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Old March 29th, 2009, 01:21 PM   #1
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Canon 5DMkII vs Panasonic GH1

For anyone who is on the fence about these two cameras. So am I.

There are pros and cons with both cameras, however, most of the analysis on picture quality so far can't be validated much on the GH1 since it hasn't been reviewed sufficiently by anyone. It's similar to how the HVX200 came out. We got all the specs first, then trickling in of footage, debate, more footage, and as we all saw more footage and reviews when shipping, we know the rest of the story. The HVX200 then sold like crazy in high demand with backorders and scarcity. That story is similar to the 5DMkII, however A) The 5DMkII buzz launched with the Vincent Laforet video (the HVX didn't launch like that at all, B) There are the Manual Controls/30p issue that we all have with the 5DMkII (there were lesser complaints with the HVX although I do remember clearly - people were EXTREMELY critical of it.

I predict the story to be similar again with the GH1. We're going to see video samples trickle in and we're going to love on it and hate on it, and as more footage comes in from increasingly creative people (key thing here), many people will be convinced and close the deal and get it. Considering if it's $1500? It's not much of a risk (but that could increase significantly after buying lenses). The 5DMkII is more of a risk in the face of the GH1 hitting the market and proving to be the more capable machine. That's when you cry if you purchased the 5DMkII only 2 months before the GH1 becomes a legendary camera of choice. Or just buy the 5DMkII now and stop reading up on cameras for 12 months+ and be productive with the investment.

This weekend I rented a 5DMkII to get some use, experience, and satisfaction out of it, and it's making it easier to potentially wait for the GH1 to arrive and know if it's the winner or not.


5DMkII Problems and Solutions
Lack of manual control over Aperture, Shutter, and ISO. Everything resets each time you record. Solution: Using Nikon lenses or taping Canon contacts, you can control aperture. You can lock exposure and then adjust. However, if you wait 10 seconds auto exposure turns back on. Bummer. You can't control ISO but don't really need to. However the giant issue is shutter speed control. In my opinion, with some trickery it can be controlled enough. In short, my experience this weekend has been "Damn this is easy to get incredible imagery out of this!" I actually see the benefit of auto exposure. Break out your pro camcorder and point at a dim room, then quickly point it at broad day light, and see how long it takes for you to get proper exposure. With the 5D AI, it takes about 1-2 seconds, then lock it and go.

30fps. Solution: A) Conform it to 24fps which slows down the footage, but that can be used creatively. B) Use Twixtor to interpolate footage to 24fps (LOTTA WORK). C) Just shoot everything in 30p if you don't really NEED to do 24p. This last point sparks the giant 30 vs 24 debate, but in my opinion, 30p has some advantage, just like 24p has some advantage. Put another way... what if you WANT to shoot 1080 30p on the GH1?

Higher price - the higher price is lessened by how many Nikon lenses I already have that I can use instantly. With the GH1, the smaller price tag is offset by the fact that I'm going to have to purchase new lenses to get prime/fast lenses in the focal lengths I want. I'd keep some 35mm lenses and sell the rest.

Need to transcode all footage - coming from the workflow with DVCPRO HD on the HVX, I'm not happy with transcoding, but it's worth it with either the 5D or GH1. ProRes or DVCPRO HD on a Mac is the way to go for me. Run it through compressor and go outside for awhile, or do something else light duty on your computer for awhile.

12 minute record limit - it's obvious how awful this is and eliminates this camera from doing anything that needs critical capture of an event. For me its for experimental art and controlled shoots, so I don't mind that limitation. I'm not sure of the record limit on the GH1, but if it's limited to memory card, that rocks.

No Articulating LCD - really painful, but I can work around it, and it just means less low/high angle shots. This is one of the features where the GH1 just completely smokes the 5D.

No Built-In ND Filters - same issue between the 2 cameras. I'm spoiled by my HVX. While shutter speed and ISO in photography can help control exposure, that's no good for video/film. So ND filters are a must. The opposite of light source control - light blockage control. Fortunately threaded filters are cheap, but not easy to swap on/off. A mattebox is expensive and bulky, but if it's time to get serious, that's the answer.

