Bloom did a test: http://philipbloom.net/2012/01/06/christmas-shootout/ - impressive
2) it has fast autofocus WHILE SHOOTING VIDEO! (that's something all of the other HDSLR's are lacking)
3) it's THE FUTURE: small, mirror-less, interchangeable lenses
4) it has far fewer problems with moiré and anti-aliasing than Canon DSLR's

The downside: most micro 4/3 lenses are not fast (except for the great 20mm pancake lens), and the GH2 is not
the queen of video low light performance.

But in today's world, there's not one camera that is perfect for all occasions. Since the GH2 is quite affordable, why not add it to my arsenal for those occasions when I want a small but flexible camera that has autofocus while shooting high resolution video.

Does anyone have any experience with this camera?

--- Markus ---
Old Jan-23-2012, 07:51 PM
#2
DavidTO is offline DavidTO
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That looks really interesting. I'm looking forward to hearing more (and seeing the results!).
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Old Jan-24-2012, 08:32 AM
#3
DavidTO is offline DavidTO
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The downside of the GH2 seems to be the lack of a super-flat picture style. True?
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Old Jan-24-2012, 09:05 AM
#4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidTO View Post
The downside of the GH2 seems to be the lack of a super-flat picture style. True?
Again, I don't have one yet, so I have not been able to try it myself, but this hacker not only increased the GH2's bitrate but also added "film modes": http://nofilmschool.com/2011/12/pana...m-modes-eoshd/

Markus
Old Jan-24-2012, 09:10 AM
#5
DavidTO is offline DavidTO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THX1965 View Post
Again, I don't have one yet, so I have not been able to try it myself, but this hacker not only increased the GH2's bitrate but also added "film modes": http://nofilmschool.com/2011/12/pana...m-modes-eoshd/

Markus
I wonder why Philip Bloom didn't use them, but instead used "Nostalgia". It looked limiting. But the resolution test made the GH2 look fantastic.
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Old Jan-24-2012, 09:26 AM
#6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidTO View Post
I wonder why Philip Bloom didn't use them, but instead used "Nostalgia". It looked limiting. But the resolution test made the GH2 look fantastic.
Good question. Philip Bloom however has stated many times on his blog that he does like the GH2 quite a bit, even without any hacks.

Here's another interesting site, with yet another link and instructions for a hack:
The Panasonic GH2 Guide for Filmmakers
Old Jan-24-2012, 09:57 AM
#7
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Here's another fascinating experiment:

GH2 vs. Scarlet RED:
http://www.eoshd.com/content/6946/gh...us-red-scarlet

Here's what they have to say:

What the GH2 offers straight off the card, especially with the hack, is fantastic. It is far better than what you get with the moire ridden line skipping footage from other DSLRs. It is definitely the closest you can get to the Canon C300, RED Scarlet or Sony FS100 with a camera costing less than $5,000. Substantially less!

The level of detail and noise grain is very fine on the GH2, approaching the C300 (from which I have seen original MXF files shot at ISO 20,000). Just be aware that on the C300, the actual ISO level is 6400 at 20K, so although it is very clean for ISO 6400 it is not any more sensitive than the GH2 would be at ISO 6400. I’ve been doing some low light shooting with the GH2 this week in Berlin at ISO 6400 and it really does have a similar noise pattern to the C300 in most areas of the image – not all, but most.


I guess this is the Berlin footage he's talking about. Quite impressive:

Old Jan-24-2012, 11:59 AM
#8
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Here's another great feature for video I didn't even know existed on the GH2:

ETC (Extra Tele Converter) for shooting video. A feature that is rightfully thought of as gimmicky by photographers, but the way it can be used on the GH2 for video is quite amazing.

Here's Michael Reichmann's review:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...revealed.shtml
Old Jan-30-2012, 08:35 AM
#9
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Micro Four Third and lens choices...
The one thing that's speaking against the GH2 is the lack of fast native lenses for the micro four third format.

Now, DSLR-video-die-hards like Philip Bloom will tell you that's not a problem since you can mount almost any lens with an (inexpensive) adapter.
The only draw-back: you lose autofocus. Most DSLR video people focus manually anyway, so this shouldn't be a huge issue for many.
Cosina (Voigtländer) even released the impressive Nocton 25mm (=50mm) f/0.95 exclusive for the micro four third format - with manual focus only!
Obviously this is geared primarily towards the video crowd.



http://www.luminous-landscape.com/re...3_nocton.shtml

I do however find autofocus a big help under certain video circumstances.
So I was quite excited to learn about Panasonic's plans to release two fast constant aperture zooms by the end of this year.
This is good news indeed.



http://www.mu-43.com/f92/upcoming-pa...-f2-8-a-20280/
Old Feb-02-2012, 09:15 AM
#10
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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All very exciting, especially those two new lenses!

