Panasonic Updates Firmware for Lumix GH4

Posted Jul. 1st, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

Panasonic updates firmware for Lumix GH4 which is to improve video performance. It’s a big file to download, and being in Alaska I may not be able to get it due to my Internet connection. Last night was my first shoot on a nest site of snowy owls and most of what I shot was video using new Lumix GH4 in 4K resolution. It looks absolutely incredible. The only downside to my GH4 is the lack of super telephotos so I came up with a plan. [vimeo][/vimeo] I have all of my Nikon gear with me which includes the legendary, world-class super telephoto, the Nikkor 600mm F/4. To get the reach I need for the snowy owl family I attached my Lumix GH4 to the Nikkor 600mm via a Novoflex Nikon to Micro Four Thirds adapter. Having the ability to attach my Nikkor lenses to my GH4 is remarkable. The one downside is lack of VR and auto focus capabilities. But for a nest site it still works quite well since there is very little action and it’s relatively easy to focus with the GH4’s superb new EVF. Using the GH4 without a dedicated Lumix lens was a challenge, but I found three things on the GH4 that eliminated most of the downside.

  1. Focus Peaking: This is an electronic tool that shows in the EVF which parts of the image are in sharp focus by way of a blue edge around all the in-focus part of the picture. It’s kind of hard to explain and I was unaware of how to really use it until I began trying it. It’s a terrific tool for when you have to manually focus your cameras.
  2. Zebra Lines: I thought histograms were a phenomenal tool. Zebra lines take it much further. All areas of the frame that are overexposed have little black lines running through it, similar to what many call the “Blinkies” in our still cameras. With the Novoflex adapter you just dial down the aperture ring until the Zebra Lines disappear.
  3. Manual Focus Magnification: With no auto focus to rely on since the Nikkor and Lumix are not meant to work together, I used the Lumix focus magnification tool which  is the Fn3 button on the back of the camera. When the camera is set in Manual Focus mode or has a lens that it does not electronically connect with, the Fn3 button gives you three options to change your EVF view. One of those changes magnifies the area within the EVF so you can easily see the focus as you manually turn the focus ring of the lens. This along with Focus Peaking turned on dramatically helps achieve proper focus.

It was a fantastic first evening in the field with the snowy owls and my new camera gear. The ability to add 4K video to my ongoing Arctic Documentary Project is a tremendous asset and one that most certainly adds tremendous value to our end goal of educating the public.

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There are 2 comments on this post…
  1. Tom GrossOn Jul. 4th, 2014

    This sounds great. I had the same idea with my Canon f4.5 500mm, but could not get it to manually focus! Canon was no help. a 400 f5.6 And 100-400mm both work.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jul. 4th, 2014

      Tom, How old is your Canon 500mm F/4.5? I know when Canon first went to the EOS lenses, all focus was electronic. In other words if you didn’t have it connected to the contacts on the body, it wouldn’t focus. The newer EOS telephotos are all manual and they came on the scene probably ten years ago. You may have an older 500mm?

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