Dynamic Range Comparison Between the Panasonic GH4 and the BMPC 4K

The Panasonic GH4 and BMPC 4K are among the first affordable 4K cameras on the market that undoubtedly deliver great 4K images.

One of the main questions, on many shooters’ mind is – which one has better dynamic range? Maybe, we’ll get the answer in the video below.

GH4 BMPC4k Color Dynamic Range Comparison from Phil Hover on Vimeo.

Here’s what the author Phil Hover found in his test:

If I had to choose one, the GH4 is more versatile, lighter, better low light, better battery life, great screen & EVF. CineD is fantastic. The color straight out of the camera is wonderful, significantly better than the GH3. Panasonic finally has taken the mojo from their video cams and put it into the stills side. But, I will be keeping both cams because…
The BMPC 4K seems to have more detail. The global shutter makes a big difference when you watch the footage at 100%. The GH4’s rolling shutter looks bad when you see micro jitters (wind blowing on the cam in a few shots). I have also seen the rolling shutter issues with helicopter footage posted. Image stabilization might help, using a bigger rig or MOVI type devices. The BMPC4K has shallower DOF from the larger sensor and you can create a better look with the LOG footage.

I feel like the BMPC 4K is for more controlled shoots where you can rig up or be on sticks (very easy to shoot on support). GH4 is a camera you can grab run with in any environment assuming the rolling shutter isn’t an issue.

Fair enough. This is another statement from a cinematographer that proves the argument there is no such thing as the “perfect camera”.  Furthermore, if we really want to produce great images, the type or brand of camera we use should not be our main concern.

There are so many other factors that affect our proficiency as filmmakers. Our skill set and experience behind the camera are the most important ones. The camera is just the tool. There are always workarounds. We are all pretty familiar with that. It’s a fact and we accept it.

Back to both cameras. In terms of 4K acquisition, the GH4 is half the price of the BMPC 4K. However, the footage from the GH4 is not anywhere near as gradeable as the BMPC 4K, especially with the ability on the latter to shoot raw. But, if you can get your look in camera, it has a lot of advantages besides the price.

On the other hand,  higher frame rates of GH4 are very desirable to a lot of people. And the list of the pros and cons goes on and on.

Here’s another comparison video from Phil Hover:

The Wedge 4K from Phil Hover on Vimeo.

In terms of dynamic range maybe the GH4 is the winner. Nevertheless, it is fair to say both cameras have around 12 stops of usable dynamic range. The H.264 internal compression of GH4 and the global shutter of BMPC 4K are the limiting factors here.

This is the conclusion Phil Hover makes:

I’m seeing more dynamic range from the GH4 specifically with cineD. I like the noise performance and look of Natural. CineV dialed down is slightly more contrasty then Natural. CineD slightly better then Natural at the cost of shadow noise. BM has more accurate color but not significantly even with 10bit 4.2.2.

Again, if you expose properly there is nothing you should worry about. Both cameras would work great in a normal shooting situations. As always, which one is the perfect for you depends solely on your budget, project delivery dates, client requirements, and making sure whatever camera you choose it is the right tool for the job.

If you think the GH4 happens to suit the particular needs you have, then great. If not, there’s the BMPC 4K and the upcoming Sony A7s to consider as well .

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