Buying GH2 as second body in 2019

karthikrr

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Hi,

I am brand new to the m4/3 world. I am a Nikon D7000 shooter who recently started to make videos and want a cheap second body for this. I shoot exclusively with vintage lenses and record audio externally, so the most important "feature" of the body is the ability to use adapters. Given my extremely low budget, and the fact that the companion camera is a D7000, I figured an older mirrorless from a similar era to the D7000 is ideal. Settled on either Sony or Panasonic m4/3. Found a great deal on buying two GH2 bodies, one with an impossibly low shutter count (less than 2000 I think) and the other with about 32,000. I had a few questions that I was hoping those in the know here could help answer ...

1) the internet seems to either absolutely praise the GH2 (hacked or otherwise) as the best thing that ever existed, OR critic it citing bad low light performance, banding issues, color casting and so on. Should I care about these complaints, or can I safely assume that for most naturally lit outdoor shooting, coupled with a hacked firmware, I can ignore these issues?

2) The ptools site with the hacks is very confusing to navigate, given the insanely large number of hacks out there. While I will not ask what the best hack is (opinion welcome, but not demanded), I will inquire as to whether there is anything I need to specifically check on the body to make sure I can still install a hacked firmware. In other words, did Panasonic update the firmware to block hacks and do I need to make sure the camera is not on a higher firmware? More importantly, if it is, can I downgrade the firmware on the GH2?

3) Does shutter count matter? If yes, any information on the rated life of the GH2 shutter?

4) What else do I need to specifically investigate before I say yes to these bodies? I have never handled a mirrorless before, so I am unsure what needs to be checked.

5) My alternative is a GH3 for the same price as the two GH2s combined. My gut says I should stick with two GH2s over the GH3, but can anybody argue against this view?

6) Lastly, if anybody is familiar with the D7000's video abilities, can you comment on the stock video off the GH2 and contextually place it alongside the D7000 video? Better, worse, same? Of course, hacked I know the GH2 goes light years ahead, but I am just curious about the baseline here. My main objective with this question is to have a response for the argument that the GH2 is too dated and I should buy something newer. The price is FANTASTIC, I am still LEARNING how to make videos, I figure once I have developed the requisite skills to call myself a videographer, I can upgrade at that point to a current modern body. So, moral of the story, I see this as a learning system only, not a professional system

Any other comments or suggestions also most welcome. If all goes well, I should have two GH2s next week and am quite excited to start exploring the m4/3 world.

Thanks!
Karthik
 

dirtdevil

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Get the G85 instead, it's more recent with the latest gadgets (ibis, very quiet shutter mecanism, 4k video, etc) and image quality is just so much better even if they are both 16mp.

Even against the GH4 I think I'd still go with the G85 (so imagine against the GH2).

ps I own both the GH2 and G85 and frankly I don't even bring my GH2 with me, the image quality of the G85 is very superior.
 
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karthikrr

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Get the G85 instead, it's more recent with the latest gadgets (ibis, very quiet shutter mecanism, 4k video, etc) and image quality is just so much better even if they are both 16mp.
Thanks! I am not really familiar with the different models, will look this up. :)
 

Bif

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Hi,


1) the internet seems to either absolutely praise the GH2 (hacked or otherwise) as the best thing that ever existed, OR critic it citing bad low light performance, banding issues, color casting and so on. Should I care about these complaints, or can I safely assume that for most naturally lit outdoor shooting, coupled with a hacked firmware, I can ignore these issues?
Probably ignore. Many improvements have come about since the GH2 was on the market. I never had a real problem with those issues. Proper exposure takes care of them.

2) The ptools site with the hacks is very confusing to navigate, given the insanely large number of hacks out there. While I will not ask what the best hack is (opinion welcome, but not demanded), I will inquire as to whether there is anything I need to specifically check on the body to make sure I can still install a hacked firmware. In other words, did Panasonic update the firmware to block hacks and do I need to make sure the camera is not on a higher firmware? More importantly, if it is, can I downgrade the firmware on the GH2?
I think I used Sanity 5 and whatever LPowell's latest was. Both seemed very stable. The site was confusing but the PTools software worked pretty smooth. Modifying firmware should not be done without a relatively new Lumix battery freshly charged. Third party batts have been known to fail in the middle of the update process and the camera is totally "bricked" when that happens.

3) Does shutter count matter? If yes, any information on the rated life of the GH2 shutter?
I'd be more concerned about age. Many consumer electronics do not age gracefully.

4) What else do I need to specifically investigate before I say yes to these bodies? I have never handled a mirrorless before, so I am unsure what needs to be checked.
Condition more than anything else. They will either work or won't.

5) My alternative is a GH3 for the same price as the two GH2s combined. My gut says I should stick with two GH2s over the GH3, but can anybody argue against this view?
The GH3 was an improvement over the GH2 but the EVF was too tiny and was problematic for some. The GH2 had the better EVF of the two.

