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GH4 Pros & Cons list before make my final choice.

GH4 WB White Balance AF Lock

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#1 Etc

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 02:25 AM

I would really need some help here, please guys.

I've been using for a while an old sony HC9 in a Bluefin housing. It's time to move on. Mainly because I've never been happy of its performance in low light environments (noisy) and of its poor WB capabilities.

I never quite liked the Idea of filming with a DSLR because I believed that image quality is not the only thing that matters and a photography camera is developed with the idea of taking pictures and a video camera is developed with the idea of filming video.
But, due to the great reviews on the GH4 and due to the fact that a friend videographer got the panasonic recently (in a Nauticam housing) I've had the chance to try it for a couple of days.
Mainly I can say I'm pretty happy with the testing, although there are a few issues I didn't like much and I think they might be quite important to bare in mind before making the decision. Let me explain it by making a pro & cons list and let's seen if you agree.

PROS.
- Professional results In a relatively small size and weight.
- Image quality (4K, image options, 96fps in Full HD, costum presets, etc)  

- Footage suitable for nice color grading.
- Great WB performance. I just LOVE IT.... no red filters needed!!!!. Fast and accurate...  first thing I did was going down to -30 an WB on a white towel... amazing!!! (Ok, maybe I'm overacting a little but keep in mind that my HC9 wasn't able to white balance under -15m, -7 without red filter!!!)
- A lot of lenses opions with really good quality.
- Stabilized lenses.
- Nauticam housing is really well done and gives you all the options for your lens choice.
- Focus. Manual focusing is easy, fast and the peaking helper is a pretty good option.



CONS
- I think you can't buy the GH4 and all the port and lenses and film without an external monitor!!!!! (add more money, more room and weight in your luggage). The viewfinder is useless and the screen is small with no tilt options. I can't imagine myself shooting macro at grond level trying to see anything in that screen!!!!.
Would a 45° viewfinder magnifier be the solution?
- AF has a bunch of great options.... for photography. In my testing I realized that all of them are designed for photography and in Motion Picture mode once you press "record" you will have a continuos autofocus with a lot chance of focus hunting....and YOU DON'T HAVE AF LOCK options to use once your subject has stop.
- No AE Lock option while shooting either. Shooting with aperture priority is a good choice in specific situations if you can lock the expossure when needed.
- Versatility. You won't have the angle range of a built-in lens video gear. I missed a little more zoom range when following a little parrot fish with the 12-35mm. (that's a maximum of 70mm 35mm equiv.)

Keeping in mind my criteria and keeping in mind that I need a light gear to avoid hearts attacks at the line of the boarding gate. Can you suggest any alternative to GH4?????. I don't really need 4K, Full HD would be OK.
Thanks

PD: Sorry about my english.



#2 thetrickster

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 05:42 AM

CONS

- I think you can't buy the GH4 and all the port and lenses and film without an external monitor!!!!! (add more money, more room and weight in your luggage). The viewfinder is useless and the screen is small with no tilt options. I can't imagine myself shooting macro at grond level trying to see anything in that screen!!!!.
Would a 45° viewfinder magnifier be the solution?

 

I found the same problem, so have the Ninja2 in a house for external monitoring - they have massively reduced the price of the Ninja2 now ($250 I think) - so worth a look, but there are many other options out there with Nauticam housings (SmallHD etc)

 

 

 

- AF has a bunch of great options.... for photography. In my testing I realized that all of them are designed for photography and in Motion Picture mode once you press "record" you will have a continuos autofocus with a lot chance of focus hunting....and YOU DON'T HAVE AF LOCK options to use once your subject has stop.

 

The continuous AF in video mode, can be disabled (within the menu) and you can assign the AF/AE button to do AF - this is also usable while recording. The same is also true for half pressing the shutter button.

 

 

 

- No AE Lock option while shooting either. Shooting with aperture priority is a good choice in specific situations if you can lock the expossure when needed.

 

The GH4 is badly needing the AutoISO mode while in Manual mode, so you can lock both the shutter speed and the aperture. While in Aperture priority the GH4 will sacrifice shutter speed first (down to 360' shutter angle) and then ISO. Ideally you want the shutter angle to be 180, so you aren't so sharp, nor blurry. You can't limit ISO either, so it will go all the way to 6400.

 

 

 

- Versatility. You won't have the angle range of a built-in lens video gear. I missed a little more zoom range when following a little parrot fish with the 12-35mm. (that's a maximum of 70mm 35mm equiv.)