Have you had a chance to use the built in (hacked) intervalometer yet?
Old Feb-02-2012, 09:18 AM
#11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench View Post
All very exciting, especially those two new lenses!

Have you had a chance to use the built in (hacked) intervalometer yet?
No, I just bought the camera. So stay tuned....
Old Feb-10-2012, 09:56 AM
#12
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low light tests with hacked GH2
So I bought the camera and I have to say, the video capabilities are simply amazing. I am blown away.

There are so many different patches/hacks/settings out there, it's a little overwhelming at first, but
Vitaliy Kiselev's (the hacker who creates the tool that allows us to create these amazing patches)
has a great website with all the info - one just has to read through the forum postings.
Here's a collection of all the best patches in one place:
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/d...n-one-place/p1

I did a brief high ISO / low light test yesterday with a very popular patch called Quantum 100.
Amazing quality. There is some noise, but it's so fine grained due to the high bit rate,
it looks like film grain. Incredible for an $ 800 camera...

Here's a full 1080p screen shot of a low light scene and a 200% magnification of the same image with a
center crop.

The sharpness and the level of detail of this (hacked) camera at this high ISO setting did take me by surprise.

No post processing, no grading, no corrections, these images are straight out of the camera.



Old Feb-10-2012, 12:04 PM
#13
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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I'm getting my hands on one today!
Thanks for all this good intel.

What lens is this?
Old Feb-10-2012, 12:09 PM
#14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench View Post
I'm getting my hands on one today!
Thanks for all this good intel.

What lens is this?
The Panasonic Pancake 20mm f1.7 - looks very nice actually.

Good luck with testing yours. I had a problem with mine applying the very first patched firmware.
There is a simple fix. Just let me know if this happens to you too and I'd be happy to send you instructions.

--- Markus ---
Old Feb-17-2012, 03:07 PM
#15
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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Thank you again Marcus for your tips, as I now own a 5 lb Panasonic video system :)
It all fits in a fanny sack, including a intervalometer I just received from B&H.

1 - hacked GH2 Body
3 - lenses: 7 - 14mm, 14 - 140mm, 20mm F1.7
1 - Vello Wireless shutter boss remote switch
3 - batteries
1 - charger
2 - 32gig cards

I understand the still image quality is not equal to the Canon 7d or 1Ds M3, but...... I will be using this for time lapses and video.

In my testing against the 7D I believe the high ISO is not quite as good as the 7D even with the Hack you recommended, but it is sufficiently close, and having the ability to even use 12,000ISO for vid is great!

The main diff between the footage is the sharpness. I have always been disappointed in the sharpness of the vid off any of the 5d or 7d Canon bodies. I understand there are many things in post to actually make the footage appear the way I wish it could look. Even after spending quite a bit of time in FCX, I still have not the skills to do to vid what I can do to stills in post. Therefore, the footage from the GH2 is a step closer right out of the camera.

The icing on the cake is that it utilizes SD cards which slip right into my MacBookAir, no slow USB card readers
Even though nothing previews the native Panasonic files FCX converts them upon import,

Thanks again!
Old Feb-17-2012, 05:02 PM
#16
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Marc, I am glad you're liking the GH2 enought to keep it. (It's a really a very small foot print after all...)

If you're after maximum possible picture quality - the Quantum v9b hack by Driftwood is the holy grail right now among detail fetishists. Even though it is impressive, I don't think those gigantic file sizes and the need for that one super expensive Sandisk card really justify the outcome. The "little" brother - the Quantum 100 by Driftwood is as good IMHO and a lot less demanding.

And I agree, sharpness (but without the banding and aliasing issues of the Canon DSLR's) is the one really big advantage of the GH2.

As far as video noise is concerned, there will be good software out there which you'll be able to use in FCP X. Red Giant Software is working on a new version of Denoiser (I do like their old FCP 7 version quite a bit.) It should be out soon.
There is also http://www.neatvideo.com/overview.html, but it doesn't work in FCP X yet. But it works in Motion 5 and After Effects.

