Recently the Panasonic GH5 was announced and photographers and videographers alike welcomed the upgrade to the venerable GH4. Updates such as a higher resolution sensor, in-body image stabilization, dual SD card slots and internal 4k UHD 4:2:2 recording are pluses in anyone’s book, all while retaining the same basic shape and batteries as the GH4? Even better. Unfortunately, it inherited a missing feature from its predecessor, i.e. the lack of internal log recording; instead opting for a $100 upgrade to unlock that feature
The lack of log is a something that makes the nearly $2000 asking price hard to swallow considering one of its biggest markets is prosumer video work. In a recent interview with Fstoppers, Panasonic explained the price is a barrier for people who don’t know how to use V-LOG footage.
“Frankly we don’t make very much profit from that $100. It’s there to prevent people from using it who shouldn’t”, says Panasonic.
Log curves, in a nutshell, are designed to get the most dynamic range out of the sensor when shooting video. Similar to shooting RAW on your camera. It gives the captured medium more latitude when it comes time for color correcting. Not every project and filmmaker requires log. If your workflow requires quick turnaround time, cameras that shoot with REC 709 (pretty much any consumer grade video camera) is just fine, but if your video work required to get the most tonal range possible you should be shooting either RAW or with log curve.
The reason Panasonic is giving is a farce in my opinion, as the “plugin” is already available for the GH4 and the DMC-FZ2500, and it wouldn’t take too much effort to include it in a submenu on the GH5 to “prevent people from using it who shouldn’t”. But I digress, there are many options available in the market that shoot 4K UHD, and some of them include a Log option for video. Here are my top three alternatives to the GH5 that shoot with a logarithmic curve for under $2000.
Just because the new hotness of GH5 was released doesn’t mean the GH4 becomes outdated or useless tech. The GH4 is capable of capturing high-resolution JPEG and RAW stills, as well as UHD 4K 3840×2160 30p/24p and cinematic DCI 4K 4096×2160 video at 24p. The internal recording is limited to 8-bit 4:20, but 4:2:2 8-bit and 4:2:2 10-bit video can also be sent to an external monitor or recorder like the Blackmagic Video Assist 4K HDMI/6G-SDI Recording Monitor.
Additional Video Features Include:
- Timecode – SMPTE-compliant timecode for synching multiple devices
- Color bars – benchmark for fixing color or brightness
- 1 kHz test tone – benchmark for fixing sound or volume
- Center marker – guide mark for video composition
- Synchro scan – suppress flicker on monitors or from fluorescent lights
- Cine-like gamma – “CINELIKE D” and “CINELIKE V” produce cinema-like tones
- Master Pedestal – adjust brightness balance ±15 steps based on the color black
- Zebra Pattern – display lines on over-exposed areas
Video may not have been Fuji’s forte when it introduced the X-series cameras, but they are trying to change that with the X-T2. The X-T2 offers UHD 4K video recording at an excellent 100 Mbps bitrate with 8-bit 4:2:2 HDMI output and film simulations to boot.
The X-T2 has an F-Log Gamma setting that provides a flat picture maximizing the potential dynamic range for difficult scenes, and image adjustments can be made as well to highlight tone, shadow tone, color, and sharpness.
The Vertical Power Booster Grip users will be able to record for up to 30 minutes (29:59), instead of the 10 minutes with just the body only
Sony’s A7 lineup may get the most ogling eyes from photographers, with their small compact bodies and full frame sensors toting 42 Megapixels or even seeing in the dark, but their smaller sensor brethren have gotten the some of the benefits without the huge price tag, like the Sony a6500.
The APS-C camera sports a 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor paired with the BIONZ X processor for internal recording of UHD 4K up to 30 fps. Based on the Super35mm recording area 2.4x oversampling renders greater detail without pixel binning with 4:2:0 sampling and uncompressed HDMI output also enables the use of an optional external recorder for clean 4K recording with 4:2:2 sampling.
Support is available for the S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log-3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3 profiles as well as the popular S-Log2, enable up to a 1300% wider dynamic range for greater tonal and color gradations. The S-Log3 gamma boasts a 14-stop wide dynamic range for greater control over the highlights and shadows.
New Cameras Come out Half Baked
New cameras that are released seem to be missing features that creatives want, like internal Log and better codecs – looking at you 5D Mark IV. Companies seem not to want to take a risk shoving high-end tech into their new mid-tier models, afraid that sales of flagship cameras and other lines will be affected negatively. Canon will not release a DSLR with log support when they still have a Cine line. Instead, they have users resort to using Technicolor’s cinestyle.
As of right now, many professional photographers have no need for, or even necessarily have, an idea of what Log curve is, but markets change very quickly. Companies other than Sony and Panasonic need to realize that there is a paradigm shift approaching for cameras that can produce not only for high quality still but also high-quality video.