I upgraded from the GH2 to a pair of GH3's. Somewhat disappointed in those. The GH4 was a TREMENDOUS improvement over both the GH2 and GH3. I still have mine even after purchasing a G85 and GH5.

6) Lastly, if anybody is familiar with the D7000's video abilities, can you comment on the stock video off the GH2 and contextually place it alongside the D7000 video? Better, worse, same? Of course, hacked I know the GH2 goes light years ahead, but I am just curious about the baseline here. My main objective with this question is to have a response for the argument that the GH2 is too dated and I should buy something newer. The price is FANTASTIC, I am still LEARNING how to make videos, I figure once I have developed the requisite skills to call myself a videographer, I can upgrade at that point to a current modern body. So, moral of the story, I see this as a learning system only, not a professional system
This video was shot by former National Geographic photographer Bruce Dale, with an "unhacked" pre-production GH2 with pre-production firmware. The detail so stunned me I wound up selling off my Canon gear and purchasing some used GH2 bodies.

Best viewed FULL SCREEN on vimeo to see what I mean.


Any other comments or suggestions also most welcome. If all goes well, I should have two GH2s next week and am quite excited to start exploring the m4/3 world.

Thanks!
Karthik
Yes. The suggestions on the G85 are the way to go in my opinion. That model is the best update of the GH2 concept yet. Somewhat lightweight, weather and dust sealed (with weather sealed lenses), 4K video as well as 1080p, excellent IN BODY IMAGE STABILIZATION and still adaptable to vintage optics like Nikon F mount. Lumix G7 is workable, and used GH4 is also worth considering.

Good luck,

Bruce Foreman
 
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karthikrr

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Wow, that is probably one of the most detailed replies I have ever received on any forum ever :) Appreciate you taking the time to help me out!

Probably ignore. Many improvements have come about since the GH2 was on the market. I never had a real problem with those issues. Proper exposure takes care of them.
Thanks for confirming this. In the DSLR world, I always see this, people upgrading bodies like they upgrade iPhones, just "because its newer, it MUST be better" .. Truth be told, YES, it probably IS better, BUT its almost never the case that those specific incremental improvements are the exact ones that are holding somebody back from producing the greatest photos/videos ever! I suspected this might be the case here, BUT since there was a lot of grumpiness about specific technical issues, and with no experience at all in this world, I had a few second thoughts. Now I am sure this is a good decision.

I think I used Sanity 5 and whatever LPowell's latest was. Both seemed very stable. The site was confusing but the PTools software worked pretty smooth. Modifying firmware should not be done without a relatively new Lumix battery freshly charged. Third party batts have been known to fail in the middle of the update process and the camera is totally "bricked" when that happens.
All advice noted. The seller informed me that he has spare batteries that he can give me for 5 euros each. Not sure if they are original or third party, will know tomorrow. But I suppose I will get around to the hack after I first familiarize myself with the camera as is. Its still going to be nearly two weeks before I get my Nikon-m4/3 adapter from China, so that is enough time to just learn the menus I suppose.

I'd be more concerned about age. Many consumer electronics do not age gracefully.

Condition more than anything else. They will either work or won't.
They are certainly old at this point, BUT that is the risk I pay for not wanting to invest real money in a current model. But I suppose here its also a matter of luck. *fingers crossed*

The GH3 was an improvement over the GH2 but the EVF was too tiny and was problematic for some. The GH2 had the better EVF of the two.

I upgraded from the GH2 to a pair of GH3's. Somewhat disappointed in those. The GH4 was a TREMENDOUS improvement over both the GH2 and GH3. I still have mine even after purchasing a G85 and GH5.
Again, good to hear this view. I am quite excited for the EVF actually. I HATE the fact that I have to use live view to shoot video on the D7000. It just doesn't feel "right", if that makes sense ...

Hmm, it seems if and when I want to actually upgrade my gear, and when I have a bit of money, I am probably going to get a D600/D610 on the DSLR side and the GH4 to replace the GH2 (assuming I buy them tomorrow) ...

This video was shot by former National Geographic photographer Bruce Dale, with an "unhacked" pre-production GH2 with pre-production firmware. The detail so stunned me I wound up selling off my Canon gear and purchasing some used GH2 bodies.

Best viewed FULL SCREEN on vimeo to see what I mean.

Mind blown!!!!! But this certainly also makes me feel happy about spending money on TWO ancient cameras. The fact that THAT is possible unhacked means that is what I must first accomplish... Learn the tools well enough to produce that kind of output. Once I have the necessary skills to do that, I imagine I will know when I have stretched my gear to its limits and require an upgrade.

At the moment, I have only made TWO videos EVER, the second one went up yesterday. I post the link here only to give you an idea where I am on the skills ladder. Its a classical dance video set to a classical tune (Indian classical) that I shot for my wife and her friends. Both the audio and video was all done by me, and I have had no formal training in either, so still very amateurish, but I hope to put out good output soon.

