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Old May 18th, 2011, 12:59 PM   #1
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GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Hey guys,

I need to recommend a camera to a non-profit I'll be working with to shoot some question and answer type sessions between a speaker and an audience. I'm wondering if the GH2 would be good for our situation. Here are some points:

- I need the camera to perform well in venues with only in house lighting and no extra lighting equipment. It's just the nature of what I'll have to work with. Some venues, including the main one we'll be using, should have adequate light, but other venues might be more difficult...I'll just have to see as time goes on. Any thoughts?

- Will the GH2 record forever as long as there's space on the SD card, or will there be potential overheating or time limit issues? I'm in the states so it will be NTSC, not PAL with that 30 minute limit. Also, when it splits recordings into 4GB chunks will I be able to join the files for post without any issues or glitches? I'll want it to be able to record for at least 3-4 hour sessions. Some days may be 5 plus hours but with breaks, so I can swap the SD cards then.

- If I go with the GH2 I'd like to record the audio straight to the camera, although syncing audio in post could be an option. We'll be using 2 mics for vocals, so if I take the output of the mixer, use a pad to get the signal back down to mic level, and run it into the GH2, would we get good sound quality?

- I guess the last question I can think of for now is about the zooming. The shot for this camera will most likely be fixed in one spot on the speaker, but with zooming in and out from time to time. Is it easy to get a smooth zoom with the GH2?

I appreciate your thoughts, thanks!
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:17 PM   #2
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Just my initial reaction, I'd say it might be wrong camera for the job. I would consider a regular video camera. A used FX1000 or HMC150 would both be decent.

A full, smooth zoom is relatively impossible with the GH2 unless your talking just a slight adjustment.

Could you make the camera work? Of course. But it wouldn't be a walk in the park. You would really want two for the job. If you had two of them, one to cut to in post, that would be better.

Focusing is difficult with the camera for a long shot, you need to go manual and use focus assist which must be done while the camera is not recording.

No time limit, except for batteries, which last about an hour +20 minutes. You can use a battery pack, but as of now the coupler required is hard to find unless you buy it for 5X the price on Ebay, etc.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 02:49 PM   #3
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

I second Jeff on this. I do a lot of this type of filming for non-profits with everything from a single chip JVC hard drive camera to a JVC HM700. The question is: who is going to use this camera? A capable pro or anybody they can get to do it?

A decent file based video camera should be sufficient, just be sure to research the models with a mic input and then recommend a Beachtek XLR to mini adapter for hooking up to a house mixer. You can use the GH2 and it's a breeze to carry around but the auto-focus is terrible in unpredictable low light situations. I have had better luck with a $300 video camera in the same situations. Audio input is also an issue as the options are limited. The Beachtek adapters for the GH2 have unenthusiastic reviews.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:12 PM   #4
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

I've used it for these before.

- Zooming with the kit 14-140 takes a lot of practice, and a leverage aid helps tremendously.
- Until DCC8 AC-DC adapters start becoming available, shooting for more than 2 hours continuously will be a problem.
- One lens option: a Pentax or Canon C-mount 8-48mm/F1.0 TV zoom lens. May take some fiddling to get the adapter fitted right. You'll have to shoot in ETC mode to avoid vignetting, but it would give you an effective focal length of ~42-250 and be as fast as you could possibly want with smooth manual zooming.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:14 PM   #5
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

David, there is a newer Panasonic out, the HMC40? (Edit: Tm700 is the correct model) I can't think of the name, but it is under $1k, and people are raving about it being quite a nice camera for the money. If I had $1k to throw around, I'd get one just to see what the fuss was all about.

For your non-profit friends it might be just the ticket. I don't know if it would perform adequately in the lighting conditions, but if it is light sensitive enough for your needs, I'd take a long hard look at it.
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Last edited by Jeff Harper; May 18th, 2011 at 04:12 PM.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:22 PM   #6
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Thanks,

Jeff, any chance you could dig up the model you have in mind? There's a test here of the HMC40 YouTube - Panasonic AG-HMC40 low light test compared with HF100 It looks like the xa10 would be better and it's $2000 vs the $1800 for the HMC40.

So my guess is you're thinking of a different model?

Edit: Btw, I'm leaning towards the GH2 being out. Not having an AC adapter would make it unusable for this kind of work. If the talk goes beyond 2 hours and the batteries die, that would screw everything up. Also, if I have to buy SD cards, a lens and something like the Beachtek it would probably be over $1500 and that's getting close to the $2000 for the xa10.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:28 PM   #7
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Yes, you are right, the model is the TM900, sorry about that! HMC 40 is an older model now that I recall. Here's the first thing that popped up when I did search. They say it is sharper than the HMC-150, according to Colin Rowe, who loves his.

UMBRIA - FONTI DEL CLITUNNO [ Panasonic HDC-TM900 Test 1080/50p ] videos - by Youtube Video Script
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Old May 18th, 2011, 03:54 PM   #8
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Cool, thanks for the recommendation!

Right now I'm leaning towards that one because the low light performance seems good: YouTube - Panasonic TM900 Extreme Low Light Test (1080p50)

I think it should work fine for our purposes. YouTube - Dolomites, Italy 2011 - Panasonic HDC-TM900 Full HD Test
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:00 PM   #9
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

I've been looking at the TM900 too. I have heard that the video image quality is awesome and intercuts very well with the GH2. My concern is the fan noise that has been noted in several http://www.amazon.com/review/R1PCPQVAAWWWM/ref=cm_cr_pr_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B004I43MJU&nodeID=&tag=&linkCode=.

For that reason, for a little less than the AG-HMC40, I'm also considering the $1749 Sony HXR-MC2000U.

It shoots 1080 interlaced and not progressive -- but it has XLR inputs built in (which the TM900 and HMC40 do not) and it has shoulder-mount ergonomics instead of the prosumer ergonomics of the two Panasonic cams.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:02 PM   #10
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

I'm wondering about using the TM900 with the Beachtek. We'll be using a Fender portable PA sometimes, so running the output of that into the Beachtek, then into the camera...or running the house mixer's out into the Beachtek.

I'll try the TM900 forums to see if anybody has any info.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:14 PM   #11
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

You could try the new zoom recorder with video for your audio. I bet the audio would work well and it would be great quality all for arond $500. I'm thinking of going that route. Since the recorder has video it should sync up perfectly.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #12
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Good suggestion, but we already have an audio setup. All that needs to happen is that we need to record it well. I think the easiest thing would be to run the audio into the camera, provided we could use a passive level control and the resulting sound quality would be the same.
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Old May 18th, 2011, 07:52 PM   #13
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Beachtek adapters are good but you should check out the model you want to use it with. Some cameras don't work as well as others.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 12:02 AM   #14
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Yeah, I posted a question about this on the TM900 forums. However, some people were saying they liked the product by JuicedLink better.
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Old May 19th, 2011, 01:29 AM   #15
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Re: GH2 good for low light 2 plus hour shoots?

Yes, it's good camera for that application. I have 3 GH2's and using them on occasion for concerts. They don't overheat like the Canons do, there is no fixed record times and they are highly reliable.

If you go with in camera audio, you'll get great results with the self powered Rode NT3, available new for about $270, used of $130. Great mic.

And they shine in low light, you'd have to spend 10x the price of a GH2 to get a dedicated video camera, like the ones suggested in this thread, to get equivalent light gathering ability. It's no contest. You could buy 3 or 4 GH2's and still spend way less and have safety/redundancy in your recording compared to a single, dedicated vid cam.

With regards to zooming, if you want a smooth zoom, you'll need a follow focus, they start around $130.

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