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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
4K and AVCHD on a Micro Four Thirds system camera with interchangeable lenses.

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Old November 14th, 2010, 11:29 AM   #1
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GH2 Questions

I'm looking into supplementing my FX-1 with a camera that can give me both stills and video, and yes, having DoF control is part of it too. As an old school videographer, I know little of this new niche so I hope my questions aren't too vague.

I was looking at the Canon Rebel t2i but the biggest thing to stop me was the short recording time. About 1/3 of my production work currently is theatrical shows of up to an hour+ duration and I was hoping to use the photo/video camera as a lock down. The GH2 seems to solve that, as well as audio control and the swing out lcd screen, (as compared to the t2i).

I've also read of the firmware hacks that have greatly improved movie quality, (though I don't know if this will work on the GH2?) and I don't know how this might affect record times. So what are the data rates of the new hacks, how does the image compare to the t2i's at the different rates and can I get an hours' recording time at these higher rates?

Also, has the banding issue in the dark areas been resolved?

And I do have some Canon glass, how easy is this to use with the Lumix series and 4/3 cameras?

I'm asking the questions about a camera that may not be out yet...? But even if people could give me their perspective from the hacked/updated GH1's. I'm still lookong at the t21 but the GH2 has definately caught my attention and I would love to hear pros/cons from you folks.
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Old November 15th, 2010, 05:25 AM   #2
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Someone else will have to answer about the GH2 (although I've ordered one myself and am waiting for it to be released/delivered), but I have a T2i and I would highly recommend against trying to use it for anything like the theatrical events you mentioned. I recorded a concert in May with 3 Sony V1U's, and I brought along my T2i just to play around with during the sound checks. In my mind, the lack of autofocus alone negates its use for any live venue recordings that I can think of. The T2i constantly required manual refocusing via pressing down the shutter halfway, but then the footage dramatically changed each time for between 2-5 seconds as it readjusted. It looked horrible. The GH2's autofocus and its speed appear to have a dramatic difference from the T2i with this issue.

Then, as you mentioned, the < 30 minute limitation can be tricky. If you're recording with multiple cameras or have an event where there are gaps in between songs or acts, you have built in breaks where you can stop/restart. But it's one of those things that you don't want to be worrying about during a live capture. The GH2 doesn't have this limitation... at least in the US.

I'm still not convinced that the HDSLR's are the best options for live capture of events such as concerts/plays, but my guess is that the GH2 would be a much better option than the T2i.

Regarding the hack... if you research this issue, it seems that Panasonic eliminated this option even with the latest GH1's, so it won't be an option at least for a while with the GH2, so I wouldn't purchase it with the definite plan that you'll have the higher bitrates.
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Old November 15th, 2010, 07:15 AM   #3
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If it were me... I would use the FX-1 as the lock-down cam, and then use the T2i or GH2 with the shallower DOF as my close-up cam.

Good Luck!
David W. Jones
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Old November 15th, 2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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The GH2 has the same 17Mbps data rate in 1080i60/50 and 720p60 as the unhacked GH1. The GH2 has an increased 24Mbps datarate only in 1080p24.

There is no guarantee that it will be able to be hacked to get the higher bitrates obtainable on a GH13, although that's of course very high on many folk's wish-list!

It does however have a much more powerful processor than the GH1 and all the comments I've seen have been raving that banding and fixed pattern noise are hugely reduced. As with the GH1, aliasing and moire are much much less than with the Canons and Nikons.

Canon lenses can be easily fitted with an adapter. They will be manual focus, and I think there are issues with aperture control. I have Pentax DA lenses (no aperture ring) and needed to buy a more expensive adapter that added aperture control via the adapter.
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Old November 15th, 2010, 03:28 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. The idea of using the gh1 or 2 was to use it to supplement the creative options for my corporate work. And for the theater stuff, as a wide shot from roughly the last row of seats, to set a focus and leave it on lock-down. Hopefully the dof from back there would be deep enough for everybody to be in at least rough-focus.

I've been using 2 FX-1's, one on lock down. (Availability of the 2nd camera might end.) I shoot in 1080i and then scale the footage down into an sd video frame for editing and distribution. That means the full 1080i frame is scaled down to 44% to fit and you can pan&scan up to almost 'double-size' and still stay within 100% scaling of the original size.

The reason to use the FX-1 for close-ups, (which is generally no closer than a single or maybe a cowboy shot) is because the zoom (and focus) can be pretty quick, for framing and easy handling.

On the wide shot, the lock down camera can get soft from macro-blocking, trying to resolve detail in the blacks, and it seems to soften the whole shot. Maybe the Lumix or other photo/video camera can help with that.

I'm hoping to find a few folks in the SF Bay area that are willing to do some tests before the Dec./January winter shows start. In the meantime, thanks for your reponses, it's giving me some confirmation and context on what research I've been able to do.

Maybe I should try getting an older (hackable) gh1 :-).... And does anybody know if the newer GH1's were purposefully prevented from being hacked or if it was a fluke of new firmware. Not that it matters much but could be a cool story.
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Old November 15th, 2010, 03:49 PM   #6
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If you are locking off on a tripod at the back of the auditorium, have you considered simply using one of the small AVCHD cams like the TM700 or the Sony equivalent? They will run forever and likely be sharper.

Panasonic intentionally disabled the hack. One thing that clearly upset them was the added ability to use non-proprietary batteries.
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Old November 19th, 2010, 05:02 AM   #7
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Nice review

[Review] Panasonic GH2 an impressive upgrade! Akihabara News
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Old November 19th, 2010, 11:27 AM   #8
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hey Eric, I see you are in Pacifica, I grew up there, graduated oceana 68 (yes I am that old :), great town, and still looks about the same as it did back then.
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Old November 20th, 2010, 02:30 PM   #9
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Thomas, thanks for the review link. I had heard vague references to the HDMI out being recordable, but this is the first time I've read that it actually records the video out uncompressed. How to make use of that unless I have a new high end laptop with usb3 and a blackmagic intensity gizmo I'm not sure, but it is nice to know.

John, been here in Pacifica for 15 years. An odd and really lovely town/collection of 'areas'. We overlook the north end of Sharps Park golf course and see a bit of the ocean as well. If only we owned the house, sigh...

BTW, Corona del Mar HS in southern CA, class of '71 - so yeah, carrying around light kits these days is so much less fun...

This camera is sounding more and more like THE ONE for me. If anyone local to me has one for rental/testing let me know and I'll see what I can arrange with my sponsoring organization.
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