Saturday, January 11, 2014

Panasonic GH4 4K Has Me VERY Excited

Micro 4/3 companies have a tendency to do this to me. Panasonic's GH3 caused a lot of excitement, but that was tempered when it finally released as a whelming product, and that was further tempered by the release of Blackmagic's Cinema Camera and the ever-evolving nature of Magic Lantern on Canon cameras. Long story short, the GH3 ended up dead in the water. It wasn't bad, but competition combined with Panasonic's push to lock out hackers really rather doomed the camera.

One of the things about the GH3 that annoyed me was that it was filled with restrictions. Most of these restrictions were explained as technically required because of a hybrid design, and anyone who looked much into it could tell that this was nonsense. The restrictions on the GH3's abilities were put there to protect the professional hardware that Panasonic was trying to sell, like the ill-fated AF100.

This was likely rooted in the arrogance that Panasonic had developed after the truly amazing success of the GH2 in the pro and semi-pro market. Honestly, every single videographer that I know owns a GH2. No, it never sold twenty million units, but it did sell millions, and to a very special demographic. That is a significant achievement.

Hopefully, Panasonic's pain has slapped a bit of sense into their collective head. The GH4 4K must both be cheaper than and better than the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. The latter point is subjective. Panasonic could easily be better than the BCC in many ways.

It was the former point that was in question, and it appears that Panasonic has that covered.

Rumors have the price of the GH4 4K at less than $2,000. If true, that will make the GH4 a killer product. I don't know if the sensor will be global shutter, but that could be one way for Panasonic to become super-relevant very quickly. The Blackmagic 4K currently has a global shutter, but its sensor is smaller than 4/3 and the camera costs $4,000, so even if Panasonic doesn't manage a global shutter, its real competition is the $2,000 2.5K original Blackmagic Camera, and if Panny undercuts them by a couple hundred bucks, the GH4 suddenly becomes a required piece of kit. My GH2 may finally be replaced.

That is of course assuming that this is a hybrid camera. I've heard that it could be fully video-oriented with only a smattering of photographic tools. Even if that is true, I wouldn't much mind. I've already split my photographic and video tools into two sets, as have most other pro-thusiasts.

I should point out that I have a great deal of affection for Panasonic still. The GF1 was fantastic and was the first camera that I used that managed to have excellent video just sorta' thrown in. I want Panasonic to succeed. I will not hold my tongue, though, when they fail. They shouldn't fail. Failure is a product of greed and stupidity, because they obviously have the engineers.

I have high hopes for the GH4 4K. Please don't let me down, Panasonic.

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