Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 16-Megapixel LiveMOS Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch Vari-Angle OLED Screen
  • OLED electronic viewfinder
  • Micro 4/3 Mount System
  • Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • Full 1080p HD and 4K Video recording
  • Manual Control Video recording
  • HDMI and Audio Out
  • Audio Input
  • Built-In Flash
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • Outstanding image quality at all lower ISO settings
  • Fun and Creative Art filters
  • High Resolution EVF and OLED monitors make shooting and viewing your images a pleasure
  • Complete video capture control
  • Amazing shooting performance
  • Fantastic Battery Life
  • Hot Shoe allows for great powered accessories
  • WiFi allows for easy sharing and remote control
  • Great selection of Micro 4/3 lenses
  • Loads of accessories
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • No built-in image stabilization
  • Menus can be overwhelming and make it difficult to find a setting until you learn where they are
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 0.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 2/10 to 3/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.38 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 0.70 seconds
  • Sequential burst = 1fps
  • Sequential flash burst = 1.16fps for 5 shots
  • High Speed Burst AFS= 12.2fps
  • High Speed Burst AFC= 5.4fps
  • High Speed Burst Electronic Shutter= 40fps
  • All of our tests were completed using a Sony UHS-1 (94MB/s) 32GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO 25,600, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Panasonic Lumix GH4 is a powerful ILC that produces excellent quality still images and leads the way in video recording. Loaded with features and creative shooting modes, you will always be looking for new situations to shoot in.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a camera that can handle professional still image capture and video capture, all in one. Great if you already have Micro 4/3 lenses.
On top of Panasonic's ILC line of cameras sits the GH4. A compact and powerful camera that excels with both still images and video capture, it is the perfect tool for anyone interested in both medias. Featuring the Micro 4/3 mount system, the compact body is very versatile and accepts a wide variety of lenses from Panasonic and other manufactures like Olympus who use the same setup. Sporting a 16-Megapixel Live MOS imaging sensor, High Resolution LCD and EVF, Full 1080p and 4K video capture and a lightning fast AF system; the camera is ready for any and all shooting situations that you present it with.

As complex and powerful as the GH4 can be, it offers some great convenience features that make it incredibly fun and easy to use. Fully automatic shooting modes allow for anyone to pick up the camera and capture great images. Preset "Art" filters allow beginners and more advanced shooters as well to express their creativity, just by selecting the effect that they want to use and letting the camera handle the rest.

Viewing and sharing your images is as easy as ever with the camera's WiFi capabilities, letting you connect your smartphone or tablet wirelessly to the camera. With this you can view the images from the camera, as well as sharing them if you have an internet connection. You can also use your device as a remote control for the camera, offering you amazing options for shooting in difficult situations as well as putting yourself into group images without running around.

Built with a Magnesium Alloy body to be light and durable and sealed for the elements, the GH4 is ready to go just about anywhere you are without any special cases or coverings. While compact, the camera body is not incredibly small; allowing you to get a good, comfortable grip on the camera. The camera was a pleasure to keep in hand for long periods during our testing. With the camera in your hands, the amount of control that the camera offers is excellent. Three dials, a locking mode dial and 5 Fn buttons allow for customized control over just about every aspect of the camera. 5 more Fn buttons can be programmed and accessed via the touch screen, giving you 10 programmable buttons in total. The menu systems and settings offer just as much control, letting you adjust every aspect of every setting that you could think of in both still image and video shooting modes.

Composing and viewing your images can be accomplished with either the camera's OLED eye-level electronic viewfinder or the 3.0-inch Vari-Angle touchscreen OLED monitor. The EVF features over 2-million dots of resolution with dioptic adjustment and an eye-sensor, which combined with the high contrast ratio provides sharp image reproduction with vivid and accurate color. It will show all of the information that the back OLED shows, as well as real-time previews of your exposure settings. The same information and previews can be seen when shooting with the 3.0-inch, 1.036-Million dot, Vari-Angle LCD screen. This screen is bright, and can be seen in just about any lighting conditions with ease. The high res. screen makes it easy and a pleasure when viewing your images.

