EU launch of GH1 and new GH1 short, Joshua TreeD

panasonic_lumix_gh1_digital_camera

Today is the launch of the GH1 to the photographic press in Europe. I will be doing a 20 minute talk about shooting with it and then showing my two films to them. The commissioned piece on Joshua Tree and Kauai Sunset, the slow motion piece I knocked off in an hour with the stock lens and gorillapod. 

Pricing will be announced and so will availability. I am writing this post before the event. So I will update it when we have that info. But do go to twitter.com/philipbloom to follow me and my twittering during the presentation (obviously not during MY presentation) I will also be going out with the press to Windsor as they try it our first hand. 

UPDATE UK PRICING: £1299 with kit lens. lens itself is £800. No word on body only. Available 2nd week of June.

RELEASE DATE IN HONG KONG IS MAY 26th

You can see the new Joshua Tree piece by clicking the below image. It is totally ungraded and shot in 1080p 25p.

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Please read my earlier blog about the making of this as I used not only the stock lens but also some PL mount Zeiss Ultra Primes. They are the more shallow DOF shots. They were T1.9. You don’t need to use such expensive glass (each prime costs about $10,000), this was an experiment for me and to test out the new PL adaptor from Illya Friedman of HotRodCameras.com, there is a lot of interest from Hollywood for this camera and that mount for easy extra angle work on stunts and the like as they have loads of PL lenses kicking around on set but not extra cameras, the PL projected image is only a bit bigger than the 4/3 so it’s a good fit. Thanks Illya for coming out on the shoot and buying me my huge supply of Vitamin Water!

There are faster lenses coming out from Panasonic soon, primes, but in the meantime I have bought a Sigma 30mm f1.4 for 4/3 mount, although you do need a micro 4/3 to 3/4 adaptor from Panasonic . I am hoping this combo will work, as I don’t have the camera at the moment or the adaptor I can’t check so hold off for the time being!

sigma30mm588085

I am a big fan of this camera. The size of it and the images, both and still and video are terrific. It’s a shame the 1080p 25p/24p codec is so weak at 17 mpbs, it is quite susceptible to artifacts as I found . It’s usable as you can see in Joshua Tree but the 720p 50p mode is way more robust, especially for grading. Also, you can get slow motion out of it or easily convert it to 25p by sticking it onto a 25p sequence in Final Cut Pro. 

Yes the stock lens is slow, as are most stock lenses but this is optimised for video with a totally silent and accurate auto focus feature which also feature facial recognition and tracking! Great for fast moving stuff. It also has a nice big range of 35mm equivalent around 28mm to 240mm. Putting on faster glass improves that film look enormously as you can shoot at wide apertures for a terrific shallow DOF. 

Low light is good, but not a patch on the Canon 5d Mk2 of course but then again that is much more money and bigger. As you know I recently bought one of those and love it to bits. The GH1 does suffer the rolling shutter issues which plague the other DSLRs, but the image stabilization does a good job of minimizing those. 

The killer thing with this camera is all the manual controls, something the 5dmk2 and d90 badly need. Manual iris, manual shutter, proper ISO selection. Iris and shutter can be changed during shot too and of course with the kit lens auto focus works whilst shooting!

You can also put on 35mm glass with various adaptors but you do get a magnification factor of x2 for full frame 35mm lenses…and of course you have no auto functions with it. 

At the end of the day this is a a killer consumer camera with some features which eclipse pro cameras, of course the pro cameras will catch up eventually, they just haven’t yet. Just be wary of the full HD mode. I have shot a lot with it but will probably shoot more in 720 mode as I love my grading. 720 still looks awesome. Am not saying don’t shoot 1080p, just if you intend to do any colour work with it, much safer going 720p.

I had to give the loan unit back and am looking forward to it’s release so I can do so more shooting with it. It’s going to be a camera that I will always keep on me. 

Now I spoke to the main man at Panasonic Lumix division about what I want to see in the camera. I said 24mbps. He said all Panasonic camcorders record at 17mbps due to something about dvd backup for consumers? I said then keep 17mbps and have an HQ mode for pro use of 24mpbs. He said OK and will look into it. Also asked for live HDMI out. We can hope but I doubt we will see it in the GH1, maybe the GH2…

I did film my presentation very badly using my Vixia hfs10, so please forgive the atrocious sound and watch my presentation.

