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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
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Old December 6th, 2012, 02:17 PM   #1
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GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Hi, I currently use a Canon 550D but also own a Sony Z1. I love the 550D but for more hectic run n gun on the hoof stuff tend to use the Z1. Autofocus on this camera is excellent and the lack of parfocal lenses for Canon (at a affordable price) make the Conon ecosystem not ideas for me, but I am getting great results.

Have heard a lot of good things about Panasonic GH and finally started looking into it. The GH2/14-140 sounds like a killer combination for documentary (and indeed drama). From what I have read I am surprised anyone uses canon (apart from 5D which is another story). Is the autofocus any good and does it really hold the focus through zoom (can I use the zoom in focus zoom out method)?

GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for the price, am I missing something, what are the drawbacks?

Are the inbuilt pre-amps any good or will I still be using my BeachTek DXA-SLR.

Seriously considering selling all by Canon kit and Sony Z1 and investing in a GH2 and some nice glass!

Ben
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Old December 6th, 2012, 06:22 PM   #2
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

The 14-140mm is nice lens, but it is f/4-5.8. It is useless in low light. I sold mine after one use at a conference, it was much too slow for my use.

You could buy it and try it out, return it if you don't like it.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:07 PM   #3
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

It does NOT hold focus thru a zoom nor exposure. It's a very good lens, just used it for an interview today, but it's not a video camera lens. And the low light performance is not great so alter your expectations about what the GH2 can do. It really is closer to a Canon DSLR in practical use than a video camera.
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Old December 6th, 2012, 08:12 PM   #4
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Thanks for the reply, so are there any GH2 lenses that are video lenses?
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Old December 6th, 2012, 09:43 PM   #5
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

The Vario X PZ 45-175 is close to a video lens, stays in focus but has only 4x zoom and isn't very wide to start. The power zoom is not easy to work but the manual zoom is nice. The Vario X 14-42 PZ lens is not usable as a live zoom lens due to exposure idiosyncrasies and the lack of manual zoom. The expensive manual zoom GX 12-35mm is supposedly par-focal and holds it's exposure but I've heard reports that this is not entirely true.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:21 AM   #6
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So maybe I should stick with 550D

Interesting, there are several parfocul lenses for 550D and one this is very close (practically a parfocus lens), which was what I was looking at (18-135). Maybe I should stick with the 550D.

I find this very strange as I thought the GH2 used the same lenses as the AF101, I find it difficult to believe it is not possible to get a proper video lens for the AF101.

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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:21 AM   #7
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Ben, there are, of course, advantages of the GH2 over the 550, but the GH2 is not the "miracle" you might be seeking. Using the GH2 is still very much like shooting with any DSLR, but we do have some great lenses to choose from. I have a 12mm F/2.0 I love, which to my knowledge is unlike anything offered by any other camera manufacturer. (I could be wrong about this, but it is a great lens at any rate).

You can also buy the GX 12-35mm F/2.8 for $1299 that William mentioned, but as he says it does not turn your camera into a video camera, not by any stretch.

You could switch to the GH2 to take advantage of the great lens choices, but the lenses will cost you.

The AF101 is not a "real" video camera, it only looks like one. It does not have any lenses made for it specifically. I would stick with the 550 unless you have a real need to change. The 550 is a great camera.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 07:35 AM   #8
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

"You could switch to the GH2 to take advantage of the great lens choices, but the lenses will cost you.", As is always the case with lenses. I did not say I was trying to do it on the cheap. Please tell me what these lenses are. For documentary I would need something like the Canon 18-135. Parfocal I want, constant aperture I can live without.

I also think people may be selling the 14-140 a little short. I know it is not parfocal but I thought it did hold its focus due to the camera compensating with a servo (similar to Z1). Also if the autofocus works well (for documentary) this compensates (to a degree) for not being parfocul. In a way for docs given the choose good autofocus may be better than parfocul. I tend to use the Z1 on autofocus with peeking, call me lazy but I am a 1 man crew juggling lights, sound (often radio microphones) and lights. In the 4 years I have had the Z1 the autofocus has never let me down. I do however go to manual when doing sit down interviews.


I gather GH2 is 2 not 1.6 'crop factor'. Is this why there is a 14-140, is this actually more like a 18-120.

Ben
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Old December 7th, 2012, 08:47 AM   #9
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Aside from the three lenses I mentioned, par-focal is not available on the GH2 right now unless you get an adapter for the Canon lenses you mentioned. And even then some of those lenses are par-focal thru a limited range.

Also there are various other issues that make the GH2 better as a B camera rather then the main camera in documentary situations. The lack of audio monitoring is one of them. I used a Zoom recorder for the interview yesterday so that I could get reliable audio recording without the GH2 auto gain making it's own choices.

You might consider the GH3 if you are considering using the camera as the main camera. I have one on order and will combine it with the GH2 for two camera recording. And I already have plenty of lenses to share between the cameras. Supposedly the GH3 and the 12-35 lens is a killer combo but that is about $2400 already. If a specific long term job actually materializes, I will also purchase a JVC HM600 so I have a real zoom lens on a new camera that shoots broadcast acceptable footage.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 08:52 AM   #10
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

William answered question better than I, so I deleted my post.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 01:04 PM   #11
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

There is no 10X zoom lens with a decent aperture for any large sensor camera because the optics will be A) Too big & heavy B) Too expensive.

