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New Panasonic GH4 vs. GH3 Comparison [4K 1080, Moire, Rolling Shutter, Crop Factor, High ISO]


Hey indie filmmakers, Griffin here! Today
I’m running some side-by-side tests, between the new Panasonic GH4 vs. its predecessor,
the Panasonic GH3. I’ve been using this line of cameras for 4 years, starting with the
GH1, I’m filming this shot with the GH2, I shot my documentary Sriracha on the GH3, and
now the first one that can shoot 4K—the GH4. Today I’ll show you everything that Panasonic
improved on what was already an excellent camera—the GH3. A lot of the best features
on the GH4 are also in the GH3. They share the same splash and dust-proof
body, with a strong magnesium-alloy skeleton. Same mic jack, headphone jack, and same awesome
batteries—on the GH3, I can literally shoot an entire day one battery. The main reason I got a GH4 is because it’s
so similar to the GH3. Now I have two near-identical cameras, that use the same batteries, so I
can probably get rid of my GH2, which has a different body design and a smaller battery. Only a few physical changes to the GH4 exterior.
Panasonic added a mode dial lock. I’m not sure why—I’ve never accidentally bumped
my dial into the wrong position. They switched it from mini HDMI on the GH3 to micro HDMI
(Type D). Added a connector for the $2,000 interface unit. Gave it a bigger eye piece,
and gave it sharper displays, with 60% more pixels on the LCD, and 30% more on the viewfinder.
And the GH4 is heavier, by four pennies. So on the outside these cameras are practically
the same. The real differences are inside, and besides just 4K, I’m wondering, with its
faster processor, how does it do in low-light, with moire and rolling shutter. So to get to the bottom of all these questions
I have about the GH4, I’ve mounted my GH3 side-by-side with my GH4. I’ve given them
the same 12–35mm lens, and I’ve set all the settings exactly the same way. Pause for a second. Both cameras are set to
5000K white balance, but the GH4 definitely looks more yellow. I found that across all
my side-by-side tests—the GH4 has a warmer image, that I’ll need to account for. [Right away, we notice that the crop factor
on these cameras is identical. They have the same shape and size sensor. But here’s where
they get a little weird: Right now I’m shooting in 1080, and they look the same. But if I
change the camera, here’s what it looks like in 4K. You can see that it’s tighter. That
doesn’t make much sense, because 4K is a larger resolution, so why is it using less of the
sensor? Here’s what’s happening—if you take a photo
with this 16megapixel sensor, it’s 4608 pixels wide, and you notice it’s 4×3—that’s the
shape of the sensor. And when you shoot 1080 HD video, the camera uses the entire width
of the sensor, and then down-scales it, throwing out more than half the pixels, because the
final image only needs to be 1920 pixels wide. But when you shoot in 4K, that’s twice as
wide and twice as tall as 1080. It fills most of the sensor. And it’s better quality to
use only the pixels we need, rather than the entire sensor and downscaling. That’s why
the 4K crop factor is tighter than in 1080 mode.
This 1-to-1 pixel mapping on the sensor also means less moire. Moire is that dancing line
pattern that occurs when tight lines on the video interfere with the pixel pattern of
the sensor. But by shooting in 4K, even downscaling it for this 1080 video, no moire. I find that when both cameras are shooting
1080, the detail looks the same. But if I shoot in 4K, and edit in 1080, the footage,
even when downscaled looks significantly sharper. So even if all my videos are in 1080, it still
makes sense to shoot in 4K. Another reason to shoot in 4K, while editing
in 1080 is the ability to punch in up to 200% without losing resolution. But there is one downside to 4K on the GH4—rolling
shutter is worse. When shooting in 1080, the GH3 and GH4 have the same amount of rolling
shutter, but because of that crop factor in 4K, the rolling shutter effect is exaggerated.
Although personally, I really don’t think rolling shutter is a bad thing. Doesn’t bother
me. But the GH4 does beat the GH3 in high ISO.
When I’m shooting in low-light, the GH4 is less noisy than the GH3 at 1600 ISO, 3200
ISO, and 6400 ISO. The GH4 also adds some additional photo styles.
I often used the Natural photo style on the GH3, but Panasonic has added a couple styles
aimed at filmmakers: Cinelike D and Cinelike V. They’ve also added a couple settings—master
pedestal level and highlight shadow—that allow you to lower the highlights and raise
the shadows to lessen contrast and increase dynamic range. This will result in a flatter
image, but it provides more leeway in color correction. Another improvement the GH4 brings is even
slower slow motion. The GH3 maxes out at 60 frames per second in 1080—that’s 40% slow
motion if you play it back at 24 frames per second. The new GH4 can record up to 96 frames
per second in 1080, which is 25% slow motion. But this super slow-mo comes at a price—the
sharpness appears to be worse than the GH3. Plus, you don’t get audio or autofocus while