Lumix GH1 Euro Launch Philip Bloom from Some Like It Shot on Vimeo.

 

I will be posting a making of video shot by Jake Carpenter as soon as I cut it. Hopefully tonight!

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21 comments

  1. Thanks Philip.

    I like you job.

    I love this camera, I’ve only seen shots for internet …
    The only thing I do not like is the low bitrate. it would be possible with a new firmware could upload this bitrate.
    Panasonic interest in doing so?

    thanks Philip

    PS: sorry for my english…

  2. awesome as usual PB! do you or have you mentioned what types of filters you used on these shots? it’s amazing the look you have created without any grading! can’t wait for the GH1, after watching this, i’m going to want/need some filters too!

  3. Hats off to Panasonic!

    Can you imagine what is possible with this camera hook up to the AJA KI? I realize this cant happen until the good folks at Panasonic provide a HDMI port but perhaps in the near future.

    Great job Mr. Bloom, you are quite an asset to the industry.

    Avery

  4. Any word on a good adapter for the GH1 to mount Nikon lens? I have a collection of Zeiss 35mm primes I would love to use with the GH1.

    I have you to thank for making me home sick with your footage from Hawaii.

    Aloha!

  5. Hi Philip,
    was there anything said about the 720p Modes?
    If you go to the German Panasonic site
    http://www.panasonic.de/html/de_DE/Produkte/Lumix+Digitalkameras/G+Micro+Systems/DMC-GH1K/%C3%9Cbersicht/2145581/index.html
    and download the Specs
    http://www.panasonic.de/to?exlink=%20http://217.7.21.86/pdf_printing_neu/datenblatt_ph.asp?model=DMC-GH1KEG9K
    It sais that the Quicktime Mode in 1280 by 720 records in 30 Images per Second.

    I’d like to know if this is true. And did you happen to test this mode? Would like the Quality, as 30p to 25p/24p will give a nice subtle slowmo, which is not as hard and noticeable as 50p to 25p.

    Edit: Just took a look at the English site for the specs
    http://www.panasonic.co.uk/html/en_GB/Products/LUMIX+Digital+Cameras/G+Micro+System/DMC-GH1/Specification/2146697/index.html?trackInfo=true
    (I probably land in spam for this)
    and there it says 60p(NTSC) and 50p(Pal). Will It maybe have this two options build in? Would be nice, as we could have the drop every 2nd frame to get 30p and then slow down to 25p and the real 60p slowmo combined with the 50p Slomo and the 50p drop every 2nd Frame to get 25p.

    Damn, I really would like to know what the real deal is.

  6. Phlip, since you’ve got the ear of Panasonic, can I suggest another couple of features that might be useful (and should be possible to add in firmware):
    – The ability to switch between PAL and NTSC modes so us Brits can shoot 60p when needed. (Presumably the basic hardware is the same so why not allow us to switch)
    – A way to switch of auto gain control on the sound. I haven’t heard much about the audio but I believe it’s always auto level. If we could switch AGC off it would open up the possibility of adding external metering and monitoring and get decent audio.

    Thanks for all the info. I’m itching to get one now!

  7. Great work, Philip. Best looking GH1 footage I’ve seen yet.

    You wrote “He said all Panasonic camcorders record at 17mbps due to something about dvd backup for consumers?”

    Funny. The specs for the Panasonic HMC150 say 21mbps for AVCHD in PH mode, and it looks great. So if they can’t go the full 24mbps maybe compromise at 21?

    Thanks for your time, talent, and hard work!

  8. Phil / anyone,

    Please can you help me fully understand the following in this article –

    ” It’s a shame the 1080p 25p/24p codec is so weak at 17 mpbs, it is quite susceptible to artifacts as I found . It’s usable as you can see in Joshua Tree but the 720p 50p mode is way more robust, especially for grading. ”

    Just what sort of artifacts appear, where, under what conditions and how often? I also read in another article that the 1080p is nothing more than a novelty really and that only the 720p is useable! If this is true, my decision between the 5D and GH1 very much swings in the direction of the 5D – especially with the recent firmware update.

