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Old April 27th, 2009, 01:37 PM   #1
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Is the GH1 a serious video camera?

Is the GH1 a really serious contender for a video camera? I know that the large sensor size should be good for low light and shallow DOF, but I believe it lacks focus aids, zebra stripes, scopes, XLR inputs and I am sure there are other things. Is this more of a camera that you use in addition to your “real video camera” ? I am about ready to buy the HMC-150 for my instructional videos, should I wait for the GH1 for it’s larger sensor?
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Old April 27th, 2009, 08:18 PM   #2
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Short answer: Yes.

Longer answer: Any tool can be used for "serious" purposes by a professional. What matters is how the tool is used. That said, name another camcorder under $3000 that can match the GH1's image quality. On top of that, you also get manual controls. So it should be "serious" enough for most prosumers. HD camcorders over $1000 may have more useful videography features like the ones that you mentioned, but none of them can be had for less than $2K or $3K. You can easily deal with the lack of those features, anyway.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 02:42 AM   #3
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i wouldn't mess around with Olympus unless you were into manipulating the image.

for instructional videos you will find that the 150 has powerful features like XLR and more depth of field which won't get you into focus trouble
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Old April 30th, 2009, 03:25 AM   #4
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i wouldn't mess around with Olympus unless you were into manipulating the image.

for instructional videos you will find that the 150 has powerful features like XLR and more depth of field which won't get you into focus trouble
You can get a Beachtek XLR adapter for around $200. The kit lens also has outstanding autofocus, which helps eliminate the "focus trouble." Most people agree that shallow DOF for color cinematography/videography is almost always better-looking than deep DOF. The GH1 offers control over DOF, while regular camcorders force you to have deep DOF. All of the manual controls that are offered on the GH1 (i.e. everything available in still mode) are as serious as it gets. The only major weakness of the video from the GH1 is the codec.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 04:04 AM   #5
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Most people agree that shallow DOF for color cinematography/videography is almost always better-looking than deep DOF. .
Not really true, though people that own small chip video cameras often say that. I'm not sure when and where shallow dof became the holy grail for prosumers.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 04:34 AM   #6
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Not really true, though people that own small chip video cameras often say that. I'm not sure when and where shallow dof became the holy grail for prosumers.
Why did deep-focus cinematography go out of style after the 1950s? There are numerous reasons, but one of them is because of the rise of color cinematography. The truth is that deep-focus cinematography doesn't work very well with color because there's too much information assaulting the eyes when nearly everything is in focus. All of the colors of all of the different objects compete for the viewer's attention.

Take a poll. Ask cinephiles, photographers, and regular people. (Avoid filmmakers and videographers, since they're likely to be biased.) Show them two images. They should be exactly the same, except that one has shallow DOF, and the other has deep DOF. Which do they prefer? I have a feeling that the majority will go with the one with shallow DOF. There are many reasons, other than what I stated in the first paragraph, for why shallow DOF is aesthetically preferable in the majority of situations.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #7
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Here goes another dof debate. :) I must say that in certain environments, I still prefer large dof on small chip cameras. And believe me, I'm a shallow dof addict at this point. Here are examples of when I appreciate small chip sensor cameras.

1) Live events in clubs, bands, music videos - I want focus, and I want it fast, in low light. I already battle with focus on the far end of telephoto at shows, and if you're not totally on it, you lose a lot of potential shots. For music videos shot in live environments, I'd say its smart to have some smaller chip cameras, as well as these bigger chipped ones.

2) Corporate and training video - I want quick, small setups for interviews, b-roll, product shots for training, etc, with minimal light rigging and the least amount of haggling with focus. The customer/client/stakeholder for these jobs/projects care more about the job getting done fast and looking crisp.

3) Documentary, news, reality, lifestyle, journalism work - again, I think the last thing I'd want to deal with is shallow dof. The exception to this would be a film/cinema style documentary. I actually have a preference for greater dof on all of the above, and if you watch a lot of this on TV, you'll see constant examples of this, although a lot of it is shot on 2/3 chip cameras (if you can afford it - Scarlet 2/3rds?)

So with that, for training videos? I'd say get the HMC-150 unless you have some really artsy requirements and vision for your training videos, and can deal with the hassles of focusing, OR, you have enough control over your lighting to get whatever DOF you want. And don't forget pro audio - I'd be pretty nervous relying on the GH1 for that. We know the 5DMkII is horrible to deal with in that regard.

