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Member Since 25 May 2005
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Results of my first commercial shoot with GH4

17 October 2014 - 08:32 PM

Here is an example of a GH4 video that I've just finished editing: http://www.peterwalker.com/komodo.html


It demonstrates the camera's capabilities both WA (7-14mm lens with Zen 170mm dome), Macro (14-45mm PZ plus flip Subsee +5 dioptre) and above water (12-35mm plus polarising filter).  I did all the editing in 4K and then compressed to 1080P just before uploading to Vimeo.


It was a pleasure to shoot and edit!





Thanks to David Cheung of ScubaCam for helping put the equipment together for me.

Panasonic GH4 Settings for Underwater

08 August 2014 - 02:13 AM

Setting up a GH4 for Diving
To a lot of you who’ve been shooting video with DSLRs for some time, the settings on the GH4 might be a bit “ho hum”.  But, for me, shooting camcorders for the last 10 years, it’s been a sea-change.  I spent a lot of time studying the settings and came up with something that works for me.  I thought that I’d share it.
Firstly, I have to say that I prefer a “natural” look; I like my finished video to look as close as possible to what my eyes saw underwater.  So that "natural look" bias is in my settings.  I don't WB to white or add a lot of red.  You can adjust to your own tastes.
Secondly, when I am underwater, I want to focus as much of my attention on the “story” and the “subjects”. But I rarely use an “auto-everything” approach as that does not work well in many situations.  But, I do like to quickly get to as close to the "optimal look" without too much fiddling and adjustments (while the whale shark swims away).
So, I have found it very useful to leverage the custom setting feature in the GH4.  It works really well with this camera.  After a lot of research and testing, once I had an idea of what I needed, here is the process that I used:
  1. Set all the “in menu” settings (my preferred settings are below)
  2. Set the camera controls to your most “usual” setting
  3. Set the WB presets (more on how to do this below)
  4. Save this to C1 (in my case, C1 is full manual)
  5. Without changing the menu settings from C1, change the camera settings to your second most “usual” settings 
  6. Save this to C2  (in my case, C1 is shutter of 1/50 with AFL/AEL for focus and exposure)
  7. Change to your third most “usual” settings.
  8. Save this to C3-1 (in my case I use “shutter 1/50; auto-everything-else”)
  9. (you could do two more settings, C3-2 and C3-3, but I don’t use these because they are not so quick to access)
GH4 "In Menu” Settings
Tool Menu:
Personal choice but set date, time and system frequency first, I use 24.00Hz
Motion Picture (set dial to motion picture):
Cine D (flat - good for grading)
Contrast 0 (neutral)
Sharpness -5 (none)
Noise Reduction -5 (none)
Saturation 0 (neutral)
Hue 0 (neutral)
Rec Format Mov (less compression)
Rec Quality C4K 100M 24P (as many pixels as possible)
AFS/AFF: AFS (half-press focus)
Continuous Auto Focus Off
Highlight/Shadow: Flat diagonal line
i.Dynamic Off  (don’t want it to mess with the CineD profile)
i.Resolution Standard (does some selective sharpening)
Master pedestal 0 (neutral)
Luminance level 0-255 (full range - can limit later in editing)
Synchro Scan Off (used for shooting TVs and monitors)
Ex Tele Conv Off
Digital Zoom Off (just crops the image)
Time Code Off
HDMI Rec Output 10bit 422 (eady for the Shogun)
Info Display Off (Shogun has its own)
4K Down Convert Off  (No thank you)
Sound output Realtime (only relevant for monitoring sound with headphones)
Silent operation On (tries to keep zooming quiet)
Mic Level 0db
Mic Limiter Off (no auto sound gain)
SS / Gain Operation SEC/ISO
Color Bars SMPTE
Custom Settings Menu:
Cust Set Mem - here is where the Custom setting (1, 2, and 3) are saved.
Silent Mode On (no lights or noises inside the housing)
AFL / AEL Lock - Off for Manual custom setting, Both on for other two settings
AFL / AEL Lock Hold - On (locks it until you unlock it with another press)
Shutter AF On
Half Press Release Off (not good inside a housing)
Quick AF Off (wastes battery)
Eye sensor Off (does not function inside a housing)
Pinpoint AF Time - Mid (does not seem to matter)
Direct Focus Area Off
Focus / Release Priority - Release (not relevant to video)
