One Year Shooting the Panasonic Lumix GH4 Review

Posted Mar. 24th, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox

One Year Shooting the Panasonic Lumix GH4 Review. My how time flies when you’re having fun, and fun is what I’ve had since purchasing the first of my two Panasonic Lumix GH4’s back in April of 2014. As usual, this post is not a technically in-depth review of the GH4 but rather a real life description of how these cameras have performed over this past year. Since receiving my first GH4 I’ve shot nearly 200,000 images through two separate bodies. They’ve been everywhere from Antarctica to Africa, Costa Rica to Alaska, Romania to Japan, in winter, summer, fall, and spring, being splashed on, dropped, and covered in African dust. You get the picture; no pun intended. Through thick and thin these two cameras have kept cranking the pictures out, and I thought I would share with you my thoughts and observations about Panasonic’s most capable, professional quality camera, the Lumix GH4.

My last in-depth review of the GH4’s predecessor the GH3, first appeared here on the Corkboard Blog on March 6th. 2014. I plan to follow the outline I did for the GH3 for this review of the GH4. It will deviate a bit however since the GH4 has many more features.


Size and Weight

Without a doubt, my number one attraction to Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras is their small size and weight. I’ve been shooting pictures professionally for over 30 years, and I’ve become weary of large cumbersome bodies, lenses, and additional accessories.

The Canon 600mm F/4 with photographer attached is on the left. On the right is me shooting the Lumix GH3 with a 100-300mm F/4-5.6 lens. In the Micro Four thirds world all lenses are multiplied 2x so the Lumix 100-300 is actually equivalent to a 200-600mm lens. The same long magnification as the massive Canon lens.

The Canon 600mm F/4 with photographer attached is on the left. On the right is me shooting the Lumix GH3 with a 100-300mm F/4-5.6 lens. In the Micro Four Thirds world, all lenses are multiplied by two, so the Lumix 100-300mm is actually equivalent to a 200-600mm, the same long magnification as the massive Canon lens.

The Lumix GF1 was the first camera I found that was small, had interchangeable lenses, and a large enough sensor to produce extremely high quality photos. I tell people all the time that photography is supposed to be fun. If traveling with so much gear becomes painful, that reduces the fun factor, and I’m all about having a good time with photography at this point in my career. I’m not unique. I hear from many of our NE Explorers they are tired of the large heavy equipment. The Panasonic Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras are making photography fun again.

this is the original MFT camera that started the whole transition for me. It's the Lumix GF1, interchangeable MFT camera with an attached 42.5 macro lens. Photo courtesy of

This is the original MFT camera that started the whole transition for me. It’s the Lumix GF1, an interchangeable MFT camera with an attached 42.5 macro lens. Photo courtesy of

Keep in mind that there are numerous mirrorless cameras out there and many of them are amazing in their own right. The new Sony full frame cameras are very tempting, but with a full frame sensor comes big bulky lenses. When Panasonic and Olympus first created the Micro Fourth Thirds consortium, they did so knowing full well there would be some compromises to a system with a smaller sized digital sensor. But they also knew there would be many benefits. One of the major benefits of a smaller sensor is the ability to build smaller, lighter lenses and bodies. The physical characteristics of optics can be reduced when coupled to a smaller, digital sensor.

Although there are many mirrorless cameras on the horizon, I currently feel the Micro Four Thirds group of cameras, with their smaller sensors, have allowed Olympus and Panasonic to hit THE sweet spot in relation to the sensor size and lens combinations. The Micro Four Thirds sensor allows for very high quality images with lenses that are much smaller and lighter than say, the full sized sensors in the new Sony A7 mirrorless cameras. The biggest contributor to size and weight of traditional full frame cameras has been the lenses.

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens. 1.32 lb (602 g) and a cost of $1100.00US

Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens. costs $1100 and weighs 1.32 lb (602 grams)

If the lenses have to stay the same size and weight due to a full frame sensor,  we’ve now negated the benefits of a smaller, lighter mirrorless body. As I’m writing this I’m thinking of Sony’s brand new macro lens that was recently announced for the mirrorless A7 series camera. Its official name and specs are the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSSIt weighs a staggering 1.32 lb (602 g) and is available on pre-order on B&H for $1098.

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. 7.94 oz (225 g) and a price of $900.00US

Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. weighs 7.94 oz (225 g) at a price of $900

Now lets compare that to the Lumix version which is the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. It weights a measly 7.94 oz (225 g) and is also selling on the B&H website, for $896. The Panasonic Leica macro is not inexpensive for a much smaller, lighter lens but then the Leica glass is a tremendous bonus.

Fabulous Ergonomics – Superb placement of WB, ISO, and +/- Buttons

Overall, these buttons are well placed which makes their operations extremely efficient. These three controls are options I use every time I pick the camera up. Nobody in the camera business today has thought about the location and use of these buttons better than what I’ve experienced on the GH3 and GH4. Yes, these buttons are still the same as found on the Lumix GH3.

The Lumix GH4 and Even the earlier GH3 are the easiest cameras to use I have ever shot. These three buttons are something I use constantly and nobody places them in such an obvious and conventional place. Each can be used with the camera to your eye, during the shooting process. NOBODY does this better and this is an extremely important feature.

The Lumix GH4, and even the earlier GH3, are the easiest cameras to use I have ever shot. These three buttons are something I use constantly, and nobody else places them in such an obvious and convenient place. Each can be used with the camera to your eye, during the shooting process, with one hand operation. NOBODY does this better and these three tools are extremely important features.

Thankfully, we have a camera company that got it right and made the decision not to fiddle with near perfection. This would be a different story had they not done such a good job on the GH3, but the placement of the WB, ISO and +/- buttons are the best of any camera I’ve ever shot including my current Nikons as well as Canon, Sony, AND the Olympus OM-D EM-1.

Try what I call the "Ease of Use" test. Can you figure out where the WB, ISO and +/- EV options are on this Olympus OM-D EM-1? Give you a hint, they are not on the back side of the camera.

Try what I call the “Ease of Use Test.” Can you figure out where the WB, ISO and +/- EV options are on this Olympus OM-D EM-1? Give you a hint, they are not on the back side of the camera. Compare this to the image above of the GH4 and tell me which one you could pull off the shelf and use right out of the box with little or no support from the manual.

In my blog post titled One Year Testing the Panasonic Lumix GH3 I mentioned that I thought Panasonic could and should have moved these buttons forward, closer to the shutter button and in turn moved the front control dial down below the shutter button, identical to the setup Nikon uses. I feel the same about these buttons on the GH4. Placing the WB, ISO and +/-EV button in the same place as the Front Dial, then moving the dial forward and below the shutter button, would make reaching these three buttons even easier. This is a bit of a niggly complaint, but I do believe it would make them even more accessible and easy to use. 

On/Off Switch

This sounds like a simple thing, but it’s amazing how many camera companies try to reinvent the wheel with their placement of the on/off switch. The Olympus OM-1D is a case in point. Why put the on/off switch on the left, top side? When you pick up the GH4, the ON switch is on the right, top deck, in easy reach of your right thumb using one-handed operation. On the Olympus you actually need two hands on the camera. This reminds me of Canon and their reinvention of the on/off switch that is placed on the upper left corner of the top deck on some models and lower right corner of the body on others. Why? Is it easier and more convenient than what Nikon and Panasonic have done? I don’t think so. When camera makers change some of these controls, it’s as if they are fiddling with things just to be different. That’s  what I like about the GH4, the controls are very logical and well thought out, as were the GH3’s. Panasonic hasn’t changed things that don’t need changing. When things work well, leave them alone like an on/off switch at top side right where your thumb can reach it. Nice job Lumix.

Battery Grip

The additional battery grip on the GH4 is a superb addition and amazingly it’s the same one I was using on my GH3’s. I love the small size and compactness of the GH4, but sometimes I want a bit more to hold on to, especially when shooting the Lumix Vario 100-300mm or the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. Panasonic has replicated, on the battery grip, the well thought out WB, ISO and +/- buttons that are so conveniently placed on the camera.

Same battery grip works on both the GH3 and GH4.

Same battery grips work on both the GH3 and GH4.

The grip also includes the AF/AE lock button which I often change to Auto Focus start. My only gripe with the extra battery pack is the fact the additional battery compartment takes the same size battery as the camera. The good news is you get two batteries, one in the camera and one in the grip.  However, I would love to see Panasonic give us a longer lasting, more professional-sized battery placed in the battery compartment of the add on grip. Nikon has a larger battery option and their bigger batteries last for 3-4 days. Currently I have to charge my GH4 batteries each night after a full day’s use.

External Flash FL360L and FL580l LCD Video Light

One of the major features on all Lumix cameras is the ability to produce professional quality video. Often when shooting videos I’m required to shoot so called talking heads, interviews, etc.

Fl560L with built in video light. This strobe also has wireless connection options to Lumix cameras.

Fl560L with built-in video light. This strobe also has wireless connection options to Lumix cameras.

Panasonic has built into the FL360L flash a relatively bright LED light for video production. It’s not going to illuminate a room, but it does an adequate job in interview situations where a small amount of quality light is needed for recording a conversation like the video below with Dr. Steven Amstrup.

It’s very nice to not have to carry additional lights for the incidental times I need added illumination for video production.

A Growing Collection of Lenses

Any camera system is only as good as the lenses available that a photographer can use with it. That’s the reason Nikon and Canon have such a huge advantage; they have many years of making high quality optics giving them both a vast array of quality options. One of the benefits of the Micro Four Thirds consortium is the brilliant idea of sharing the lens mount. Doing so immediately increased the number of lenses. Both Panasonic and Olympus knew this revolutionary idea would be the only way they could compete in a timely manner. To that end here is a list of over 60 lenses currently available for all Micro Four Thirds cameras. Some have more features than others like AF, IS, and other electronics, but they all have the ability to fit on any MFT camera without an adapter.

Even with so many lenses, I’m shooting mostly Panasonic, and I can assure you they take a backseat to nobody regarding quality glass. Last year Panasonic introduced two new lenses that have their highest quality optics and design targeted at the serious photographer. The two lenses are the 12-35mm F/2.8 and the 35-100 F/2.8. With maximum F/2.8 apertures, these lenses fall into the categories many professional and serious amateurs look for, bright and sharp.

On the left is my Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm F/2.8 lens. On th right is the Lumix GH3 with a 12-35mm F/2.8 which is the equivalent to the same lens on the Nikon.

On the left is my Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm F/2.8 lens. On the right is the Lumix GH3 with a 12-35mm F/2.8 which is the equivalent to the same lens on the Nikon.

Along with these two lenses I’m also using their Leica Nocticron 42.5mm F/1.7, the Leica Summilux 15mm F/1.7, the Lumix Vario 45mm F/2.8 Macro, as well as the 7-14mm F/4. All of these lenses are superb optics. Especially the 42.5mm Leica Nocticron. As I’ve mentioned in the past, all Micro Four Thirds lenses need to be multiplied by two to get their effective focal length. Doing so brings them up to the range of my Nikon lenses that include the 24-70mm, 70-200mm, 105mm macro, and my 12-24mm wide angle. In other words, the MFT lenses are similar optics that are much, much lighter and generally less than half the cost.

The one lens I did not mention that I only recently added to my Lumix collection is the recently released Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. I didn’t mention it above because this amazing piece of glass stands out on its own. I haven’t been this enthused about a lens since the release of the AF version of the Nikkor 200-400mm F/4. Being able to add Olympus lenses to my Panasonic Lumix system has always been one of the benefits I’ve discussed as a huge advantage of the Micro Four Thirds consortium. Olympus lenses fit on Lumix bodies and Lumix lenses fit on Panasonic bodies. No longer do we need to change entire systems if one company comes out with a stellar lens or a new and improved camera body. Mix and match is the name of the game.

As I said in the text, mix and match is the name of the game. Here I'm shooting a Lumix GH4 body and attached is the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens along with the Olympus 1.4 teleconverter.

As I said in the text, mix and match is the name of the game. Here I’m shooting a Lumix GH4 body and attached is the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 lens along with the Olympus 1.4 teleconverter.

Why am I so excited about the new 40-150mm F/2.8?  Well along with being able to use it on my Lumix bodies, this lens is incredibly sharp. Not just in the middle but across the entire frame from left to right, top to bottom, I see no issues with any of the  images I’ve shot with this lens either wide open or stopped down. It’s simply astonishing. This glowing report comes from not just a few sample images run through the GH4 but rather over 50,000 images with this lens and a GH4 over the last three months.

A beautiful roseate spoonbill photographed along the coast in central Florida. GH4 with 40-150mm F/2.8 and 1.4 teleconverter. ISO 1600

A beautiful roseate spoonbill photographed along the coast in central Florida. Camera was set in AFC. GH4 with 40-150mm F/2.8 and 1.4 teleconverter. ISO 1600

Along with being sharp, this lens on the GH4 is rocket fast, snapping into focus almost instantly. It handles fast moving subjects extremely well although the real test will come when I can run the Speeding Pooch Test. We’ll be doing that sometime in April I’m hoping.

The diminutive 1.4X Olympus teleconverter that is matched to the 40-150mm F/2.8. It is incredibly sharp. So sharp I almost never remove from the 40-150mm preferring the reach of 420mm with this converter attached.

The diminutive 1.4x Olympus teleconverter that is matched to the 40-150mm F/2.8. This lens is so sharp I almost never remove it from the 40-150mm preferring the extended reach of 420mm when this converter is attached.

