Lumix GH4 with 4K Video – Pull Still Frames from Your Video!

Posted Feb. 17th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

The Lumix GH4 with 4K video bridges the divide. I’ve been predicting that video capture and still photography would eventually merge for the past 10 years. It finally happened in 2007 with the release of the Red One camera. Red One was the first video camera to shoot 4K video and advertise that still images could be pulled and printed from the video frames it captured. The camera itself has created a revolution in the film industry that is directly affecting the still image industry as well. You can read more about Red Digital Cinema on Wikipedia for more history.

Watch the video below for the newest camera capable of creating video images that can be pulled as high resolution still images – the recently introduced Lumix GH4. The video features photographer Giulio Sciorio discussing his work with this newest Hybrid camera. At 1:25 into the video watch for Giulio pulling still images from the video clip he’s working on. That’s where the future is going with no doubt and with the addition of the new GH4 it’s well on the way. More history of this newest technology below the YouTube video.

It didn’t’ take long before other video and still camera companies saw the writing on the wall and began investigating similar features. A little over a year after the Red One was announced, Nikon introduced the world to the D90, the first still camera to incorporate HD Video in to a still camera body. I’m convinced that once Red showed how to make a single chip video camera, Nikon thought, “hey, why can’t we do that?” and created the first still/video camera in the form of theD90.

Here is a screen shot from Red Digital Cinema's web page that shows numerous super high quality, glossy images of some of the worlds leading magazines that used video frames featured as covers that were originally pulled from Red video 4K cameras.

Here is a screen shot from Red Digital Cinema’s web page that shows numerous super high quality, glossy images of some of the world’s leading magazines that used video frames featured as covers that were originally pulled from Red video 4K cameras.

Even though the two cameras feature similar ideas, the D90 was not producing RAW video capture like the Red One was able to do. That being the case and the fact that the video images on the D90 where not using the entire 12 megapixel sensor for video, pulling individual video frames wasn’t a quality option like it was on the Red One.

Nikon's revolutionary D90 with HD Video capture built in.

Nikon’s revolutionary D90 with HD Video capture built in.

Fast forward to Friday, February 7th, 2014 when Panasoinc announced their newest Lumix professional Hybrid Camera the GH4 . The  Lumix GH4 will not only shoot 4K video, but the  photographer will have the ability to pull 8-9 megapixel stills from each frame of the video as well. Yes, the Red One was here first but at over $50,000, the Red One was beyond what most photographers had the ability to afford. The GH4 on the other hand will be selling for about $1700, so it will most definitely be a camera for the rest of us. I can’t wait to get my hands on this amazing new Hybrid photographic/video tool.

Is anyone else out there as excited about these video capabilities as I am? Would love to hear from anyone wanting to sure their thoughts on this new technology.

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There are 11 comments on this post…
  1. chris walkerOn May. 3rd, 2014

    Regarding shutter speeds, you can always decide that you are shooting video mainly for the stills and set a high shutter speed. That would give you more shallow D.O.F. too. To some extent you can add motion blur back in in post.
    The main situation where pulling stills from video would not be desirable is with contrasty lighting. With “real” stills you can shoot raw and thus be able to recover a lot more highlight and shadow detail, and more easily use supplemental lighting. As pulling stills from video becomes more common, look for a lot of pictures that are sharp but with completely blown-out highlights!
    I’m very excited about getting this camera, and plan to offer clients a “4k photos” option where it’s photos only, but shot in 4k video with a high shutter speed. And of course I’ll also be able to get great looking stills even from my videos of dark wedding receptions shot at 1600 or 3200 iso.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 4th, 2014

      Chris, great input. I’ve only just realized we CAN shoot video at a higher speed to capture fast moving action. I also agree with your thoughts about images eventually appearing with blown out highlights. Thanks for adding your voice.