The video was shot with the D7000 (Sigma 17-50 f2.8; singers and dancer) and an iPhone 6S (the instrumentalists) ... It was shot in The Netherlands under very varying weather and lighting conditions, so quite a challenge for me to try to get all the footage looking consistent (I tried, I failed, I will do better on the next one).

Yes. The suggestions on the G85 are the way to go in my opinion. That model is the best update of the GH2 concept yet. Somewhat lightweight, weather and dust sealed (with weather sealed lenses), 4K video as well as 1080p, excellent IN BODY IMAGE STABILIZATION and still adaptable to vintage optics like Nikon F mount. Lumix G7 is workable, and used GH4 is also worth considering.
Ah, on this, I am meeting the seller tomorrow, and if the deal goes through, then I will post a crucial bit of information that I left out, the price. I have not disclosed that yet because if I discover tomorrow that I am being scammed, I would rather pretend that the cameras were not good and I decided against buying them!

I WISH I could afford a G85 or G7 or GH4 ... They are all WAY out of my budget at the moment ... However, for me to just make enough footage to learn how to edit and grade, I think a pair of GH2s is going to be great... Well, assuming the deal is not too good to be true and I actually get them in hand tomorrow!

Next question, if I do get the cameras, is going to be on lenses .. I already own a decent set of vintage Nikon lenses, but the fantastic adaptability of the m4/3 opens up a whole new world here. Looking forward to a lot of experimentation!
 

karthikrr

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Okay, so I just got back after a day long excursion buying used camera gear.

Two GH2 bodies (1800 shutter count in one and 39,000 shutter count in the other) with two Panasonic batteries, two Chinese (ok, they are all chinese, but you get what I mean) batteries (that may or may not work), two chargers and one cheap no name C-Mount 25mm f1.4 lens with the C-Mount adapter for $130 ... I think safe to say nobody here will tell me that I should have considered other bodies, considering this price! Both bodies are in good condition cosmetically also, though the 1800 one looks as good as new while the other one shows some sign of use.

I also picked up from a different seller, a Tokina AT-X 80-200 f2.8 SD Manual Focus lens (Nikon mount) in MINT condition with the original leather case, ALSO in MINT condition for $56... That seller was kind enough to also give me a Voigtlander 19-35 f3.5-f4.5 lens, a Nikon SB-23 flash unit and two of those telephoto and macro screw on lens thingies (I am not even sure how they work) free of cost!

Overall, a very good day for the used gear shopper in me :) Its going to be a couple weeks before I get my F-mount adapter to use my Nikon lenses. Until then, I guess I will play around with the crap tv lens on it and learn the camera. And boy, that menu is INSANE, there is just sooooooooo much stuff to sort thru... For the first time, I feel like I need the manual to actually figure out a camera!

Anyway, I will get started on exploring the camera tomorrow. I expect to have many more questions then, but I guess the main ones will be "Should I really care to explore the menus if I have no plans to use this camera for stills at all?", "Is it possible to figure out if the camera is running stock firmware or hacked firmware? It says firmware v1.11 at the moment" and finally "Should I bother to waste any time with the stock firmware, or should I just go ahead and hack it even before I get my lens adapter?"
 

karthikrr

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Good buy and don't look back. Just make content!
:) Thats the plan .. But I was poking around in the menus and wow, its CONFUSING!!! I thought a consumer camera would be a lot easier to operate than a DSLR, but this is easily the most confusing UI I have ever experienced ... Downloaded a manual and found some youtube videos, its interesting so far.

Meanwhile, somebody was telling me that I need VERY FAST glass to make good use of the m4/3 format, like f1.4 and faster. Is that true? Because most of my vintage nikkors are f2 and f2.8. I would hate to find out that these lenses are not very usable on this camera!
 

Ulfric M Douglas

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1) the internet seems to either absolutely praise the GH2 (hacked or otherwise) as the best thing that ever existed, OR critic it citing bad low light performance, banding issues, color casting and so on. Should I care about these complaints, or can I safely assume that for most naturally lit outdoor shooting, coupled with a hacked firmware, I can ignore these issues?
So many opportunities to buy a GH2 cheap over the years, but to me it has colour problems, especially skin tones.

I own a GH3 which is pretty good and was cheap.
 

karthikrr

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So many opportunities to buy a GH2 cheap over the years, but to me it has colour problems, especially skin tones.

I own a GH3 which is pretty good and was cheap.
I got two GH2 bodies with four batteries and a cheap lens for 115 euros, so I cannot EVER complain even if it was the crappiest camera in the world :) I was a bit tempted to get the GH3 (for 100 euros) but having two cameras that would give me matching footage and make my post-production tasks simpler was too good to pass on.

