Panasonic GH4 – Best video quality settings – First experience and thoughts


fter getting the Panasonic GH4 this summer I investigated a lot about how to set it up to get the best (and best gradable) image quality out of it.
Initially i found some really good results but as i wanted to reproduce them I ran into a lot of issues.

This is what I found researching:

Here is the example of James Miller I found on Vimeo, it impressed me a lot:

Basically he is using CineLike V, Idynamics, Iresolution, everything to -5 exept Hue, and pushes the Master Pedestal to 15, not using the exposure curve (shadow hghlights).
The result looks quite filmic out of the box.

This is my experience with these settings:

I really liked this setup in his example and repeated it on my GH4 and went out for a test shoot. The only setting i changed was that I switched to CineLikeD, because I wanted to grade the material anyway in Final Cut Pro.

By coincidence, and luckily for having some nice motives (allthough I m sure there’s always a good motive out there where ever you are) it was the last day of the football worldcut and i could observe some daylife of the final here in Berlin. It went quite well. The Final:)

But see for yourself. And be informed that this is not about football:)

My image test gave me some more mixed experience.

  • Not beeing used to work with such a flat image on a Pani GH camera I had to use and trust Zebra display. And it is just great that it's there.
  • Shooting in 4K adds even more crop factor to the allready huge crop of the Micro Four Thirds system. Time for some speedbooster alike utility.
  • I had a lot of noise issues. Could see it clearly on the screen. Really noisy image although I thought to be save with the settings i found.

Especially the last point really worried me. I never experienced such noise on any camera I worked with since shooting at night with the GH1.
There must have been something wrong with the settings although they looked so fine in the vimeo examples. Trying around to find out what caused the noise, I got a much cleaner image after pulling down the Master Pedestal and shutting off Idynamics.

So what’s right and what’s wrong searching the perfect settings. On another research I found an interview with Matt Frazer from Panasonic US, in which he explaines some settings and their best use. Who should be better in explaining how this camera ticks than the GH4’s parents?

So here is what Panasonic is saying about unsable settings:

So basically Panasonic is saying:

  • Convert 4K to 1080p to get rid of a lot of noise.
  • Don't touch Master Pedestal, it's not ment to flatten the image, it'll generate a lot of noise.
  • Idynamic is setting multiple ISO points throughout the image. So at the same time that they re expanding the dynamic range visually the also make a lot of noise.
  • Use the Exposure feature using a reverse S Curve to bring some more detail in the dark and light areas (not more than +-2)

After having heard these conclusions, I felt much more comfortable to set up the GH4.

In the first jobs I did with it filming in 4K, I had to find a setup to work with it.
Because of doing more documentary style filming rather than something I would heavily grade in the postproduction, I found a setting that looked well on the screen, without noise issues and which also gave me a look I could show directly to the client without having to explain flat image profile theory.

So this is my temporary best video image quality solution:

My settings for a save good image were:

  • CineLikeV, Sharpness, Saturation and Noise Reducton down to -5, Hue at 0
  • Master Pedestal untouched (0)
  • Idynamic and Iresolution off
  • Shadow/Highlight reverse S Curve -2

This gives you a great looking, clean, and still gradable image. In my opinion at least, so feel free to comment on this article.

Up next soon here on Tidefilm:
As Andrew Reid from EOSHD first published after an interview with Go Pro’s David Newman,

The GH4’s 4K 8bit 4:2:0 converts to 1080p 10bit 4:4:4!

As far as I found out this applies also if you re directly throwing the 4k footage in a 1080p timeline in FinalCutPro.
So this is the next thing to look at closely, stay tuned!