An equally impressive add-on to the 40-150mm is the matched Olympus 1.4x teleconverter. It too is simply incredible. So good in fact I almost never remove it from the camera and lens, preferring to have the 112-420mm F/4 combination the two optics provide at the longest range. Keep in mind, like all 1.4 teleconverters, you lose one stop of light with it attached.

As much as I’m amazed with this lens and camera combination, there is one caveat that could be a deal breaker for some people. And that is…… there is no image stabilization when any Lumix camera and the 40-150mm F/2.8 are attached to each other. The reason is due to Olympus not building IS into their lenses. Instead, Olympus builds the IS into their bodies. Panasonic builds all IS into their lenses and has no IS in the GH4 body. Even so, for me it’s not been a problem. Why? Because the lens is so  fast at F/2.8 and the GH4 does so well at higher ISO’s, I just crank the lens wide open to F/2.8 and the ISO up for the faster shutter speeds I need to get razor sharp pictures. So far I’ve been totally unfazed by lack of image stabilization. Would I like to have it? Absolutely. But it’s not been the problem I was thinking it might be when I first decided to give this combination a try. It all works so well in fact, I already have the Olympus 300mm F/4 on pre-order. That too will be lacking IS which as a 600mm F/4 equivalent may be more of an issue. But I’m going to give it a try.

Photo of the new line of Olympus professional grade lenses was shot by Manuel Fernandez and first appeared on my favorite Micro Four Thirds web site 43 Rumors. Click on the image above to see the original post.

Photo of the new line of Olympus professional grade lenses was shot by Manuel Fernandez and first appeared on my favorite Micro Four Thirds web site 43 Rumors. From left to right is the 300mm F/4, 40-150mm F/2.8, 7-14mm F/2.8, and the 12-40mm F/2.8. All of them weather sealed and built to professional standards.

The burning question many of you may be asking is, why don’t you just buy an Olympus body to put your Olympus lenses on? The simple answer is I’m just not a fan of Olympus bodies. I find them extremely difficult to use in both the ergonomics and the menu system they implement. Of course that’s just one man’s opinion and others may feel different, but I’ve not talked to one Olympus owner who hasn’t agreed that the OM-D EM-1 has a steep learning curve. Many folks I’ve met love their Olympus cameras but they confess that Olympus bodies take a long time to set up, sorting through the difficult menu system, and then recall all the custom buttons they’ve initiated. You can read more about my experience with the Olympus OM-D EM-1 here in my post titled The Olympus OM-D EM-5: A Very Short Review.

To experience it for yourself, find a camera store that has both Olympus and Panasonic. Spend some time with both the Olympus OM-D EM-1 and the Lumix GH4. Pick each camera up one at a time and try to find the following three tools I use every time I shoot. Look for the WB, +/-EV and ISO on each camera. Make sure you time yourself on how long it takes to find these three options on each body. Being able to quickly access and remember where these three tools reside makes all the difference in whether a camera is going to be an extension of your vision or a mechanical barrier. We all know that great photos often appear out of nowhere and will often evaporate right before our eyes. If you aren’t quick enough with the camera, what could’ve been a photograph is nothing but a memory. It’s that simple. Test both cameras to see what I mean.

The Lumix GH4 and the New Olympus 80-140mm F/2.8

As I mentioned earlier, I feel the new Olympus lens is so good it easily stands out on its own. For that reason I’ve taken an excerpt from The Lumix Diaries 1/13/2015 Cheetah Chase. The following is a description from my recent trip to Kenya describing the speed and accuracy as well as the details of using this combination to capture hunting cheetahs.

This is the frame I was able to get that summed up the entire scene although there are many more images from start to finish. For a gallery of more images click on this link. Lumix GH4 with Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. 250ISO

This is the frame I was able to get that summed up the entire scene, although there are many more images from start to finish. For a gallery of more images click on this link. Lumix GH4 with Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8. 250ISO

I was shooting the Lumix GH4 with the new Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 attached. As I’ve mentioned above, being a Micro Four Thirds lens its equivelant range was actually 80-300mm.  This was my first trip with the new Olympus lens and I couldn’t have been more thrilled with its performance. Not only is it as sharp as any lens I’ve ever shot, it’s rocket fast when used with the Lumix GH4. The following series of photos I captured are better than any cheetah chase I’ve ever shot. Interestingly, a cheetah chase has been my defacto example of what MFT could not do compared to traditional DSLRs like my Nikon D4. I’ve said to people more than once, “MFT cameras are getting really good. They just can’t shoot fast action like a cheetah chase.” But this series of images have proven me wrong.

The basic technical specs are as follows. The camera set to AF-S which is not what I would normally do. In fact I messed up and in the excitement forgot to set it to AF-C. The upside to AF-S is the GH4 shoots at a blistering 12FPS. With my GH4’s AF set to  Back Button AF I followed the cats throughout the chase continually repushing the AF button to regain focus. Normally I would have had the camera set to AF-C and the camera would have continued to focus as the cats moved far to near, left to right. However, as I mentioned, I screwed up and thus  was relegated to constantly refocusing as the cats ran out of the plane of focus. My shutter speed was 1/1600th of a second at F/4.5 and ISO was 250.  Thankfully it all worked, but I should have technically been shooting in AF-C. In the end I came away with some of the best cheetah chase footage I’ve ever shot and blew my defacto example of what MFT cameras can’t do right out of the water.

Back Button AF for Optimum Composition

In the cheetah chase description I mention using Back Button AF. This feature is unknown to many photographers but the word has gotten out in the past couple of years and many more are using it. Thankfully Panasonic has given us this essential tool virtually all serious photographers use. Back Button AF is one of the most efficient ways to activate Auto Focus and gives you much better control of what YOU WANT to focus on. Way back in 1990, Canon invented this feature which they included in the revolutionary EOS 1 film camera. The idea behind it is to remove the AF activation from the front shutter (Menu-Custom Settings page 1 Shutter AF=Off) button and move it to the rear of the camera AF/AE Lock Button (Menu-Custom Settings AF/AE Lock=ON). On many of the Nikon and Canon cameras there is a dedicated AF ON button on the back, right side, just below the top LCD panel which your thumb easily reaches. On the GH4 we use the AF/AE Lock button for starting AF.  I can’t overstate how effective this feature is for all serious shooters. You really need to try it if you haven’t done so already.

Nikon Professional Services director, Bill Pekala, recounted a story to me in the mid 90’s, relating to how important this feature is to the professional photographer. The story goes like this. Nikon had sent out a survey asking professional photographers what they wanted to see in a new Nikon professional camera which would eventually come to be the Nikon F5. The number one feature request was the ability to separate the AF operation from the shutter button and move the AF start to the rear of the camera. Professionals came to know and love this feature based on Canon’s EOS 1. Bill was at a late stage design meeting in Tokyo discussing the coming features of the soon to be released F5 film camera. It was the second to last meeting where details were being hammered out and the prototype F5 they were discussing still did not have a rear AF Start button. As I remember the story, Bill couldn’t believe the engineers had not yet added this highly requested feature. Bill became a bit animated and commenced beating the table with his very large and powerful fist (Bill’s a big guy), demanding this feature be included. The engineers got the message and the F5 was released with a back of the camera AF button. It’s since become virtually the only way I used AF on all my Nikon’s and the good news is Panasonic has this option as well.

A Buffer That Just Keeps Going

Even at 12 frames per second, in High Speed Continuous, I’ve almost never had the GH4 run out of buffer space. The GH4 will shoot 39 RAW frames before the buffer is filled but if you let off the button for even a second or two, the camera writes so fast, I’ve almost never had it lock up, stopping me from shooting while the buffer dumps files on to the card.  The speed it writes to the card just seems to be superior to any other camera I’ve ever shot. I haven’t done any scientific tests but the write speed just seems faster than most cameras.  The cards I’m using are the newest 32GB 4K video capable cards from Panasonic that are rated as class 10 U3 SDHC. They read at 90mbs and write at 45mbs.

Touch Screen Technology

The GH4 is completely touch screen capable. Once you have the option of making selections on the LCD menu, via a touch screen, everything else seems prehistoric.

Touch screen technology to maneuver around the rear LCD.

Touch screen technology to maneuver around the rear LCD.

Most of the time, when I find myself reverting to the dials and buttons, it’s due to forgetting the GH4 has the touch screen capabilities. My favorite touch screen option is being able to activate the AF point via the back LCD screen with my thumb, while holding the camera to my eye. This allows me to move the AF spot at will, any place in the viewfinder, by simply touching the blacked out, rear, LCD and moving the AF box. It’s absolutely brilliant.

Some folks who use their left eye to look through the viewfinder find it a bit more difficult than the people using their right eye. Seems the thumb and the nose are getting in each other’s way. I’ve tried myself, however, and it’s not quite as comfortable as it is for us who use their right eye, but it’s still very simple and effective compared to any other system out there. The is one of my very favorite features of this camera and anyone not using it is missing out on one of the camera’s strongest points. The video below, which I originally created for the Lumix GH3, shows the touch screen AF features. It works exactly the same way on the Lumix GH4 as it does on the GH3, and I created this video for the Explorers who I was trying to explain this feature to through emails. The video details it in a much better way than trying to explain it in writing.

EVF Information

Having an electronic viewfinder gives Panasonic the option to include a lot of information you just can’t get in a traditional DSLR. Without listing all the items you can see in the EVF, I’ll just say, virtually any setting you make in the camera can be seen on the back LCD or in the EVF, including my favorite of all digital tools, the HISTOGRAM. With the GH4 I can constantly be watching the histogram, BEFORE I take the photo, to make sure my highlights and shadows are not being clipped. It is so handy not to have to constantly shoot an image, check the histogram, adjust and reshoot. With the GH4, you know before the photo is taken, exactly where your exposure is. This is immensely beneficial.

Respectable High ISO Capabilities

Even though the Lumix GH4 is using a sensor that is much smaller than full frame, there have been many situations where I’ve been very happy with the quality of the files at ISO settings higher than I would expect. In normal shooting situations I will shoot my GH4’s at ISO 640 to 1600. I don’t like going beyond 1600 but I have shot numerous images at 2000 ISO. Compare this to my full frame Nikon D600 that I shoot normally at 1200-2400 ISO without flinching. Based on these non-scientific numbers you can see that the Nikon has about 1 to 1.5 stop advantage in high ISO’s. In reality, it may be more like two stops since I have shot my Nikon D4 at 6400 ISO but not very often.

4K Video Capabilities

Video is a huge part of this camera and I know there are those still shooters who HATE even thinking about video. Well my answer to that is get over it and get onboard. Those of you who hate video don’t have to shoot a single moving frame but I can tell you video is not going away and it will continue to be a part of every camera in the future in some form or another. There may be an exception or two but most manufacturers won’t be removing video for those few who are unhappy that it’s even a part if their system. Just don’t use it is the simple answer.

When it comes to video I am no expert, but I’m learning as I go and I’m excited the GH4 has such superb, professional video capabilities that I didn’t have to break the bank for. Just today I got a call from a videographer friend of mine that makes his entire living shooting nothing but video who wanted my thoughts on the GH4. He informed me he was selling his Red Scarlet and investing in all Panasonic GH4’s. I’m not surprised; the video is that good.

The GH4’s most important video feature is its ability to shoot 4K video. What is 4K video? Well… quite simply it is four times higher quality (think higher resolution) than the 1080P we’ve been so amazed with on our new TV’s over the past few years.  That’s four times the details in the grass, pores in a person’s face, stars in the sky, leaves on a tree, the fur of an animal. All of it four times higher resolution than current 1080P films we see on TVs today. It’s so much detail you will feel like you’re looking out a window, not watching a television set.

The GH4 has the following specs that are hard to believe, especially when you consider it will shoot these specs and save the video footage to an in camera SD Card.

  • 16.05 Megapixel Micro 4/3 Sensor
  • 4096 x 2160 up to 24fps (100Mbps)
  • 3840 x 2160 up to 30fps (100Mbps)
  • 1080p up to 60fps
  • Variable Slow Motion in-camera up to 96fps (not a sync-sound format)
  • 200 Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 100 Mbps (IPB) at 1080p
  • 2,359K-dot LVF (Live View Finder)
  • 3 inch 1,036K-dot Rear Monitor
  • 4:2:2 10-bit or 8-bit External HDMI (4:2:0 8-bit internal)
  • Cinegamma Modes
  • Peaking and Zebras
  • ISO 200-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-25600)
  • New UHS I Class III SD card (min. 30MB/s) format needed for over 100Mbps
  • 1/8? Headphone, 1/8? Microphone, AV Output, HDMI D (Micro), USB 2.0, Wired Remote Port
  • Approx. 50% higher speed signal readout suppresses rolling shutter effect even when using electronic shutter or recording motion image

Speaking of the SD card, it is very important when shooting 4K footage that you have the proper card. I’ve been using the new Panasonic 32GB SDHC I Class 10 U3. Though I’m no expert on these cards, I do know the Panasonic card is exceptionally fast and it’s the U3 part that really makes the difference. There are other card manufacturers that also make U3 cards and that’s what you need to look for if you want to go with either SanDisk, Lexar, Delkin, or whatever. The 4K video capture needs the u3 rating.

