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How to Emulate Super 35mm 4K Video with the Panasonic GH4

         

The Panasonic GH4's ability to record both DCI 4K and UHD video internally, without line-skipping or pixel binning, sets a new standard for in-camera video recording with HDSLR and mirrorless cameras. However, a potential drawback of this method is that the GH4 can only use the center portion of the sensor. This results in about a 2.3x crop factor when compared to full-frame cameras, as opposed to the typical 2x crop for normal Micro Four Thirds cameras, which puts the GH4 into slightly weird territory when it comes to using lenses. It’s smaller than normal Micro Four Thirds and larger than super 16mm, making native lenses hard to find. Luckily, there is one combination that ends up working really well: using APS-C or DX-optimized lenses with a Metabones Micro Four Thirds Speedbooster.

Update: A chart has been added at the end that compares the effective focal length of these lenses with a Speedbooster, to their 35mm equivalent focal lengthtaking into account the 4K crop you get with the GH4, and the changes in specs introduced with use of a Speedbooster.

"One combination that ends up working really well: using APS-C or DX-optimized lenses with a Metabones Micro Four Thirds Speedbooster."

Normally, when you mount a lens designed for a larger sensor on a camera with a smaller sensor, all of the light that doesn’t hit the sensor is unused. However, the Metabones Speedbooster concentrates the light entering the lens into a smaller area, which virtually decreases the focal length and increases the aperture on the smaller sensor. The Nikon G to Micro Four Thirds Speedbooster reduces the focal length of the lens and the lens circle area by a factor of .71, which also increases the apparent aperture by one stop. For the typical Micro Four Thirds camera with a 2x crop factor, a .71x reduction reduces the image circle to a slightly smaller area then APS-C optimized lenses are designed for, effectively a 1.42x crop factor, while APS-C lenses are designed for a 1.5x crop factor. Some lenses may work, but others may present a little vignetting. However, when shooting 4K video on the GH4, it works out nearly perfectly. The field of view will be almost identical to having an APS-C camera, as the overall crop factor with the Speedbooster while shooting 4K with the GH4 is about a 1.6x, nearly identical to APS-C still or Super 35mm cinema cameras. At this time, there is only a Nikon to Micro Four Thirds version of the Speedbooster available, so this article will focus on lenses that are available for Nikon Cameras.


 

Below is a list of APS-C optimized lenses that will make a great option for shooting 4K video with the Panasonic GH4, when paired with the Metabones Speedbooster.

Wide-Angle Lenses

Shooting wide is one of the more difficult aspects of dealing with crop factors that lack native lenses. The widest-angle lens available natively for Micro Four Thirds is a 7-14mm f/4 lens from Panasonic. With a 2.3x crop factor, that lens works out to be 16.1mm-32mm, which is still respectively wide. However, if you go the route of adapting wide-angle, APS-C-optimized glass paired with a Speedbooster, you can go ever wider, or get a similarly wide angle of view at a much faster aperture.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

When paired with the Speedbooster, a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 becomes an effective 7.8-11.4mm lens with a constant f/2 aperture. While not quite as wide as the native Panasonic 7-14mm, the extra two stops could definitely come in handy. The 35mm equivalent field of view of this lens when shooting 4K video on the GH4 would be approximately 18mm-26mm.

Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6

For those wanting to go as wide as possible on a rectangular lens, the Sigma 8-16mm will fill the bill. When paired with the Speedbooster, this lens becomes an effective 5.7-11.4mm, with approximately an f/3.2-4 aperture. The 35mm equivalent focal length, when shooting with a 2.3 crop factor for this lens, works out to 13.1mm-26mm, which should be wide enough to please any wide-angle enthusiast. This lens will almost certainly vignette slightly when used with the standard Micro Four Thirds 2x crop factor.

Samyang 10mm f/2.8

The new Samyang 10mm f/2.8 lens is a relatively fast manual focus prime lens optimized for APS-C cameras. It's resold under a few different brand names, including Rokinon and Samyang. Paired with the Speedbooster, this lens becomes an effective 7.1mm f/2 lens, a full 2 stops faster than the 7-14mm Panasonic, with just as wide of a field of view. The 35mm equivalent of this lens with the Speedbooster works out to approximately 16.3mm. While this lens is available with a Micro Four Thirds mount, using the Nikon mount version allows you an extra stop, and a wider angle of view, when you want it.