Auto Audio Gain - good for reference, home videos and stupid stuff. Other than that, I would be using a 2nd audio system if I needed audio capture when I'm shooting (often I don't). Regarding the GH1, I don't think there's been any report of the ability to turn auto gain on or off.

GH1 Problems and Solutions
Not Available yet - supposed to be available in Japan April 26th. BHphoto says June in the US.

I am skeptical of it's resolution - we haven't seen anything showcasing the resolution. We've seen some highly compressed, small scaled footage that ranges from lame trade show, to the pretty girls in the tropics. But we really haven't seen anything that comes close to the 5DMkII. We can only imagine it.

Data Rate not as high - this is a deal breaker for some people on the face of it, but if you're not mastering at 1080 or theatrical, it may not matter. I'm still satisfied with 720p mastering personally. At least there would be the crispness of 1080 res to begin with and use that size to scale/stabilize/crop, then master it down to 720p.

Transcode all footage - same issue as 5D.

Lenses - Can't use 35mm Nikon lenses without 2x crop factor - I'd have to say goodbye to some favorite lenses in the application I intended on. I would keep a few of my Nikons including my 105 micro nikkor even though it would be very telephoto now at 200mm but I guess it's time for hardcore microscopic macro footage. These are the lenses I have been eyeing for the GH1:
  • Panasonic Standard 25mm f/1.4 Leica D Summilux - about $800 USD. A must-have.
  • Panasonic Wide Zoom 7-14mm f4 - just announced. price not available yet. It's a bummer that it's not 2.8. I have not found a faster wide lens for 4/3rds. The Olympus is f4 as well but it's $1750! I hope the Panasonic is way less $$.
  • Sigma Zoom Super Wide Angle 18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro - nice fast zoom for $370, but as a wide, it's only 36mm. But it's a nice go-anywhere useable range of 36mm-100mm with macro focusing ability.
  • Panasonic 45-200mm f/4-5.6 G Vario MEGA O.I.S. Lens for Micro Four Thirds SLR - this is about as much reach on a telephoto I'd ever need, but I'm only thinking of this lens for photography.

With all of the issues put aside and remedied, here's what it comes down to.

GH1 wins for it's size/weight, manual control, articulating LCD, potentially superior audio, 24p, auto focus, Intelligent exposure (I think that's available in video mode but not sure)

5DMkII wins for it's resolution, full frame sensor for DOF, no cropping on 35mm lenses, heavy duty build quality, CF cards more sturdy.

Hopefully hands-on reviews and sample footage from the GH1 come at latest end of April when it ships in Japan.

-steev
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Old March 29th, 2009, 02:16 PM   #2
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No comparison

What makes the 5DMK2 so unique is that it's full frame, giving full DOF control. Without that, it's just an SLR that can shoot video. Isn't the 4/3 system just another in a long line of "let's make it cheaper" formats?

Even DX has a bigger sensor, which is why I think we're going to see a lot of DX video SLRs very soon that offer almost as much DOF control as the 5D. And, we're going to see more full frame SLRs that eliminate the 5Ds shortcomings.

Ever since video became a popular medium, we've been trying to make it look like film. It's why we accept the somewhat degraded image that 35mm adapters provide. I personally would never buy another video camera that doesn't give me good DOF control, because I know I'll regret it.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 04:33 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
What makes the 5DMK2 so unique is that it's full frame, giving full DOF control. Without that, it's just an SLR that can shoot video. Isn't the 4/3 system just another in a long line of "let's make it cheaper" formats?
I disagree. There is indeed a comparison to continue to make.