Performance from the GH4 is everything we hoped from a camera in its class. It is able to capture its first image in just 6/10 of a second after being turned on. Shutter lag is almost non-existent when the camera is pre-focused, and 2/10 to 3/10 of a second when allowing the AF system to work in most lighting conditions. In single shot mode, the shot-to-shot delay squeaks in at 0.38 seconds and goes up to 0.70 when you add the flash recharge time for the pop-up flash. For burst shooting, the GH4 offers both mechanical and electronic shutter shooting options. Our tests provided us with up to 12.2fps (AFS) or 5.5fps (AFC) with the mechanical shutter, pushing just a bit past Panasonic's claims, although just a little off with the continuous shooting. These results were achieved in very bright lighting. In more common lighting situations, like indoor shooting, are results slowed to around 9fps (AFS). With the electronic shutter we were right on Panasonic's claims with 40fps. All of our tests were completed using a Sony UHS-1 (94MB/s) 32GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, ISO 25,600, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.

Looking at our outdoor images; we see great exposures throughout our samples, even with the brighter than normal conditions due to the snow. The camera was able to keep the detail in all of the highlights, without loosing any detail in the dark areas. Focus is sharp and color reproduction is very accurate in program mode. iAuto mode gave us slightly brighter and deeper colors that give the image a little more pop without looking unrealistic. Aberrations and other defects are not noticeable in our samples thanks to the combination of the camera's processor and the 12-35mm Lumix G X Vario lens that we used for our tests.

Our indoor samples give us a more controlled look at the image quality throughout the ISO range. At the lower ISO levels we saw nothing but a sharp, clear image with great color and detail. It's not until ISO 1600 that noise starts to become noticeable in some of the darker areas of the image as well as in some of the colors on the color chart. There is still plenty of fine detail within the image at this setting. At 6400 we see the biggest change in the image quality and it just continues to decline after. Here the noise really starts to knock out all of the fine details in the image.

When the lighting conditions become too dark, and you don't want to use the high ISO settings I mentioned above, you will want to use the built-in flash, or an optional external flash unit. The built-in flash did very well in our tests, producing enough light to illuminate our subject, even when shooting in Aperture Priority mode at f/8. In iAuto the camera used the flash more as a fill, blending it with the existing lighting, which in this case and in our portrait sample gave the image a much warmer look than the rest of the images.

Shooting portraits with the GH4 is fast and easy, as the camera's face detection software does all of the work for you. The camera quickly detects and follows all of the faces it finds within the frame. Once detected, the camera will focus and adjust all settings based on the faces. Depending on the shooting mode, the camera will make more adjustments. iAuto or Portrait Scene mode gives complete control to camera. With the flash on, we did not see any instances of redness in our subject's eyes.

Several color presets are available via the Photo Style menu to help with some creative effects, but none of them compare to what you will find in the "Art" shooting mode. These are much more creative settings that apply effects to your images on the camera. Once you have chosen an effect, you will see the effect on the EVF/LCD while you are shooting. This leaves you knowing exactly what you are capturing and no surprises when you look at your images later. Some of the effects rely on you using the LCD screen to create the effect like the Selective Color Mode. Samples of some of these images can be seen on our sample photos page.

The GH4 has amazing video capabilities, far beyond what you will find on most dSLR or ILC cameras. Full control over the exposure settings, frame rates, formats and much more let you use the GH4 for all of your HD video shooting needs; as well as your photo needs. It is also one of the first to bring you 4K video capture with the ability to capture 8.8-Megapixel still images while recording. Several input and output ports built into the camera allow you to connect to an external monitor, add an external mic or even plug in a set of headphones to accurately hear what you are recording. The quality of our sample videos is outstanding. This camera is capable of much more than just shooting 1080p or 4K home videos, it is ready more professional ventures as well. The video capabilities are so extensive, this camera definitely deserves an in-depth review just for video.

Powering the GH4 is a 7.2V, 1860mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This powerhouse battery is capable of supplying the camera with enough juice to capture up to 530 images on a single charge. This is far beyond most of the ILCs that we have seen, almost keeping up with most dSLRs. During our tests, we had no problem capturing over 300 images and a few short videos on a single charge. For long shooting events, a battery grip is available to double your shooting power without stopping. The included quick-charger lets you keep your battery and a spare charged and ready to go with ease. Additional batteries and chargers are also available from Panasonic.

Bottom Line - Panasonic's Lumix DMC-GH4 is an incredibly powerful ILC designed to excel at both still image and video capture. Bringing you total control over both medias while staying easy enough for anyone to use, this is the perfect camera for any business or household that is looking for great quality stills and movies. Loaded with great features and creative shooting modes, it will always keep you busy and wanting to learn more. With a MSRP of US $1699.99 without a lens, it is a bit pricey, but right in range with the other cameras in its class.


Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.