    Speaking of firmware updates – would it in theory be possible to improve the 17Mbps bandwidth and resolve the artifact problems in firmware, or are these hardware limitations of the camera.

    5D is out of my reach really – so was really hoping the GH1 would be good, but after everyone’s initial excitement the dust doesn’t seem to be settling as favourably anymore. Sounds like low light performance is only ‘ok’ and using anything above 400ASA (sorry ISO) runs the risk of icky grain and even yellow banding….

    I was hoping to use the GH1 to get some shots for a short film I’m writing around a trip to Vegas I’m soon due to be going on… at the moment I’m wondering if hiring a 5D might be the better option until I can afford to buy one…

    Anyone – thoughts on whether I’m suffering from excessive review reading syndrome… Is the GH1 really worth the money or will I be disappointed if I take the plunge and end up wishing i’d saved longer for the 5d (or a 50D replacement that might come along with video…)

    Thanks,
    Domonic

    1. saying the 1080p is a novelty feature is a bit strong, but yes the 720 is much more robust to use. I don’t know about increasing the 17mbps via firmware. This is the max ALL Panasonic camcorders have. You can use 800 ASA, just. But you need to make sure you don’t underexpose. ASA 400 is better. With the 5d, I can use ASA 1600!

      The GH1 would work for you, but you would need to buy a faster lens or two for low light stuff. I bought a Sigma 30mm f1.4 with four thirds adaptor, it’s on one of my GH1 blogs somewhere!

      1. Cool beans.

        I’ve been buying FD lenses off eBay of late for my own attempt at a 35mm adapter for my HG10. I have a 1.4 50mm which I love and I’ve seen a FD-GH1 adapter on eBay for about 80 quid – I suspect that might lose me a stop but should still be quite nice.

        Getting something fast and wide will be more of a challenge given the 2x conversion from the small chip in the GH1. It looks to me like you may have added black bars top and bottom on Joshua Tree to make it feel more cinematic / wide – was that the case?

        Conversely – part of my LV story lends itself to including some lunar shots, so if I can find myself a reasonably priced FD 400m at F4 or so, with a 2x converter and the 2x multiplier from the chip size – I reckon I’ll be close to filming close ups of moon dust 🙂

        You’re a true gent for helping guide us all through this stuff, and we really appreciate your work and the info, so thanks for that!

        …now if you (or anyone else) can shed a little more light on these ‘artifacts’ and what causes them…?

        Thanks again,
        Domonic

        1. yep, i added 2:35 to 1 crop but the other two pieces are native 16×9.

          you won’t lose a stop with that adaptor, just get the 2x conversion. I myself have bought a 4/3rds to micro 4/3rds adaptor and a Sigma 4/3rd 30mm f1.4 lens (60mm equivalent) for the GH1, should be a great combo!

          The artifacts I am afraid are the downside to the 1080p 17mbps codec. For some reason it’s not a robust as the 17mbps AVCHD codec used in their camcorders. I don’t know why, somebody did explain it to me in technobabble but i got lost! But the 720p is really good!

  9. i found this on the net at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ Doing the Math: AVCHD Compression Ratio. It should really be no surprise that AVCHD loses a lot of image detail under some conditions. Let’s look at how the output bit rate of 17 Mbit/s compares to the input data rate: For the Panasonic GH1 in FHD mode, that’d be 1,920 x 1,080 pixels x 3 (RGB color planes) x 8 (bits per color plane) x 24 frames/second = 1.19 Billion bits/sec! At the 60 fps playback rate, it’s 2.9 Billion bits/sec. That’s a compression ratio of 70:1 at 24 fps, or 175:1 at 60 fps.

  10. Your information and videos about this camera made me actually consider purchasing and I did order mine from Amazon on May 5th. Thanks for all the stuff you posted on it. It is unfortunate that Panasonic has been so bad informing its consumers about actual delivery dates. Amazon is in the dark about when they are getting any. Hopefully I will have it before my trip to Alaska.

    Thanks again for all the info!

  11. did you ever check and see if the :”Sigma 30mm f/1.4 EX DC” work without the panasonic adapter? If so can you post some footage. Thanks. I really enjoy your work.

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