Panasonic Lumix GH4 First Impressions Review

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by napilopez, May 9, 2014.

  1. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Yeah, but they pretty much always say its a brand new sensor. Regardless of how useful DxO scores are, it seems somewhat odd that it would score so much in the vicinity of the other current gen M4/3 sensors if it's a completely new one (albeit still the highest ranking one so far). My bet is that it's based off of the old one with new circuitry and surroundings to help with heat issues. Either way, it's probably the best performing M4/3 sensor, if not necessarily a quantum leap.

    Both. I've done most of my testing with the 18-55mm f2.8-f4 though, as that lens at 55mm and F4 should provide the same DoF as the 35-100mm F2.8 does at approximately 41mm and F2.8. That's about as close as I'm going to get. Also worth noting that fuji tends to focus at the aperture you set it to; Panasonic(and Olympus) generally focus at whatever they deem to be the most convenient aperture.

    Yep, I read those impressions a long time ago, and actually looked at them again today for any potential advice for my testing! Don't get me wrong, the X-T1 does what it can rather excellently, it's just rather limited in scope, relatively speaking. I spent a good hour or so trying the two cameras on my own dogs today, who are two tiny chihuahuas with much more erratic movements than the dogs and birds Dan is testing in those links. This all from very close. Literally the most difficult test I could possibly imagine for these two cameras. Neither was perfect, but I was probably more to blam

    Something else I need to note, in this case I got the best results towards the end of my session, when I began using a custom AF array, a feature I hadn't tried out yet until today. I basically created a diamond shape covering most the middle portion of the frame, similar to many DSLR PDAF arrays, and got consistently good results this way as long as I did a decent job of physically following my dogs. And I was easily able to do that better with the GH4 than the X-T1. Quite frankly, it seemed any issues tracking the dogs were much more my fault than the cameras, and I doubt many DSLRs would have done better. The X-T1 may have had a better hit rate than the GH4 when I kept my subject perfectly centered, but my dogs rarely run in straight lines, haha.

    At the end of the day, I don't think I would've been able to get any of these shots with another M4/3 camera without using old school pre-focusing or skillful MF (all SooC JPEGs, ISO 1600):


    One of my dogs clearly has a bit of a michael jordan complex, hehe. A lot of these are off center, which I posted to show situations where the GH4 has some advantages over the X-T1. There are many more on the Sample flickr page, but I'm not posting full bursts of these because I don't want to have people nitpicking over something that was largely my own issue. Point is, I got a lot keepers.

    I haven't played around with the JPEGs other than lessening noise reduction, but I'm quite happy with them!

     
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  2. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    I love the Tips'n'Tricks posts, Napier, thank you for the effort that goes into them. You haven't done something similar for my GX7 by any chance?

    Arg
     
  3. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    I haven't used a GX7 other than briefly trying it in store, I'm afraid! That said, I think figuring out the quirks to your cameras are key to getting the most of them. While first impressions matter a lot, getting the job done matters more. Imagine if pros shooting the olympics never calibrated their PDAF systems, or didn't have a preferred control layout. If I hadn't found out about the whole live view medium speed shindig on the GH4, which I easily could have as I typically have my cameras at their highest burst speeds, my C-AF impressions would probably be more negative.
     
  4. taz98spin

    taz98spin Mu-43 Top Veteran

    843
    May 13, 2011
    NYC
    Love your dog photos! Haha, makes me want to go play with my neighbor's dog (I 'm more of a cat person now because of allergies, but till middle school I had several dogs :smile: )

    Indeed GH4's tracking is better than the X-T1 because it can track all over the frame! Really like how it can use face detect and the custom AF array that you mentioned.
    But yes, as we both mentioned, as long as the subject is in the center, tracking works for the X-T1 too. Just wanted to get that point across, because I remember when the X-PRO1 first came out many were saying it couldn't focus at all :roll eyes:

    Thanks once again for the great review and testings! I'll most likely stop by B&H this weekend and see if the GH4 is finally on display :smile:
     
  5. T N Args

    T N Args Agent Photocateur

    Dec 3, 2013
    Adelaide, Australia
    call me Arg
    By definition, tracking is when the subject is NOT in the centre. 'As long as the moving subject is in the centre' is the definition of continuous AF.
     
  6. DonParrot

    DonParrot Mu-43 Regular

    71
    Oct 7, 2011
    Well - I definitely have to contradict, here. All these shots were taken with the Olympus E-M1 using C-AF and burst mode with different lenses.

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  7. DonParrot

    DonParrot Mu-43 Regular

    71
    Oct 7, 2011
    Having said that, I have to admit that I love the blackout-free EVF of the GH4 and the fact that it seems to have a C-AF + tracking that really works. If the DOF AF would also work with my Oly lenses it definitely would be very high on my wish list. But I just haven't got the money for two sets of lenses.
     
  8. taz98spin

    taz98spin Mu-43 Top Veteran

    843
    May 13, 2011
    NYC
    No, by definition tracking is following a moving subject.

    If I can follow the subject and keep that moving subject in the center of the frame that is tracking no matter how you want to twist it.
     