Meanwhile, I have been trying to make sense of the GH2 hacks and man, it makes me wonder if the lack of simplicity is contagious!!! To say its overwhelming is putting it too mildly, especially the driftwood hacks and the apefos ones. Flowmotion and Sanity seemed to be the most user-friendly ones, in that they have a clear versioning system and deliver a complete package, so I downloaded those two and will get started on the hack AFTER I confirm that the batteries are actually good and will not die randomly! Already I have found that the generic batteries, they start fine and then randomly yield a "this battery cannot be used" error message and die. No, I do not plan to use these batteries for the hacking, but I have no reason yet to believe the Panasonic batteries are in good condition either. So, I think I will use the cameras for a week or so before I actually install hacks on it.
 

karthikrr

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Okay, I made a few video files and checked the stream info using mediainfo ... It does appear that both the cams are hacked, I see a peak bitrate of 90+ mbps, while the average bitrate hovers around 30 - 60 mbps depending on the mode chosen. Also, I notice that both bodies have ISO options upto 12,800, which I believe is another indication that the camera is hacked. And indeed, the video file shot at ISO 5000 has the highest average bitrate of near 60mbps and I think the peak bitrate on that might have even hit 100 (don't remember) ...

Oh also, that high ISO file with the crazy high bitrate, VLC on my computer gave up trying to play it! So it seems I may have to use another hack and bring down the max bitrate a bit to accommodate my weak computer.

Anyway to figure out WHAT hack is running on them?
 

Bif

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Anyway to figure out WHAT hack is running on them?
OK...Do NOT do anything to try and change the hack!!!

Original firmware was 1.0, official Panasonic update was 1.1 so the 1.11 makes me believe you have "hacked" versions. The hacks were merely firmware variations so if the cameras seem to be running stable, leave them alone for now.

Here's an article I wrote in 2012 on video in manual mode on the GH2.

GH2 Manual Exposure Control In Video Mode


© 2012 Bruce Foreman



A few things need to be configured in the menus first. Taking them one at a time:



Each selection should be “nailed” with the “MENU/SET” button. If doing this takes you out of the menu press it again to get back to the menu, then use the left arrow to exit that item or that menu.



1. Setting Manual Exposure in Movie Mode. Set the mode dial on top of the GH2 to “Motion Picture” (the icon that looks like a movie camera and an “M” beside it. Press the “MENU/SET” button on the back of the camera and you get a “Creative Movie” menu that allows you to select from 4 choices (3 if firmware is still ver. 1.0). I select “High Bit Rate”, many others will select "24p Cinema”. Press “MENU/SET” button, then use left arrow to exit menu.



Go to next menu down, “Motion Picture” (Movie Camera icon). Scroll down to Movie Camera with “M” icon, EXPOSURE MODE, and press right arrow. 4 choices, PASM, select M for “Manual”. This exposure mode choice applies ONLY to “Motion Picture” mode when that is selected with the mode dial on top. Press “MENU/SET” button.



Next menu, CUSTOM, “C with wrench”.



HISTOGRAM – Set to ON if you understand how to read a histogram. This is NOT an exposure meter but can be a useful guide when properly interpreted. Press “MENU/SET” button.



CONSTANT PREVUE – Set to ON. This allows LCD and viewfinder to actually show exposure by being darker with underexposure and lighter with overexposure, making it easier to “judge” exposure in conjunction with the exposure metering display at the bottom of the screen. If this is left to OFF the LCD and viewfinder will pretty much always display an image that looks like the exposure is correct even when under or over exposed. Select ON thenpress “MENU/SET” button.



EXPO.METER – Set to ON. Press “MENU/SET” button. This enables exposure meter display at the bottom of the screen.



Movie (icon) BUTTON – Set to ON. Press “MENU/SET” button. This is the red button on top of the camera. You can also start Motion Picture recording with a full press of the shutter button (in Motion Picture mode ONLY). A half press of the shutter button will attempt AUTOFOCUS depending on how you have FOCUS mode switches set.



TOUCH SCREEN – I recommend ON. Press “MENU/SET” button.



TOUCH Q.MENU - I recommend ON also. Press “MENU/SET” button.



TOUCH SHUTTER – I set to OFF, I don't want the camera to focus and shoot a still if I accidentally touch the LCD. Press “MENU/SET” button.



SHOOT W/O LENS – Set to ON if you plan on using adapted lenses. Press “MENU/SET” button.





Those are the important ones for manual exposure control in video mode. Several of the other configuration options can be personal choices but I do recommend Highlight Warnings, Focus Priority, Direct Focus Area, Intelligent Auto, Intelligent Dynamic, and PreAF all be set to OFF. With the exception of “i Auto” and “i Dynamic” they shouldn't affect manual exposure control but you can have “too much” going on.



Now on to HOW.



SHUTTER SPEED:



Depending on the power line frequency in your area this should be set so that it is likely “in synch” to head off “banding” or “flickering” problems if artificial lighting is either used or included in the scene. In most PAL regions this will likely be 50Hz, In most NTSC areas power line frequency will be 60Hz, shutter speed should be some close multiple of this. I'm in an NTSC area so I set mine at 1/60th of a second. Those in most PAL regions should start at 1/50th.