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Old April 30th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #8
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Steve I think I probably agree with you on all those points. But for cinema style of shooting I think Fei Meng is correct.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 08:59 AM   #9
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Steve I think I probably agree with you on all those points. But for cinema style of shooting I think Fei Meng is correct.
I agree, as a cinematic tool, at this point, without question I'd get the GH1. But Scott's initial question mentioned training video, and big flags went up in my mind.

I think one of the bigger questions I'd have concerns the audio. Does anyone know if you can monitor the audio with headphones on the GH1? Does it give you audio level visual metering? Can you turn off AGC?
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Last edited by Steev Dinkins; April 30th, 2009 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Spelling - Doh!
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Old April 30th, 2009, 09:00 AM   #10
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1.When using the stock lens, the camera has focus tracking, single focus and face recognition early report said that it is very good, hope they are right and this problem is solve.
2.Low light is said to be even better than EX1 with the stock lens, and the stock lens is slow, F4-5.6, and so if you get a faster lens like someting around F 1.6 or so, low light should be great, so this problem is also solve.
3.for outdoor shot, you should have no problem getting great dof, indoor need fast lens so you can use smaller apperture, picture quality is close to the red from early report, so for $1500.00 I think it is a steal, I will get one for sure.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steev Dinkins View Post
I agree, as a cinematic tool, at this point, without question I'd get the GH1. But Scott's initial question mentioned training video, and big flags went up in my mind.

I think one of the bigger questions I'd have concerns the audio. Does anyone know if you can monitor the audio with headphones on the GH1? Does it give you audio level visual metering? Can you turn off AGC?
You can not monitor the audio, but Beachtek make a XLR adapter for the Canon 5D than constantly put out a inaudioble 20Khz signal to defeat the AGC, and it has headphone and meter so you can monitor it there, hopefully the cable will work because the HG1 use a different type.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 09:44 AM   #12
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You can not monitor the audio, but Beachtek make a XLR adapter for the Canon 5D than constantly put out a inaudioble 20Khz signal to defeat the AGC, and it has headphone and meter so you can monitor it there, hopefully the cable will work because the HG1 use a different type.
So I assume that means no audio level meters either? Big risk there, but I assume you can do thorough testing with an audio interface (beachtek, mixer), and establish where the levels are and how to avoid distortion. I'd be comfortable with being able to record a test, and confirm playback for each take.

I wonder if you could take the A/V cable and send audio to a mixer for playback (since it sounds like it won't pass audio live).

That would work fine using a mixer with switchable tape monitoring:

PSC | DV PROMIX 3 - Field Mixer | FPSCDVMIX3 | B&H Photo Video

Just switch it over to the GH1 a/v out after takes to confirm?

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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:21 AM   #13
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It looks like I am going with the HMC-150. Its additional features will just make it quicker and easier to work with. At some point I would like to get a GH1 for more creative and low light stuff. The GH1 would probably wind up costing more than the 150 because the kit lens is too slow so I would get a lens adapter for Olympus lenses and the fast Olympus lenses are good but expensive. I know I could get a few prime lenses cheaper but they require more time and effort. Add a Beachtek XLR adapter (assuming that they will make one) and the cost goes up even more.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 10:52 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Steev Dinkins View Post
So I assume that means no audio level meters either? Big risk there, but I assume you can do thorough testing with an audio interface (beachtek, mixer), and establish where the levels are and how to avoid distortion.
Why not just use a portable audio recorder and use dual-system sound? Use the GH-1 audio as a synch track in post. I can't imagine the audio would be that great on a DSLR camera anyway.
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Old April 30th, 2009, 11:07 AM   #15
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Why not just use a portable audio recorder and use dual-system sound? Use the GH-1 audio as a synch track in post. I can't imagine the audio would be that great on a DSLR camera anyway.
Yes, I think that's the superior way to do it. However, your production process has just taken a leap complexity-wise. When I think of the logistics involved with daily grind project work, I'd never want to do dual system sound. So, to that end, I'd say a "serious video camera" should be able to do single system sound recording and monitoring.

I guess we can say the GH1 is potentially a serious "digital cinema" camera?
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