 

Agreed, but with the 12-35mm its a constant aperture, the only thing you could do is use it in FullHD mode and then you gain access to the electronic 2x Teleconverter.


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#3 Nick Hope

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Posted 28 September 2015 - 10:05 PM

You do need a monitor. I am using the 7" Dive and See DNC-7A(H1) which is waterproof and doesn't need a housing. I got a little corrosion on the first trip, especially around the white painted graphics, but it seems to have stopped on the subsequent trips so I'm cautiously optimistic about it lasting. I have disabled its exposure/focusing aids, which are useless, and am just using the GH4 ones, which do show on the monitor. At the moment I don't regret buying it and I don't fancy the current alternatives. I don't think the big shade helps much, and I have stopped using it for now. It too often obscured the red recording spot in the top right of the monitor, meaning I couldn't see when I was "anti-filming" (which is quite often!).

 

For me, focus was the biggest challenge in moving from an ENG video cam, closely followed by exposure. I used to use autofocus and autoexposure a lot on my old video cameras. I could be nailing a shot within fractions of a second of spotting something. No chance with a GH4 unless you're super lucky to have your settings already correct.

 

Autofocus is just horrible. Underwater it might seem like it's doing OK but when you get it on the computer you can see the "micro-hunting". Sometimes, if the lens allows (e.g. not Oly 12-50), I just use manual focus. Or if I'm in AFS mode I lock off the focus before the shot using the AF/AE button (so I get "AFL" rather than "AFS" at the top right of the display). I quite often then switch to manual focus mode so I can check the peaking. I also often switch to manual focus mode during a shot, especially with wider shots (doing this is in fact exactly the equivalent of the AF LOCK you said you don't have in the first post). Long thumbs help avoid wobbles! And because of the faint click I can usually see the moment I made the switch in the waveform on the audio track in my NLE, which can be very useful.

 

Pics of my latest GH4 full macro setup (before I removed the monitor shade) with Olympus 60mm macro and Nauticam CMC with flip adapter. My expression is because I thought it was about to blow over!...

 

GH4-macro-wide.jpg

GH4-macro-front.jpg

GH4-macro-rear.jpg



#4 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 03:07 AM


I found the same problem, so have the Ninja2 in a house for external monitoring - they have massively reduced the price of the Ninja2 now ($250 I think) - so worth a look, but there are many other options out there with Nauticam housings (SmallHD etc)

The price of the Ninja 2 housing is 1800$!!!!!. Please, let me know which other monitoring options I have other than that suggested by nick...
 

The continuous AF in video mode, can be disabled (within the menu) and you can assign the AF/AE button to do AF - this is also usable while recording. The same is also true for half pressing the shutter button.


Yes. The problem here is that I need the continuous autofocus (while recording) because I need to follow the subject. Once it stops in front of the camera I need to lock it to avoid focus hunting. Same situation when I am the one who moves toward the subject. The Only way I could do it in my testing was as Nick suggested, by switching to MF, but it isn't a easy move if you want to avoid wobbles.
 


Edited by Etc, 29 September 2015 - 03:11 AM.


#5 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 03:42 AM

You do need a monitor. I am using the 7" Dive and See DNC-7A(H1) which is waterproof and doesn't need a housing.(...)


3000$. That means spending more money in monitoring than in the Camera housing!!!
 

For me, focus was the biggest challenge in moving from an ENG video cam, closely followed by exposure. I used to use autofocus and autoexposure a lot on my old video cameras. I could be nailing a shot within fractions of a second of spotting something. No chance with a GH4 unless you're super lucky to have your settings already correct.
 
Autofocus is just horrible. Underwater it might seem like it's doing OK but when you get it on the computer you can see the "micro-hunting". Sometimes, if the lens allows (e.g. not Oly 12-50), I just use manual focus. Or if I'm in AFS mode I lock off the focus before the shot using the AF/AE button (so I get "AFL" rather than "AFS" at the top right of the display). I quite often then switch to manual focus mode so I can check the peaking. I also often switch to manual focus mode during a shot, especially with wider shots (doing this is in fact exactly the equivalent of the AF LOCK you said you don't have in the first post). Long thumbs help avoid wobbles! And because of the faint click I can usually see the moment I made the switch in the waveform on the audio track in my NLE, which can be very useful.