Both shutter speeds are close enough to the 1/48th second that used to be the result of a rotating disk shutter in early film motion picture cameras so that the degree of “motion blur” we've become used to is similar.



Faster shutter speeds to “freeze” motion/action in each frame may be used but as you get much above 1/125th to 1/250th second motion may “strobe” or get “stuttery”. So far at 1/60th second I've had no problems, any blur which occurs with rapid movement looks natural to me.



APERTURE:



Set this for the desired “depth of field” or “zone of acceptable focus” effect desired. Smaller aperture for deep zone of focus, wider for more selective focus or “shallow” zone of focus, or a medium aperture for somewhere in the middle. A word of warning here, the extreme “shallow” selective focus that can be done with some “faster” lenses is being very much overdone. So I suggest you do some research on “depth of field” and look at a lot of examples so you can apply these techniques more judiciously.



ISO: Set this to a value appropriate to the ambient lighting conditions. Outdoors in daylight start at 160. Indoors or outdoors at night somewhere in the range of 400 – 1600. With the original firmware the high ISO limit in “motion picture” mode is 3200, with the various firmware modifications (hacks) that upper limit can be expanded to 12,800.



Before you get too excited over this possibility, you are likely to be quite disappointed in the image quality at 12,800 due to digital “noise” (I haven't tried anything like Neat Video for noise removal so I have no idea how well it would work here). While I might be able to “live with” the results at ISO 6400 I try to stay at ISO 3200 or lower.



Generally ISO can be adjusted up or down some to “tune” exposure until you get the “zero” or “+/-” +0 reading on the exposure meter readout at the bottom of the screen. If you're not locked into a specific aperture for a specifically desired “depth of field” effect you can also “tune” exposure with aperture adjustment.



So at this point you have complete manual control over shutter, aperture, and ISO. Each independent of the others and an exposure meter readout at the bottom of the screen.



OTHER EXPOSURE CONSIDERATIONS



Shooting video outdoors can present some exposure problems, you may find yourself having to set the aperture an minimum or near minimum aperture even at ISO 160. This can result in quite a bit deeper zone of focus than you would like and very small apertures subject the image to an effect known as “diffraction”. The image forming light rays instead of following a strictly straight path begin to “diffuse” some. This can result in a general softness, slight loss of inherent contrast, and an image that can seem to lack edge detail and sharpness.



The way to counteract this is through the use of ND filters. I found that a .9ND (3 stop reduction) just barely got me down into the f11 to f8 range of apertures on a bright day in the West Texas sun. So I used 46-52mm and 37-52mm stepup rings with my existing 52mm .6ND and .9ND filters (2 stop and 3 stop reduction respectively) for the Lumix 14mm and 20mm “pancakes” and also with the Olympus Zuiko 45mm (37mm filter thread). “Stacking” those two filters for a 5 stop reduction caused a slight magenta color shift and definite vignetting with the 14mm lens, so I ordered a 1.2ND (4 stop reduction) to get away from those problems.



Then I discovered variable ND filters. B&H photo in NYC sells a Polaroid variable ND filter at $34.99 in smaller sizes (37 to 52mm). I ordered two sizes, 46mm and 52mm. The first size fits the 14mm, 20mm, and the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f1.4; the 52mm fits the 14-42mm “kit” lens directly as well as the smaller lenses with stepup rings.



So now when you have shutter, aperture, and ISO set you can very conveniently “dial in” exposure by adjusting the variable ND filter (with the outer ring) until the meter readout indicates “zero”.



There are a few possible “downsides” to using the variable ND. A few reviewers mention problems or “unwanted” effects when using these at their darkest settings. Some report no problems, I don't use the darkest settings so I haven't seen any “unwanted” effects, but I usually stay away from “extremes”. There are also reports on the forums of increased incidence of internal reflections. The variable or “fader” ND filter is two pieces of “glass” which adds 4 potentially reflective surfaces. So far I like the way these things work but I'm keeping the conventional ND filters handy.





And the front filter thread size is different from the rear thread that mounts to the lens. On the 46mm size the front thread is actually 49mm (the rear side of the filter threads in perfectly to the 46mm thread on the lens) so if you wish to use a hood you need one in 49mm size. I had some 49-52mm step up rings so I can use a 52mm rubber hood in conjunction with the 46mm variable ND filter (with the 20mm that needs to be a wide angle hood or it will vignette, no hood should be used with the 14mm).



The 52mm Polaroid variable ND has a larger front thread also. I haven't figured out what it is yet but I suspect it will turn out to be 55mm (I don't have a “real” camera store here where I can go see what fits so I'll probably have to order to find out.)



Final note on filters, DO NOT even try “cheap” ND filters. You risk running into color shifts, so I advise nothing cheaper than TIFFEN brand (I read that Shane Hurlbut likes TIFFEN).



