Panasonic GH4 96fps Test. How Good Is It?

April 29, 201410 Comments

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I decided to get out of my edit bay this afternoon and shoot a little test footage from the GH4 in 96fps. I like high speed shooting and I don’t get a lot of chances to since my C100 only does 60fps at 720p Yuck!!! Also check out these two new posts. My Panasonic GH4 Has Arrived. My First Impressions. and Which Lenses Should I Buy For My GH4 or GH3? 

It was a beautiful windy day and I was hoping the kite guy at the Embarcadero would be out. It’s Tuesday so I didn’t think he would be. I’m in luck! I grabbed the GH4 and a stills tripod with three of my favorite lenses. Lumix 7-14, 12-35 and the 35-100. Great set of glass. Why use a stills tripod? Because I had shoulder surgery and I’m still on the mend. I cant carry anything heavy and shooting isn’t easy but the GH4 is so small and light I found it easy to work with. Keeping the setup small made it possible for me to shoot this test.

I set the camera to 1080p at 96fps. 100Mbps. Thats all I can get. The minimum shutter setting is 100. I pushed it to 200 and 400. I had my variable ND filter on but decided to take it off because at that speed I didn’t really need it.

I’m a little disappointed that the image is a little soft. Not a deal breaker, but also not that great. I didn’t do any post grading at all so what you see is what I shot. I think I can add a little sharpening to it and that might help. If I get some time I will do a grade and upload another version. I dont know what causes the softness and how the other frame rates look other than 96fps. Dialing it down a little might help. Lots of testing to do. On the GH3 60fps looked great! Hopefully we can get a little more than that on the GH4.

I used CINELIKE D profile and left all the other settings at default. Good starting point. I’m reading that taking the sharpening level all the way down helps but I decided to not try this yet.

More coming but I have to get to an event tonight. It’s Emmy session! Wish me luck for a nomination. Wow you did a great job wishing me luck because I received four Emmy nominations! Cool. Okay back to this little GH4 thing. Below is a graded and sharpend version. Lets break it down.

That 8 bit codec can be a problem. I could see banding in the original footage mainly in the blues. That channel seems to get it more than any other. The sky was falling! Okay it really isn’t that bad.

Ungraded Image. Pretty flat and soft

Ungraded Image. Pretty flat and soft

Here is the guy shooting the kites. Hey just like me! No vertical video dude! As you can see it’s pretty flat and the lighting sucks at least for this shoot. It’s high noon. Worst time of day to shoot.

Phtog-Guy

I decided to bring the sky down a little to help the Coronado bridge pop. The yellow rectangle is a secondary mask in Colorista II. This lets me change only that portion of the image. Very powerful and easy. I like that combo.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.19.41 AM

Notice how nice and green the grass is now? In the image above you can see the Master HSL wheels. I took the yellow channel and pushed it toward the green changing the color of the grass. Much better. It also warms that shot up with better saturation. I like the blue and green balance. Pulling away from the outer wheel saturates the color. I also did this with the light blue and dark blue to saturate them a little more. A slight S-curve was also added.

The-Kit-Guy-with-sun-star

I like this shot. I was kind of flying blind when I was shooing it. I had the LCD open and peaking on. No way to knell down and shoot this plus my bum shoulder wouldn’t allow it. Shooting at a high frame rate made this pan up nice and smooth. I just tried to keep him in frame.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.39.09 AM

I decided to add a exposure ramp to bring the kite guy in better after the sun goes out of frame. Super easy. I moved to primary and used two keyframes to bring the exposure up to 1.5. Looks natural in the edit and brightens him up a little.

After I finished grading it I noticed more noise so I dropped Denoiser II on a few clips and it helped clean them up. The image needed a little sharpening so in Premiere Pro CC I added some around 20 to 30 max level.  I did try unsharp mask but it just didn’t look as good. Sharpening can ruin an image as fast as save it so be gentle.

Not bad but of course I wish it was sharper and a higher resolution during aquasition. The blue sky does show some banding even before I started to grade it so I knew I wouldn’t be able to push it to hard. Still not a deal breaker and I think I can get some use out of 96fps. I hope you found this helpful.

This video is from my original GH3 review. I did several test shots at 60fps and I think the GH3 did very well. Nice fluid and sharp image. I still need to test 60fps on the GH4. I’m hoping it’s at least as good.

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About the Author ()

I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

Comments (10)

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  1. chris says:

    I am seriously considering buying two of these and selling my c100. I am very curious about how good the 4k is with an external recorder.

  2. Sherwin says:

    Hi Erik,
    Thanks for the insight on the GH4. I’ve got mine on preorder, too. You mentioned in your post that you can get 60fps in 720p from your C100. Did you mean your C300 or did you mean the C100? I know you can shoot 60i in the C100 and futz it to be 60p but I didn’t know if you had a special firmware or something.
    Thanks for the information.

  3. Stephen says:

    Beautiful work and thank you for posting this along with the explanation of the changes you made. It is much appreciated.

    I was always curious as to what is actually happening inside the camera when shooting video with a DSLR when you change the speed settings on the dial in addition to the speed settings on the menu (e.g. 60 fps, 30 fps etc.) and how are they different from one another.

    I have not seen a technical explanation of this when the speed is changed. Can anyone point me in the right direction on what is actually going on in there?

    Thanks so much,

    Stephen

    • Erik Naso says:

      I’m no engineer but the camera is basically taking 96 frames per second and when you stop shooting it processes them to 24fps if thats what you choose as your frame rate. It takes a lot of process power to achieve this so the cameras processor has to be really fast and very good too in order to get a high quality image.

    • Sherwin says:

      In addition to the extra processing power, another reason why the image looks less “good” is because of the bitrate. A simple way of explaining it is this, so when shooting 24fps at 200 mbit/s you are giving the codec 200mbits/s to use to encode your image. However, when you’re shooting 96fps, you aren’t increasing the bitrate for the movie file, so you’re now using shooting 4 times more frames but at the same amount of data rate (200 mbit/s for example). So there’s less data to encode detail, high motion action, etc. That’s why the image looks mushy, less detailed when shooting at a higher framerate, also.

      I’m not sure the maximum bitrate when shooting with 96fps, but if it’s 100 mbit/s then you’re allowed even less room to encode even more frames than when shooting 1080p60 @ 200 mbit/s

      • stephen says:

        Now the 200 mbit/sec limit in the codec makes sense to me. However, when you change the shutter speed in the camera setting what the heck is happening there? There was a rule of thumb (how true I don’t know since I just started playing with the video portion of my 5MII) is to set it to twice what your frame rate is. In addition, in a physical sense, is the sensor simply turning on and off as you change the frame rate? Obviously it is not the shutter that is opening and closing so it must be something electronically. Perhaps an email to Canon to ask them to explain all this is in order and find out optimum settings for a particular camera is prudent.

        On a side not the folks over at Magic Lantern have come up wit software to program your CF card to allow increasing your frame rates on the 5DMII from the current limit of 30 FPS amongst other improvements. I don’t know how this works either but there are obvious limits like what you mentioned above.

        Stephen

  4. Drew says:

    Thanks Erik for this!

    Super n00b question, but how do you get to 1080p96 mode, and also 4k DCI mode?
    I got my GH4 on launch day, and I’m a nerd, but I haven’t figured out how to change the settings to shoot at 4kp24 or 1080p96!

    (this is my first Panasonic — one of the reasons I went with Canon over the GH2 a few years ago was also related to the way their menus work)

    Thanks again and sorry for such a simple question. I googled it a few times but could never find an answer.

    Drew

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