AF+MF On (allows fine manual adjustments of focus)
MF Assist On (the lens barrel) -(expands the manual focus part of the monitor)
MF Guide Off (personal choice)
Peaking Off (personal choice)
Histogram on (and moved to bottom-left corner)
Guideline - Grid On (personal choice)
Center Marker Off (don’t need a grid and a marker)
Highlight Off (Histogram is better)
Zebra 1 Off Zebra 2 Off  (Histogram is better)
Monochrome Live View Off (want to see the colour)
Constant Preview On (not relevant to video)
Expo meter On (for manual exposure guide)
LVF Disp Style - text over image (larger image in VF)
Monitor Disp Style - text over image (larger image in monitor)
Monitor Info Diaplay On - see the settings
Video Priority Display On (gives more data for video shooters)
Fn Button Set - I changed Fn1 to Auto Focus On but don’t use it - still finding a use for Fn1
Q.Menu - no changes
Dial Set - no changes
Video Button On (but I always use the shutter button anyway)
Eye Sensor - High / Mon (don’t use it - always use Monitor)
Touch Settings - all Off - can’t access them in a housing
Touch Scroll L - irrelevant as settings are Off
Menu Guide Off 
Shoot w/o lens On - doesn’t matter either way
My GH4 Underwater WB Presets:
WB1: Light Blue
WB2: Mid Blue
WB3: Light Green
WB4: Mid Green
Kelvin: 6500K
How to do the WB preset?  Print 4 A4 sheets of paper filled with the four colours above.  (I have attached my pdf files). Set the camera to C1 to load up your custom settings.  Place the first A4 sheet (light blue) in a natural light (sunlight - not artificial light as this would introduce a different colour cast).  Open up the WB set function for WB1, point the camera so the colour fills the image and set it.  Do the same for the other 3 papers into WB2, WB3, and WB4. Go to the Custom Settings menu and “save” (overwrite) the C1 settings.  Now the WB presets are locked into the camera.  You can change the WB settings underwater but you can always get back to the presets by simply moving the mode dial.  Do the same for C2 and C3.
Then, when you are diving, use:
AWB: for near the surface and when video lights dominate (cave / night)
Kelvin 6500K for 5 meters down to 12 meters
WB1 for 10 meters to 20 meters  (in tropical blue water)
WB2 for below 15 to 20 meters (in tropical blue water)
WB3 for 10 meters to 20 meters  (in green water)
WB3 for below 15 to 20 meters (in green water)
The depths mentioned above overlap because you need to make a judgement call, depending on the conditions.
My GH4 “Usual” Camera Settings, saved in Custom 1, Custom 2 and Custom 3, respectively.
  1. M; ISO 200; f2.8; 1/50s; AFS, centre-area focus - this setting is for when I really want full control over everything, even using manual focus if necessary; great when you have time to get a shot really right
  2. S; ISO 200; 1/50s; AFS, centre-area focus - this setting is for when the aperture is not so important and I want to quickly do an AFL / AEL lock before shooting than have the camera hold those settings, quicker than Manual but fast enough for most situations
  3. S; ISO Auto; AFC, multi-zone focus; multi-zone exposure; +/- set to minus one notch - this setting is for when something happens fast. e.g. a big creature swims past, and you don’t have time to think - flip the mode dial to C3 and let the camera do its best to figure it out. Shutter is set to 1/50.  Camera will adjust Aperture and ISO to get a good exposure.  +/- reduced to avoid the camera trying to make the image too bright.
Might all look a bit complicated, but, if you set this all up once, you don’t need to do it again unless you want to make some adjustments.
Underwater, it is very simple:
Use C1 if you want manual control
Use C2 if you want to use a focus lock and exposure lock (NA-GH4 has a handy lever for this)
Use C3 if you want the camera to do everything for you
Then depending on your depth and the conditions, flip the WB setting quickly between AWB, Manual, WB1, and WB2.  (or WB3 and WB4, if the water is green)
The other upside of this C1, C2, C3 approach is that, if you have been fiddling with any settings, a quick flip of the mode dial gets you back to a known state.
I hope that this is helpful.

GH4 - Nauticam Macro Lens/Port Thoughts

04 August 2014 - 04:19 AM

As you all know, I'm building out a new 4K video system based on the GH4.  I'm happy with my wide-angle setup, the Panasonic 7-14mm zoom in the Zen 170mm port.  