  2. Paul SnyderOn Apr. 22nd, 2014

    I think anyone who has missed the “perfect” picture by 1/1000 second and has seen stills pulled from any 4k hybrid stream agrees that the future of still photography is “video”

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 23rd, 2014

      Very possibly Paul. However, there is a major issue, many people aren’t aware of, when it comes to shooting video and pulling stills from the video clip. All good Cine guys and gals know the “Rule of Thumb” for shooting video that relates to what we still photographers call Shutter Speed. That rule states; depending on the Frame Rate you set your Video camera to, (yes we need to select a Frame Rate in the video settings on our Still/Video cameras) you then need to set a corresponding appropriate, camera Shutter Speed as well. Most cameras have 24, 30 and possibly as much as 60 Frames Per Second (FPS) options for Frame Rates. 24FPS gives you a look that is most like what we’re accustomed to seeing from film, movie cameras, what many refer to as a more cinematic look. The “Rule of Thumb” suggests that for the most visually, pleasing effect one should always shoot 1-Shutter Speed faster than the Frame Rate your camera is set to. Therefore, if you are trying to produce a more “Cinematic Film Look” your camera’s video rate would be set to 24FPS and your shutter speed to 1/50th. of a second. This helps blend the 24 frames into a smooth looking moving image. But here lies the issue. You well know that any serious action shot at 1/50th. of a second is not going to look good when you are shooting stills. When your eyes take in these moving images the slower shutter speed actually looks better than a higher shutter speed since the human brain melds any motion into a smooth looking moving image. Now go and pull one still of a running horse out of the video clip, that was shot at 1/50th. of a second, and you most likely will have soft, blurry, feet, legs and possibly head motion.

      There will be some situations where pulling stills from video will be very handy but I’m concerned it’s not going to be from the action scenes you were referring to. That’s just my guess, I’ve only read about these issues but today I’m receiving two of the new Lumix GH4’s and I will be testing this all for myself in a real time situation. Stay tuned for my real life report.

  3. Dave GlatzOn Feb. 19th, 2014

    Hey David and Dan thanks for your thoughts. Agree this is an interesting development and I’m looking forward to following reviews. Still getting feet wet with video and anxious to get better! Cheers.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 20th, 2014

      Our pleasure Dave. By the way, Dave Garon and I go way, way back. Dave was a mentor early on in my life. I was about 16 years old when he and I first met. Dave worked for Duluth Camera Exchange and I was a young kid that had a Japanese friend buy me an Olympus OM2 in Japan and send it to me. 16 year old kid trying to save money. Dave was kind enough to help me sort the issues out, which were many since the manual was all in Japanese. Dave went on to start his own design firm and creative agency. He and I have just recently reconnected due mainly to Facebook and this Blog. So pleased to have him back in my life even if it’s by way of the internet at this point. Keep your eye peeled for anything Dave Garon adds here or on Facebook since he’s a wealth of amazing, creative knowledge.

  4. Dave GlatzOn Feb. 17th, 2014

    Dan agree it looks cool. I’ve heard a lot about 4K video – but not sure exactly where the application will be: seems awful “heavy” for web use and 4K TV’s and monitors are obscenely expensive at this point. Is it cinema? Also I guess the still image capture depends mostly on what you want to do with the stills. Agree that 8-9MP is plenty huge for almost any application (web, magazine) except printing really large – and we all know where that market is going . . . . Thanks for posting. Looking forward to following this development and this product in particular.

    • David GaronOn Feb. 17th, 2014

      Dave, as with all technologies, particularly in this time when advancements are made exponentially, it won’t be long before the price of 4K monitors come down to earth. Sharp, and likely others, has a 32″ 4K monitor that sells for just north of $3,500. Before flat screens arrived on the scene, I was paying that for my 21″ CRT monitors.

      I guess it depends on your need for this top line resolution. As a commercial artist and photographer, I needed to push the envelope to stay ahead of the curve. If this is the case for you, you’ll likely get your investment out of it in very little time relative to the immense difference in could make on your work. Best of luck!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 17th, 2014

      Dave, thanks for adding your thoughts. You have so much experience in all aspects of the graphics world. Really appreciate your input and guidance for all our readers.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 17th, 2014

      Dave, I agree many won’t need the 4K video but thankfully Panasoinc hasn’t ignored the stills aspect of this camera based on the prerelease specs. I can only hope they are as good as is being touted. If they are the GH4 will be an amazing all around multimedia machine that is inexpensive enough for those that don’t use the 4K video capture. That said, there aren’t many photographers I know that wouldn’t drool over the ability to pull stills from video footage that is high enough quality to print from. I can’t wait to see how this camera handles Predictive AF. Will let you know.

  5. tony todiscoOn Feb. 17th, 2014

    awesome….I have been waiting forever for this to happen!! I have use the GH2 at weddings to record both video and “snap” photos at the same time , but it had to be well lit…and the quality is awesome…now with 4K it should be super awesome.

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