recording in this variable frame rate mode on the GH4. Let’s talk about focus. The big thing that
Panasonic finally added, that so many video people wanted is focus peaking. When you’re
in manual focus, the camera helps show you what’s in focus by highlighting with color.
Before recording, the GH4 will magnify the image while turning the focus ring. But just
like on the GH3, it won’t do this while recording, so having focus peaking is very helpful—especially
with all-manual lenses. Panasonic says the GH4 features a new high-speed
autofocus, and yet in my side-by-side tests, the GH3 achieves focus faster. When I’m shooting
the exact same things with these cameras, the autofocus on the GH4 doesn’t respond as
quickly. I love the Panasonic GH3, but it does have
some annoying quirks that I’m so happy the GH4 fixed. On the GH3, even if your economy
settings tell the monitor never to go to sleep, the display items disappear after 10 seconds,
and most of the buttons go to sleep. This means, if you hit the video recording button,
all it does is wake up the display. You have to hit it a second time to actually record.
I’ve learned to live with it, but I know I’ve missed shots because of it. Fortunately, on
the GH4, the display items stay on screen and the record button works. Another weird GH3 issue—it doesn’t record
audio for the first two-to-three frames of a video. And worse, the last second of each
file gets cut off. So with a stopwatch, I started recording on both cameras at the 5-second
mark, and stopped at the 15-second mark. After syncing the two clips, it looks like
Panasonic solved the audio gap problem by delaying video recording by a couple frames.
That’s great—I’d prefer a barely slower response time if it means consistent audio.
And better yet, the GH4 no longer chops off the last second of each clip. Although each
camera still drops audio during the last frame. Other improvements—the GH4 works even better
over wi-fi. Both cameras can be controlled by an iOS or Android device, but once you
activate recording on the GH3, you pretty much lose all connection—there’s no live
preview, and you can’t stop recording. With the GH4, you could actually use a wireless
device as a monitor and a remote to start and stop recording. The GH3 shipped as two different models—NTSC,
and PAL. And because of European tax code, the PAL version wouldn’t record more than
29 minutes, 59 seconds. But the GH4 is a single model that can switch between NTSC, PAL or
cinema mode. I just tested the GH4, and even in PAL mode, there’s no recording limit. And the cinema mode on the GH4 is where you
find the cinema4K mode, which is slightly wider than 16:9. Plus, the cinema mode records
in 24 progressive frames per second—just like film—not 23.98 frames per second like
television. Finally, let’s talk about SD cards and bitrates.
The GH3 could record up to 72mbps. That’s 9MB every second. Every 4K mode on the GH4
is 100mbps. The GH4 can shoot 1080 in lots of bitrates, anywhere from 17 to 200mbps,
depending on how big you want your files. Frankly, I couldn’t see the difference between
shooting 1080 at 200mbps vs. 50mbps. And you’d expect the 200mp-recording to be 4x bigger,
but actually many of 200mb-recordings were smaller, with actual bitrates less than 50mbps.
That’s because the 200mb-mode uses a different codec—ALL-I, which compresses every frame
individually, so if you’re not filming something that really pushes the data rate, the file
will end up smaller. To capture these video files, Panasonic recommends
a UHS speed class 3 card. But I’ve been doing just fine with a UHS speed class 1 card—the
SanDisk Extreme 64GB. It says 80MB/s, which is its top read speed. When I test it, it
writes data at 40MB/s—that’s 320mbps, so in theory, it should be plenty fast the for
the GH4. Even my Transcend 16GB class 10 card, writes around 15MB/s, and as hard as I tried,
I could only make it fail once, while the GH4 recorded in its highest bitrate. SO before you go out and buy an expensive
new SD card, you might at least try the ones you have. And you don’t have to shoot in the
camera’s highest bitrates. Speaking of buying stuff, the GH4 retails
for $1,699, that’s $400 more than the GH3, when it first came out. But nowadays, the
GH3 sells for under $1,000. So if you want 4K, and slow motion at 96 fps, clearly you’ll
spend the extra $700. The GH4 also fixed a couple tiny issues with the GH3, and added
a few cool features like focus peaking, but really, most of what makes the GH4 a great
camera is already in the GH3. I gotta say, it would be hard to go wrong with either camera.
I’m gonna be using both of these together. If you’re interested in either of these cameras,
you should click right here: it’s a link to all of the camera gear I use. And by simply
clicking this link, or the one in the video description, you’re helping to support this
channel. Let me know in the comments what other camera
questions you have. If you want to watch even more about the GH4, I have this unboxing video,
and this video, where I show you all the settings on the GH4 that filmmakers need to know. Thanks
for watching!