As far as AVCHD files and FCP X are concerned - FCP X can work with them natively. As long as your Mac is up to the task, you don't have to convert them. All you need to do is uncheck the "create optimized media" option when importing. All FCP X does is take the H.264 core of the MTS file and rewrap it into an MOV file. It's still the same H.264 core. No transcoding takes place. If you're importing as optimized media, you're ending up with ProRes 422 files. Now, if you're working with very high bitrate AVCHD patches, converting to ProRes when importing into FCP X might actually result in smaller files.
(Here's one more FCP X tip: I'd turn off background rendering. It speeds up things quite a bit - especially on a MacBook Air with limited RAM capabilities.)

One last interesting bit of news about the GH2 patches - I am sure you know that we're only days away from getting a new version of PTool with updated patches that use the new GH2 1.1 firmware with all its improvements (including better autofocus in video mode). This should be great!
Old Feb-17-2012, 05:11 PM
#17
THX1965 is offline THX1965 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Muench View Post
I understand the still image quality is not equal to the Canon 7d or 1Ds M3, but...... I will be using this for time lapses and video.
Marc - one more thing. If can figure out how that whole time lapse video thing works with the GH2 - I haven't been able to. I tried the time buster 1.1 patch, but they lost me when they explained the whole thing about which frames to take out with what piece of Windows software...

Are you simply planning on shooting high quality video which you'll speed up in FCP X? One cool thing about the GH2 however is the fact that when you use manual focus, you can at the same time move the shutter speed down to 1/2 second. The Canon's won't go beyond 1/30.

On a different note - you also said you couldn't preview your AVCHD files from your card in FCP X. Did you maybe use a very high bitrate patch? If you are able to play back the videos in your camera, FCP X should let you preview from your SD card.

-- Markus --
Old Feb-18-2012, 07:28 AM
#18
Marc Muench is offline Marc Muench
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Quote:
Originally Posted by THX1965 View Post
Marc - one more thing. If can figure out how that whole time lapse video thing works with the GH2 - I

On a different note - you also said you couldn't preview your AVCHD files from your card in FCP X. Did you maybe use a very high bitrate patch? If you are able to play back the videos in your camera, FCP X should let you preview from your SD card.

-- Markus --
I too was mystified about how the TL patch worked, so I just purchased an external intervalameter from Vello. Whats I like about it is that its also a remote trigger. Today, I'll see what its range is. Also, they sell separate cables for different cameras, I bought the Canon cable so now I have a back up for my other cameras. It's not as well built as the Canon but at only half the price with a remote trigger it's a "no brainer"

I am using the Quantum 100 by driftwood patch. What I have noticed is that occasionally the files play back on the camera? The best way I have been able to preview the files on my MBA is through the "import from camera" in FCX. This brings up a screen of thumbs for import. Its simply and fast enough to for now.

Good advice regarding converting the native files, but I have a feeling the MBA may lag.
I don't believe the converted 422 files loose much quality?

I hope to do some side by sides with the 7D 5D and GH2 just so I can become familiar with the characteristics for my own personal familiarity. I have a feeling the different bodies can create interesting effects that can be helpful, in addition to the lenses of course.

You are right about the anti aliasing, wow how that sucks with the Canons! Seems Panasonic has some long learned mojo that has helped them in the vid department.
Old Feb-18-2012, 08:17 PM
#19
THX1965 is offline THX1965 OP
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Originally Posted by Marc Muench View Post
Good advice regarding converting the native files, but I have a feeling the MBA may lag.
I don't believe the converted 422 files loose much quality?
Marc, you're right, the MBA might not be fully up to the task when it comes to handling AVCHD/H.264 natively in FCP X. The biggest stumbling block of any MBA is its limited amount of possible RAM (4 GB). I found that FCP X runs adequatly well with 8 GB of RAM, but it still did slow down way to often for my taste. When I upgraded my MBP to 16 GB of RAM, that's when FPC X really took off. - And I still keep background rendering off ;-)

And no, converting AVCHD/H.264 to ProRes 422 comes with zero loss in quality.

--- Markus ---
Old Feb-18-2012, 09:58 PM
#20
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GH2 - new PTool Software for firmware 1.1 is out!
Hey all GH2 owners!

The new PTool Software v3.64d is out, which will allow us to patch the latest Firmware 1.1.
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/d...3.64d-topic/p1

and some popular patches - such as Driftwood's Quantum 100 - have already been updated to take advantage of this new version:
http://www.personal-view.com/talks/d...-place#Item_30

More are to follow. Enjoy!

Last edited by THX1965; Feb-19-2012 at 11:38 AM.
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