The real question is, what is the DOF like on a 4/3 sized sensor? Finding the answer to this isn't as easy as you'd think. But I found someone comparing APS-C size to the 5D Mark I "Full Frame Size". Which is comparing 26.7x15mm width sensor to a 35.8x23.9mm sensor. They're not much different.

http://www.holyzoo.com/content/dslr/24-105vs17-55.jpg

However the GH1 sensor size is 17.3x13mm. And the only thing I could find so far is this chart comparing sensor sizes of formats and what focal length and aperture is required to get the same FOV/DOF.

http://www.holyzoo.com/content/dslr/..._dof_chart.jpg

So, based on that info, to get the same DOF as 35mm, it looks like you need to halve your f-stop. So, if what you're after is, say, the DOF of 2.8 on full frame, bust out your f1.4 prime lens on the GH1. We all know f2.8 is no slouch for shallow DOF. I rarely go for the burden of f1.2 anyway - it's extremely shallow and rarely sharp. So let's think of it as a potential benefit that you can pull off a f1.4 lens for light gathering properties, and get the DOF of f2.8. What this means for the plethora of lenses for 4/3 that are no faster than f4, is that they are going to produce the bokeh and DOF that of f8 on 35mm. And I would agree - that is often not as shallow as I want. Best to have fast primes, but then the question is - how sharp are they open all the way up, mounted to the GH1.

More importantly, let's remember that the previous video offerings at this price point have been DV/HDV/HD camcorders where sensors haven't been larger than 1/3" - 6x4.8mm. The sensor in the GH1 is nearly 3x that size. You ARE going to get seriously shallow DOF on the GH1. And like we've seen already from tons of adapter-based and 5DMkII video, that DOF often gets best of the operator - it's a major challenge to focus with the DOF these cameras are providing. So if the GH1 has slightly deeper depth of focus? Take full advantage of it! People with the 1/3" and 2/3" chips surely have.

Any one else with some real world sensor size DOF examples?
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Old March 29th, 2009, 05:34 PM   #4
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Rather disingenuous of you to say "the only thing you found" and then we find that it's on your own site, no?

Also, you're comparing a 90mm lens with a 55mm.

The other chart adds nothing.
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Old March 29th, 2009, 06:30 PM   #5
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Rather disingenuous of you to say "the only thing you found" and then we find that it's on your own site, no?
Here is the source if you're questioning the validity.
Serious Compacts - Photography, News, Discussion, and Reviews of Advanced Compact Cameras: December 2007


Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
Also, you're comparing a 90mm lens with a 55mm.
Of course - 55mm on the smaller sensor (due to crop) is the equivalent to a 90mm with the larger sensor.

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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
The other chart adds nothing.
What it shows you is an example of depth of field equivalents in varying sensor sizes. Refer to the section called "confusion".
Tips / Depth-of-field / 4 - Depth-of-field & Sensor Size

Another way to check this out is with the following calculator:
Online Depth of Field Calculator

I created several tabs in my browser to compare 35mm, 4/3, 2/3, and 1/3" sensor sizes. Need to make sure to change the focal length to the correct compensated FOV for each sensor size for it work. From there you can estimate what the depth of field is. The GH1 sensor would definitely have a greater DOF straight up. But it's not as bad as I thought it might be. The jump from 4/3ds down to 2/3 and 1/3 is pretty horrible though.

Canon 5DMkII, 55mm lens at f2 = 1.19ft DOF
GH1, 27mm lens at f2 = 2.53ft
HVX200, 7.15mm lens at f2 = Infinity
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Old March 30th, 2009, 02:51 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Paul Cascio View Post
What makes the 5DMK2 so unique is that it's full frame, giving full DOF control. Without that, it's just an SLR that can shoot video. Isn't the 4/3 system just another in a long line of "let's make it cheaper" formats?
I would point out the following items:

1. The GH1 sensor size is substantially larger than 16mm film frame size. Not many people at that level have been complaining about lack of DOF control. Indeed, there is some complaining going on that a lot of the C-mount 16mm film lenses won't work with the GH1 due to image circle/vignetting issues.

2. As the sensor size goes down from FF 35mm, it becomes ever easier to have those 10x, 12x, 17x, and 20x zoom range lenses, at a quality level you will accept and a price you are willing to pay.

With that in mind, it just might be that while FF 35mm is obviously the current holy grail for 35mm photographers, something a little different might be far more practical for the film+video folks.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #7
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But Bill, that might actually be a larger sensor, not a smaller one, b/c one chip designs get very noisy in low light.