UPDATE On Variable ND Filters



On any “serious” project I now use single strength conventional ND filters rather than the variable ND types. I've seen too many reports of variable ND filters affecting sharpness and definition of good lenses to be comfortable chancing that. I got into the GH2 because of the superior sharpness of imagery over Canon.



Most of the time in bright daylight (even if not in direct sunlight) what I need is to get “down” from the minimum apertures into the middle range (f 8 to f 5.6 area) and a four stop reduction from and ND 1.2 does that for me. In late afternoon/early evening when the shadows get long enough to work in, I can even get down to wider apertures for good selective focus effects. It will often be better on your talent/actors to work in the “gentler” light anyways



To Touchscreen (Or Not)



I've never been much of a fan of “touchscreen” operation but the implementation in the GH2 is about the slickest I've ever seen in a camera. Anything that might need to be changed in the way of settings while you're working can be accessed either by the Quick Menu (Q.Menu) or directly by the buttons on the camera. Your choice. When working out in bright daylight you likely won't really be using the LCD (hard to see it in really bright light) so the Touchscreen function won't be that available. Using the EVF (electronic viewfinder) you'll be using the camera controls instead. But in lighting conditions where you can use the LCD you may be amazed at what you can access and change almost “on the fly”.



One very handy function I like is the Touch focus and the main reason I recommend this be set to ON is that you can actually do a “rack focus” with this. Simply focus on the first object you wish to be focused on and when ready, touch the second object. The camera will then move focus to that second object. There is slight delay between the time you “touch” and the time the camera refocuses so a couple or three “rehearsals” would be a good idea. You do need to have TOUCH SHUTTER set to OFF or the camera will also take a still picture at the same time.





Lenses



Most other brand lenses including a lot of “legacy” Nikon, Pentax Takumar, Minolta, Canon FD and other known brand “glass” can be fairly easily adapted to the m4/3rds mount, and this is the way many go for optics for the GH2. My choice was to remain within the system of lenses made for m4/3rds so that I could work with all of the camera body features. So the optics I've assembled over the last year includes the Lumix 14mm f2.5 and 20mm f1.7 “pancakes”, the Olympus Zuiko 45mm f1.8, the Pan/Leica DG Summilux 25mm f1.4, the Lumix 45-200mm f4-f5.6, and with the second body came the Lumix 14-42mm “kit” lens.



I'm not putting down in any way those who shop for and adapt other lenses, but for me the advantages of lenses that “communicate” with the body and make available all features of the GH2 body make working “motion picture” with this camera go smoother. Some of the optics made for this system are incredibly compact and this is very much appreciated with me often being a “one person” crew, less weight to “lug around” and setup.



My latest lens acquisition, the Pan/Leica DG Summilux 25mm f1.4, is an incredible performer. Outstanding in low light environments, excellent sharpness and detail stopped down a bit and still compact enough on the GH2 body.



Focusing With Manual Assist





On the "Custom" menu (C with wrench) be sure you have AF+MF set to ON, then MF ASSIST set to ON. These are on "page 3" of that menu, then go to "page 4" and set MF GUIDE to ON.

The MF ASSIST will kick in as you touch the focus ring when you are in AFS (autofocus single) mode and when in MF mode. In MF mode the magnified "assist" will not clear until you lightly touch the shutter release button.




With other brand “adapted” lenses the only way to activate MF ASSIST may be to touch the LCD. Pressing the Fn2 button is supposed to activate MF ASSIST when “adapted” lenses are attached. The above 2 paragraphs pertain to “native” m4/3rds lenses only.



Continuous Autofocus And Face Detect



I've been trying to test "continuous autofocus" with one of the lenses that is supposed to work with. I find it to be a bit problematic. If background contrast is enough to try to “grab” focus the autofocus jumps back and forth between subject and backgound. So this is something you'd have to do a test run just prior to an actual “take” to see if it will be a problem.



Around the dial on the top left of the camera MF stands for Manual Focus, AFC for Auto Focus Continuous, and AFS for Auto Focus Single (press).

There is a 3 position switch that selects those. The dial itself has four positions. The first is Face Detect mode, the second is Continuous Focus Tracking but this works ONLY for still photos and NOT for Movie Mode. The Face Detect mode, however, will work in Movie mode and can provide a kind of "pseudo follow focus" in movie mode as long as the 3 position switch is set to AFS (Auto Focus Single) and it thinks it is detecting a face.

In other words if you work alone and have to get out in front of the camera yourself, you can back up and move forward while recording and it will try to "refocus", but turn your back and it will lose focus on you. If you have the Lumix 20mm lens Continous Autofocus does not work with this lens, but the "psuedo follow focus" will try to work as long as the focus switch is set to AFS and the dial is on "Face Detect".

I haven't done anything with the other two modes yet.





