Over the last few blog posts I’ve been delving into the reasons behind my recent move to micro 4/3, specifically with using both the Panasonic GX7 and GH4. I’ve written extensively about the reasons why I love the GX7 for still imagery but I haven’t really explored my views on the GH4 .
For the last few years I have been watching the evolution of hybrid HD-DSLRs and stood back as many photographers have delved into shooting multimedia type work that combines both stills and video. I took a brief look into video a few years back but became quickly overwhelmed and basically lost interest really quickly. It’s all to easy to underestimate just how complicated shooting high quality video is, producing quality video work makes taking images look like a stroll in the park and at the time I just wasn’t that committed to learning a whole new skill set.
Documentary films for me are something I’ve always had a passion for even whilst growing up. I was always that kid who spent his time watching Discovery channel and Nat Geo rather than wasting it away on Nickelodeon. There’s something about film that can give us a deeper insight into a person’s character than any still image can.
It wasn’t until I received my GH4 that I got the urge to give filmmaking another go. As a complete novice to the art of filmmaking I had a serious steep learning curve but unlike years back when I tried filmmaking on my Nikons a lot has progressed. I’m going to put it out there and say that the GH4 is the first camera that I could shoot both my stills and video work without compromise.
The quality of the video coming out of the GH4 is simply stunning. Even just using it handheld with the reasonably small 12-35 f2.8 OIS lens I was able to capture video in a quality that still blows my mind. After years of fearing taking that step into film, I now have a camera that allows me to concentrate on the important things like composition and capturing the important moments instead of having to worry about all the compromises it used to take to get decent quality video out of DSLRs.
I talked at length about the discreet size of the GX7 and although the GH4 is slightly larger, it is still much less intimidating for the subject than a larger DSLR or even a broadcast video camera. This discreetness allows you to capture those intimate and special moments much easier as the camera just does it’s thing whilst remaining fairly unassuming.
Those intimate moments where your subject opens up to reveal their true self are the Holy Grail for both documentary photographers and filmmakers. Whilst in Romania, one of my interview subjects opened up about the death of his two children. To see him open up and divulge his deepest emotions to someone who is pretty much a stranger was a truly heartbreaking moment. However having the ability to capture special moments like this is when having a camera so unassuming but powerful at the same time really comes into it’s own.
Without going into too much of the technical features of this camera (people like Phillip Bloom do this better than I could ever dream of doing) it’s simple innovations like having the ability to control important settings from the touchscreen that allows silent operation whilst filming which prevent the camera taking center stage and instead allow a deeper connection with your subject.
As I have mentioned repeatedly in my other posts, I genuinely feel like this new M4/3 system has transformed the way I shoot. Not only just changing the way I shoot still images like the GX7 has, but transforming my ability to document and illustrate the stories of the people and places I visit.
As the GX7 made still photography fun for me again, the GH4 has done the same for video. No longer do I dread how difficult it is to add video and moving imagery to my ability to tell stories but instead it’s something I want to continue to progress and develop. My first attempts at filmmaking are by no means masterpieces and I never expected them to be. It’s a journey of learning that’s excited me and having the ability to capture those deeper, and more meaningful moments to enhance my story telling in a new exciting medium is something I relish.
For me the GH4 doesn’t have to shoot the absolute best quality images or videos (It is mighty fine though). If I wanted the best of both worlds I’d be in the market for a Hassleblad and an Arri. Instead I want a camera that excites me and inspires me to constantly be in pursuit of the best image I can, one that allows me to shoot great imagery without being a distraction to the process.
At the end of the day the camera is just a tool and using a tool that you find comfortable is the most important thing. For me the GX7 and GH4 are the first cameras that I have truly felt comfortable with. It’s not to say they’re faultless, far from it in fact but at the end of the day it’s the final image that really counts and they’re so far allowing me to produce work I am truly proud of and that’s all I need.
Have you delved into filmmaking? Has a camera or a change of equipment given you a renewed passion for your craft? Let me know what you think by popping a comment below!