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So what's the big deal with Panasonic video, anyway?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Gerry, Sep 2, 2014.

  1. Gerry

    Gerry Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 3, 2012
    Bay Area, California
    Howdy, folks! I've been away from this forum for quite a while, but I'm glad to be back. I've got some questions on my mind, and I'd like to start off here...

    So the prevailing storyline is that Panasonic is much better for video than Olympus. Great, I believe it. Now then, just what the heck does that really mean, anyway???

    I'm overwhelmingly a stills shooter, and I've been quite happy with my Oly E-P2. (Although I still have no idea why Oly doesn't bring back that beautiful swivel screen like on my old E-620. That still bugs me.) Nevertheless, I have the occasional desire to shoot video — primarily either little memento captures on vacation, or promo videos of my music. I'm not producing short films for Sundance, but having the capability to shoot and present a nice video would be a good thing.

    So then, in all practical terms, what would my picking up a cheap Panasonic camera bring to the table that I couldn't get from my E-P2? Or, say, an OM-10, were I to give in to my GAS?

    And how would a cheap Panasonic compare to, say, a similarly-priced, dedicated camcorder that's supposedly built specifically for video?

    (Note: I just now learned about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 50% sale that ended only *yesterday*! Whew, that just saved me $500!)

    Thanks in advance for your replies!
  2. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    Two things:

    - The video compressor code that Panasonic uses seems to produce better looking video for the same bitrate than the code that Olympus uses

    - The Panasonics will choose to alter ISO and/or Aperture, over Shutter Speed, when in video mode. I'm not saying they only do Shutter Priority, I'm saying that given the choice of all three to alter to get correct exposure, Panasonic cameras seem to change Shutter Speed as a last option.

    The result of this is the shutter is open for longer per frame, and you get more motion blur. This might sound bad, but short shutter speeds with little motion blur results in video that looks more "choppy", staccato.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. stripedrex

    stripedrex Do or do not. There is no try.

    Jun 8, 2012
    Long Island, NY
    Youtube really doesn't do it full justice but you can not create this level of fidelity and avoid the image breaking up (parts with a lot of movement) on Olympus codec (obviously no where near the resolution). Put this video below in 4k mode, mind you we all still use 1080p monitors I'm sure but as we start to shift towards 2k and 4k these differences will be almost as much as dvd to bluray. Even with 1080p you'll notice a difference because there's still more pixels with a 4k and scaling down still looks better. Also pulling stills from 4k video aparantly is printable to large formats. It's basically an 8mp image. And finally as a video shooter you can now crop with much less loss of detail. However once we go 4k tvs and monitors not sure how relevant that'll continue to be.


    Also not to mention the codec aparantly has some relatively small managable files as well. If the GH4 had ibis I would have already switched my e-m1 for it. I constantly toggle between doing video and pictures when capturing my families day to day and it would be sweet to just shoot film and extract images from them in high detail. Like watching my son's soccer games. I hate missing key moments that should have been video while I'm taking stills (like scoring a goal).
  4. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Nov 7, 2010
    Gerry, for your music I would think you'd at least want a camera with mic input and ability to adjust levels, unless you are recording audio on a separate device.
  5. Gerry

    Gerry Mu-43 Rookie

    Nov 3, 2012
    Bay Area, California
    Thanks for the responses so far. You'll excuse me, but I'm going to discount any talk about the GH4 and 4K video and all. While pulling decent stills from video would undoubtedly be a way cool thing, I'm not in the market for that right now, as it's well above my pay grade. Honestly, too, is that non-blu ray dvds still look damn good to me. And I'm in no rush to have to upgrade my entire computer system in order to be able to handle the larger files, et al, when "regular ol' video" still works well, in my book.

    Regarding my music, I *do* mostly record the audio on a separate, dedicated Zoom H2, but honestly I have yet to try syncing that up to a video that I've taken. Hopefully that doesn't present too many challenges to get right.

    So then I'm left with Andym72's reply, which says that Panny essentially uses a longer shutter speed, equating to smoother video playback. Is that the long and the short of it?