Along with 4K video, the GH4 has an exclusive feature known 4K Photo Mode and it’s something nobody else is doing that I’m aware of. 4K Photo Mode allows you to shoot video at ANY shutter speed, including speeds fast enough to stop motion such as 1/1000th. of a second or higher. It shoots these speeds in video mode at 30fps and you are able to pull individual 8-megapixel stills from each one of those 30fps. Sound too good to be true, you should see it in action. It’s hard to believe what you are getting. To me 4K Photo Mode is just another tool for helping to tell the stories I want and need to tell. It’s not something I will use in exchange for shooting stills, but it is just one more high tech option that will help me get just the right picture in some situations like the one I wrote about below. The text regarding 4K Photo Mode was taken from an earlier blog post titled Lumix GH4’s 4K Photo Mode Publishable Stills From Video is Finally Here that appeared last December on the Corkboard/Blog. I’ve reposted it below for this review since it describes the 4K Photo Mode in detail.

4K Photo Mode, Stills From Video is Finally Here

Panasonic brings us a tool no other camera company has that I’m aware of and it’s called 4K Photo Mode. I first predicted this feature with the original release of the $50,000 Red One nearly ten years ago. I mentioned my prediction that stills and video were going to merge in a post from April 30th, 2009 titled Daniel’s First Film- A New Face in Town. 4K Photo Mode finally makes this capability available to the masses. It gives the photographer the ability to shoot video at 3o frames per second and pull individual 8-megapixel still images from the video clip. I tried it for the first time this past November while working with Polar Bears International and the Arctic Documentary Project in Churchill and it is nothing short of amazing.

The video above was captured using a Lumix GH4 in 4K Video Mode. The lens was a 100-300mm zoom being handheld. The video is jumpy and horrible to look at as moving footage. But I wasn’t shooting it for video, I was shooting it for stills.  Ideally, I should have been using a tripod but this opportunity came quickly and I viewed it as a simple trial.

Below are two frames pulled from the video above using Apple’s Aperture. Notice how in the first image, the bear’s breath is highlighted due to the background being a dark shadow. In my mind this was THE frame. I was able to grab/scrub through the video clip to capture the exact moment the breath was exhaled against the darker background, giving me the best frame from that one second opportunity that the camera caught 30 frames of.

This frame was specifically chosen for the breath being exhaled. I had almost thirty frames to choose from since the exhale last bout 1 second. I've captured things like this in the past with just timing my shot but to not have to worry about tripping the shutter at the exact moment that best shows the cold was very rewarding. Click on this image to be taken to a page where you can download a full sized JPEG of this image for your own private review.

This frame was specifically chosen for the breath being exhaled. I had almost 30 frames to choose from since the exhale lasted about one second. I’ve captured things like this in the past with just timing my shot but to not have to worry about tripping the shutter at the exact moment that best shows the cold was very rewarding. Click on the above image to download a full sized JPEG for your own personal review.

The second photo is again from the same video. I chose a frame where the bear’s head was at the top of the arc. Polar bears swing their heads as they move and trying to predict the exact moment of the arc is very difficult to time perfectly. By shooting at 1/500th of a second shutter speed in 4K Photo Mode, the video produced was capturing 30 FPS and I  was able to pull a single frame where the bear’s head was perfectly still, at the top of the arc, giving me a very sharp image.

D863002 (1)-3

This frame was chosen for all the right body language, paw up, head at the top of the arc, etc. Click on the above image to download a full sized JPEG for your own personal review.

Video is not typically shot at such high shutter speeds. Doing so makes your moving footage look choppy. Generally, when shooting video, you are shooting at a shutter speed of 1/30th, 1/50th, or 1/60th. of a second which makes video images look smoother and more natural when combined in clip form. But we all know that to stop action you need a fast shutter speed, especially with a long telephoto lens. That’s where 4K Photo Mode comes in.  In 4K Photo Mode you can shoot as fast as shutter speed as you want or the lighting and camera allow. For me this is just one more tool to add to my bag of tricks to capture that one decisive moment.

4K Photo Mode Conclusion

Just in case you need some inspiration for how this might work here are some examples of how 4K Photo Mode can enhance your still photography:

  • Nature photographers trying to capture a bird taking off or an industrial photographer who is trying to do some motion analysis will find 4K Photo Mode a welcomed feature!
  • Golfers can use 4K video mode to capture and analyze their swing with the uneekor qed package.
  • Macro photographers can more easily deal with the extremely shallow depth of field by capturing a few seconds of 4K video while manually focusing across the depth of their subject. Extracting a few images from the 4K video, and combining (stacking) them in Photoshop produces an end result with much more depth of field.
  • Young children seldom sit still for a photo. Capture some 4K video while talking to the child can allow you to capture those rare nuisances that traditional still photography might miss!

The future is definitely here with 4K Video Mode. Competitors will be scrambling fast to offer something similar and this  is just one example of the technological advantages a company the size of Panasonic can bring to our industry. Panasonic is really on a roll and I predict it’s just the beginning.

Professional Sound Capabilities 

It is often said that 50% of a great motion picture is the sound. From my experience I’m certainly a believer of this statement. To give this camera as good of sound recording equal to its amazing 4K video, Panasonic offers an add-on called the Panasonic DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface.

Panasonic DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface attached to the bottom of a Lumix GH4.

Panasonic DMW-YAGH Pro Audio Video Interface attached to the bottom of a Lumix GH4.

This is a very specialized piece of equipment for serious video shooters and allows for capturing truly professional quality sound. I don’t have one and right now I can’t see getting one unless I start doing much more with video.

XLR connections for microphones are standard for professional quality sound. So is the ability to adjust volume in this separate device.

XLR connections for microphones are standard for professional quality sound. So is the ability to adjust volume in this separate device.

However for those that depend on video production, Panasonic has provided a serious option for getting the highest quality sound possible in to the video footage being shot.

My Custom Function Settings on the Lumix GH4

One of the benefits to all serious cameras today is the ability to customize them to your heart’s content. The GH4 is no exception and I’ve set mine up in a way that works for me. All cameras I’ve used have less than perfect menu systems for custom changes. Every camera has so many choices, it’s just plain difficult to remember exactly where one feature is that may have been turned on or off. That said, because of our Natural Exposures Invitational Photo Tours, I’ve had many opportunities to help one Explorer or another try to figure their custom menus out. Camera menu systems I know well or fairly well include Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Fuji, Olympus, Pentax, and several other less popular brands.

Panasonic's menu setup is easy to follow and straightforward with the left side tabs being folders that related to different parts of the camera. This first tab is for the Record mode for still photos which my large arrow covered up.

Panasonic’s menu setup is easy to follow and straightforward with the left side tabs being folders that relate to different parts of the camera. This first tab is for the Record mode for still photos which my large arrow covered up. The 1/7 on the far right side tell you which page of the particular folder tab you are in.

The two best systems I’ve ever worked include Nikon and Panasonic’s Lumix. The most difficult menu I’ve ever dug into is on the Olympus OM-D EM-1. Nikon and Lumix have a very similar menu layout, so it was fairly easy to get a handle on the Lumix setup from the very beginning. Many people ask me about the Custom Settings on my GH4’s so the following is a list of all the different options I regularly change from factory defaults. If I haven’t changed anything from the it came from the factory, it won’t be listed. All items listed in RED are very important for action photography.

Record Tab

  • Photo Style= Standard
  • Aspect Ratio= 3:2 ( I use 3:2 to match the aspect ratio of my Nikon cameras so presentation images are consistent)
  • Quality= RAW+Jpeg Fine (Jpeg is for a backup image as well as to easily load to my iphone if needed)
  • Metering mode= Matrix or Evaluative
  • Bust Rate= High
  • ISO Limit set = 1600
  • ISO Increments= 1/3 EV
  • Extended ISO= On
  • Long Shutter Noise Reduction= On
  • Color Space= sRGB

Motion Picture Tab

  • Photo Style= Standard
  • 4K Photo=On when Needed (Manual Exposure)
  • Rec Format= MOV
  • Rec Quality= Depends on every shoot
  • Continues AF= On (Sometimes Off if I’m using Manual focus which is almost never)
  • Metering= Matrix or evaluative
  • Sound Output= Recorded Sound
  • Mic Level Display= On
  • Mic Level Limiter= On

Custom Tab

  • AF/AE Lock= AF On (This is the option for using rear button AF activation)
  • Shutter AF= Off (This needs to be turned off if you have the above option set to rear button AF)
  • Quick AF= Off
  • Eye Sensor AF=Off
  • Direct Focus Area=Off
  • Focus Release Priority=Focus
  • Peaking=On
  • Histogram=On
  • Zebra Pattern=Zebra2
  • Constant Preview=Off
  • Monitor Info Display=On
  • Auto Review Duration Time=Off (Very, very important to turn this off for action photography)
  • Fn Button Set-None other than what is default.
  • Eye Sensor=Low
  • Touch Settings
    • Touch Screen=On
    • Touch Tab= On
    • Touch AF=AF
    • Touch Pad AF=OFFSET (This has to be set to move AF sensor around LCD with finger)
  • Shoot without lens=On (this is so I can use my Nikkor 600mm F/4 with an adapter)

Setup Tab

  • Live View Mode=30Fps
  • Battery Use Priority=Battery Grip
  • Menu Resume=On
The Fn3 button to the right of the LCD is for changing the numerous different AF zone options. I generally use my GH4's on the single AF spot which can be enlarged or reduced in size at will. The others I sometimes use, especially the face AF option when I'm shooting events with people in them.

The Fn3 button to the right of the LCD is for changing the numerous different AF zone options. I generally use my GH4’s on the single AF spot which can be enlarged or reduced in size at will. The others I sometimes use, especially the face AF option when I’m shooting events with people in them.

Wireless Connectivity

All of the new Panasonic Lumix cameras allow you to connect directly to your iPhone, iPad, or other devices like Android. They even have the option of being able to send your pictures to a TV or PC. Most users however are most interested in the ability to get photos out quickly in an email, up to Facebook, or other digital repositories. For most people, to solve this burning desire, the iPhone and other devices have become the camera of choice. It’s also helped that virtually everybody carries their cell phone. As the old adage goes, “the best camera made is the one you have with you”. That said, I do believe most people are still interested in better quality if they can easily share as well. When I show our NE Explorers how you can transfer photos from your camera to your iPhone or iPad they get really excited. Their enthusiasm suggests they not only want the ease of use, they also want higher quality images the Lumix provides if they can also easily share them.

A screen shot of the GH4 being remotely controlled from my Apple iPad via Panasonic Image App. Notice all the controls you can change. Really a nice app.

A screen shot of the GH4 being remotely controlled from my Apple iPad via Panasonic Image App. Notice all the controls you can change. This is the same screen you would also see on your iPhone or Android app.

Panasonic Lumix cameras are doing their best to solve this problem by allowing us to easily send the images from our camera directly to our iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Unfortunately, figuring it out isn’t as simple as it could be, so below are two major requirements that make the process much more efficient. Both of these nuggets of wisdom listed in the manual are easy to overlook. For the record, the steps I’m about to outline are given for Apple’s iPhone. Android users will have to decipher this for their own system.

This is the opening screen of the Panasonic Image App. Notice you can access the camera for remote operation as well as transfer images and movies over to your iPad or iPhone to easily post to social media outlets.

This is the opening screen of the Panasonic Image App. Notice you can access the camera for remote operation as well as transfer images and movies over to your iPad or iPhone to easily post to social media outlets.

First and foremost, once you have hit the Wi-Fi/Fn1 button on the GH4’s top deck, you now must go directly to your iPhone or iPad and open the iPhone/iPad SETTINGS app. There you will find Wi-Fi listed. Touch Wi-Fi and the next screen appears and it should show you the GH4. Select GH4 and a screen will pop up requesting input of the listed password or capture the QR Code on the same page. Open the Lumix App and it should show you an option to capture the QR Code with your iPhone’s camera. This whole process is the most difficult part and you should only have to do it one time. Once the password is typed in or the QR Code captured, you will be able to skip all of this by way of an option that states “Select a destination from History” the next time you turn your cameras Wi-Fi on.

Screen shots of the iPhone version of the Panasonic Image App. This app makes getting the image to your phone a breeze. Yo can set it up so as you shoot the JEPGs go to your phone and the higher quality RAW files stay on your card. It's the best of both worlds with a much, much higher quality image than what you get form your phone.

Screen shots of the iPhone version of the Panasonic Image App. This app makes getting the image to your phone a breeze. Yo can set it up so as you shoot the JPEGs go to your phone and the higher quality RAW files stay on your cameras card. It’s the best of both worlds with much, much higher quality images than what you get from your phone.

The other necessity which the manual mentions but is easy to miss, is the need to be shooting a JPEG. You can also shoot RAW but if you shoot RAW ONLY the images will not show on the screen within the Panasonic Image App since it won’t transfer RAW files to your iPhone. That being the case, I will often shoot RAW+JPEG so I can quickly transfer images if I choose.

The initial Wi-FI setup process has become close to simple since the latest firmware and software updates. It’s much easier than it was when I first tried many months ago. The Panasonic Image App has come a long way and is full of amazing features. By the way, the app you need to download is the Panasonic Image App not the Panasonic Lumix Link app. The Panasonic Image App has the ability to run the GH4 from your phone. You can shoot stills, video, change many of the settings like quality, WB, +/- EV, ISO, move the AF sensor, change AF modes, aspect ratio, photo style, picture size, metering mode, flash mode, record format and video quality. You can not change Exposure Mode so whatever mode you select is what you will be using until you manually change it on the camera itself.