  9. DonParrot

    DonParrot Mu-43 Regular

    71
    Oct 7, 2011
    Nonetheless, the GH4 also delivers on a very satisfying level with the m.Zuiko 75 1.8 - as you can see below.
    I get 100 percent kepers with my E-M1 on a clearly higher FPS rate, with our not too fast Bearcoat Shar Pei JP McEnroe, but I think a 75-percent
    keeper rate at an FPS rate of 3 to 4 also isn't too bad, is it?
    But what I really don't understand: How comes that the AF area in the mis-focused shots is in front of the dog and not behind it? Any explanations?

    Anyway: All the shots are 50-percent crops and were taken in C-AF with with the smallest AF field without tracking:

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  10. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Haha, that was actually a typo! I meant to write "many" of these shots, not any. Mainly the edge of the frame ones. I actually used a lot of information you provided on dpreview for helping tracking performance with the E-M5!

    Have to agree with T N Args. It's more of a semantic issue than anything, but generally "tracking" refers to movement around the frame, in my experience. Otherwise, it's known just continuous autofocus (otherwise why differentiate the terms at all?) Could vary from system to system too. Olympus, for instance differentiates between C-AF and C-AF+Tracking. As does Panasonic. Fuji might not though.

    Semantics though, we all know what we're talking about.

    Nice to see further confirmation that the GH4 tracks well with Olympus lenses too, if slowed down. I got similar results with my 45mm.

    I think the explanation is simple: the predictive algorithm might be getting ahead of itself. It seems like the GH4 is the first CDAF only system to implement a proper predictive algorithm, and not just try to "chase" subjects like my E-M5 normally would. Perhaps it gets ahead of itself with the dogs because of their up and down movement confusing it a bit.

    I'm more curious as to why the 12-50mm Olympus lens tracks at the same speed as the Panasonic 35-100, with the full 7fps burst.
     
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    I assume this isn't related to the fact that certain lenses can't close-down their apertures fast enough to actually shoot at max frame rate even with AF locked (IIRC the 100-300 had this issue at 10 fps)?
     
  12. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Interesting, I never thought that might be an issue. But these lenses work fine for C-AF on the E-M1 at 6.5 fps, so that shouldn't be the issue, right? Like DonParrot says, the 75mm slows down to 3-4 fps on the GH4 even though it's quicker on the E-M5. And likewise, Panasonic's own 25mm f1.4 is actually a bit slower than the 45mm f1.8 is on the same camera. The 12-50 is supposed to be the quickest focusing of all of Olympus' lenses, at least when it was released, so I wonder if it's just a motor speed thing. I know that the 35-100mm lens, for instance, supports Panasonic's 240hz focusing rate, which might be necessary fo DFD to focus properly. My guess at the moment would be that the 75mm and 45mm Olympus lenses are fast enough, but since Panasonic doesn't have DFD info on them, it slows down the tracking burst to use a larger sampling time period in order to maintain accuracy over burst rate. The 25mm f1.4, on the other hand, simply might not be fast enough. I wonder if that could be improved with a firmware update, since I know that the 240hz compatibility was originally applied to the 35-100 through firmware.
     
  13. stripedrex

    stripedrex Do or do not. There is no try.

    374
    Jun 8, 2012
    Long Island, NY
    Alex
    Awesome review thank you. Can you or anyone confirm if electronic first curtain shutter reduces dynamic range? I currently have the e-m1 using the efc (0 delay setting) and I don't think I'm seeing a reduction of dr. That's the one thing holding me back from the Panasonics right now. Well that and 5-axis, your review seems convincing especially on the dfd end for capturing my son who's now 4 and starting sports.
     
  14. Impulse

    Impulse New to Mu-43

    9
    Apr 18, 2014
    Puerto Rico
    Frank
    Thanks for all the info you've shared thus far napi, great work. I'm not in the market for a GH4 right now but I look forward to the day when some of this stuff starts trickling down. Kinda disappointing that the 25/1.4 seems so slow, I was actually considering the Oly 25/1.8 recently (or even the Sigma 30/2.8) but then started thinking I should add the PL25/1.4 to the short list due to DFD compatibility... Seems that might be pointless tho. I really hope Panasonic considers profiling Olympus lenses eventually.
     
  15. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    I wouldn't be surprised if the Olympus 25mm actually focused more quickly/provided better C-AF performance on the GH4 than the Panasonic 25mm does. In fact, I'd fully expect it too. It really seems that the improved focusing performance on the GH4 is more a matter of the improved processing power over anything else. While it still does seem Panasonic lenses perform more accurately overall and provide a more secure initial focus, I still feel like I'm getting DSLR level performance with my Oly 45. The main difference seems to be that when the Oly loses focus, it takes it a little longer to get back on track.

    I mean, check out this burst from a shoot a did a couple of hours ago, using the Olympus 45 and C-AF+Tracking (focused on body). Every shot in this 15 picture sequence is very much useable. Not that results are always that consistent--there are usually a couple completely out of focus--but the point is a get a significant number of keepers even using Olympus lenses, which was a very pleasant surprise.

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    Full 15-shot sequence here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118359258@N03/sets/72157644488787237
     
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  16. Impulse

    Impulse New to Mu-43

    9
    Apr 18, 2014
    Puerto Rico
    Frank
    Nice! It's rather impressive what throwing more computing power at a process can seemingly do...
     
  17. cd23murray

    cd23murray Mu-43 Regular

    56
    Aug 7, 2012
    North Carolina
    Thanks

    Just picked up a demo GH4 from adorama and this is by the best thread about the gh4 and setup I have found. Thanks and keep the tips coming as you (or anyone else learns) more.