Friday, September 03, 2010

GH1 1080p Camera Test (After Firmware Hack)

Panasonic GH1 1080p Camera Test from Ted Fisher on Vimeo.

Previously, I posted a one-minute video showing a "Stress Test" of the Panasonic GH1 in video mode.

For that, I shot 720p / 60 footage in Central Park -- and found generally great results, but that the camera clearly had its limits. A sharply-focused shot of highly-detailed trees combined with camera motion could hit the limit of the codec -- resulting in "mud" in the shot. (That is, poorly-resolved digital smearing. Think of a low-resolution JPEG.)

On the plus side: most footage turned out great, and if you planned your shooting you could get excellent HD video without some of the issues (moire, for example, and false detail) that the Canon HDSLR cameras were reported to be experiencing. (And the Panasonic allowed twice as much footage per gigabyte of memory, had no need for a specialized add-on viewfinder, could autofocus during video, presented a live histogram -- and so on.)

Since moving to Los Angeles I've applied the supersecret firmware hack to the camera. (Google it. I'll post more on the details soon.) So I decided it was time to test out the 1080p / 24 mode as well.

For this shoot -- purposefully handheld, shaky, and shooting subjects that tended to bring out "mud" in the stock GH1 -- I used lpowell's "40Mbps AVCHD High Reliability Patch" settings, recording 1080p/24 AVCHD clips. I then processed the MTS files using Voltaic and edited those transcoded clips with Final Cut Pro. I exported a 1080p QuickTime file, then used compressor to create the 1280 by 720 file I uploaded to Vimeo.

My thoughts: the "40 reliability" settings are excellent in quality and stable enough for documentary shooting. As well, all clips play back in camera. Follow the link to Vimeo if you want to download the 720p version -- but trust me that the full 1080p file is even better.

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