When I first tried the wireless control several months ago, I was disappointed in the range. At the time I was not able to get beyond 15 feet or so. This morning I did a test both indoors and out and I’m pleased to say that Panasonic has increased the Lumix’s range dramatically. I can now get consistent firing at 45-54 feet or 15-18 yards both indoors and outdoors.

GH4 Negatives- Fixes or Additions Needed

Ok, so now you’ve read all the great things about the GH4, yet we all know that nothing is perfect. However, there are some photographers that are under contract from other manufacturers that won’t share the blemishes of other camera systems. My philosophy is simple. We’re all adults and most of us smart ones at that. None of us believe anything is perfect and so along with the good you’re going to get a rundown of the not so good to boot. You need to know about some of the things you may not be so happy with if you decide to buy one of these amazing new image capture machines. Like many of you, I always weigh the pros and cons. So here they are.

GH4 and GH3 Eye Piece

Without a doubt my biggest complaint along with numerous NE Explorers is the GH4’s and GH3’s rubber eye piece. In short, they fall off with the slightest touch. I’ve lost so many I’ve lost count and I know others having the same issue. Amazingly this has been an problem since the GH3 which also had the identical system that also didn’t work.  I thought they fixed it with the GH4 but I can assure you it has not been fixed. The rubber eye piece falls off constantly and thankfully it’s generally in my camera bag so I’ve only had to actually go out and buy a half dozen or so. I’ve finally quit buying them and just plan to shoot without if I lose it again. I have pretty much solved the issue by taking a piece of black gaffers tape which is very similar to duct tape. I tear a piece off that is about a 1/4 inch wide and wrap the entire exterior of the eye piece that attaches to the camera. Panasonic needs to put the B TEAM on this challenge and come up with a better locking mechanism that locks the rubber eye piece in place.

Lens Shades Keep Falling Off

Once again this is an aggravating problem that seems like it would be so simple to fix. Not all the lens shades for all lenses are poorly designed. The 42.5mm F/1.2 is a superb shade made of metal with a locking screw that keeps it in place beautifully. The 35-100mm F/2.8 lens shade is made of plastic but it too has a sold, tight fit and it’s never fallen off. However, I have lost three lens shades for the 12-35mm F/2.8 and I have two other NE Explorers that have had the same problem. The locking connection, bayonet type that snaps in place with a plastic notch, is just too loose. Especially after a few weeks of use since the plastic begins to wear and gets even looser. Another great project for the B team engineers.

LCD Playback Mode Needs 100% Option

Many of you already know that to review your images at anything less than 100% is virtually useless. It’s essential to always review your pictures at 100% to really see if the image is sharp or not. All good photographers review their images on the computer at 100% but ALL photographers, serious or not, can’t help but review their images in the field as well. Until recently, no camera company that I know of has ever showed when the cameras zoom function was at 100% when viewing on the camera’s LCD. Recently, I had a chance to see the new Nikon D810 and D750 and to my amazement both are now showing where the 100% zoom is. This feature is a no-brainer and Panasonic needs to add this to all of their cameras, but it would be especially useful on the GH4. This is the kind of thing that Panasonic needs to think about before the competition does.  Little things like this can set you apart, like the touch screen that many Lumix cameras have.

Wireless Flash

The Lumix Wireless flash system is a great first attempt but unfortunately the end result is less than stellar.  When I reviewed this same flash with the GH3 I had much less experience and I felt it worked very well. I was wrong. I’ve tried working with my half dozen FL360’s as well as a couple of the newer, larger and more powerful FL580’s. All of them have the infrared wireless system and none of them fire consistently when set up in their wireless mode. It’s been very disappointing. To get them to fire consistently, each strobe must be within 15-20 feet at the furthest. All heads have to have perfect line of sight to the main commander strobe on camera and that’s virtually impossible since I’m typically lighting something on both left and right sides to get the kind of lighting that makes an image interesting to look at. I suppose if I had one or more on one side and was able to point the main command strobe directly at them that they would most likely work. But that’s not reality in most situations. Oh well, I’m certain Panasonic will get this hammered out eventually. Ideally they will completely reinvent their system and give us radio controlled flashes like Canon has done. That would be the ultimate and show us they really do want the professional photographer. This wouldn’t be such a disappointment if we had access to the many third party options available for our Nikon and Canon systems but third party systems for Lumix are nonexistent as of right now.

Electronic Release for Third Party Add-ons

I’ve spoke to several people about the difficulties of getting third party applications to work with the Lumix electronic circuits specifically used to trip the shutter. I’m not an electrician but I’ve heard more than once that the system Lumix uses is very unusual. Why is this a big deal? Because this unique circuitry makes it difficult for third party companies to make products we can use. Things like the Lightning Bug Trigger, CamRanger, TriggerTrap and many other electrical products that need a common gateway to the camera.

I’m getting mixed messages on this issue. One of my contacts at Panasonic says that the Lumix connection is very adaptable but I’ve heard from third party vendors that’s not the case. Apparently both Nikon and Canon have some sort of patent on their proprietary connectors and Panasonic had to reinvent something that would work. If there are any third party developers having issues adapting their designs to Lumix cameras please drop me a note or better yet post your concerns here on the Blog and I’ll get you to the best people at Panasonic to help you out. In the end all we want is for the Lumix line of cameras to be as adaptable as possible for third party developers.

The End

So that’s the nitty gritty detailing my thoughts and observations after a year’s worth of photography and video using the Panasonic Lumix GH4. Is it perfect? No. However, it’s a HUGE step up from the Lumix GH3, and I’m now shooting Lumix cameras for 90% of my work. Do I trust this camera with fast moving action like I do my Nikon D4? No, not quite yet, but it’s getting very, very close. Combine the GH4 with the new Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 and the gap has closed on the D4 considerably. I still plan to do additional AF tests for a more definitive answer but as the Cheetah Chase points out, in real world situations, this Micro Four Thirds camera is proving that it won’t be long before it matches the bigger, better known cameras, and I predict it will surpass them in the next generation. Dare I call it the GH5? We shall see.

If any of you out there have things to add, please join the conversation here in the comments section of the Blog. I’m always excited to know what others have experienced or have to say.

Add Your Voice!
There are 99 comments on this post…
  1. DavidOn Jul. 9th, 2018

    Great write-up, many thanks. I have the GX8, and the most irritating thing about it is the sensor that switches the display off when it detects I have raised the camera to my eye. In principle, this is a great feature but right now, for example, I’m sitting reading this with my camera sitting on my desk. So I switch on the camera and reach out to make some modifications on the settings, and bam! The display switches off! To stop this, I need to use my left hand to ‘creep’ in from left, so as not to trigger the sensor. Other than that, an incredible camera, which I’m taking more and more on holiday and leaving my Nikon D810 at home!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 9th, 2018


      Based on your comment it sounds like you’re unaware of the three LVF options via the LVF button on the back of the camera. The LVF button has three settings that you cycle through. I’ve attached a screen shot from the manual for you to review.


  2. DanielOn Nov. 30th, 2017

    I also have the Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 PRO lens, but I would never put it on a GH4 because then neither the lens nor the body would be stabilized. Not only that, but DFD autofocus does not work with Olympus lenses…so the newer Panasonic camera models like the GH5 and G9 still haven’t addressed that. Phase-detect autofocus on the OM-D E-M1 works with Panasonic lenses, so why can’t DFD work with Olympus lenses? This is what is keeping me with Olympus even though Panasonic bodies are so much better for video.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 5th, 2017

      Daniel, I agree it would be nice if Panasonic and Olympus shared the DFD technology. Not sure that will ever happen however since they are both doing well and have become bigger competitors than I think they ever dreamed might happen. We can alway hope and I’ve expressed my desire for them to share not only with DFD but also the Dual and Sync IS each has independently developed. It might happen. Will keep you posted. I do appreciate you writing in and expressing your thoughts since Panasonic definitely watches the blog.

  3. Avi AmbarOn Nov. 21st, 2017

    Dear daniel.
    your article “One Year Shooting the Panasonic Lumix GH4 Review, Posted Mar. 24th, 2015 by Daniel J. Cox”
    had become my bible!
    your experienced, extraordinary description, illuminated hidden feelings and intuitions about the concepts of right opperation of gh4.
    it made me more contant to share this same wonderfull tool.
    thank you so mutch.
    Avi Ambar

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 25th, 2017

      Happy to hear the Blog post is useful to you Avi.

  4. Steve BalaamOn Nov. 1st, 2017

    Amazingly detailed review – must have taken some time and effort – thank you!

    One of the great things about the GH4 is the ability to use purely an electronic shutter. Whilst a lot of people might think this is great because it is completely silent that’s only one side of it. We use GH4’s for motion timelapse – and with the very high shutter count for this type of work, often mechanical shutters can wear out quicker than you would want.
    Not so with the GH4/GH5. And trust me – when you’re sat next to this thing firing off 1000 shots at a time, you really don’t want to be hearing the shutter every few seconds 🙂

  5. MorrisOn Dec. 24th, 2016

    I was wondering at what shutter speed were you shooting at when you took that brown bear shot ISO 2000 in 2015 in Alaska. I am presently shooting with a Vario-Elmar 100-400 4.0-6.3 and would like your opinion on the best settings to achieve tack sharp images of moving wildlife (slow to moderate) and fast at full extension.

    Thanks for your response and Happy Holidays!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 24th, 2016

      Morris, Not sure exactly which image you’re referring to. Where did you see the photo?

    • MorrisOn Dec. 26th, 2016

      It was your response to “Robert B” on 8/18/15 where you show a brown bear eating a salmon along the shore to a body of water. By the way, was that Anan Creek near Wrangell?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 27th, 2016

      Nope not Anan Creek. Kodiak if I understand the photo you are referring to.

  6. DebOn Nov. 16th, 2016

    Hi Dan-Thanks for getting back to me. I was using the Lumix 100-300 lens and shooting in manual mode. I did have the focus set to AFS/AFF. I think you are right that the shutter would not depress because it was reading the settings as being too dark and could not focus. I had this same issue trying to shoot the Milky Way a few months back. I was trying to keep f stop around F8 but the shutter speed became way too lengthy. I really didn’t want a long exposure as I was trying to capture the supermoon rising. I did some reading on the settings to capture the moon but the camera and I didn’t seem to in sync. As you know the moon and the sun don’t wait for you to take their picture. I also did not use the 49 point setting. I used custom(which I did not notice until you asked what I had it set on) Should I have used 1 area?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 16th, 2016


      Your first problem I can see with BIF pictures, based on the additional info you supplied, is the 100-300mm lens. This lens is a nice range but has never been up to professional standards necessary for BIF. It’s extremely slow to Auto Focus and is just not capable of keeping up with even a slow moving bird. As far as shooting the moon is concerned, no matter which AF setting you select, including Custom, at least some part of the AF sensor or pattern in the viewfinder has to be placed on the subject which in this case would have been the moon. If it wasn’t n the moon, it would not focus properly and even if it was on the moon, it may have still struggled due to the slow F/stop of 5.6 you were most likely shooting at with the 100-300mm lens. I know I’ve shot the moon with the 100-400mm and even at 400mm’s th moon did not fill the viewfinder, which made it imparitive I adjusted the Single AF spot to be directly on the moon itself for the camera to focus properly.

      Regarding your attempt at shooting the Milky Way. Were you also using the 100-300mm lens? If so, once again this lens is too slow for this type of photogwrahy and even worse if you were trying to shot at F/8. Photographing the Milky Way with a telephoto is not possible wth the kind of equipment we currently have in the LUMIX system. I suppose it might be posssibel if you spen t the money to get a rotting tripod device that follows the rotation of the earth but that getting pretty specialized and something that most photog

  7. Deb BalcanoffOn Nov. 15th, 2016

    I seem to have difficulty shooting at night with the GH4. I am an intermediate photographer who is still learning “the ropes”. Do you have any suggestions for night shooting in terms of settings using the GH4?. I tried to shoot the moon on 11/14/2016 and as you know the moon will not wait for your camera when it is rising. When I depressed the shutter Low would flash and shutter would not depress to take the shot. I am 100% it is me and not the camera as I have taken some great stills with this camera. Suggestions would be appreciated. This GH4 has been to 4 countries in Africa with me and I love the camera.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 16th, 2016

      Hi Deb, Will try to help you out but you’re not giving me a lot of info to go on. First, you mention that,”When I depressed the shutter Low would flash and shutter would not depress to take the shot”. This sounds like you were either on Shutter or Aperture Priority? Secondly, what lens were you using which will help me figure out approximately how large the moon was in your viewfinder. Based on what you’ve explained, it sounds like the camera most likely did not fire due to lack of focus. Were you on AFS or AFC? Both are set to “Focus Priority” as factory default. Another questions is what Focus Pattern were you using. AF-Spot, AF-49 Area? That could make a huge difference. If the moon was small in the viewfinder and you were unable to focus on the dark sky, the camera would not allow you to take the picture. If you can supply me with more info I may be able to be more helpful. Let me know when you can.

  8. randi gitzOn Sep. 21st, 2016

    and thank you for the post!

    I’m trying to set up the GH4 to refocus when the AF/AE Lock button is depressed while recording video.