Handy Accessories



The use of lens hoods whenever possible is always a good idea, but careful attention needs to be paid to hood shape and depth. The 14mm may be best used with no hood, this lens is wide enough that vignetting can be a serious problem. The 20mm is best used with a bit of a wide angle hood, this lens is what I call “wide normal” in that the field of view is slightly wider than “normal” but not quite wide enough to be a wide angle lens. The 25mm and longer can take deeper hoods. I recommend you shop B&H for their “collapsible” rubber lens hoods, they are often inexpensive and can form a rubber “bumper” around the front of the lens.



Of course the primary reason for a lens hood is to keep stray light off the front element, preventing excessive internal reflections. The deeper a hood is, the more effective it will be but be sure to test it at smaller apertures, shooting some still images to insure it is not causing any vignetting you don't see looking through the camera.



Another thing that can cause internal reflections is an unnecessary filter. I used to keep a high quality multilayer coated UV filter on all my Canon EOS lenses and never ran into a problem. So as I began to acquire Lumix and Olympus lenses for the Olympus Pen E-P3 and GH2 cameras, I also ordered Hoya HMC UV filters to keep on them for protection. Turned out I started seeing spots in the images that were twice as annoying as shooting with no filter. So I no longer put any filter on any of the lenses for the GH2 unless one is needed for a very specific reason.



Remote shutter devices: I looked for a wireless remote for my Canons that would let me start video from in front of the camera. No dice, the video function was a separate button and no remotes seemed to allow what I needed. But the GH2 is a different story altogether. Even though it has a dedicated motion picture start and stop button (the little red one), when you have Motion Picture mode selected with the mode dial on top you can start/stop recording with either the red button OR the shutter release. And since using the shutter release also initiates autofocus depending on how you have the focus configured, it is possible to do this with a wireless remote. I ordered the Rainbow Imaging wireless remote on amazon.com and IT WORKS.



A “half press” on the shutter button does autofocus (just like in still photo modes) and the full press from there starts the recording. This is useful for a one person operation where that one person also has to step out in front of the camera and “demonstrate” or do something.



Your “rig”: The temptation is to “deck out” your camera with a shoulder mount rig that then lets you “hang” lights, monitor, audio recorder, mic, rails, large mattebox, and other “things”. You can easily run the bill up to 4 figures. But when you do this you also negate one of the advantages of the GH2. It's compact size. Some kind of shoulder mount or stabilizer will often be very necessary, the one I use is simple, lightweight, and made to take nothing but the camera. Check out www.spiderbrace.com, they have just developed a design specifically for DSLRs. Less than $100 delivered to your door in the U.S.



I've used an older version for a couple of years now (with DSLRs) but will be ordering the new design soon.







© 2012 Bruce Foreman
 

Bif

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One more thing...If you see up to 12,800 ISO in video mode, you have a firmware hack, ISO 3200 was highest you could set in video mode. If memory serves me right, you also can set both PAL and NTSC frame rates, the firmware hacks (most of them) allowed use of both European and US settings.

Good luck and have fun.

Bruce Foreman
 

karthikrr

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One more thing...If you see up to 12,800 ISO in video mode, you have a firmware hack, ISO 3200 was highest you could set in video mode. If memory serves me right, you also can set both PAL and NTSC frame rates, the firmware hacks (most of them) allowed use of both European and US settings.

Good luck and have fun.

Bruce Foreman
OMG, that guide was SUPER helpful! Thank you so much! And yes, indeed PAL and NTSC are both available AS well as 12,800 ISO, and the videos are certainly recording at super high bitrates, so they are both hacked. I still would like to know WHAT hack they are running, but for now, till I learn the camera well, I am leaving it alone.

As for stability, there is a bit of a weird problem. I have been experimenting with one body only for now, until I get my lens adapters and try with quality glass. On the body that I am using, the 3rd party battery is iffy. If I start the camera and open a menu right away, in less than 10 seconds, it will display a "this battery cannot be used" error and shutdown. Simply restarting it and then shooting with it rather than opening the menu seems to work. BUT also, I think maybe simply restarting the camera makes it work, but first boot always shuts down. The battery itself seems okay, I was using the camera for about 45 minutes yesterday, it hasn't given up yet, so it seems to be in decent shape.

I tried to take some test footage yesterday with the TV lens... The lens is CRAP, but even on that, the video quality was OUTSTANDING! Going to try to grade it today and see how much I can push, but I am feeling very good overall about buying two bodies. For my purposes, this seems MORE than sufficient. The lens adapter is on its way as well, should reach in 10 days. Looking forward to many trials.

Bruce, thanks again for that amazing guide. It really cut thru a lot of the noise and got me into shooting mode. I still want to understand what all the rest is, but I can do that in a leisurely manner now.
 

