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Panasonic LUMIX LX / FZ Series
4K and AVCHD via compact point & shoot "bridge" cameras.

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Old October 5th, 2015, 12:56 PM   #1
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Nature videography in 4K

I am trying out an FZ1000 for nature photography in 4K and have managed to get out for part of one day. Currently I am using a Canon XA20 and have been happy with it but wanted to look at what 4K and a 1" sensor would offer.

All of these are based on a half-day of shooting under partly cloudy conditions with just the FZ1000. A future trip will allow me to do a side-by-side comparison with the Canon under the same conditions.

The cons- given that I mostly film birds the lack of 50p in 4K mode is obvious at times (especially birds in flight). The bigger issue was an O.I.S. that was inferior to that of the Canon. Hand holding at high zoom levels was difficult and while the 4K provides latitude to apply more stabilization in post it is less than ideal. So, this will more often be used when I have the opportunity to use a third stabilization point (post, car window, monopod, etc.). There was some focus hunting and even possibly some rolling shutter although I need to perform more checks on this. Given the type of filming I do the 30 minute barrier is not a huge issue but I wish the camera would tell me how much time I had left on the card, not keep telling me about the 30 minutes. I suppose that once I have less than 30 minutes left it will just keep counting down.

Pros - the 4K, in the right conditions, is stunning (and this is as viewed in HD on a large screen via projection). The optical zoom is very good all the way to its outer limits and even the intelligent zoom, which takes it to an almost 1200mm lens equivalent is good (although there is probably a drop to HD quality at that point). So, while staying with the optical zoom gives the sharpest results, the intelligent zoom will likely pair up well with the XA20 footage. The digital zoom is usable all the way to its maximum zoom, leaving one with what looks to be about SD quality but fine for documentation shots (and this means the camera is a 2368mm equivalent). Again, only useful for documentation shots but still usable for that. I have yet to try my 1.7x Sony tele extender on it yet to see how much quality fall-off there is at full optical zoom at 4K.

Under the right conditions this camera provides outstanding footage, especially considering the price. At wide angle, or even at full optical zoom the sharpness and the extra range it allows for post-production work is outstanding. The O.I.S. which works well for still photography is underwhelming for 4K videography except for wide angle shots - it reminds me more of the O.I.S. in video cameras of 5 years ago. If the O.I.S. was better I might just use this one camera and sell the XA20.

Low light, even with 4K, was reasonable although there was some graininess. I was not fully testing this however.

I had no problems at all bringing the footage into FCPX and playback was smooth (running off of a RAID). It was nice to just be able to plug the card into the computer and read off the mp4 files rather than need to use the camera to transcode the footage.

Battery life looks to be a little suspect even just using the EVF so carrying multiple batteries for a day in the field is a must. The EVF is very nice UNTIL the shutter is pressed, it is slightly distorted then.

Some of these issues may be something I can fix with some playing around of the menus and use of the 5 custom buttons.

Sound is still an unknown as I did not have a good chance to try it out, I was trying a Rode Video Go microphone but I am not sure this is going to work well. The main issue is that the mic sits back from hot show hitting me in the head when I am using the EVF so I would need a shoe extension. The other issue is that I had to boost the gain in the menus to get the mic to start picking up the ambient sounds with the dead cat on. The more expensive Pro level Rode (and Sennheiser) mics both have their gain automatically boosted for DSLR use with switches to over-ride the settings so I may upgrade.
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Old October 5th, 2015, 06:00 PM   #2
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Re: Nature videography in 4K

Good info, many thanks
Phil Stanley
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Old October 5th, 2015, 06:39 PM   #3
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Re: Nature videography in 4K

The mic issue has been discussed at length here and there are plenty of decent condenser mics that you can mount on the hotshoe that don't leave a dent in your forehead ... also most have a gain boost too. Remember you can set the mic level as well and I find I don't need the 10db or 20db boost if I set the camera mic level to +6db.

Yeah the lack of "minutes remaining total" would be nice! At present if the camera has been giving you batches of 27 minutes and you find the "last" clip says you only have 15 minutes left then that's about the end of the card. I would like to know that I do have "xxx minutes of space left on the card" However I use big cards so the issue rarely comes up. We did a wedding on Saturday and started around 11am and the B-Cam battery had one bar left around 9pm that evening ... I carry two Promaster spare batteries just to be safe!!
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