    While recording it will refocus when I touch a point on the screen but not when I press the AF/AE Lock button. (It will focus when button is pressed prior to recording but not during)

    Any ideas?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 21st, 2016

      Randi, as far as I know, it’s not possible to setup the rear AF/AE Lock button for AF activation during video recording. I do use it however in a somewhat similar manner where I will shut the video off, hit the AF/AE Lock button that I’ve setup for AF Activation, once it acquires focus I then start the recording again. The other option is to turn AF On in the Movie tab. That’s probably not what you want however.

  9. Andrew NobbsOn Aug. 3rd, 2016

    Excellent review.

    I am considering a new camera, I have been using a Gx7 with Panasonic lens for some time.

    I am having difficulty in making a decision between the Gh4 and an Olympus Em1.

    I have read your enthusiastic review of the Gh4 and an equally enthusiastic review of the Em1 from Steve Huff.

    My inclination is to stay with Panasonic as I understand the menus and the Gh4 was easy to use at a try out day, but is the picture quality any different, is there really an inbuilt improvement to the images from the Olympus ?


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 3rd, 2016

      Andrew, I’ve not seen ANY advantage to the Olympus images from the OM-D EM-1 I sometimes shoot for testing one any of my Lumix cameras including the GH4 and GX8. One of the sad facts of life in the Micro Four Thirds world is that Panasonic is so well known for their video quality that few pay any attention to their stills quality. Additionally, Olympus is known as a stills camera and thus the reasoning is that they must be better. It’s not true! In fact, Lumix has features that are far and away more conducive to stills shooting that Olympus doesn’t have. Things such as the Touch Screen AF placement, far easier to use and navigate menu system, built in flash I use constantly for triggering my wireless macro setup, 4K Photo Mode for pulling 8 meg stills from video, far superior battery life in the GH4 and ergonomics that beat ANY camera on the market today. Olympus prides itself in being able to customize any button to do anything. And that’s all well and good but there are a few buttons I want marked, such as and ISO, +/- EV Compensation and White Balance. The Olympus cameras allow you to choose any button you want to set these constantly used tools but the downside is they are difficult to recall quickly in fast moving situations where being able to change these settings is imperative. I just can’t say enough about how impressed I am with what Panasonic is doing in their Lumix line of cameras and how quickly they’re adding new and useful technology in an easy to use, affordable, lightweight package. Olympus gets the press but Panasonic steals the show in my opinion.

  10. IlemOn Jul. 21st, 2016

    As a beginner photographer who owns gh4, I was hunting a website like this one. As I’m first focused on stills than video, could you please organise a tutorial related to settings for aperture, shutter speed, wb and dof? Thank you for your help

  11. Paul RobertsOn Jun. 4th, 2016

    Thanks Daniel so much for this whole string. Your approach is so engaging and respectful. Such awesome work. I’ve been making decision about a second camera. With my work team of three on a we’ve just set up a small studio on a limited budget and are getting into short video as a tool for our life education work. We’re using a GH4 which we’ve found amazing and now are editing our first video!
    In a nutshell, I learned learned SLR photography on 35mm film and have since used DX and APS-C up until a few years back and am wanting to recharge my photography interest. I’ve been thinking that my personal purchase could double as our second angle work camera in the small studio and that it would be ideal to have a similar camera type and menu system for ease of use by us amateurs (I constantly forget menus and it would be awesome if I only had to learn one well!) So, I’ve been considering a personal purchase of a GH4 and also had a good look at the GX8. But I’ve been feeling nervous about an MFT sensor because high quality stills is my key personal interest. You’ve put me at ease about the capacity of the MFT for stills and the capacity to extract from 4K video as you’ve displayed is fantastic.
    I’m a bit tempted by GX8 just to be a bit different from the camera at work and because, even though quite large it’s a bit smaller than GH4. After reading your take on the GH4, I’m swaying back that way. Is having a GH4, the identical model as the one in our new amateur studio, the better idea? And do you think the stills capacity of the GH4 is pretty well on par with the GX 8 even though some reviews say the GH4 is more video-centric and the GX8 is superior for stills?
    Anyway, thanks again Daniel for your awesome work and will appreciate any advice.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jun. 6th, 2016

      Paul, The GH4 and the GX8 are both fabulous stills cameras. Yes, the GH4 is better known for video but that is no fault of the GH4. It’s simply the fault of photographers not wanting to take a chance on a camera they’ve never heard of as a stills camera. Even though Panasonic has been selling stills cameras since 2006, the GH4 was their first truly professional camera and MOST photographers are blind when it comes to new ideas and equipment. Especially when it’s a new name in the game. Olympus for example has almost double the market share in Micro Four Thirds but the images out of Olympus cameras are no better than anything I’ve seen from Panasonic. Not only are the images equal but the Panasonic has so many more benefits such as much easier menu system, a few necessary, dedicated buttons, 4K Photo Mode, DFD Auto Focus, and several others. The only benefit Olympus has is their long standing name in the world of still photography. But old habits are hard to change and Panasonic has their work cut out for them in convincing people they are for real.

      The GX8 would be a great choice if stills is your main goal. It’s not necessarily better at stills, it’s just that the GH4 has more video options, mainly in the sound department. Thankfully, the GH4 and the GX8 have virtually the same menu system, like all the Lumix cameras. You may have a few options here and there, between all the different models, but once you learn one menu, you’ve basically learned them all. Panasonic has the best menu layout of any camera I’ve ever used, including Nikon and Nikon does it pretty well.

      Finally, 4K Photo Mode is a bit easier to access in the GX8 due to that camera being released with the feature from the start. The GH4 also has 4K Photo Mode but it was added in a firmware upgrade and therefore not quite as easy to get to quickly. The GX8 has a dedicated 4K Photo Mode button on the touch screen and therefore is a little easier to access.

      Hope this helps. Let me know what you decide. Thats for stopping by to add your voice.

  12. Pablo SolerOn May. 1st, 2016

    It’s a fantastic post!! I’m looking for a mirrorless camera right now and I don’t know what could be better for me. I would use it more for vídeo, un that point win gh4 but im seeing the new gx8 lumix or the olympus 5M II … They have a good stability and better photo quality (I think) I would use it in travels , Sport , … What do you recomend me?. Thanks

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 1st, 2016

      Pablo, There is no better video/stills camera than the Lumix GH4. It’s a bit older than the GX8 but it has more serious video features. If you use it with Lumix lenses than there is no problem with image stabilization. Olympus doesn’t compete when it comes to video. As far as photo quality goes, all are about the same. The GX8 has a bit larger sensor in megapixels but the GH4 produces beautiful still photos. I really like the GX8 but the GH4 is still my favorite all around Lumix. Olympus makes some great cameras but they are extremely difficult to use. The GH4 is the finest camera being made today in regards to ergonomics, ease of use and easy to understand.

  13. Leonard GlasserOn Feb. 25th, 2016

    Love the GH4 with 12-35mm for the comfort and outstanding images I get. Only one major problem. When i power up from an off condition, I would expect the following conditions:
    1. Eye sensor active.
    2. EVF and LCD screen off.
    3. Bring camera to eye, compose, and shoot.
    4. Press display button and review image if desired.
    5. Hit menu button and make changes on LCD screen if desired.
    6. Turn camera off.
    7. Turn camera on, etc.
    8. At present, the only way to get my initial conditions is by depressing the display button several times after powering off and then on again.
    This makes no sense to me. The conditions which I desire would seem to be the obvious default.

  14. Peter GreggOn Feb. 20th, 2016

    One really super feature I don’t think I saw here is missing. Forget the 4k Photo kode. Yes, it is great, but not needed at all. This camera (only the GH4) WILL SHOOT HI speed full resolution JPG files at 40 frames per second making it faster than the 30fps of 4k. It is a magical feature that I love using. The 4k frame grab is only an 8mb image, but the 40fps high speed (JPG mode only) is the full resolution and give you the 16mb image quality. Check it out. There are some limitations, but the advantages are well worth it.

    • Peter LoughranOn Feb. 24th, 2016

      Sorry, Peter Gregg but felt I must correct the errors in your post…

      When using the ‘Super-High’ [SH] (40fps) Burst Rate setting on the GH4 the camera automatically engages the electronic shutter and the image size is fixed at [S] …that’s ‘S’ for small with the actual resolution varying according to what aspect-ratio stills you have set:

      [L] 4:3 16MP (4608×3456) drops to [S] 4:3 4MP (2336×1752) in [SH] mode.
      [L] 3:2 14MP (4608×3072) drops to [S] 3:2 3.5MP (2336×1560) in [SH] mode.
      [L] 16:9 12MP (4608×2592) drops to [S] 16:9 2MP (1920×1080) in [SH] mode.
      [L] 1:1 12MP (3456×3456) drops to [S] 1:1 3MP (1774×1774) in [SH] mode.

      So, at no point can you shoot anything like full resolution images at 40fps and even then bursts are limited to a few seconds (just tested my GH4 which seems to shoot up to a maximum of 120 frames in a [SH] burst, so around 3 seconds worth of lowish-res [max. 4MP] images).
      The ‘4K Photo Mode’ shoots ~8MP images in effectively unlimited ‘bursts’ (29min 59sec if you have a body with the EU video time limit) so significantly higher resolution frames than the [SH] burst stills mode can offer. In the case of 16:9 [SH] burst the images are actually only half the resolution (1/4 the pixels at only 1920×1080) of the 16:9 (3840×2160) 4K Photo Mode files.
      Actual frame resolutions for the different aspect ratios available in 4K Photo Mode are:
      4:3 = 3328×2496 pixels
      3:2 = 3504×2336 pixels
      16:9 = 3840×2160 pixels (same as UHD-4K video so no real point in selecting 4K Photo Mode for 16:9 images)
      1:1 = 2880×2880 pixels*

      The sensor is sampled at 100% pixel-for-pixel in 4K Photo Mode (*the 1:1 setting seems to be up-sampled from a slightly smaller sensor crop area) and 4K video modes so the image is effectively a direct crop of the appropriate area of the sensor at up to 30fps. This produces much cleaner images than the re-sampled (from full sensor width) Full HD video even when viewing both at only Full HD resolution output. I haven’t actually used the [SH] burst mode so can’t comment on just how good a job the camera is doing in re-sampling the sensor readout to the [S] still image sizes above.
      The GH4s 35mm (diagonal) crop factors using the 4K Photo Mode vary from 2.6 for 16:9 (same as UHD-4K video of course) up to 3.1 for the 1:1 aspect ratio captures. The equivalent crop factors for the GX8 will be higher due to the higher pixel density of the sensor used.
      One potential cause for concern regarding the 4K Photo Mode is that the video files produced are more highly compressed than true still images (even JPEGs) would be at the same frame-rate/resolution. Also, the video files produced appear to be of the same 100Mbps IPB codec (Inter-frame compression where only key-frames are fully recorded) as the 4K video mode files rather than an All-I codec (Intra-frame compression where each frame is individually compressed and saved) which might be preferable when the aim is to extract single frames as still images.
      Having said that, the 4K Photo/Video files produced by the GH4 offer an interesting option for capturing high speed bursts for fairly decent still image capture.
      However, users need to be aware that Video, 4K Video, 4K Photo and ‘Silent’ stills modes all use the ‘electronic shutter’ readout from the sensor and, unfortunately, that is a relatively slow ‘rolling-shutter’ readout which can cause image distortion if the subject or camera move quickly during the exposure. The GH4 is noticeably better in this regard (at approx. 1/30th sec rolling shutter) than was the GH3 (approx. 1/10th sec rolling shutter) but, for critical use, any mode which utilises the electronic shutter might best be avoided if fast action or rapid camera movement is involved.
      I’m hoping a future generation ‘G’ series camera might have a ‘global shutter’ (or at least a very fast rolling shutter) for both stills and video use and thus eliminate the problems associated with current electronic rolling shutters.
      At the moment only a few higher-end video/digital-cinema cameras incorporate a global shutter but such things seem to be gradually ‘trickling down’ to more affordable equipment …we live in hope!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 25th, 2016

      Peter, thank you so much for this very detailed response. I was concerned the SH setting was not producing as large of jpegs as you would get from the 4K Photo Mode. You saved me an immense amount of time. I wanted to look in to this but am currently in Japan and had no time to do so. Just got back on to the grid to check the Blog and found your excellent answer. Thanks for the help.

    • Peter LoughranOn Feb. 24th, 2016

      P.S. see pages 129/130 of the GH4 Owner’s Manual “Setting the number of pixels” section which states:

      “The picture size will be fixed to [S] when [Burst Rate] is set to [SH].”

  15. ChrisOn Feb. 14th, 2016

    Hi Daniel. I was curious if you know of anyone using the Elinchrom Quadra system with the GH4? I’d like to rent it, but google doesn’t turn up much except one guy having problems getting it to connect wirelessly. Thanks 🙂

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 14th, 2016

      Chris, unfortunately I don’t know of any way to hook the Elinchromes up to the Lumix wireless system. There is always the manual option but that does not give us the convenience of the wireless. This is one disadvantage to living on the cutting edge and quite frankly that’s what Lumix shooters are doing using the GH4 and other Lumix cameras. It will come but for now we’re relegated to work arounds and more manual options when it comes to third party accessories. The advantages of MFT outweigh the disadvantages for me but we need more people shooting these cameras so the third party developers take notice.