Bif

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On the body that I am using, the 3rd party battery is iffy. If I start the camera and open a menu right away, in less than 10 seconds, it will display a "this battery cannot be used" error and shutdown. Simply restarting it and then shooting with it rather than opening the menu seems to work. BUT also, I think maybe simply restarting the camera makes it work, but first boot always shuts down. The battery itself seems okay, I was using the camera for about 45 minutes yesterday, it hasn't given up yet, so it seems to be in decent shape.
I would "dump" that 3rd party battery. The same battery used in the G7, G85, and GX8 fits and works fine in the GH2. I've been using Watson DMW-BLC12 ordered from B&H, it's half the price of the Lumix but is giving me safe dependable service.

Bruce, thanks again for that amazing guide. It really cut thru a lot of the noise and got me into shooting mode. I still want to understand what all the rest is, but I can do that in a leisurely manner now.
You're welcome. That info pretty much works on newer Panasonic models too.

Bruce
 

ToxicTabasco

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Congratulations on your purchase. I agree with all the above info and recommendations. The GH2 was a great camera of its era. A lot has changed over the years. And if your impressions of MFT cameras are based the old MFT cameras, it should meet your expectations.

For tips and tricks of how to set up and use the GH2, check out the online videos for assistance. Shooting the Lumix cameras are much different than shooting DSLRs. Thus, the online video tips can help speed up the learning process.

Enjoy your cameras.
 

Tywais

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I bought the GH2 shortly after it was released and still have it. Planned on getting into videography but never did. Most videos I did with it were technical ones but I was always pleased with the color saturation and quality of the video that came out. Here is one of my early ones. No grading or modification, SOOC except for captioning it.

 

cluber77

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My first micro4/3 camera was the GH2, I really liked it, I remember that I also hacked the camera with the vanilla hack, the video quality was really nice.
Because back in the days I was more into stiles photography I sold it and then I bought the canon 70D.
Now I have as a backup camera the Gx80 and it’s become my main camera, I’m using the 70D only for my professional needs as a children photographer
 

karthikrr

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I would "dump" that 3rd party battery. The same battery used in the G7, G85, and GX8 fits and works fine in the GH2. I've been using Watson DMW-BLC12 ordered from B&H, it's half the price of the Lumix but is giving me safe dependable service.
Noted! I will look for these here :)

Congratulations on your purchase. I agree with all the above info and recommendations. The GH2 was a great camera of its era. A lot has changed over the years. And if your impressions of MFT cameras are based the old MFT cameras, it should meet your expectations.

For tips and tricks of how to set up and use the GH2, check out the online videos for assistance. Shooting the Lumix cameras are much different than shooting DSLRs. Thus, the online video tips can help speed up the learning process.

Enjoy your cameras.
Having actually used this camera, I do wonder why Panasonic decided to play by Sony's rules and go full-frame! To me, it makes no sense to have a TINY mirrorless body that uses HUGE full-frame lenses... BUT, perhaps Panasonic will do what Fuji does and maintain the small MFT line and the larger FF line (as opposed to Fuji's APS-C and Medium Format lines) ... This would actually be a really smart thing I think, especially if they understand that the market needs to be further differentiated and perhaps, I believe, focus more on video for MFT (with fewer megapixels, but better processing) and Stills with FF (higher megapixels and more photography features)... To me that makes sense, since the smaller format is nicer for people to take along on vacations and just out on the streets, while the larger format is nicer for studio settings and more planned shoots.

In anycase, I continue to be amazed at what the GH2 is doing with the video and am probably going to be labelled a bot doing a DoS attack on the aliexpress tracking page because I keep refreshing it to see where my package is :D

I bought the GH2 shortly after it was released and still have it. Planned on getting into videography but never did. Most videos I did with it were technical ones but I was always pleased with the color saturation and quality of the video that came out. Here is one of my early ones. No grading or modification, SOOC except for captioning it.

Wow, thats probably one of the geekiest videos I ever watched, and RESPECT! This goes on my list of crazy things to try when I have money and time to spend :p

My first micro4/3 camera was the GH2, I really liked it, I remember that I also hacked the camera with the vanilla hack, the video quality was really nice.
Because back in the days I was more into stiles photography I sold it and then I bought the canon 70D.
Now I have as a backup camera the Gx80 and it’s become my main camera, I’m using the 70D only for my professional needs as a children photographer
Your comment further reinforces my belief that Panasonic will do well to continue the MFT line and add more video features to it, and reserve the FF line for more professional features, especially in the stills world! Video truly does NOT require a HUGE sensor, NOR 50 megapixels, not YET anyway!

The GH2 feels SO light and plasticky that, I will admit, I don't really feel too good about using it everytime I pick it up. But once I start framing and shooting, the toy-like feeling goes away and it ends up being a positive thing because it feels so much easier to keep on shooting. The good thing is that this is also so light that maybe now I can get one of those cheap chinese gimbals/stabilizers that I could never use with the D7000 due to the weight of the camera! :)
 

ToxicTabasco

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You gotta remember that the GH2 was the flagship Lumix camera of its time. It had the best of what was out there. Hence the good quality build, good handling, and durability.
 
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