It’s may seem odd that a big reason I ordered a Panasonic’s new GH4 unseen that it is not so different to my present GH3!
It’s easily explained in my case. I made no secret in my review of the GH3 that it was among best designed and most comfortable cameras I’d ever used, arguably the best. That’s high praise from me because I rate ease and pleasure of use of a camera just as highly as performance and in a long career I have always had access to the best equipment available.
So when I read that Panasonic were bringing out a new GH, it was a relief to see that they’d refrained from change for changes sake. And, lo and behold, when I picked up the GH4 in Jessup’s in London’s Oxford Street, it felt just the same as the GH3 I’d taken with me. In fact it is the same apart from a larger eyecup and a locking mode dial – and the GH4 logo, of course. It will even take exactly the same battery grip.
Beneath the skin, there are many changes and almost everything has been upgraded. The new EVF is sharper and cleaner looking, the monitor is better, the drive mode is faster, the sensor is better, there is focus peaking, it uses the better Image App for remote control rather than the GH3s Lumix Link, so now the GH has the same remote control capabilities as the GX7 and GM1, namely live and full control of video.
Panasonic’s representative (whose name I should have but didn’t note) showing off the camera was very enthusiastic about it both on the video and the stills side and he knew the camera inside out. Which was just as well since all three of us in the shop looking at the camera at the time were professionals, two video and me for stills, and we were asking questions that would have had anyone with less than encyclopedic knowledge of the thing floundering.
We all three had expected the camera to come in closer to the £2,000 mark, I thought probably £1,800 so the actual price of just under £1,300 was a welcome surprise. The video man thought that for a camera with 8k capability, it was a bargain. I’ll take his word for it, since the extent of my video knowledge is my YouTube channel. What I’m glad about is that the 8k video hasn’t pushed the price up to make the GH4 too expensive for a stills photographer.
One of the video people had a Canon full frame DSLR with a standard f2.8~f4 lens and it was enlightening for me. I had forgotten the sheer bulk of those things. There’s me thinking of this as a big camera and for him it feels like a compact! I did think it was interesting that there was so much interest from professionals in the camera, though. The professional market will never be big enough to make a camera’s fortune but it does act as a powerful marketing tool for a maker’s other cameras. If it’s good enough for the pros it’s good enough for me is the mantra of many an amateur. In reality, I have met amateurs who give their cameras a much harder time than most pros. Off topic but I do hate the pejorative way that ‘amateur’ can be used in English. I always use it in the sense of someone who takes pictures for the love of it. Competance and talent are not only invested in those who do it for a living.
The decision to order a GH4 wasn’t a foregone conclusion for me at all. There is nothing about my GH3 that I feel needs to be better or holds me back. The IQ was plenty good enough for my purposes, I don’t particularly need faster sequence shooting, I had no problems with the viewfinder. What made it a slam dunk was that the body remained the same while almost everything else was improved, the electronic shutter readout and EVF refresh rate sped up, that kind of thing. Even so, if the price had been £2,000 or even £1,800 I’d have stuck with my GH3.
As it is, gimme, gimme, gimme!