  16. Tobie ReeuwijkOn Feb. 10th, 2016

    Thanks for this in depth review, I really appreciate it. Been shooting with the GH4 for video about two years now and for the most part happy with it, besides the LCD and focus options for videos (the screen is very hard to check focus when you’re shooting)! Solving that with a larger monitor, mindfulness and focus peaking. I also was never was happy with AF modSwitched the AF mode to the back button and that’s been hugely helpful, great tip!!!

    Wonderful images and happy shooting!

  17. DavidOn Feb. 5th, 2016

    Hi Daniel

    I also have lost the eyecup on my GH4. Can you tell me where in Melbourne you can get a replacement?

    Thanks for your excellent appraisal too!



    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 5th, 2016


      Unfortunately, living in the US I have no knowledge of where you can find parts in Melbourne. Sorry.

  18. Hugh SOn Jan. 29th, 2016

    Hi Daniel

    Excellent summary of the beloved GH4. I have owned one since they first came out and am now, like you, a massive fan of the M4/3 system, the amazing range of lenses opens out so many options for both videographers and still shooters, I also have come to prefer it to the full frame as it is a little more forgiving with depth of field. That said, with the correct settings one can still drop backgrounds out with an amazing level of control.
    To date the camera has had little use for stills as most of my work is video, but next week that changes as the wilds of Cambodia are beckoning and I will be probably shooting more stills than video until arriving in Vietnam for Chinese New Year.
    Three lenses, 7-14 Lumix, 12-40 Oly Pro plus the Oly 40-150 Pro with the 1.4 converter which I am looking forward to putting through its paces. That’s 14 – 420mm (35mm eq) in somewhat less than 3kg, only M4/3 can pull that off!! Must also give the 4k photo a try when I can work out how to turn it on. Bit of reading for the plane!
    Having lugged ‘blads on a 2 month European trip, plus Nikons and Canons, ending up with M4/3 one quickly realises that they make travel a dream, one 25 litre backpack packed with all the gear I need and under 8kg so it’s in the overhead on the plane!
    Oops, this is starting to sound like an ad… but I like you have come to realise just what a brilliant camera this is.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 31st, 2016

      Good luck in Cambodia. I’ve been using my GH4 for mostly stills and I think you will find it more than capable.

  19. AnnabellaOn Jan. 26th, 2016

    Cool thanks! And when i say i heard i meant i read it, here:

    Just what this person was told by panasonic reps.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 26th, 2016

      Thanks for the link Annabella. I have to say that I’m very skeptical about any accuracy on this blog post. First of all it was published clear by in April, 2015. Almost a year ago. I know all the Panasonic reps very well and there is not one of them saying ANYTHING about the GH5’s release date. Believe me I’ve asked as well but NONE of them have given any indication that it’s even on the horizon. So… I would take this post with a serious gran of salt. I have no idea who this person is making this prediction but I have my doubts. I could be wrong but from what I’m aware of, this prediction has no validity to it whatsoever. That said, I do hope I’m wrong and we see the GH5 sooner rather than later. Thanks for sharing this info. Always good to hear from our readers.

  20. AnnabellaOn Jan. 26th, 2016

    I just heard that Panasonic is supposedly going to release the new GH5 in september, for Photokina 2016. I have the Lumix G7, and I was going to upgrade to the GH4 and use the G7 as my backup/double angle camera, but now Im thinking might be better off waiting for the GH5. I was just wondering you mentioned you had a few contacts in panasonic, have you heard anything about the GH5? Because if the GH5 is going to be a major upgrade over the GH4, then there would be no point in getting the GH4 now. But if its going to be a small update like what canon and nikon do with their cameras, then i would just get the GH4 now instead of waiting.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 26th, 2016

      Annabella, Not sure where you would have heard the GH5 is coming this fall at Photokina but whoever told you that is purely speculating. Yes, I do have a good relationship with Panasonic and in fact I’m one of their Lumix Luminary Team members. Even so, Panasonic does not tell ANYBODY, outside of the team working on the new products, exactly when they will be released. I highly doubt the person you heard this from has any inside information on the release of the GH5.

      As far as the GH4 is concerned, it’s already a superb camera so I’m not sure exactly how much they can do to dramatically improve on it. There are a few things however which would include in body image stabilization, like the current GX8, a more up to date sensor and like all auto focus cameras, even better AF technology. So yes there are some things that will be upgraded but to bank on the GH5 coming out this fall, with these and possibly other improvements, is something only you can decide. It really depends on how much shooting you will be doing between now and then. AND…. keep in mind, if it would be announced at Photokina, I doubt it would also be released any sooner than within 3-6 months of that announcement. I wish I could be more help but all big companies keep these announcements very quite until they don’t. Good luck with your decision.

  21. AnnabellaOn Jan. 23rd, 2016

    Wow what a great review! Very helpful. One of the things i also like about the gh4 is that it is weather sealed. All the places you travelled to get shots, how have you found it to use the gh4 in bad weather? And how do the lenses hold up in rain or snow?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 23rd, 2016

      Annabella, I’ve found the Lumix cameras do very well in less than perfect weather. That said, I still take precautions when shooting in the rain and snow. I’ve never babied any of my camera gear whether it was my Nikon’s or now my Lumix cameras, but I do use rain covers when it’s really, really wet. I’ve been very impressed with the overall durability of my Lumix equipment. Keep in mind that today all cameras are basically computers and to drag a computer in to inclement weather is not something I would normally do. But that’s exactly what I do with my Lumix cameras and they have never failed.

      Panasonic is often criticized, by uneducated photographers, for being an electronics company that makes toasters, TV’s, hair dryers, microwaves etc. I’ve heard and read about these ill-informed comments from the first days I began to shoot Lumix cameras. But when this subject comes up in my presence, I remind them that all cameras today ARE electronic products and I want a company that knows what they are doing when building high quality electronic equipment. Many people have no idea that Panasoinc builds what is considered one of the worlds most durable laptop computers. It’s called the Panasonic Toughbook and it’s used by the US Military. You can bet the guys who build a computer that can withstand battle ground elements are sharing the same technology with their colleagues in the camera division.

      Thanks for your input and come back regularly to join the conversations. I always love hearing what people are thinking.

  22. Joe SchmidtOn Jan. 15th, 2016

    So is the hot shoe standard? I am wondering if I would be able to use my Nikon or Yongnuo flashes in at least a manual exposrue mode (non TTL) mode and my Yongnuo hot shoe radio triggers.

    Also, do you have experience taking video in the dark? I am looking for a camera to shoot video of local bands in bars which are always dark (ISO 6400 territory).

    Thanks for this excellent article!! I am Nikon DSLR guy looking for something different to enjoy.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 16th, 2016

      Joe, yes, the hotshot on the GH4 is standard to all normal strobes. I use two different Radio triggers, shooting manual flash with my Panasoinc strobes. As far as video goes, I’ve not shot a great deal in really dark situations. I have a cinematographer friend who does not like going beyond ISO 1000 on his GH4’s. That said, for stills I regularly shoot 1600-2000 ISO on the GX8, G7 and my two GH4’s. Hope this help. Thanks for writing in.

  23. Daniel KalasOn Jan. 1st, 2016

    Dear Daniel,
    I am gratefull to you for a very good reading indeed and I would very much appreciate your replies to the following two items:
    1) I wonder if you use Lumix GH4 body + Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 40 – 150 ED f:2.8 PRO lens (and maybe plus Olympus TC 1.4) also in a handheld mode (tripod use is obvious from the picture).
    2) How does this set cope with functionality of High Precision Contrast Automatic Focusing supported by Depth From Defocus (full information transfer from lens attached to the camera body…)?
    Thank you.
    Daniel Kalas, Slovakia

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 1st, 2016

      Daniel, I do shoot the GH4 hand held with the Olympus 40-150mm and the 1.4 teleconverter. I almost never shoot on tripod unless producing video. Not having IS is not nearly the issue most people think, as long as you shoot a shutter speed equal to or greater than the lens combination which is 420mm’s. With the ability to sue higher ISSO’s such as 640 all the way up to 1600 and even 2000, I regularly have plenty of speed for hand holding. The autofocus is also superb. Unfortunately we loose the superior Lumix DFD but GH4 still does an excellent job without it on the Olympus lens. Maybe some day Panasonic will creese DFD for Olympus lenses as well. Thank you for stopping by to add our voice.

  24. TaliaOn Oct. 11th, 2015

    Hello Daniel. Awesome review! I’ve long considered going m43 with an Olympus body due to IBIS and rendering of noise at higher ISOs. But now you got we reconsider! Don’t you ever miss IS when taking pictures handheld? And aren’t the higher ISOs of the GH4 less “filmic” than an Oly? I’ve seen Oly 3200 ISOs, even 6400, and though there is definitely noise, it’s not looking bad so can deal with it. Here is one: Thanks for sharing your work!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 11th, 2015

      Talia, Without a doubt, image stabilization of any kind is better than none at all. However, I shot for over twenty years without IS and that was back in the dqys where the highest ISO film I would shoot would be ISO 200. I built an entire career with cameras long before IS came on the scene. The Olympus 40-150mm is such a great lens and currently we have nothing like it from Lumix so I decided to take a chance on being able to shoot like I did back before IS was invented. I’ve not been disappointed. Sure there are a few times that I could use IS and for those instances I’m now shooting the 40-150mm with the new Lumix GX8 which gives me a very respectable in camera IS. Most importantly I use the old rule of thumb we followed long before Image Stabilization. That Rule of Thumb is: Shoot a shutter speed equal to or greater than the length of the lens you are shooting. In other words, if you are shooting a 300mm lens yo will want a shutter speed of at least 1/300th of a second. Remember if you are shooting a DX or smaller than Full Frame camera yo have to take into account the lens magnification factor of the body as well. So if you were shooting a Lumix body with a 70-200mm zoom, and if you were all the way out to 200mm, you would need to multiply that X2 which makes it 400mm and then shoot at least 1/400th of a second if you are hand holding.

      As far as shooting the GH4 at higher ISOs. I too have had very good luck shooting at 2000-3200 ISO and even 6400 at times. The look of these higher ISO’s is not been a problem when I really need it. Is it as good as my Full Frame Nikons? No, not yet but Lumix is working hard to equal the full frame sensors and I’ve been very pleased with what I get overall at this point. I’ve not shot the Olympus OM-D E-M1 enough to comment on the more “filmic” look you mention. I will say that I have shot the Olympus enough to know that it is a much, much more difficult camera to use than any of the Lumix bodies. Lumix is building the fastest operating camera I have ever used with its touch screen options as well as the placement of the dedicated +/- EV, WB and ISO button on the top deck. Additionally, the Lumix menus are far, far more easy to navigate. I’m confident you would be pleased with the GH4 and we have the new 100-400mm Leica/Lumix zoom coming sometime in the hopefully near future.

  25. Jonathan FewtrellOn Sep. 18th, 2015

    Hi Dan, I stumbled across your article after weeks of weighing up the pro’s and cons of changing over to the micro 3/4 panasonic GH4 from my current Cannon 7d. I am an enthusiast level photographer who is lucky enough to have a Singer/Songwriter wife who was fortunate enough to have great success achieving a No.1 Classic album in the UK. As i take all of her promotional photos, I was wondering if you would recommend the GH4 for this as i read so much relating to the image quality of the Gh4 not being up top scratch with its smaller sensor or high iso stills – might be a problem for concert shots but the 2x crop would be useful for this also. I think your images are fantastic. I am very keen on using off camera flash and see the limitations for this are quite a turn off however I can now think about filming 4k music videos ourselves which could save a huge amount of money. So my question…Budget is limited, What lens combo would you recommend for me thinking mainly about promo shots (portraits) and Music videos. Should i take the plunge or hold on to the 7d for stills and get a gh4 just for video? Thanks in advance and congratulations on such impressive online content!!! Great wildlife shots too! Really impressed! Im so confused- any advice would be helpful….. Many thanks.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 19th, 2015

      Jonathan, Wow, great to hear about your wife’s success. I love hearing about any artist that takes their art to the level of making a living. Congratulations. When you get this note, please let us all know her name so we can post a link to her work here on the blog.

      Regarding your questions about the GH4. First let me say that anybody who tells you the images are “not up to scratch” (British I believe for lacking quality) are seriously mistaken. It is true that the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor can have some limitations but they are very few. I recently did a test where we printed very large prints, 40×60 inches of the same scene shot with my Nikon D800 and my Lumix GH4. You can read all about on the Blog at The Lumix Diaries: Printing Large Photos. The idea that you can’t shoot low light situations is untrue. Yes, a full frame Nikon D4 or Canon EOS 5 could give you higher ISO’s to work with but when compared to the Canon 7D there will be much less difference. I must admit I have not shot the 7D but from the many folks who travel with us–see our NE Explorers Galleries– I get a lot of feedback on how certain cameras perform and though the 7D is quite popular, most do not buy this camera for it’s low light performance. If it’s ultimate low light performance you’re looking for, Full Frame is the only way to go. On the other hand if you are happy with the low light performance of your 7D, I’m confident you would also be happy with the low light performance of the GH4.