Fast 50mm

Another popular lens segment is the fast 50mm lens. Micro Four Thirds has a number of fast 50mm equivalent lenses, like the Voigtlander 25mm f/.95 and the Panasonic 25mm f/1.4. But going the route of a Speedbooster and adapted glass can give you similar results at a lower price. Here are a few APS-C prime lenses that could fill this gap.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8

The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is a relatively affordable lens that's designed for its DX (APS-C) series DSLR cameras. Paired with a Speedbooster, it becomes approximately a 25mm f/1.2 lens that will give you around a 57mm (35mm equivalent field of view) when shooting 4K video with the GH4.

Sigma 30mm f/1.4

The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is a little wider and a little faster than the Nikon 35mm 1.8. With the Speedbooster, this lens becomes an effective 21mm f/1.0 lens for Micro Four Thirds. The 35mm equivalent field of view is 49mm. This lens is a great option for those looking for the closest to a 50mm field of view when shooting with the 2.3x crop mode on the GH4, as even the native 25mm lenses will offer a field of view closer to 60mm.

Constant Aperture Zoom Lenses

When shooting video with a zoom lens, it's important to have a constant aperture to avoid the abrupt exposure changes that are common with variable aperture still lenses. Luckily, there are a number of high-performing APS-C constant aperture zoom lenses available from a number of manufacturers, for a lot less expense than the few constant aperture zoom lenses available for Micro Four Thirds.

Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a pretty groundbreaking lens for APS-C cameras. Offering an aperture typically reserved only for prime lenses on a constant aperture zoom, predictably, turned a few heads. When paired with the Speedbooster, this lens becomes an impressive 12.8-25mm f/1.2 effective lens, which is faster than most primes available for Micro Four Thirds, with the convenience of a zoom lens.

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8

For those needing a little more zoom range than the Sigma 18-35mm offers, who aren't hampered by a mere f/2 effective aperture, the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 is a great option. Paired with the Speedbooster, it's like a using a 12-36mm f/2 on the GH4 when shooting 4K video. Its flexible range is great for handheld shooting.

Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 OS

The Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 is an APS-C replacement for full frame 70-200mm lenses. Paired with a Speedbooster, it becomes an effective 36-107mm f/2 constant aperture lens. This is a great medium-telephoto zoom lens option for the GH4. The current version of the lens also offers Optical Image Stabilization; however, since the Metabones Speedbooster does not provide power to the lens, users will not benefit from it. It might be worth looking for the older, non-OS version of this lens, which can be found for at a more affordable price in the used market.

These are just few of the many great lens options for the GH4, as the Micro Four Thirds lens mount is extremely adaptable. Hopefully, some of these suggestions will get you get started if you decide to use a Speedbooster.

  Effective Focal Length with Speedbooster 35mm Equivalent Focal Length with the 4K Crop & Speedbooster
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 7.8-11.4mm f/2  18mm-26mm 
Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6  5.7mm-11.4mm f/3.2-4 13.1mm-26mm 
Samyang 10mm f/2.8  7.1mm f/2  16.3mm 
Nikon 35mm f/1.8 25mm f/1.2  57mm
Sigma 30mm f/1.4  21mm f/1.0  49mm
Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 12.8-25mm f/1.2  29-57mm 
Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8  12-36mm f/2  28mm-82mm 
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 OS  36-107mm f/2  82-245mm 

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 dear BHP team, first of all thanks for your support. it is crazy how much effort you put in answering customers questions!

mine is: I have been investing in some pretty serious nikon equipment over the past years including a D800 with 24-70mm, 16-35mm, 85mm and 50mm FX G primes among others. lately I have been shooting video more and more and now I consider buying a GH4. but I am still struggling to make the right decision concerning my existing lenses. would you recommend me to keep them and make them work with the GH4 using a speedbooster? or would you recommend to get rid of it an invest in native lenses and/or sigma 18-35mm / rokinon primes for example?

I don’t know how much more you would benefit from selling your Nikon lenses and adapting a Sigma 18-35mm to the GH4 as compared to simply adapting your Nikon lenses.  If you were to get rid of your Nikon lenses, I would likely recommend purchasing lenses that already had the micro four thirds mount, rather than purchasing more lenses that need to be adapted.  I suppose one question would be how much you want to retain autofocus?  If auto functions aren’t a primary concern for you, then adapting your Nikon lenses might make sense.  You have some lovely optics in that list.  Another thing to think about is whether or not you might pick up another Nikon camera in the future, even if just for photo.  If you think there is a possibility that you would use cameras from both systems, then I would definitely hold onto your lenses.  Otherwise, if you think this switch to the micro four thirds system is permanent and total, and you want autofocus (and auto exposure modes), then I would suggest selling your lenses and investing in some of the higher end Panasonic and Olympus micro four thirds lenses.   

