It may be the first mirrorless model to shoot 4K video, but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 compact system camera is no one-trick pony. Among other things, it also has a new 16.05-million-pixel Live MOS sensor
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 at a glance:
- 16.05-million-pixel, micro four thirds Live MOS sensor
- Venus Engine IX
- ISO 200-25600 (ISO 100 as extended setting)
- 4K video recording
- Weather-sealed magnesium-alloy construction
- 2.36-million-dot OLED EVF
- 3in, 1,036,000-dot LCD screen
- Street price £1,299 body only, or £1,749 with 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens
- See sample images taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 review – Introduction
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3, the predecessor of the Lumix DMC-GH4, was a popular micro four thirds camera among videographers and bloggers in particular, thanks to its class-leading video-recording capabilities; it was even the camera of choice for AP’s own videographer for some time. However, theGH3’s photographic credentials, while good, didn’t quite match the impressive standard of its video capabilities.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 has addressed this but faces some very stiff competition in the form of the Sony Alpha 6000, Olympus’s OM-D E-M1 and the Fujifilm X-T1. All are very good compact system cameras with strong feature sets that give DSLRs with larger sensors a fair run for their money.
Although it carries the same resolution as the camera it replaces, Panasonic has completely revisited its 16.05-million-pixel Live MOS sensor for the GH4, as well as including a new quad-core Venus Engine IX image processor that is claimed to boost sensitivity, edge sharpness and colour reproduction. Autofocus accuracy and acquisition, processing speed and resolution are other areas that are said to benefit from the improvements Panasonic has made, with the GH4 boasting a high-speed signal readout almost twice that of the GH3.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 review – Features
Retaining its familiar DSLR styling, it is clear that Panasonic still wants this model to be attractive as a camera first and foremost, but the company has created a portable do-it-all device, making it one of the most feature-heavy devices on the market. Until now, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 was the firm’s best camera for capturing quality stills and one of the best compact system cameras released in 2013, but the GH4 has been designed to surpass it in every area.
The all-new sensor and processing combination gives the GH4 a significantly larger native ISO sensitivity range of 200-25,600 with ISO 100 available in an extended setting, signalling high confidence from Panasonic regarding this camera’s noise-handling capabilities and low-light performance compared to its predecessors.
Still-picture resolution has benefited from the improvements needed to accommodate 4K video recording, as Panasonic has implemented a new processing routine that can do a better job of detecting, with greater accuracy, fine details such has hair and feathers.
The GH4 utilises Panasonic’s own Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology, which analyses two out-of-focus areas, one from the foreground and one from the background, to hone in on the correct focus more rapidly. Under optimum conditions, focus can be achieved in approximately 0.07sec, which is a fraction faster than the popular Fujifilm X-T1. However, this method only works with compatible Lumix lenses. Forty-nine precision contrast-detection AF areas can be selected either individually or in groups, while custom multi-mode allows for the selection of two separate areas.
One additional feature that answers a criticism of the GH3 is focus peaking, which highlights the in-focus high-contrast areas. This feature, along with focus assist, which magnifies the focus area when using the manual focus ring, will be particularly useful for those shooting macro subjects and video and focusing manually.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is capable of burst-mode shooting during continuous AF at 7.5 frames per second and up to as fast as 12 frames per second in AF-S mode, for 40 raw images or 100 JPEGs at full resolution. Couple that with its speedy AF and maximum shutter speed of 1/8000sec, and the GH4 is a camera that should be able to freeze fast-moving subjects with ease.