      As far as normal light situations are concerned, once again the GH4 is at least equal to the 7D, especially when you take in to consideration the exceptional lenses being produced for the Lumix line. Lenses such as the Leica/Lumix 42.5mm F/1.2, the Lumix/Leica 15mm F/1.7, not to mention the Lumix 12-35mm F/2.8 and the 35-100mm F/2.8. All of these lenses are as sharp as any lens I’ve ever used on my Nikons and the 42.5mm might actually be better. One of the reasons for the extremely high quality of the MFT lenses is their superb sharpness from edge to edge. Having a smaller sensor makes it easier for Panasonic to achieve this kind of quality where it’s much more difficult in a larger sensor camera. Additionally, the MFT line of cameras and lenses were built from the ground up for digital photography where traditional DSLR’s from both Nikon and Canon were adapted to digital capture. I honestly think a camera such as the Lumix GH4 has an advantage when the design process started from scratch. For your theater work the Lumix/Leica 42.5mm is a must. It’s exceptionally sharp and has a very wide aperture of F/1.2. Keep in mind that all the MFT lenses I mention you have to multiply X2. So the 42.5mm is actually an 85mm F/1.2 Which gives you a stunning lens for low light and portrait work.

      Regarding your comment about off camera flash being a turn off. From this comment it sounds like you are unaware of the GH4’s ability to shoot wirelessly with the FL360L or the FL580L strobes? These strobes allow you to work unconnected to the camera when in line of sight just like my Nikon wireless flashes do. The Lumix has even more wireless options than my Nikon. That said, the Lumix strobes don’t see the camera as far as my Nikons do. And, if you are using the new Canon 7D Mark ll, that camera actually has a much superior flash system that is based on a radio signal rather than the Lumix’s line of sight infrared signal. However, you can easily overcome line of sight issues by using wireless triggers, as I do, such as the Velo Remote Triggers These do not give you TTL but for most situations they are a good option.

      For video work, the 7D doesn’t hold a candle to the GH4. You will see huge benefits to working with the GH4’s 4K Video, it’s simple and extremely fast, touch screen features, it’s ability to rack focus with the touch of the LCD screen and if you get really serious, the added sound device called the DMC-YAGH is also an option. The YAGH gives truly professional sound capabilities with 2 XLR Mic connectors and it complies with Full HD (4:2:2 / 10 bit) four parallel output or 4K (4:2:2 / 10bit) output, both with time code. I have a friend who shoots nothing but videos and he sold his entire Red Scarlet system and replaced it with 2-GH4’s and Lumix lenses.

      Finally, if price is a consideration the Lumix GH4 is a no brainer. All professional items such as lenses and bodies in the Lumix line are much cheaper than any of the equivalent lenses, cameras, etc in the Canon line. You get a huge “Bang for your buck” as we say here in the states. For what you’re doing I think the GH4 is a excellent option and I can promise you it’s only going to get better. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any further questions.

      PS- Here is a link to a blog post I did recently that relates to theatre photography. I shot this entire post with the Lumix G7 which is a great camera but a step below the GH4.

  26. Basil DrossosOn Sep. 9th, 2015

    I’m a relative novice in digital photography, but getting better! I purchased my GH4 last December to replace the GH1 that I purchased over 5 years ago. My question has to do with setting up copyright info in the camera. Somehow I was able to insert my name in the GH1 camera for all pictures’ metadata. Can’t remember how I did it! So far, I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that with the GH4, nor have I found anything in the instructions. Are you aware of the way to do it?

    Thanks, Basil

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 9th, 2015

      Checking on this. Will get back to you.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 10th, 2015


      I checked with my contacts at Panasonic and they informed me that Panasonic Lumix cameras have never had this option. Did you possible add this info via software. Software is how I do my Copyright and all Metadata additions to my images. Sorry for this news but my contact did tell me that they have discussed this idea in the past and will revisit this option with those in Tokyo.

    • WolfieOn Apr. 8th, 2016

      A bit late to this thread, but this is a standard feature on Olympus PEN and OM-D cameras – perhaps you saw it on one of them?
      It allows you to put in two names: the photographer and the copyright owner.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 8th, 2016

      Adding copyright info to each image would be a welcome addition to the Lumix line. Thanks for your input.

  27. Robert BOn Aug. 18th, 2015

    Hi Daniel – Great review. I’ve read a lot of reviews regarding the GH4 and it appears they’re mostly about the excellent video qualities of the GH4 instead of the image quality of the individual photographs. Are you pleased with the image quality of the photographs you are getting from the GH4?

    BTW… I did purchase the GH4 and the 12-35mm F/2.8, should arrive tomorrow. I’m hoping to capture some great video and photographs of my grandson’s baseball games.

    Regards, Robert

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 18th, 2015

      Robert, yes I am absolutely thrilled with the image quality of the GH4. It’s very strange how few people talk about this camera’s superb still photo capabilities. Personally, I honestly believe Panasonic gets short shrift due to the fact they are not known for still cameras. Olympus gets all the praise for their stills but the GH4 produces equal or even better quality in many situations when it comes to still images. Additionally, the Lumix cameras are far, far superior in ease of use when shooting both stills and video. Eventually photographers are going to wake up and see that the Lumix cameras are absolutely amazing and only getting better. I think the GH5 is going to finally seal the deal with many of the Nikon and Canon guys understanding the benefits of smaller, lighter, less expensive equipment as the way to go. Above is an image I shot yesterday of a brown bear in Alaska, feeding on a salmon. It was raining, the river was almost completely covered with a thick forest canopy, in other words it was dark and dreary. I shot this image at 2000 ISO which is an ISO I regularly have to shoot at in Alaska. I’ve done absolutely no processing to this image, no sharpening, no noise reduction, absolutely nothing and I’m very pleased with the results of this RAW file right out to the camera. Is the noise in this image as good as my Nikon D4? No, but it’s not far off and it’s only going to get better as time goes on. This is where we’re at. The big traditional DSLR’s are going to be a thing of the past in the not too distant future. And those that say otherwise remind me of the same folks who said digital images will never replace film. The writing is on the wall and it’s spelling out Micro Four Thirds and Panasonic LUMIX.
      Brown bear eating salmon image shot with Lumix GH4 with Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter attached. 2000 ISO

  28. shivOn Aug. 4th, 2015

    thanks Daniel i guess i got my answer…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 4th, 2015

      My pleasure. Let me know what you eventually do.

  29. SHIVOn Aug. 3rd, 2015

    went through your review and was mighty pleased cause my next buy is the GH4…
    i shoot still pics of birds and am ready to take the plunge into film making…
    i currently use the nikon D 300S with the nikon 500 mm f4 vrII…
    I am in no mood (financially) to buy a dedicated camcorder for wildlife filming(in the initial days)…
    filming with the d300S is a difficult proposition…
    i am planning to go for the GH4 with a metabones adapter to use on my 500 f4 for filming whats your take on that???

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Aug. 3rd, 2015

      Shiv, Although the metabones adapter is an interesting idea, it’s biggest drawback is you loose so much automation. Specifically autofocus. I use a Novoflex adapter for my Nikkor 600mm to GH4 and it works fairly well for nests and bird situations where there is not much activity. So using your 500mm with the GH4 via a metabones adapter is not a bad idea but it’s certainly not perfect. This may be a great way to start but if it were me I would be looking seriously at the newly announced Leica/Lumix 100-400mm zoom that will be the full frame equivalent of 200-800mm’s. This lens should be exceptionally sharp and have rocket fast AF. It will also be a fraction of the size and weight of your 500mm F/4.

  30. GeorgeOn May. 28th, 2015

    Thanks for the nice real world review of GH4. I have GH4(and 3) with 12-35,35-100mm f2.8, 25mm f1.4 lens and others. Sometimes, I have to use my Canon 5DIII in low light case since the noise from GH4 in high ISO (800+) are obvious comparing to 5DIII. Looks like 2 stops in difference.
    The 4K video is nice, but it only goes to 30fps while the 1080 mode can do 60+. For actions, 4K is still not that great.
    The ergonomics of GH4 is the best I have used, feel just right in hand.
    If Panasonic can produce a high quality 100-400mm f4 lens, it will complete the system.
    I also thought about Sony A7r, but the lenses for Sony A7r are still going to be almost as large as the ones for Canon 5DIII. For now, I will have to keep Canon 5DIII for better image quality and GH4 for travel and video

    • WillOn Aug. 11th, 2015

      I have a GH4, and now with the fast autofocus achieved with the newly updated metabones speedbooster (the 0.71 version) pairing it with the sigma 18-35 f1.8 gives you at least a 2 stop advantage over anything that can compare to a full frame, it’s great for video though has no stablisation so needs a tripod or shoulder rig with that. Either way, that combo is really breathing new life into the low light range of the GH4, gives you an equivalent 25-50mm f1.2, not great for birding though of course, just thought i’d mention the combo if others might not know.

  31. MichaelOn May. 18th, 2015

    When describing the MFT lenses, why do you multiply the crop factor of the focal length by 2, but not the aperture?

    “On the left is my Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm F/2.8 lens. On the right is the Lumix GH3 with a 12-35mm F/2.8 which is the equivalent to the same lens on the Nikon.”

    I don’t think that is true. The 12-35mm F/2.8 is equivalent to 24-79mm F/5.6. You are using a higher ISO to get the same exposure, resulting in a grainier picture.

    I’m not saying the 12-35mm F/2.8 is a bad lense, but, I do think that your article is misleading, implying the MFT lenses are brighter than they really are.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 19th, 2015

      Thanks for your input Michael. In there real world of taking pictures, where I make my full-time living, the whole issue of splitting hairs when it comes to the this aperture or that focal length is pointless as far as I’m concerned. Technically, you are right, there are some differences but for me they aren’t enough for concern. I’m most interested in traveling with a camera system that is light, compact, shoots professional quality images and doesn’t break the bank. The Lumix GH4 does all of these things incredibly well. Too many photographers waste way too much time splitting hairs. My suggestion is to get out and try it for yourself and see if the end result, a photograph from the camera and lens of choice, meets your needs.

    • lpjcOn May. 22nd, 2015

      Hi Michael
      There are still a multitude of shooters confused about this – try Tyson Robichaud’s website for further explanation.

      Basically an m43 lens f number is still the same indicator of which shutter speed and iso setting you will need for a given situation irrespective of format.

      The difference is in depth of field (greater for the same f number on m43 compared with full frame) when you are comparing lenses of the same field of few on the different formats. Eg f2.8 on 150mm m43 will have about twice the depth of field as f2.8 on 300mm full frame but both will have the same field of view and require the same exposure. This is of course another advantage for the likes of Michaels Cheetah shoot if you want to keep them sharply in focus.

      Lionel Coleman
      Talentless amateur shooter but Physics teacher with engineering degree!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2015


      You are without question completely correct with your details regarding the differences between DOF and FOV when shooting a Full Frame camera compared to a Micro Four Thirds camera. Each category of camera, Full Frame or Micro Four Thirds, has their pros and cons. If extremely shallow Depth of Field (DOF) is important than the Full Frame cameras have an advantage. On ten other hand if portability, smaller, lighter and a less intimidating machine, pointed at your subject is important, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) has the advantage. Other advantages my LUMIX GH4 has over all my Nikon cameras is 4K Video, much smaller, lighter and substantially less expensive lenses, better overall ergonomics with touchscreen technology no other camera company has even come close to equalling and I could go on and on. It really just boils down to what each individual wants in a camera system and after nearly forty years of shooting heavy, bulky, Full Frame cameras, I’m ecstatic with the advantages the smaller Micro Four Thirds, in particular the LUMIX system is giving me.

    • lpjcOn May. 22nd, 2015

      Michael I don’t mean to imply that you do not understand as the video you cite looks to contain good physics. I really posted because I think the debate still risks confusing many readers.
      Most everybody can seem to agree on the “iso performance” of the different formats or how far you can push iso changes on your camera and still get satisfactory results. If one accounts for that then my comments about FOV and DOF are still the simplest way to think about the comparison between lenses.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2015

      All correct as I mentioned in my last comment but one has to think about the Pros and Cons of each system. One final calirification, I believe you addressing your comments to me/Daniel?

    • lpjcOn May. 22nd, 2015

      Oops sorry – comments were for Michael but of course I meant to say Daniel’s (your) excellent cheetah shoot.
      Thanks (Daniel!) for a very entertaining and informative blog and website.I have the Only 40-150 + teleconvverter and GX7 maybe one day l will also have the skill and opportunity to get some images approaching the quality of yours but it will take a lot of practice.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 22nd, 2015

      No problem. Just happy to have you as part of the conversation.

  32. Mark KaOn May. 3rd, 2015

    Daniel thank you for a very practical and insightful review.

    I moved from the superzoom world (1/2.33 sensor) into the Micro 4/3rds world with the Panasonic GX7 and have been very pleased with the huge improvement in quality of photos. I’ve been thinking of getting the GH4 so I’d have a little bit more heft and quick controls in my hand compared to the GX7.

    I do a lot of low-light shooting of relatively slow moving people (Argentine Tango) and I’m concerned about the implication in many reviews of the GH4 and in comparisons of the GH4 versus the GX7 that the GH4 does not do well at high ISOs.

    In your review you said:
    “In normal shooting situations I will shoot my GH4’s at ISO 640 to 1600. I don’t like going beyond 1600 but I have shot numerous images at 2000 ISO.”

    Is your reluctance to shoot higher than 1600 a general preference or in this case is it specific for the GH4?

    I’m hoping you can offer some additional insight into the the GH4 high ISO shooting quality. One review I found explicitly said that the GX7 was better at High ISO. While I’d like to get the GH4 for all it’s other benefits, especially the fast DFD focusing over the GX7, I wouldn’t want to step backwards in the ISO department. I’m shooting with the Panasonic F2.8 12-35 mm (24-70 mm equiv.)

