GH4 4K camera gets a price & delivery date: Let’s analyze…

The Panasonic Lumix GH4 and “broadcast” interface finally has a price & delivery. Let’s analyze it.

In February, I published my first look at the 4K Panasonic Lumix GH4, where I included most of the known specs, together with its “broadcast” adapter, the YAGH. At that time, we were missing the price and availability. Now that we have them, let’s analyze them with possible system accessories (XLR audio, external recorders, and studio connections), and a new video/commentary by Bryan Harvey.

GH4 video & commentary by Bryan Harvey


Link to prior article

Here you’ll find the link to my prior article: First look: Panasonic Lumix GH4 4K camera with YAGH

Street prices for the GH4 and YAGH

At publication time, the street price for the GH4 is about US$1698 (body only), with expected delivery on April 30, 2014. The YAGH “broadcast adapter has a street price of about US$1999.

The optional DMC-YAGH interface unit versus the competiton

The DMC-YAGH offers 3G-SDI, XLR audio inputs (mic/line switchable/switchable 48-volt phantom power), a timecode input, a 4-Pin XLR 12-volt power input, an audio level indicator, and 3G-SDI output.

Whether you’ll need the YAGH will depend upon what you plan to do with a GH4. Here are a few examples:

What if you just need pro audio input?

If you only need pro audio input (no external recorder or SDI connection to go to a video mixer), then you can save a fortune by only purchasing an appropriate audio input device with preamp and XLR balanced inputs. At publication time of this article, it is not yet clear whether the GH4 body will have a built-in audio limiter, or not.

About audio limiters
Whenever we record audio, we are best served by doing so at the Goldilocks level: not too cold (under-modulated), not too hot (over-modulated), but just right. This was always the case, even when we recorded audio as an analog signal on audio tape. Ever since audio technology recording moved from analog to digital, proper audio levels are more critical than ever. Back in the analog age, the tendency was to over-modulate mildly to get better S/N (signal-to-noise), since inexpensive analog recording was so hissy, and the distortion associated with analog recording was mild compared with the hiss we'd get with under-modulating. In the digital world, we must be ultra conservative, because (a) clipping is fatal for the audio, and (b) there is much less hiss in the recording. Even so, since there may be hiss and noise introduced in other stages, we are best served not to under-modulate too much. That's why most operators try to record their peaks between -12 and -6 dB and then normalize later to a higher amount. Having and using audio limiter helps to have a higher average level without allowing unexpected peaks to cause fatal clipping.

But even with the worst case scenario (i.e. if the GH4 doesn’t have a built-in audio limiter): You can get an external audio interface with preamps, switchable 48-volt phantom power, and an audio limiter in a device like the Beachtek DXA-SLR PRO (currently about US$439), which I reviewed here, and tested it with the GH3 here. If it turns out that the GH4 does have its own audio limiter, then the external audio interface could cost much less.

What about if you want to record 4:2:2/10-bit externally?

If you want to record 1080p 10-bit 4:2:2 externally from the GH4 (up to 29.97p), you have many options from several manufacturers. However, I am only going to mention the only two I know of that is capable of removing pulldown on the fly before recording from an HDMI source. Currently, they are the US$995 Átomos Ninja Blade (which I recently reviewed in It’s a calibrated 709 field monitor! No, a 10-bit 4:2:2 recorder! It’s Ninja Blade or Samurai Blade!)

and the US$2295 Sound Devices PIX 220i. The main differences between these two devices is that the Ninja Blade has a 1280×720 (720p) IPS calibrated 709 monitor, while the PIX 220i has a 800×480 IPS monitor, and that the PIX 220i has an extremely high-end audio front end with XLR inputs built-in, while the Ninja Blade has an unbalanced input. I have no inside information, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the PIX 220i gets either an upgraded monitor or a price reduction sometime soon. In any of those cases, you’ll need a cable with HDMI on one end and micro HDMI on the other. If you already own an external 10-bit/4:2:2 recorder recorder that only accepts SDI, there are certainly devices like the convert HDMI to SDI, like the now US$299 H2S which I covered here, which can also remove the nasty pulldown that most HDMI cameras add to their output. This will also work up to 1080/29.97p.

It is not yet clear which external recorders will be compatible from a 4K source directly via HDMI, although I expect that to become more clear in a few weeks at NAB.

What if it is only for studio use with an SDI video mixer?


If you want to use the GH4 for studio use up to 1080/29.97p (including lower framerates too), then you can use a device like the now US$299 H2S to convert to HD-SDI. It is not yet clear if or how the GH4 will integrate with a 4K video mixer.

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In English:

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Or in your favorite bookstore by requesting ISBN–10: 1456310232 or ISBN–13: 978–1456310233.

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o en tu librería preferida al solicitar el ISBN–10: 1492783390 ó el ISBN–13: 978–1492783398.

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Born in Connecticut, United States, Allan Tépper is an award-winning broadcaster & podcaster, bilingual consultant, multi-title author, tech journalist, translator, and language activist who has been working with professional video since the eighties. Since 1994,…
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