So S35 may be the sweet spot for film, but something like FF35 (24 X 36) may be for video. That said, who knows, LOL.
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Old March 30th, 2009, 10:32 PM   #8
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But Bill, that might actually be a larger sensor, not a smaller one, b/c one chip designs get very noisy in low light.

So S35 may be the sweet spot for film, but something like FF35 (24 X 36) may be for video. That said, who knows.
Could be, could be, my crystal ball is really fuzzy.
But I do know that as the sensor size goes up, so does the size+cost of the lens.
And the weight. Depending on the what/where/how you shoot, that could be an issue.
And as the size goes down, it becomes easier to have the 10x and 20x zoom range lenses many are used to, such as on the Sony HDR-HC9 or Canon XH-A1.
In fact Panasonic already has a video 10x zoom range lens (14mm - 140mm) and a photo 4/3rds 18mm-180mm available.
I also know by past standard, like last year, u4/3rds is a huge sensor size for video.

Sensor size specs, using Wikipedia, RED and Panasonic as references for sensor sizes.

1/3" 4.8mm x 3.6mm Wikipedia
2/3" 10.1mm x 5.35mm RED
G1/GH1 17.3mm x 13.0mm Panasonic
APS-C 22.2mm x 14.8mm Wikipedia
Red One 24.4mm x 13.7mm RED
S35 30.0mm x 15.0mm RED
FF35 36.0mm x 24.0mm RED

On the other hand, there is a lot of 35mm glass looking for a home...preferably on a APS-C or FF35mm camera.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 12:25 AM   #9
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The real question is, what is the DOF like on a 4/3 sized sensor? Finding the answer to this isn't as easy as you'd think.
It's all here: wrotniak.net: Depth of field and your digital camera

4/3 has double the depth of field vis-a-vis full-frame at the same aperture and field of view.

So the stock lens on the GH1 wide open at 25mm will give you the same DOF and field of view as a 50mm lens on the 5d at f8... not exactly shallow.

Okay, so you can put a prime with an adaptor on the GH1 - the trouble is the wide end. My 20mm Nikkor 2.8 becomes a 40mm 5.6 (in terms of field of view/DOF) on a full frame, not all that wide.

Still, I wish my 5D had 25p, manual exposure control and the articulated LCD.
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Old March 31st, 2009, 09:16 AM   #10
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The Wrotniak site is a great link if you're unsure of the four thirds system and dof control. He does some writing on using legacy lenses with the four thirds system with plenty of examples of achievable dof.

If you look around on the four third user sites, you should be able to find find plenty of examples. As for me, I already have an Oly and a few lenses, which I'll add to when the camera and new lenses ship, so it's a very easy decision.

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Old March 31st, 2009, 10:19 AM   #11
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As for me, I already have an Oly and a few lenses, which I'll add to when the camera and new lenses ship, so it's a very easy decision.
So would you say you don't really miss having the f1.2-5.6 type of DOF of full frame? I see an average of lenses starting around f4 (pretty slow), although there's the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 prime (and Oly as well) which would be a must have for me. Have you been happy with the format overall?
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Old March 31st, 2009, 10:39 AM   #12
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My 20mm Nikkor 2.8 becomes a 40mm 5.6 (in terms of field of view/DOF) on a full frame, not all that wide.
Yes, that would be my pain on wide lenses. My idea would be to get the Panasonic Wide Zoom 7-14mm f4. Yes it's f4, but I don't absolutely need the super shallow DOF on that wide of a lens. But, I do love my 20mm f1.8 on full frame, and I'd miss it.

http://www.holyzoo.com/content/dslr/...f1.8_Sigma.jpg
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Old March 31st, 2009, 04:54 PM   #13
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I would point out the following items:

The GH1 sensor size is substantially larger than 16mm film frame size. Not many people at that level have been complaining about lack of DOF control.
Absolutely agree. I think we have to be a bit careful here to stay reasonable.

The Panasonic pages state that the sensor retains the viewing angle of the lense accross different aspect ratios. This is possible because the sensor is larger than the G1 sensor.