Thanks for sharing your experience. Your opinion is very useful for me. And thanks for the pictures too. Your spider looks really in good shape.
I'm afraid I'm not ready yet to switch to DSLR filming philosophy. Still think we have to adapt too many things to be able to filming video properly. The point is.... could anyone answer to the last question of my initial post?:

Keeping in mind my criteria and keeping in mind that I need a light gear to avoid hearts attacks at the line of the boarding gate. Can you suggest any alternative to GH4?????. I don't really need 4K, Full HD would be OK.


Edited by Etc, 29 September 2015 - 03:43 AM.


#6 Davide DB

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 04:22 AM

Keeping in mind my criteria and keeping in mind that I need a light gear to avoid hearts attacks at the line of the boarding gate. Can you suggest any alternative to GH4?????. I don't really need 4K, Full HD would be OK.

 

You could buy my beloved GH2 setup  :crazy:  :crazy:  :crazy:

 

Jockes apart, if size/weight is a major concern then a M43 system is the right choice. Otherwise you fall in non IL systems territory like LX100 or RX100 


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#7 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 10:49 AM

 

You could buy my beloved GH2 setup  :crazy:  :crazy:  :crazy:

 

Jockes apart, if size/weight is a major concern then a M43 system is the right choice. Otherwise you fall in non IL systems territory like LX100 or RX100 

 

... falling always in the same problem... monitoring.



#8 kc_moses

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 11:39 AM

You can consider the LX100, it's a mini GH4 with all the peaking feature. When shooting 4K, it has a crop factor so that makes a pretty good macro camera, you just need to make sure to get the Nauticam CMC-1. You can click on my signature that has link to Youtube, there are a few LX100 video clips you can check out for reference. I use back button focus method to set initial focus, the camera is in manual focus mode. Once the recording start, I just make sure the peaking dots are in the area where I want to focus. It works out really well especially when come to macro.



#9 Interceptor121

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 11:51 AM

- AF has a bunch of great options.... for photography. In my testing I realized that all of them are designed for photography and in Motion Picture mode once you press "record" you will have a continuos autofocus with a lot chance of focus hunting....and YOU DON'T HAVE AF LOCK options to use once your subject has stop.
- No AE Lock option while shooting either. Shooting with aperture priority is a good choice in specific situations if you can lock the expossure when needed.

 

 

 

I would really need some help here, please guys.

I've been using for a while an old sony HC9 in a Bluefin housing. It's time to move on. Mainly because I've never been happy of its performance in low light environments (noisy) and of its poor WB capabilities.

I never quite liked the Idea of filming with a DSLR because I believed that image quality is not the only thing that matters and a photography camera is developed with the idea of taking pictures and a video camera is developed with the idea of filming video.
But, due to the great reviews on the GH4 and due to the fact that a friend videographer got the panasonic recently (in a Nauticam housing) I've had the chance to try it for a couple of days.
Mainly I can say I'm pretty happy with the testing, although there are a few issues I didn't like much and I think they might be quite important to bare in mind before making the decision. Let me explain it by making a pro & cons list and let's seen if you agree.



CONS
- AF has a bunch of great options.... for photography. In my testing I realized that all of them are designed for photography and in Motion Picture mode once you press "record" you will have a continuos autofocus with a lot chance of focus hunting....and YOU DON'T HAVE AF LOCK options to use once your subject has stop.
- No AE Lock option while shooting either. Shooting with aperture priority is a good choice in specific situations if you can lock the expossure when needed.
- Versatility. You won't have the angle range of a built-in lens video gear. I missed a little more zoom range when following a little parrot fish with the 12-35mm. (that's a maximum of 70mm 35mm equiv.)

 

AF: all Panasonic high end ILC have AFS single at the start of the clip and you can disable continuous autofocus

AE Lock option: you can configure the AF/AE lock to work for AE lock only (this is my default setting)

Zoom: that is true but you have the Ex Tele option that though only HD acts as a 2.4x multiplier in video

 

On the PRO side I have heard that custom white balance actually is not that great and looking at a few videos the colors don't look as good as other brands but this is another story


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#10 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 01:19 PM

You can consider the LX100, it's a mini GH4 with all the peaking feature. When shooting 4K, it has a crop factor so that makes a pretty good macro camera, you just need to make sure to get the Nauticam CMC-1. You can click on my signature that has link to Youtube, there are a few LX100 video clips you can check out for reference. I use back button focus method to set initial focus, the camera is in manual focus mode. Once the recording start, I just make sure the peaking dots are in the area where I want to focus. It works out really well especially when come to macro.

