Panasonic began aggressively courting professional videographers with its Lumix GH3 back in 2012, offering advanced video codecs, extensive controls, time code features, and other things that videographers demand. Now it's taking that step even further with the new Lumix GH4, the first interchangeable lens mirrorless camera capable of recording high-resolution 4K video.
The GH4 looks very similar to the GH3, aping the appearance of a DSLR, only slightly smaller. It's still comprised of a magnesium frame and is splashproof and dustproof. It has the same 16-megapixel resolution for still photos as the GH3, but Panasonic says the GH4's new Micro Four Thirds sensor does an even better job of suppressing rolling shutter effects and has greater dynamic range. The camera's new quad-core processor lets it shoot at up to 25,600 ISO and 12 frames per second. Panasonic also boasts of improved color reproduction and a new Eye Detection autofocus system that can pinpoint focus on a subject's eye automatically.
But the headlining feature of the GH4 is its capability of shooting 4K video at either 24 or 30 frames per second. Prior to the GH4, shooting 4K video meant spending many thousands of dollars on specialty gear such as the Canon EOS-1D C or using a camcorder like Sony's FDR-AX100 that has limited control and no interchangeable lenses. Panasonic isn't talking price for the GH4 yet, but the GH3 and GH2 were both priced well under $2,000 and it's likely that the GH4 will fall in that range as well. In addition to the high resolution, the GH4 can also output very high bitrate (up to 200Mbps) video to external recorders and 10-bit 4:2:2 video to monitors using Panasonic's new optional breakout box. The new Interface Unit also provides XLR inputs for audio recording and can be hooked up to an industrial battery for long lasting video shoots. (The GH4 itself retains the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks from the GH3, as well as Micro HDMI for video output.)
Will the GH4 convince pro videographers to switch to Micro Four Thirds?
Panasonic also says the OLED electronic viewfinder has a higher resolution and greater visibility compared to the outgoing model. The rear OLED monitor offers touch controls and can be rotated and tilted to a variety of positions. The GH4 also includes WI-Fi and NFC connectivity and supports image sharing and remote control from a smartphone or tablet.
The Panasoic GH2 and GH3 were both lauded for their hackability and great video quality in small packages, and it's likely that the GH4 will receive similar praise from budding videographers. Whether or not that's enough to make up for Panasonic's smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor and relatively limited lens selections remains to be seen, but the GH4 could be the device that pushes Canon and Nikon to release 4K-capable cameras sooner rather than later.