We’ve been waiting for Panasonic’s GH4 camera for quite some time since it was quietly announced at CES with a few NDA’d reviews that followed shortly. A lot of people have been pretty excited about this camera to come out primarily because it is supposed to be the first ‘affordable’ 4K camera. After all, most 4K cameras are still quite expensive and nobody wants to regularly shoot video on a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (which is 4K capable). So, the Panasonic GH3, being a camera with a micro 4/3s sensor was expected to be priced relatively closely to its competitors in the micro 4/3s camera space. Most of the GH4’s competitors are in the $1,000- $1,200 price range, however, none of them have the 4K video recording capability that the GH4 does.
Now, the GH4 isn’t necessarily a small camera. If you look at the camera body on its own, its actually fairly large for a micro 4/3s camera. Sure, it does 4K video, but when you look at this camera and compare it to something like BlackMagic’s 4K cinema camera, it isn’t really much smaller. Especially if you take into account Panasonic’s professional interface dock. They’re calling it their interface unit, but it effectively takes a standard consumer camera’s connectivity and boosts it to having a bunch of professional connectivity.
Here’s the list of things that the interface unit ads for a measly $1600 more (the camera is $1700 on its own):
The Interface Unit has 2 monaural XLR inputs for line or condenser microphones, and gives you independent volume control of the left and right channels. There is also an audio level display monitor and +48V of phantom power for each channel.
When it comes to video outputs, the Interface Unit provides four BNC connectors – two 3G-SDI capable and two HD-SDI capable. It outputs quad-link SDI 4K video in 4:2:2 10-bit, dual-link 4:2:2 10-bit 1080p up to 60 fps, or four simultaneous 1080p streams up to 30 fps – all with timecode. The Interface Unit also has a BNC connector for timecode input, and converts the GH4’s micro HDMI output to a full-sized HDMI output. For power, a 4-pin XLR 12VDC input is available.
Please note: When using 4:2:2/10-bit output, simultaneous video recording to an SDHC/SDXC memory card in the DMC-GH4 is not possible.
So, for the grand price of $3,300 you can get a fairly decent professional camera. Except, for $3,000 you can already get a pretty decent camera from BlackMagic that is likely going to be a lot less clunky and probably work a lot better in more people’s already existing workflow. Not to mention that it arguably has a much better sensor and a nicer display for video playback and similar outputs interfaces. And it uses SSDs for storage rather than SD cards which makes it a much faster and easier method of transporting data.
If you still like the GH3’s interfaces and articulating display, as well as ability to be used as a digital camera as well, the camera is already available for pre-order and will be shipping towards the end of April.