 
Great videos!. I'm a little afraid of the bad Stability in this kind of compact cameras but your footage is quite stable. Did you do any stabilization in post production?.
The focus wheel seems really handy... I guess I could get used to manual focus at any circumstance.
What do you mean exactly by "Back button focus method"?

Edited by Etc, 29 September 2015 - 01:31 PM.


#11 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 01:30 PM

 

AF: all Panasonic high end ILC have AFS single at the start of the clip and you can disable continuous autofocus
AE Lock option: you can configure the AF/AE lock to work for AE lock only (this is my default setting)
Zoom: that is true but you have the Ex Tele option that though only HD acts as a 2.4x multiplier in video
 
On the PRO side I have heard that custom white balance actually is not that great and looking at a few videos the colors don't look as good as other brands but this is another story


AF: As I said before I really appreciate to be able to use (under some circumstances) the continuous autofocus if I can easily switch to MF. No point for be to achieve focus automatically before shooting if I still will have to follow the subject focus manually after all.
AE Lock option: I couldn't make it work either in AEL nor AFL while shooting !!
Zoom: Good point, I didn't realize that.

#12 kc_moses

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 01:32 PM

I have to do post stabilization since I'm not that expert in diving yet (has less than 200 dive). Camcorder offer better image stabilization. I used GH4 underwater before the the image stabilization is not much different from the LX100, it's mostly all about the diver.

 

Back button focus mean you have the camera setting in Manual Focus mode, then use the AE/AF lock button to set initial focus, then start recording. By having the camera in Manual Focus mode, you get the focus peaking feature.



#13 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 01:32 PM

I'm logged in but in my last two post I appear as "guest"

#14 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 01:46 PM

I have to do post stabilization since I'm not that expert in diving yet (has less than 200 dive). Camcorder offer better image stabilization. I used GH4 underwater before the the image stabilization is not much different from the LX100, it's mostly all about the diver.
 
Back button focus mean you have the camera setting in Manual Focus mode, then use the AE/AF lock button to set initial focus, then start recording. By having the camera in Manual Focus mode, you get the focus peaking feature.

Ok, I get it. I suppose that is the best procedure in the LX100. Peaking is a good invention. In the GH4 you can get extra help just by pushing one button to access the magnified picture. Can you configure the LX100 in the same way?
Don't be so modest, I know quite a few guys that feel experts with less than 50 dives.
I have a lot more dives and I'm sure image stability is not only a matter of experience. The Tinier, the shakyier

#15 Interceptor121

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 02:07 PM

 

AF: As I said before I really appreciate to be able to use (under some circumstances) the continuous autofocus if I can easily switch to MF. No point for be to achieve focus automatically before shooting if I still will have to follow the subject focus manually after all.
AE Lock option: I couldn't make it work either in AEL nor AFL while shooting !!
Zoom: Good point, I didn't realize that.


For focus you have few options:
1. You use AFS auto focus single at the start of the recording with continuos focus OFF. if you half press the shutter during recording the camera will refocus. You can combine this with AF+MF and you can set auto focus first and then tune with manual focus, the focus magnifier will also show up as well as peaking. This is the most flexible set up overall if you want to avoid focus hunting and have full control of focus.
2. You still use AFS but with continuous focus ON to lock focus switch to manual focus in the middle of the recording. This is tricky as the switch of manual focus can create jitter it is best to set the AF/AE lock to AF/lock only
I have tested this set up and have yet to find a situation where it is useful underwater
3. Use manual focus with AF/AE button set to af-on you only focus at the beginning of the shot and if you want to change you need to act on the manual focus lever. This also kills the use of AF/AE and is only useful for macro where you can move the camera back and forth to lock focus using peaking in hand held situations

AEL (only works with option 1,2 above)
For the AF/AE to work in exposure lock on need to set the AF/AE to AE lock and the AF/AE hold to ON otherwise you need to keep the button pressed

I think the focus control is actually quite strong on any Panasonic prosumer and micro four third advanced camera

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#16 Etc

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 02:48 PM

For focus you have few options:
1. You use AFS auto focus single at the start of the recording with continuos focus OFF. if you half press the shutter during recording the camera will refocus. You can combine this with AF+MF and you can set auto focus first and then tune with manual focus, the focus magnifier will also show up as well as peaking. This is the most flexible set up overall if you want to avoid focus hunting and have full control of focus.
2. You still use AFS but with continuous focus ON to lock focus switch to manual focus in the middle of the recording. This is tricky as the switch of manual focus can create jitter it is best to set the AF/AE lock to AF/lock only
I have tested this set up and have yet to find a situation where it is useful underwater
3. Use manual focus with AF/AE button set to af-on you only focus at the beginning of the shot and if you want to change you need to act on the manual focus lever. This also kills the use of AF/AE and is only useful for macro where you can move the camera back and forth to lock focus using peaking in hand held situations