    Maybe let me try to put this another way, too...

    - If I want to take some vacation clips, am I short-changing myself by only having my E-P2?
    - Has the video quality noticeably improved on the OM-10? Or is it considered sub-par?
    - If I decide to start getting more serious with taking videos of my music performances, what more (if anything) would I get by investing in a dedicated similarly-priced camcorder vs a non-4K Panny camera?

    Thanks again!
  6. John M Flores

    John M Flores Super Moderator

    Jan 7, 2011
    If you're happy with the results and you are the intended audience then who are we to argue?

    Can't answer this one. No experience with either the E-P2 or OM-10.

    Better low light performance. A GH2 with a stable hack (easy to do) will shoot a pretty clean ISO1600 video.
    You have access to faster lenses than you'd normally see on a camcorder which not only helps low light situations but if you set up the shot right can blur stage lights into purty balls of bokeh. You can't really do that with a consumer camcorder.

    Another thing to consider with your music is that the GH1/GH2 (and I presume GH3/GH4 and other Panasonic cameras) can shoot continuously for hours. Other cameras overheat and/or stop after 25 minutes or so (has to do with tariffs, not technology).
    • Like Like x 1
  7. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 20, 2010
    You forgot the part (that others mentioned) about Panasonic having a better codec. Compare the first samples from each camera-


    There is movement and detail involved, the E-PM2 video turns to crap pretty quickly, the GX1 holds up well (with similar bitrates). In certain situations the difference won't be as visible, in other situations the difference may be more visible.

    Other Olympus cameras may be better (just search the Imaging-Resource reviews, they always post video samples that you can download), but this comparison is indicative of overall difference between the 2, beyond controls. That being said, Olympus 5-axis IBIS is pretty nice feature for video too. The E-M5 could probably work great for video of family vacations and that sort of thing. I bet better stabilization would actually mean less compression artifacts as well, since there's less micro movements that the camera would be trying to encode.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Andym72

    Andym72 Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 4, 2013
    Reading, UK
    The way broadcast cameramen handle light that is "too bright" is with ND filters. The shutter speed is locked off to around half the time of one frame (so for 30fps, that is 1/60s). The aperture is also usually restricted to a range, so that the depth of field doesn't change all that much and the aperture doesn't wander into such small settings that you get a loss of detail from diffraction.

    But on a clear day, even with the ISO set to base value, Shutter at 1/60 and Aperture at f/8, you still need a 3 stop ND filter to restrict the amount of light to get proper exposure.

    All the great daytime outdoor video you see on Youtube and Vimeo that has been done on Mirrorless or DSLRs has been done with the aid of ND filters.
    • Like Like x 1
  9. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    The main difference is the Olympus implementation of the H.264 encoding is really weak. The camera needs to sample the whole sensor (16 Mpix) and then downsample it to 2 Mpix (1080p) and encode it using the H.264 codec. In short they don't do it nearly as well as Panasonic. My experience comes from using the Olympus E-PM2, E-M5, and now the E-P5 to shoot video. I would have already moved to Panasonic were it not for how much I like the IBIS and the Olympus JPEG output.

    Wider shots with more detail, depth of focus, movement (especially leaves on bushes or trees in the background) will turn into a blocky, crunchy mess. When shooting with a shallow depth of focus and not much movement, you can get extremely lovely moving images.

    A picture is worth a more than a few words.

    Lots of movement and wider depth of field:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Shallow depth of field:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Here is a short 1:30 movie I made using my two E-P5s that I submitted for a online video course critique. The sound was recorded on a lavaliere mic and synced with the on-camera sound in post (this can be done automatically using Final Cut X or Adobe). It hasn't been colour balanced / corrected - as I haven't learned how to do that yet.


    You can find a lot about using Olympus cameras for video here. The Facebook site has some good information on settings. One of the guys there shoots wedding video on his E-M5, E-M1, and E-PL5.