The 2X crop factor on the GH2 means that the 14-140mm lens is equivalent to a 28-280mm on a full frame sensor while the 18-135mm on the 550D with a 1.6X crop is equivalent to around 29-215mm. If big zoom is important to you then there are even longer EF-S superzooms like Canon's 18-200mm (29-320mm FF equivalent) or the Tamron 18-270mm (29-430mm FF equivalent). Here is a good review of the various superzooms on the market. Best superzoom for Canon DSLRs: 8 tested | News | TechRadar They are all pretty cheap & plasticky.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 08:24 PM   #12
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben Edwards View Post
Is the autofocus any good and does it really hold the focus through zoom (can I use the zoom in focus zoom out method)? GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for the price, am I missing something, what are the drawbacks? Are the inbuilt pre-amps any good or will I still be using my BeachTek DXA-SLR.
I produce product videos and typically deal with two situations:
a) Staged shots
b) Unstaged shots of our products being used on real jobs - completely run and gun

In both cases I need to shoot quickly and the GH2/14-140 delivers. This combo works so well that I dumped our Sony HVR-V1U after shooting one video with the GH1 and the GH2 is even better. For my work projects I shoot exclusively with the 14-140.

This short excerpt is from a project I'm working on right now. It was shot in available light with the GH2/14-140. An overhead fluorescent provides most of the light and a small, high window provides some indirect daylight: micro Nano Test - YouTube

Focus and zoom can be problematic with the 14-140. It's virtually impossible to zoom smoothly, but I've found that I can usually get away with small changes in focal length while shooting. I've shot equestrian events using the 14-140's full zoom range and because the camera and horse were both moving the uneven zoom speed was not objectionable.

The auto focus will often shift in/out of focus in low light; this is not noticeable in brighter lighting conditions or when the lens is zoomed all the way out.

The audio is passable, but noisy with most mics. Mics with a very low impedance (~150 Ohms) are MUCH cleaner. For the best results I'd count on using your Beachtek adapter or an external recorder like Zoom or Tascam.
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Old December 7th, 2012, 10:08 PM   #13
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

I can zoom smoothly with the 14-140 with the zoom assist lever attached but it's still harder than a professional video zoom lens. The interview I shot this week (which is set to air next weekend) suddenly turned from two separate individual 10 minute interviews to a dual subject 10 minute interview. The interviewees had to leave quicker then we expected. Aside from the fact I was lucky I had brought two clip mikes, I wasn't expecting to have to worry about zooming or focus. Fortunately because the facial recognition auto-focus on the GH2 works so well since I brought enough lighting I could leave the focusing to the camera in this situation. This is very important as the 14-140 doesn't hold it's focus in the amount of zooming I needed to do to go from a two shot to a medium close-up of the individual subjects. It did a great job although I was initially expecting to use a fixed lens for a nice DOF. Not much DOF with the 14-140 in the wide settings. The facial recognition auto focus does not work well in dark situations or situations with more than two people unless you are using the touch screen to signify the subject to focus on.

When I get the GH3 (next week I have been told) I will probably set a situation like this up with a wide shot on the GH2 with a 20mm lens and close-ups with a 45mm I have. Zooms are fun but cuts are easier to fine tuned.
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Old December 8th, 2012, 01:05 PM   #14
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Depends on your exact needs. For my work that involves discreet shots with any amount of setup time and few lighting changes, and little need to capture or monitor from multiple audio sources, the GH/14-140 delivers just fine.

For those doc jobs where the camera rolls for a long time, following subjects, with frequent lighting changes and a need to monitor audio or capture from multiple sources, the GH2 doesn't work. Main reasons being:
- inability to change ISO while recording
- inability to adjust WB while recording
- only one audio in, no monitoring

It's also not ideal for handholding. I can with ample support, but once I add the weight and bulk of a rig, I may as well just roll on the AF100 or a similar camera better suited to the job.

The GH3 addresses many of the drawbacks of shooting with the GH2, aside from the small form and single audio input.
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Old December 9th, 2012, 01:45 AM   #15
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re: GH2 / 14-140 seems to good to be true for documentary

Ben - other posters have given you some good information, so I'm not going to repeat it - but I wanted to add one thought. One of the several reasons I got rid of my http://www.amazon.co.uk/Canon-Digital-Camera-18-55-3-5-5-6/dp/B0037KM0F8 and don't shoot video with Canons any more was the stunning resolution of the http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-DMC-GH2HEB-K-Digital-Camera-14-140mm/dp/B00452TG72?. With the 14-140 lens, the images are much sharper than from the Canons (not to mention Canon's' moire problem with brickwork, shingles and patterned fabrics).

For docs and run and gun, I recommend the switch to Panasonic. And if you can afford the http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-DMC-GH3HEB-K-Compact-System-14-140mm/dp/B009T3DEQ6, get one. Headphone jack, better dynamic range, faster autofocus, 64 step audio gain control (rather than the http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-DMC-GH2HEB-K-Digital-Camera-14-140mm/dp/B00452TG72's 4 steps), 1080/60p, .mov output for easier editing, water and dust resistant magnesium body - a robust pro camera.

Here is a doc shot with the GH2:

Here is a doc shot with the GH3:

Cheers, good luck with your project, and best of the Holy-days.

Bill
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