AEL (only works with option 1,2 above)
For the AF/AE to work in exposure lock on need to set the AF/AE to AE lock and the AF/AE hold to ON otherwise you need to keep the button pressed

I think the focus control is actually quite strong on any Panasonic prosumer and micro four third advanced camera

Ok. Let's say that you see a big turtle in a beautiful spot at the reef. You don't want a take of the Turtle in its environment and after it another one closer just framing the whole turtle, and then a last one of the head of the turtle... You want to shoot a Travelling in by swimming towards the turtle until you ge really close to it.
How do you proceed?. Let's say you need to shoot with maximum aperture and have the focus range really compromised.

#17 kc_moses

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 02:58 PM

For focus you have few options:
1. You use AFS auto focus single at the start of the recording with continuos focus OFF. if you half press the shutter during recording the camera will refocus. You can combine this with AF+MF and you can set auto focus first and then tune with manual focus, the focus magnifier will also show up as well as peaking. This is the most flexible set up overall if you want to avoid focus hunting and have full control of focus.

 

While the camera is in AF mode, for the AF+MF to work, you have to HOLD the shutter half press while turning the focus ring to bring up the MF assist with peaking.



#18 kc_moses

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 03:22 PM

Ok. Let's say that you see a big turtle in a beautiful spot at the reef. You don't want a take of the Turtle in its environment and after it another one closer just framing the whole turtle, and then a last one of the head of the turtle... You want to shoot a Travelling in by swimming towards the turtle until you ge really close to it.
How do you proceed?. Let's say you need to shoot with maximum aperture and have the focus range really compromised.

 

What you're asking is called "establish shot", so you show the turtle in 3 sequences: 1.) The turtle and its surrounding, 2.) the whole turtle, 3.) the face of the turtle.

 

You don't shoot all 3 sequence in one go. First you have to take a custom white balance when you are about 3 meters away from the turtle to get the color correct (if you have wide angle lens, you could be closer to 3 meter). Set focus, then start shooting for about 30 seconds. Stop recording, swim closer like 1.5 meter, take custom white balance (or turn on light), depend on the size of the turtle, you might have to remove the wide angle lens. Set focus, then take another 30 seconds shot. Then swim closer within arm length to the face of the turtle, take white balance/turn on light, extend your arm out, set focus then shoot the face of the turtle.

 

Once you have that 3 shots, just put them together during post. The reason I shoot 30 seconds or so because the first 5 and last 5 seconds tend to be shaky since I would be pressing the record button.

 

This is how I would shoot the scene you asked because I only have point and shoot experience. Other people may have different/better way, especially those who use dSLR with lens that have limited focal length.



#19 Interceptor121

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 10:53 PM

Ok. Let's say that you see a big turtle in a beautiful spot at the reef. You don't want a take of the Turtle in its environment and after it another one closer just framing the whole turtle, and then a last one of the head of the turtle... You want to shoot a Travelling in by swimming towards the turtle until you ge really close to it.
How do you proceed?. Let's say you need to shoot with maximum aperture and have the focus range really compromised.


You have two options:
1. Take 3 separate shots wide medium close this is the standard way because filing your whole approach is a bit long and it may end up being boring
2. Work with option 2 continuous focus set to ON. Generally if you have a really wide lens the depth of field is very large and with focus area set on centre this will work fine however it's better to use it when the subject itself is moving
See this video at 1:56


In general focus hunting is an issue if you use any focus area other than centre and manage to pan in the blue otherwise for wide angle continuous focus works fine in good Vis as this video shows


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#20 Nick Hope

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Posted 29 September 2015 - 11:07 PM

I miss my VX 2000 and Z1P. Life was simpler back then :(
 

Keeping in mind my criteria and keeping in mind that I need a light gear to avoid hearts attacks at the line of the boarding gate. Can you suggest any alternative to GH4?????. I don't really need 4K, Full HD would be OK.


I'm really wondering if you should just look at the modern equivalent to your HC9. i.e. A dedicated video camera from Sony or maybe a Canon equivalent. Looks at Gates housings, and don't rule out an updated Light and Motion housing.