But, this last weekend I had a tough time getting good video from my macro lens choice; the Olympus 60mm f2.8 Macro.  The lens and port is fine.  But, for video, I found that the focal length is just a little too long.  It's OK if you can hold the housing down onto a firm base, but even then, water movement gets transmitted into the footage. The 60mm works fine for photography as it only needs to be still for 1/10,000s.  Holding it still for 10 seconds is more challenging.


The macro stuff that I do never goes smaller than nudis, shrimps or pygmy seahorses.  I can’t see things smaller than that...
I thought about the Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. Lens.  Being a bit wider than the 60mm, it might be a bit easier to stop movement.  And, being Panasonic, the lens includes OIS.
But. having thought about it, I don’t really like the idea of diving with a macro-only system.  Even at Lembeh, sometimes I want to do a wider shot to capture the environment in which the animal lives.  A zoom / macro option might be best - even if there is a sharpness and f-stop trade-off.
So I have started looking at these lenses: 
  • Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Power O.I.S. Lens  It can focus as close as 20cm. Add a flip macro and it might be a good double-purpose option.  The Panasonic lenses have the advantage of OIS on the GH4.  Nice and compact.
  • Olympus M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F3.5-6.3 Ez Lens. The lens has a switch for electronic zoom and electronic focus, including locking into a Macro range.  Gets very good reviews as all purpose lens.  Expensive port and gear.
Either of these with a flip diopter wet lens might cover everything I need.
But they are not cheap lenses and the Nauticam port / gear is quite pricey too. 
So, before I injure the credit card further, I thought that I'd see if anyone in wetpixel land had used either lens for macro video.  
Or, if anyone has any other suggestions.

GH4: Panasonic 7-14mm f4 lens in a Zen 170mm port?

17 July 2014 - 07:34 PM

I've been scratching my head over which wide-angle lens I should use for underwater use with the GH4 and the Zen 170mm. I have been reading about dome ports, virtual images, rectilinear lenses, corner sharpness, close focus distance, mathematical formulas, etc, etc. Interesting stuff but I have not found a clear answer.

I own the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 and it's a great lens, at least above water. It should work well in the Zen 170mm dome. Should focus OK and be sharp in the corners. I can test this lens next week when I get the GH4 housing.

But, 12mm (~24mm) is not very wide for shooting large creatures up close. Might be OK but I suspect that I'll want something a bit wider.

One option is a fish-eye like the Panasonic 8mm. But I am not too crazy about the fish-eye look for all my WA shots.

Another option is a full-frame lens (Nikon, Canon, etc) on a 4/3rds Metabones speedbooster. Could be nice for low DoF but probably loses all AF, lens corrections and stabilisation functions?

So, then I get back to what I first thought would be best lens: the Panasonic 7-14mm f4 lens. Great focal range for underwater WA (35mm ~ 14-28mm). All the Panasonic functions work: AF and lens corrections. The close focus at .25M should focus fine, although it'll right on the near focus limit of the lens.

But, here's where my reading about dome ports made me uncertain. What will the corner sharpness of the Panasonic 7-14mm be like in the Zen 170mm port?

I've read about a "rule of thumb" not to use a rectilinear WA lens greater than 100 degrees angle of view in a dome port or you get soft corners. The 7-14mm has an angle of 114 degrees at its widest. Is this going to rule out the Panasonic 7-14mm f4 lens? Could it be OK from about 10mm to 14mm in its zoom range?

Of course, one answer might be: try one. But, it's an expensive lens to buy for a pool test that might prove it unsuitable. I would have very little use for this lens if it doesn't work underwater. And, I'm sure no shop in Singapore will lend me one to test.

Has anyone tried the Panasonic 7-14mm in a dome port?

Thoughts? Solutions?


Tubbataha Reef, Philippines

16 July 2014 - 01:24 AM

Hi Guys,


Here is my latest work, a mini documentary on the Tubbataha Reefs in the Philippines.


Warning: If you haven't been there, this video may cause you to instantly whip out your credit card and book a trip for next season.


Tubbataha reminded my of Sipadan back in the good ol' days.  Maybe even better.  Fantastic diversity, huge schools, sharks and turtles everywhere, pristine corals and, on some days, visibility up to 100 meters!


It's remoteness and short season helps but the Philippine government is doing a good job policing the park's "zero take" policies.