    Some tips:

    For smoother looking video, set the mode dial to the video camera icon, in the menu settings use manual for video mode. Set the shutter to 1/50 for PAL regions, 1/60 for NTSC. Adjust aperture and ISO accordingly - for most outdoor shooting you will need an ND filter to adjust for the slow shutter speeds and wider apertures. I usually set the ISO to 200, the shutter to 1/60, the aperture how I want it (usually more open), and then just adjust the variable ND to keep the exposure. A couple of good brands are Tiffen, Heliopan (I own this one), and Genustech Fader ND. The cheaper ND will soften the image and add colour casts.

    Manually set the white balance. Olympus auto WB is really sensitive and the picture will swing from yellow to blue quite quickly.

    Set the sharpening to -2, otherwise you will get ugly codec compression artifacts.

    I set my buttons so that the front function works as autofocus (which I use to start), and then I do all manual. I also use the histogram enabled before shooting to keep the highlights from blowing out.

    I've been capturing a lot lately, but have little time to edit it yet.

    I too am curious if the E-M10 video has been improved over the E-M5/E-P5. I suspect it has, as it uses the 24 Mbps codec and image processing as the E-M1. I'm going to see what the rumoured Panasonic GM2 and fixed-lens 4/3 sensor cameras are like and might then switch...
    • Like Like x 6
  10. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    basically it comes down to bias in design and engineering of hardware that supports superior encoding/compression. not just beefier processing but things like ventilation and thermal control which is an issue of video / long exposure
    • Like Like x 1
  11. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2012
    David Dornblaser
    Yes, particularly with 4K. Given the dimensions of the GH4 and E-M1, I have often wondered why Olympus and Panasonic do not issue two versions of the same model: one video enhanced and one not. Two different price points.
  12. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    Not too bad. Clap hands or something like that to give an audio "spike" on both the video and the H2 tracks. Then in any editor that allows you to add an audio track, add the H2 audio (I usually "tweak" that in the free Audacity program first). Move the H2 audio until the "spikes" align and the "echo" is gone, then mute the video's audio track. Trim as desired.

    No, not really. The GX1 video is fully auto although one menu configuration item does allow you to try to get the camera to "force" 1/60th (or 1/50th in PAL areas) to be in sync with power line frequency if artificial lighting is in the scene. Prevents banding and flickering. Most recent Panasonic cameras allow full control of exposure settings in manual video mode.

    Also Olympus thinks the only frame rate we need is 30fps. There are NO OTHER OPTIONS, some want 24p to emulate the degree of motion blur motion picture film does, some want 60p for slow motion.
    If I recall right, it wasn't until the E-P3 that the video increased from 720p to full HD at 1080p. However the rolling shutter effect with any camera movement on the E-P3 was awful. You really have to be the judge on whether or not you are short changing yourself. I think you are.

    The OMD E-M10 (I think you mean) does have full HD 1920x1080p, and better IBIS than the E-P2 but still only has the one frame rate (30p) and a weak codec that still does not render some motion that well. If semi serious about video I recommend the Panasonic G6 or the GH3 (lightly used GH3's are available for as low as $700 if you watch this site's buy/sell forum).

    Instant autofocus that follows the subject. While this is improving on DSLRs and m4/3 cameras it still isn't that reliable. But the two I recommend will still do great stills for you, too.

    Hope this helps. My main focus is motion picture, I've used Canon DSLRs, and I have a couple of GH3's, a GH4, and an Olympus OMD E-M5 so I kind of know what I'm talking about

    Thanks again![/QUOTE]
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Bif

    Bif Mu-43 Top Veteran

    May 28, 2012
    San Angelo TX
    Bruce Foreman
    Because it would increase their engineering and production costs more than any benefit derived. Once manufacturers implemented "live view" the code for video was already there. There is no additional cost other than an extra button or possibly two, and an extra position on the mode dial to add video functionality.

    After Canon came out with the 7D and T2i, some camera hackers managed to add limited video to the XSi by rigging capture of the "live view" function. It was awkward and not much practical because they didn't have access to the software engineering to do it right, but they demonstrated the capability was there before Canon incorporated it in their lineup.
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