100 Comments

  1. Julian Zakrzewski Author

    Is the best rule of thumb in regard to ISO to keep it as low as possible? I know Pansonic never officially announced the GH4's native ISO, but several sources claim it's 800. Does that mean when possible we should aim for 800, or keep it lower when possible?

    Reply
  2. Rolf Brenner Fotograf Author

    As an owner of both of these cameras I have to say there is lot of information in this tutorial I didn't know about it and I'm using the GH4 since May. Clicked!

    Reply
  3. SSEBRD Author

    What a great comparison video!  I have been researching for hours on these two cameras so that I can make the right call for me if I should pay the upcharge on the GH4.  Based on your review I will be moving forward on the GH4.  Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Kamil K. Wawrzyszko Author

    Awesome video, buddy, and you have a great video personality too (not boring or annoying as a few others ;-)). I'm a YouTuber too, so I need to sweet up a bit ;-).

    Is there a lot of difference between photo quality? I'm considering buying one of those and the saving on GH3 is a big temptation, and I want it for both photo and video. 

    Reply
  5. Sriram Natarajan Author

    Hello Griffin, I am a big fan of your videos, appreciate your work and thanks a lot. I have a question on my GH3. I observe that, when ever I use manual lenses, thru adapters (like metabones) the ISO does not go above 1600. Is there any reason to it? It goes up to 6400 only on video mode. Every other mode, including manual, stays within 1600. Please guide me on this. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. ILoveCheese Author

    Hi, I'm thinking about getting the GH3 instead of the GH4 because of the price difference and also want to have two cameras so I don't have to  be changing lens so much.  I don't really need 4K and I have and Olympus omd em1 which I love but want a little better video to go along with my omd. My question is if the GH4 focusing speed and overall picture quality are the same or better than the GH3? Does it warrant the extra $$ when it comes to pictures not video? 

    Reply
  7. Sara Kay Author

    Thanks for making this really insightful video! I want to shoot 1080p at 60fps and was eyeing the GH4, but the similar quality and much lower price of the GH3, as pointed out in this video, makes it more accessible to me. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Ramsey Sanchez Author

    Could you imagine if you got a few dollars for every consumer that watched your videos and bought a GH4? Even the likes alone would bring in $1300 if you got a $1 for each like, assuming they have a GH4, which is very likely. lol

    Reply
  9. Xifler Author

    what is up with everything being filmed in 24fps? Isn't that really low? I mean, you can see some serious difference between 24 and 60, even between 24 and 30. Why would you not shoot in 60fps if you could?

    Reply
  10. Dairo Davila Author

    Excellent review. I wonder if it was worth it to sell my actual G3 to get the new G4, you just helped with my doubt. I've been filming my fitness channel with the GH3 and I love it. I will keep my GH3 until GH5 comes out to the market. .