DMC-GH1 | PRODUCTS | LUMIX | Digital Camera | Panasonic Global, see "Multi Aspect Ratio"

So, taking the statement that the GH1 sensor has an active area of 17.3x13mm (perfect 2x crop factor) in 4:3. If for 16:9 the diagonal is equal (as stated), this means:

18.9 by 10.6 mm

The "digital to film" specialists Swiss effects state the projection area of 35mm standard film as 20.95 x 11.30mm.
(Swiss Effects)

This means the GH1 has roughly a 1.1 crop factor compared to the area of a film print we see in the cinema. I can live with that ;)
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Old March 31st, 2009, 05:05 PM   #14
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Steev,

I don't really know any other way as far as DSLRs go. I shoot stills as a side/hobby and don't feel that I've been left wanting for another system ie: full frame or aps c even when I've shot with them. The only downside to the system has been low light photography, but even this should be improved I hope with this cam.

I took some shots today, which I wanted to post earlier but keep getting side tracked..

The set up is my brick like E-300 with an Oly OM 50mm 1.8 ( 100mm FF equiv. ), the same set up that Wrotniak discusses in depth here wrotniak.net: OM 1.8/50 Zuiko used on Olympus E-300 Digital Camera. The camera lens was around 5 1/2 feet from the logo on the skis ( sorry my focus was a little off! ) and shots were taken at f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8 for comparison.

( for some reason the uploader just seems to be stalling?? so I'll upload them to smugmug )
Adrian Frearson, Film & Photography- powered by SmugMug

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Old March 31st, 2009, 09:49 PM   #15
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The Panasonic pages state that the sensor retains the viewing angle of the lense accross different aspect ratios. This is possible because the sensor is larger than the G1 sensor.

DMC-GH1 | PRODUCTS | LUMIX | Digital Camera | Panasonic Global, see "Multi Aspect Ratio"

So, taking the statement that the GH1 sensor has an active area of 17.3x13mm (perfect 2x crop factor) in 4:3. If for 16:9 the diagonal is equal (as stated), this means:

18.9 by 10.6 mm

The "digital to film" specialists Swiss effects state the projection area of 35mm standard film as 20.95 x 11.30mm.
(Swiss Effects)

This means the GH1 has roughly a 1.1 crop factor compared to the area of a film print we see in the cinema. I can live with that ;)
I think your numbers need to be reworked a bit, unfortunately.

If you click on the Panasonic link above, and then click on the 'Specifications' tab, they list the sensor size as 17.3mm x 13mm. So as I understand it everything they are doing is going on in that 17.3mm x 13mm sensor rectangle, irrespective of 4x3, 16x9, or 3x2. So there is no 18.9mm wide for 16x9, for instance :-(

My own approximation is:
They show maximum pixel width is achieved by shooting 16:9 giving 4352 pixels.
They show maximum pixel height is achieved by shooting 4:3 giving 3000 pixels.
I will assume 4352 pixels wide maps to 17.3 mm wide.
I will assume 3000 pixels high maps to 13mm high.

So shooting 16x9 yields
1. 17.3 mm wide at 4352 pixels, reading off their spec. chart.
2. By definition at 16x9 aspect ratio, the height will be 17.3mm*(9/16)=9.73mm
(9.73mm/13mm)*3000 pixels = 2245 pixels high

What Panasonic lists though is (2448 pixels high/3000 pixels total height)*13mm = 10.608 mm high
Where did I go wrong? That's a ~10% error.

I found the source of error:
Panasonic lists 4352 pixels wide in 17.3mm. That gives 251.560 pixels/mm horizontal.
Panasonic lists 3000 pixels tall in 13.0mm. That gives 230.769 pixels/mm vertical.
That difference would wreak havoc with their 1:1 photographic mode.
If I take their horizontal pixels/mm and apply it vertically, we find the pixels fit into 11.92mm.
I'm betting the difference between 11.92mm and 13mm is chip/sensor drive electronics.
And it means my lower number (9.73mm) applies.

But could you still live with that?

Last edited by Bill Koehler; March 31st, 2009 at 10:42 PM. Reason: Added calculation and resolved confusion
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