My take on the C100 v GH4
As an owner of both the Canon C100 and Panasonic GH4, I have come to see strengths and weaknesses in both cameras. I have also come to prefer one over the other. This surprised me greatly. Here’s why…
I’ve used the C100 for over a year and it’s ease of use and picture quality was a revolution to me. My professional video career started with a JVC HD100 and progressed to a Canon 550D DSLR. In between times I’ve used a 5D Mk2 and a Red Scarlet as part of my freelance work. All were amazing cameras with their own merits. All brought their own work flows with the well documented work-arounds and weaknesses. My C100 overcame a lot of these. It took the DSLR to the next level for me. Built in ND filters and XLR audio negated the use of external filters and audio recorders. It’s image quality is a massive jump. Dynamic Range is much better than my DSLRs. Image detail is greater. Sharpness took a vast jump. Battery life is excellent. Ergonomics and handling are exemplary in my opinion as it’s just a big DSLR. It uses cheap SD cards, even 2 at a time.
Here comes the but. The C100 lacked one major feature that I felt was important to my workflow – true slomo. I used 720 50p on the DSLRs a lot to produce slomo in my videos. Ok it was soft but it worked. This really niggles me a lot as I spent £4000 on a camera that only shoots 1080 24/25/30p. I watched others work produced with FS700’s and was envious to say the least.
On a more positive note the C100 produces amazing images at 1080p and it can see in the dark! I love C-log and use it extensively. Did I mention the images are amazing?
What about the GH4? I wanted a second camera mainly for recording interviews. I had been using my old 550d but it just wasn’t cutting well with the C100. It was soft and the baked in low DR / video look just didn’t help matters. I purchased the GH4 in June 2014 and immediately put it to work as a second camera recording interviews in 4K. The 2 cameras cut very well together I terms of sharpness and DR. It shoots 1080p 96fps slomo. I love it. I use it all the time. People say its soft. I don’t mind it. It’s not that bad. Did I say I love it? Battery life is brilliant, it’s light and works well on my jib, Glidecam and slider.
Here comes but number 2. The GH4 skin tones were awful in my eyes even in CineD mode so colour balancing with C100 footage in post required a bit of work. The C100 skin tones looked so natural to my eyes but the GH4’s rendition looked a little plasticky.
Another few buts – my lovely Zeiss EF mount lenses don’t work properly – particularly the 50/f1.4 Planar T*. This lens is really soft at f1.4 so I have to keep my 550d close by to set the lens to around f2.8 where it’s as sharp as a really sharp knife. I can’t change the aperture when it’s on the GH4 as I currently don’t own the new Metabones EF to M43 Speedbooster adaptor with electronic control. The EVF LCD have peaking but it’s useless most of the time. I had to invest in faster SD cards for 4K shooting. It has no built in sound recording in the shape of XLR without that expensive WAG thingy or whatever it’s called. And finally for me it has no built in ND filters.
So there you have it. It’s obvious what camera I prefer. It’s the GH4. Obviously. Duh!
1. It shoots amazing slomo. 96 frames per second.
2. It shots amazing 4K. Forkay. Reframing in post.
3. It shoots timelapses. It’s built in.
4. I can take it on holiday and my family don’t mind. I shot lots of slomo of my 2 kids playing in the sand for use in those embarrassing situations when they are teenagers.
5. The skin tones are great. Well they are after tweaking and help from Mr Erik Naso. They are so close the C100 now editing is a breeze.
6. It’s light and versatile.
Would the GH4 ever fully take over as number one. Possibly yes. Depending on the project.
This is my opinion so don’t get all antsy on me: the C100 is looking very dated in terms of features as of today. The Gh4 has all the features I need in one little camera. I love it’s lightness and versatility. I’m waiting to see if rumours about updates for the GH4 happen or not – these range from a new LOG profile to 8k recording!! Ok that second one is definitely made up! Canon have other cameras in the Cinema Line to protect so I’m not hopeful of seeing any great new features on the C100. I not even optimistic anymore that the 7D Mk2 will match or beat the GH4 in terms of features.
I’ve read about others who have travelled down the road of completely abandoning Canon ownership to embrace the GH4. I’m not on that road. I’m not even on the slip road or on ramp. I mean the C100 is more than a £4000 audio recorder… Isn’t it?