    Reply
  11. Curtis Winsor Author

    Best GH4 review out there. Thank you for the well shot, well edited, well thought out, entertaining and informative vid. Wish I would have found this sooner. Very nice!

    Reply
  12. Jonas Wiedemann Author

    Hey,
    i also would like to buy the GH4 camera…my old one was the G2
    so could you please make a review about to take photos with the GH4 and the 14-140mm
    at least i don't want to use this camera only for filming 😀
    Thanx

    Reply
  13. chris lachman Author

    Gave my GH3 to my son-in-law and purchased GH4 – brilliant cameras. Now he has been teaching me tricks with the camera.
    This is probably the best review I have seen of the GH4. Thank you for your hard work !

    Reply
  14. Sanen Kichu Author

    Hey Griffin, i really need your help in this. i bought a flycam nanofor my GH4, and i am able to balance it but when i move it, its not stable. I saw in one of your videos that you were using some extra weight, so my question is do i need to do the same??putting some extra weight! it will be awesome if you reply me..t.q

    Reply
  15. ILoveCheese Author

    Hello, I was thinking about getting a GH4 for video.  I have a few Nikon mount lenses and wanted to find out if I use my Rokinon 12mm f2.8 full frame lens on the GH4 with an adapter if it will become or equal a 27.6mm lens. Thanks!

    Reply
  16. JakeShaneMusic Author

    Thanks for all the advice—after watching your videos I decided to buy the GH3. It had been working great until a couple days ago when I went to use it and it wouldn't turn on. I thought it was a battery issue but after trying three different ones I decided it must be a different problem. Have you ever heard of this issue? The camera simply won't turn on, and it has been treated emaculately, never dropped, not even scratches.

    Reply
  17. Natan Rufino Author

    Hey Griffin! Excellent review! Thanks a lot! Maybe if knew you before I had not bought my Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera… I just needed a camera to record video and audio for about 2h without any stop. Is GH3 or GH4 able to do that? Do I get a clip movie with 2 hours duration? I loved those GH cameras much more than my BMPCC…. anyy advice? Thank you bro!

    Reply
  18. Karl Spencer Author

    Hi Griffin, don't know if anyone has asked, but have you tried matching the colour on your GH3 to something close to the GH4's Cinelike D? If so, what settings are you using? Style? Contrast, saturation, noise reduction?

    Reply
  19. Albert Arriola Author

    Really helpful comparison. I didn't know about the 4kCropSensor on the GH4. For some reason I've seen millions of reviews on the gh4 but have never seen that point made (and its pretty huge imo). So my Voigtlander I shoot with thats 17.5mm would be a 40mm in 4k correct? Also, your shots on the gh4 doesn't seem too bad higher ISOS. One thing I havent upgraded from my gh3 is because I hear its still bad in low light situations. People say you shouldnt be going over 800ISO on either camera because its not usable. From this video it seems like pretty damn solid at 1600iso or higher. IF this is really true, the gh4 isn't too bad for a stills camera if you can shoot with higher ISOs like the a7s II can. Makes me wonder what they will do to improve the camera in the gh5. I was hoping for a low light fix in the gh5 but this video makes me wonder if I should just grab a gh4 instead of waiting.

    Reply
  20. John Walsh Guitar Author

    Hey Griffin,
    Fantastic review! I've just subscribed to your channel. Some really amazing videos man.
    I have a quick question if you would be so kind as to give me your opinion:
    I am thinking of purchasing a GH3 to make my youtube vids but I would need some remote control over focus etc. I would be happy to use the Lumix Link app over wifi but it seems to have functionality up to iOS 6 and therefore won't work with my iPhone 6. I don't think the new Panasonic Image App is compatible with the GH3 so it seems to be a bit of a hopeless situation.
    Any thoughts on the matter?
    Kind regards,
    John

    Reply
  21. Eric Halbherr Author

    There is something to mention about the shipping versions:
    You can switch in every GH4 between NTSC and PAL but you will have the 30min border if you buy the GH4 in Europe.
    But if you buy the new GH4R which is not more expensive than the GH4 you can bypass the 30min border. In fact the normal GH4 gets cheaper by the release of the GH4R so it now only costs you about 1.100 – 1.200 € (body only) while the GH4R has the same price the GH4 had before which is 1.500 € (body only).