    Comparing the two cameras on the DXO site
    on the measurements tab you can see the GX7 being consistently better and the GH4 topping out at 25600.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 4th, 2015


      I shoot both cameras though I don’t use the GX7 anywhere near as much as the GH4 due to much superior handling of the GH4. As you point out I mention that I’m reluctant to shoot the GH4 above 1600ISO but I would feel the same with the GX1. Keep in mind that I’m not crazy about super high ISO’s on even the best full frame cameras such as the Nikon D4. Nikon’s preferable limit for me is around 3200-6400 ISO. My point in comparing the two is to say that in general, ANY camera at 25,000 ISO would not be acceptable quality through my eyes. I will say that I’ve recently been experimenting with DXO Optics Pro 10 and it does a stellar job with noise removal in higher ISO images. In summary, if you have decided light weight and compact cameras are your preference I don’t think you will be dissapointed in the least with the GH4.

    • Mark KaprielianOn May. 4th, 2015

      Daniel, thank you for your response.

      I’m going to see what Panasonic announces at the end of the month and if there’s a GH5 announced I’ll likely wait for that, else I’ll likely get the GH4.


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 4th, 2015

      I kind of have my doubts the GH5 will come that soon but hey It would be exciting if it does. Either way I don’t think you’ll be dissapointed with the GH4 if you go that route. It’s a very, very nice camera. Thanks for stopping by to add your voice.

  33. JeanOn Apr. 18th, 2015

    Thanks for answering me before….now I have a couple of specific questions…lol
    I’ve been trying to figure out what I like to shoot… I purchased the 14-140 lens when I bought my camera. I like shooting a lot of landscapes and macro for flowers and animals. We live on a lake and I’m doing a lot of practicing here. What I find I seem to be missing is better detail of animals on the lake, birds flying around and boats on the lake. I want more detail and a wider range to get more in. The detail I’m getting from using my lens as far as I can get it zoomed is not enough. So is that the lens or the camera? And based on what I’m currently taking which of the lens you suggested would you say is a good next purchase? Oh I do feel like I need the image stabilization in the lens as I find it hard to always stay steady and a tripod is not always the best from where I’m shooting. I was thinking of the 100-300 lens but is that what I want? Thanks so much….

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 19th, 2015


      The next lens you should consider based on your comments above would be the 100-300mm. Keep in mind that this is a very powerful zoom at the 300mm range. Equivalent to a 600mm on other systems. That being the case you should really consider using this lens on a tripod or monopod. If you do decide to go this route I would seriously consider adding a third party tripod collar to this lens. This allows you to attach the lens and camera combination to the tripod with the connection under the lens as opposed to connecting this setup with the tripod socket, under the camera body. You get much better balance with the tripod attached to a lens tripod collar. The tripod collar I recommend is made by a German company called Roesch. Here’s a link to their web site and here’s their email address This is about $100.00US plus shipping but very much worthwhile. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  34. Theodoros PapageorgiouOn Apr. 16th, 2015

    Daniel, thank you! I’m currently researching for my next camera. I’ve been thinking about the Sony a7 II. Your in-depth review has persuaded me to follow the Micro Four Thirds route. I just realized how small and light these lenses are. This also means a thinner and lighter tripod. This will probably cut in half the weight I’m carrying now with my heavy Canon DSLR body and 4 lenses.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 16th, 2015

      Theodoros, if your desire is to go light and compact, the Lumix is your answer for high quality images in a small. lightweight by truly professional package. The one thing many people don’t realize is that with the full frame, mirrorless systems, like the Sony A7R, you are required to use full sized lenses. That gives you the same weight and bulk as we’ve all had with our Nikon and Canon systems. I’m impressed with the Sony A7r but I have no interest in going back to big heavy lenses. With full frame, even though it is mirrorless, that is the only option at this point. You won’t be disappointed with the Lumix system. I’m a huge fan of what’s its been able to do for me.

  35. Terje BergesenOn Apr. 8th, 2015

    Your statement below is incorrect essentially:

    “Speaking of the SD card, it is very important when shooting 4K footage that you have the proper card. I’ve been using the new Panasonic 32GB SDHC I Class 10 U3. Though I’m no expert on these cards, I do know the Panasonic card is exceptionally fast and it’s the U3 part that really makes the difference”

    4K video requires no more a fast card than does HD video on the same camera. Quite the opposite in fact, the fastest cards are needed for one 1080p video mode, not 4K video. The factor that entirely determines how fast your card must be is the datarate at which the camera stores video. 4K video on the GH4 is stored at 100Mb/s. As is most of the HD video. 100Mb/s video equals to 12.5 MB/s (megaBYTES per second). Almost all higher end SD cards can do that easily.

    Now, the GH4 has an HD all-intra mode that shoots at 200Mb/s, that’s twice the amount of data compared to 4K video. To store a 200Mb/s video stream the card needs to be able to write 25MB/s (megaBYTES per second). Most cards can do that easily too.

    So, the notion that it is 4K that requires the fastest cards on the GH4 is wrong. It’s all-intra HD. Remember 100Mb/s is 100Mb/s whether that data stream contains 1080P or 4K footage. 60 miles per hour is 60 miles per hour whether your car has one or four passengers.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 8th, 2015

      Terje, Good information. I think. If so you’re obviously smarter than I am. However, I stick with my my statement that the GH4 NEEDS the Panasonic SDHC 1 Class 10 U3. Why, because the folks at Panasonic recommend this class of card specifically for speed reasons. You obviously know a lot more than I do regarding what a card needs for writing video files, or at least you sound like you do, but I trust the folks I work with at Panasonic. So I’ll stick with their recommendation. Thanks for your input.

  36. Jean StarlingOn Apr. 8th, 2015

    I loved your review. As a beginning photographer I’m wondering about pixel count. I purchased the GH4 for the 4k video and love it. But I find myself getting more and more into photography and I want to be able to print my photographs to sell. Based on what I’m learning I thought I needed full frame for the pixel count in order to get the best and more detailed photographs. Maybe I just need to add other lens. What is your opinion? Others have said if my main thing is photography to get a full frame camera. Thanks for your info…

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 8th, 2015

      Jean, the GH4 is a superb stills camera as well. Do you need a full frame for making high quality prints? I don’t think so. I have both full frame cameras and the GH4’s. With the proper lenses such as the professional grade 12-35mm F/2.8, the 35-100mm F/2.8, the 15mm F/1.7, the 42.5mm F/1.2, the Olympus 40-150mm F/2.8, the 45mm F/2.8 macro and some other Olympus lenses you can easily do prints up to 16×20 and I often produce prints as large qs 24×36. Would a Nikon D800 make even better 24x36mm prints? In many situations it would but it really depends on how many prints of that size you plan to produce. Additionally, you did’t mention what subject matter you like to shoot and plan to produce prints of. If it’s landscapes that you can drive to or take short hikes to, then maybe full frame would be preferable. If you have to hike or if you are shooting travel destinations, without a doubt the GH4 is my favorite camera for these types of situations. I’ve shot full frame for thirty years and I still shoot some full frame cameras but the days of needing the absolute best quality possible are gone. In todays world it’s about mobility, ease of use, and having fun with your photography. I migrated away from the full frame cameras due to the superior handling, ergonomics, electronics and overall superior technology of the Panasonic Lumix cameras. I’m a huge fan if you can’t tell and I earn my full time living in the photography business. Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further questions.

  37. John HedgecoeOn Apr. 5th, 2015

    As with you, I too prefer to move the AF ON actuation off the shutter release button to that back button. The problem is that as soon as you start shooting video, Panasonic DISABLES that rear button, leaving you no alternative but to use the shutter release half press. Why Panasonic?

    Also, I like to control AF as much as possible, so I use the spot AF mode. However once video is engaged, spot AF is disabled and replaced with a much larger AF rectangle. Why, Panasonic?

    Both of these issues should be easily fixable with a firmware upgrade. Panasonic, are you listening?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Apr. 5th, 2015

      John, I regularly use the back button AF with video. How do you shoot your video? Do you use the Video ca,mara setting on the Mode dial or do you just leave the camera in whatever mode you are shooting, such as MPAS, and start video via the little red button on the back of the camera. I typically shoot video via the Mode Dial option where I set manual exposure and I’m wondering if I get more custom options with AF as well. This may be the reason I’m getting AF and you’re not unless of coarse you are doing it the same way I am. Please let me know how you initiate video shooting and if we;’re doing ti the same I’m going to have to recheck things and make sure I’m set as I think I am. Looking forward to more info.

  38. Peter BerryOn Mar. 27th, 2015

    Thanks for an excellent review, Daniel!

    About the 4K Photo mode, though, any shutter speed (to 1/8000 sec) is available in standard 4K and other video modes – I can see no difference when in 16:9 format. BUT, the magic of 4K Photo to me is the ability to select any or the other three image aspect ratios when shooting, with all having the same 8.3MP frame count by increasing frame height while decreasing width.

    16:9 is to me generally a nature-unfriendly format – particularly when shooting with long lenses such as the 100-300 or my 500mm/6.0 triplet achromat, so when I’m shooting primarily for frame captures I’ll use 4:3 or 3:2, and have each choice set up in a C3-1, -2, and -3, as setting them through the menu is a bit fiddly.


  39. Tom GrossOn Mar. 27th, 2015

    I had the MFT advantage drilled into me yesterday. I was shooting with my Canon 70D and 500mm lens on a tripod. Had to carry the rig about 40 yards. After a while, I carried it back to my car and switched to the new Olympus OMD EM5II (sorry, not Pany), picked up the rig and said, “whoa, where did all the weight go?” It was like a had no camera and lens attached. Love MFT.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 28th, 2015


      I’m currently in Costa Rica and shooting exclusively this trip with my GH4 and the 45mm macro lens using the FL360 in wireless mode, camera and strobe hand held. The ability to shoot without having to get on the ground to look through the viewfinder, instead using the GH4s back LCD is an absolute dream. I have a good friend that also brought his GH4 and Nikon wireless macro setup with Nikkor 105mm. One night of neck and back breaking bends to subject level and seeing me work so effortlessly with the MFT system he was back the next evening with his GH4 and wireless flash. Macro work is a dream with the Lumix GH4 and wireless strobe.

  40. Ian COn Mar. 25th, 2015

    Hi Dan:
    Great review. I have been running the GH4 since May last year I think it is a great (little) camera.
    I had most of your menu setups the same as yours but I checked thru them one by one just to be on the safe side. My main change is to go with the 4:3 max sensor size – not real reason – just using the whole smaller sensor versus my 5D Mk II – which I have not used since purchasing the GH4!
    I too have lost one eye piece which always seemed loose before I actually lost it. I ordered two more from Panasonic – I don’t know whether they have changed the design slightly but the new one does seem to be much tighter on the camera and possibly less prone to coming off.
    Guess the GH5 must be coming out soon?
    See you soon in the Palouse area and then the Jaguars – yeh!
    Cheers, Ian

  41. Ivan GabaldonOn Mar. 25th, 2015

    Thanks and applause for what truly is an excellent review. One question: you say the GH4 is closing the gap on Nikon’s high end D4, but have you any thoughts on how it compares with say a Nikon D7100 or D7200, or maybe even the older Nikon D90? Thanks in advance!

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2015


      Haven’t tried the 7200 but from what I’ve head its AF is comparable to the D4. Regarding time 7100 it’s very similar and a bit better at higher ISO’s. The D90 is no challenge to the GH4. Hope this helps.

    • Ivan GabaldonOn Mar. 26th, 2015

      Thank you very much Daniel for your prompt reply to my question, it is indeed very helpful. Cheers and happy shooting!

  42. GeorgeOn Mar. 25th, 2015

    Awesome review. I’m in the market for a new camera for wildlife travel photography….I also do aerial photography…and this little camera looks like a winner for being able to do it all. btw we are looking fwd to meeting you on the bear trip this fall.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 25th, 2015

      Thanks George, looking forward to meeting you as well.

  43. David SalahiOn Mar. 24th, 2015

    Daniel, thanks for this excellent, in-depth look at the GH4. I recently bought one and have been delighted with my purchase. I have a question about one of your settings: Aspect Ratio= 3:2. I’m unclear on what the sensor’s native aspect ratio is. Panasonic says the image sensor size is: “17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)” but it’s not clear to me what that means. Is that the full physical sensor size? Or just the sensor area that’s used for the 4:3 setting? This matters because if you want to get the highest possible resolution you want to shoot at the sensor’s physical aspect ratio, right? So, is 3:2 the physical sensor ratio? Is that why you use this setting?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 24th, 2015

      David, Here is how I understand it. The Lumix GH4 sensor has a physical dimension of 4:3 in size. I shoot at 3:2 because it matches the same dimensions of my Nikon sensors. When I switch to 3:2 I’m actually cropping a portion of the sensor. I agree with your comment that to get the full resolution of the sensor you need to shoot it at the largest physical size the sensor is, which in this case is 4:3. However, I’ve been happy with the quality I get even when I crop in to the sensor ever so slightly. That’s just me and every photographer will have to make their own choice but you are on the right track. Hope this helps. Glad you liked the review.

Add your voice to this conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In an effort to combat spam, your comment may be held for a brief moderation period.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.