The Samsung NX1 and Panasonic GH4 continue to draw the attention of the filmmaking community and DSLR shooters, in particular, being one of the most popular affordable 4K mirrorless cameras on the market today that definitely will give you the most bang for your buck. However, we still haven’t seen many side-by-side comparisons between them for further and more in-depth testing.
Fortunately, the LA-based filmmaker Noam Kroll got the chance to play around with both cameras covering many of their pros and cons along with each camera’s performance regarding image quality, sharpness, colour reproduction, dynamic range, low-light performance, slow motion, rolling shutter and more.
It seems that there are some substantial reasons to believe that we can put these cameras in the same league in a way. All in all, they both have similar physical size, both share a mirrorless mount and the ability to shoot 4K video internally providing a decent video functionality and same price points. Plus, either camera have a substantial build quality, feel great in hands, have an intuitive button placement and are easy to operate.
One of the first things that Noam wanted to test was the overall image quality of both cameras in optimal shooting conditions. The biggest difference though he initially noticed when revealing the footage was the slightly better colour reproduction of the NX1 compared to the GH4. This is something that can be easily seen in the following frame grabs.
Furthermore, when he zoomed in the images to 400% he also spotted that the footage coming straight out from the NX1 is relatively sharper compared to the one of the GH4. As we know, GH4 has a plenty of resolution in 4K video mode, so having, even more, sharpness doesn’t make a lot of sense and it’s overkill too, to me, at least.
To be fair, we should take into consideration the fact that Noam used two different lenses mounted on the cameras for the test and he also wasn’t sure enough if there isn’t some in-camera sharpening applied in the NX1. Ultimately, both cameras are capable of delivering very detailed 4K images, however, many pixel peepers out there may be able to find more sharpness in the NX1 footage coming directly from the camera using the default sharpening settings.
Regarding dynamic range and rolling shutter issues, both cameras produce similar results. This time the slightly better performer in both terms was the GH4 that managed to retain more details in the highlights and delivered less skewing artefacts, whereas the NX1 image was a slightly worse performer in either aspect.
Again, as Noam claims these results are not scientific by any means. He also mentioned that it might be possible to squeeze out a bit of extra dynamic range from the NX1 by customising the picture settings or by adjusting the exposure to compensate. The GH4 image also looks flatter to me, so I also believe that it’s possible to get slightly better results with the NX1 in those terms by tweaking C Gamma and D-Gamma modes added with the latest NX1 Firmware 1.2 update.
Regarding ISO and shooting slow motion it’s safe to say that one shouldn’t go above ISO 800 on both cameras, or shoot higher than 60fps at 1080p especially for paid projects. The over crank modes on either camera result in inferior image quality, lack of detail and unpleasant artefacts due to the applied compression in this modes.
Another thing that you should be aware of is the H.265 compression that the NX1 uses on board which unfortunately isn’t yet supported by the major NLEs whereas the 4K H.264 footage coming from the GH4 can be natively edited in full resolution even on the modest computer systems. Samsung does bundle an app with the camera called Samsung Movie Converter, but it will not give you the option to transcode the footage to an edit-friendly codec like ProRes or DNxHD so you will need to use some other third-party software solutions.
If you want to find out more details about this comparison test and Noam’s final thoughts on the topic, head on over to nomakroll.com.
[via Noam Kroll]
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