    Reply
  22. Dain Bedford-Pugh Author

    Great video, Griffin – very useful! I was thinking of getting a GH3, but have managed to add more cash for my new camera budget, so immediately thought I should just go for a GH4. Your review has made me rethink; I am now wondering if I should stick with getting a GH3 and use the extra money for a lens….

    Reply
  23. luckispucki TV Author

    Hi Griffin,
    which Lumix GH3 do you have….? the PAL one or the NTSC…? and which of them are better or have more advantages….?

    Reply
  24. Jay Red Projects Author

    Shot on a GH2 with Nikkon Nikkor Lenses 🙂 If you like our short film please take a minute and give it a quick vote as a thank you here :)http://www.rode.com/myrodereel/watch/entry/2564

    Reply
  25. nictheartist Author

    I've been wondering how you downscale 4k to 1080p, because I can't see myself editing in 4k in a hurry. How do you go about that? Very good comparison, informative and thorough.

    Reply
  26. davefromlondon1 Author

    I video martial arts training. I like to shot a move at regular speed but when I edit I produce a copy of the move and use software to create slow motion. the result is 1 clip regular speed, then 2nd clip slow motion . question. gh4 has improved 96fps slow motion so that's good but I never know till I edit that I need slow motion. do you have to pre select 96fps for the gh4 slow motion benefit or is there a way to have my cake and eat it ie normal motion and slow motion ?

    Reply
  27. MoonShine McGee Author

    On the GH2 a photo could be taken by touching the screen & would focus on that point as well, can't seem to find how to do that on the GH3.

    Reply
  28. Fangshi Zhu Author

    Thanks, Griffin! Great great review. I got a GH4 and am experiencing severe yellow tint no matter how I set the camera color profile. Is there any fix for this?

    Reply
  29. Andie Fairy Author

    what lenses would you recommend for independent filmmaker? I have just got the panasonic gh4 and need to buy lens to start making short movies. Thanks

    Reply
  30. Asim Kinhnarath Author

    Hey Griffin, between the GH3 and the G85, which would you recommend for vlogging? I have a choice between the two from two friends and can't decide which one I should go with. is the 4k worth it? Any advice or feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    Reply
  31. Martin Rodgers Author

    Found this (your chanel) by accident, was serching for the GH2/3 for comparison and was very impressed with the vlog/review. Both great cameras but a bit too expensive for me. PS although this was made 3yrs ago do you still have the GH2 and are you selling it? If so how much would you sell it for, worth a try asking….

    Reply
  32. Shao Zhang Author

    I'm interested in a GH3 or GH4 for use as a spotting scope.  Basically stick a tele lens on it and use a relatively large external monitor to view subjects from far away.  Not that interested in recording video and all that comes with that.  I'd like to be able to crop into the image like how some cameras have as a focus assist to get even more magnification.  Something like 1:1 sensor pixel to 1080p output would be super.  Is that possible with either the GH3/GH4?  Is either camera better at that?

    Reply
  33. Marcus Leo Author

    Hi! Thanks for your video! I just bought a used Panasonic G3 and I was wondering if you have some suggestion what I can do to get better quality of the videos I make.
    I want to record myself working on my IPAD and the camera is like 60 cm up in the air facing downwards. Is there some settings I can change? A better lens?
    This is a recording I did today. I recorded in the best resolution possible as I understand on this camera: 1920 x 1080. Basically can I make the picture even more sharper? =)
    https://studio.youtube.com/video/f0koDv7qYyo/edit

    Reply
  34. John-Marc Edwards Author

    I'm here in 2019, debating on getting a GH3 for livestream for my in-laws church lol
    THANK YOU Griffin Hammond for being awesome.

    Reply

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