Update: July 30th, 2011
Complete article with full instructions for the GH2 42Mbps Firmware Patch.
There has been a great deal of coverage on the Panasonic GH2, is it any good for stills, and how does it compare to the Canon 5Db MK2.
Personally, I bought the Panasonic G2 and then hacked the firmware to the extreme. We got 60 mbps in MJPEG, then we tried 60 mbps in AVCHD…..processed the video in the best converter available by a cool small company in LA, called Rarevision.com. I will provide my hack details shortly for the G2.
After careful analysis and real photography job requirements, I decided that the G2 is just not as good as the Panasonic GH2. The Panasonic GH2 is light years ahead because it uses a brand new sensor that is out of this world. The raw images from the GH2 smoke my Nikon DX2 and come very close to our Canon 5D MK2. Is the Canon better….yes…but not by much.
Is the Panasonic GH2 better than Nikon’s best….I don’t know. But what I can say for certain, Panasonic has done something really good with the GH2 that will make all the testers take a second look at this camera….including me. We are confused by how a 4/3 sensor can look this good. How can a camera, that is a point and shoot look this good????
My video tests at 1280x720p at 60 fps are just amazing. Yes it has more contrast than the Canon…..but the GH2 is very close. Stills in Adobe Raw, no support for Capture One yet….bastards, put down the coffee as this is the real test. In Adobe Camera Raw, the images look amazing as well.
All in all, I am very impressed with the Panasonic GH2. Tim and I just got done shooting a video and stills with both cameras. We got the Canon dialed in, took about 2 years, but the GH2 we got dialed in in 2 days. We shot the stills on the Canon as I was too stressed to begin screwing around on a new camera as it was.
Now the big question, how is the GH2…..you will see in the next post. The GH2 is a 4/3′s camera that shoots like the big boy cameras. Read our first commercial shoot review below.
UPDATE: January 22
After three long days in the video editing room, I am pleased to announce that the Panasonic GH2 does indeed shoot great video and so does the Canon 5DMK2….but we knew that already. Here is how they differ at our commercial shoot, make your own conclusions.
For low light I prefer the Canon but this is a very close call. The Canon may have a bit more dynamic range, but I seem to be able to pull all that same range into the Panasonic when I process for ProRes 422HQ or ProRes 4444. Yes we know that the cameras do not shoot beyond 4-2-0 color space, but at least we can edit in a 24 bit space and that seems to make a big difference in Final Cut Studio 3. If you are on a PC….I have know idea what may happen…..we use the Mac.
The low light footage in the Panasonic needs contrast and saturation reduction to match the Canon…easily done in FCS3. We also used our nylon and silk panels system to light everything to control contrast on-the-fly. That makes a big difference. We light digital stills and video the same way….why complicate your life, do it right the first time and you can shoot stills and video together.
Now, for the really interesting part. We shot at 720p @ 60fps on the Panasonic and 1080p @30fps on the Canon. After we rendered the footage, the Panasonic was smooth as silk. The Canon was ….well…. half as smooth. This was to be expected, but after seeing 60fps, it is difficult to go back to 30fps. Read on…..
The second surprise was the rolling shutter effect (jello effect) we experienced on the Canon. We had none of this nonsense on the much newer hybrid Panasonic sensor. The Panasonic footage was super clean and highlights looked perfect. The Panasonic experienced ZERO rolling shutter effect during any of our shoots, regardless of shutter speed.
As far as 24p, I really don’t care for shooting in that format, it may be all the rage on the amateur video forums, but in real life commercial situations, we can do that much better using real film cameras like the Panavisions, Red’s, or Arri’s, or just doing that in post.
I like to shoot video in the best raw format I can, later, I can tweak it in post, but that is just me, and take that with a grain of salt, or two, lol. Light the sucker the first time, shoot at the right resolution and speed and final size, convert to a great 422 ProRes or 4444 colorspace, edit and output to a smaller space for Vimeo or Youtube.
Conclusions after this shoot, The Panasonic GH2 is every bit as good as the Canon 5dMK2. Yesterday I ordered the Nikon lens to Panasonic 4/3 adapter because I want to use my Nikon glass and gain a few stops over the already great Panasonic/Leica glass available.
Cost was $57 plus shipping for a good adapter. The Fotodiox line is well built but it does not focus at infinity….which they promised and did not deliver as stated in their ad…..and I returned the adapter right after Christmas….it was damn sharp footage though!
Now I ordered the brand by Adorama and it should be very good as it also has flare baffles that none of the others on eBay or Fotodiox or others on eBay offered.
One always gets what one pays for ……lol. I use Google and research every product to death before pulling out the wallet, as should you. In 5 years I have not made a single bad purchase yet….
Thanks Google, Ken Rockwell, Imaging Resource, Luminance Landscape, and of course, Digital Llyod….my favorite Mac and Lens review site on the web, period. These are the best gear review sites in the business and on the web. Please visit these sites and support them as you may. They do all this for almost free and are the best in the business and web…they shoot for a living as do I.