Does anyone know if there is a way to emulate Super 35mm with the Lumix GX8, rather than the GH4? Any info or a point in the right direction would be greatly appreciated!

The GX8 and GH4 have the same mount, so the Speed Boosters mentioned in this article would be compatible with the GX8 as well.  The GX8 has slightly less crop in 4K than the GH4 (Panasonic doesn’t state what the factor would be).  So, the figures in this article would be slightly different for the GX8 (there wouldn’t be as much of a crop factor in 4K starting out with the GX8 as there is with GH4).   Though, again, the Speed Boosters could still be mounted and used on the GX8, bringing the angle of view from a lens closer to that achieved from a Super 35mm camera.

Hey All, awesome post! I was wondering if anyone came across a similar setup for achieving this with the Panasonic GX8, rather than the GH4. Or would this not be possible with the GX8? Thanks! 

You could use the Speed Boosters for the micro four thirds cameras on the GX8 as well as the GH4. 

Thanks for the link Christina, I'll be sure to check it out. Cheers!

Hi there

I'm fairly new to filming and don't know what lens to buy for my GH4. I have the standard kit lens but I'm looking for a lens to create shallow depth of field for interview videos. I want as much bokeh in the background as possible. I think it would be best to stick to a panasonic lens as then I wont need an adapter. I have done some research on the Panasonic 42.5mm f/1.7 OIS lens and the Panasonic 25mm F1.4. Which of these are best or is there a better option

Kind regards.

Hi Sheldeen -

I would go with this:

A standard portrait-length prime, the Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. POWER O.I.S. is an 85mm-equivalent lens designed for the Micro Four Thirds system of mirrorless digital cameras. One aspherical element is incorporated within the optical design, which helps to control chromatic aberrations and distortions for enhanced clarity and accurate colors. The f/1.7 maximum aperture is particularly beneficial for selective focus imagery, and also aids shooting in low-light conditions. Further cementing its place as a versatile tool for portraiture, the rounded 7-blade diaphragm produces a smooth out-of-focus quality when making shallow depth of field photos and movies.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I need a general purpose zoom lens for basic video work with the GH4. I shoot a lot of interviews where the subject is reading off a prompter and therefor needs to be relatively close to the camera. What lens and/or speedbooster would you recommend that would allow me to get a shallow depth of field where the background is out of focus during interviews?

Hi Greg -

The Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8 Lumix G Vario Zoom Lens for the Micro 4/3 format features a 35mm equivalent focal length of approximately 70-200mm. It will cover the medium telephoto range. The minimum focus distance is 2.8 feet, and its fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 remains constant throughout the zoom range. POWER O.I.S. image stabilization enables nearly silent operation when shooting video, and Nano Surface Coatings dramatically reduce ghosting and flare.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

When paired with the Speedbooster, a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (AT-X 116 PRO DX-II for Canon) recording at 1920x1080 in GH4 there is any vignetting ? Do I have to shoot in 4k if I don't want get vignetting ?

There might be slight vignetting at 11mm, but you shouldn’t experience vignetting past that.

When using the electriconic Nikkor lenses over the older manual ones, how do you adjust aperture on the GH4 since there's no electronic connection between the Nikon Speed Booster and the camera?

If you are referring to the newer Nikon ‘E’ lenses with the electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism (200-500mm f/5.6E, 24-70mm f/2.8E, 300mm f/4E, etc), the aperture could not be adjusted when used with the Speed Boosters.  You would only be able to shoot wide open.  Though, there are only a few ‘E’ lenses on the market at this time. 

For the ‘G’ lenses, they still have a mechanical diaphragm.  So, the aperture could be adjusted by rotating the built-in aperture control ring on the Speed Booster itself. 

Hi There, Just wanted to know by any chance can I use Pentax lenses on gh4?

There are adapters that would enable one to mount Pentax K-mount lenses on a micro four thirds camera such as the GH4.  None would be auto adapters, and there isn’t a Speed Booster option at this time.  http://bhpho.to/1S7Vfgh

I have a Tamron 18-270mm zoom with a Canon EF mount. Can this lens be used on the Lumix GH4 with Metabones adaptor?
 

I also have a Canon 17-40mm L lens.

You could use the Tamron 18-270mm and Canon EF 17-40mm lens with the Metabones Speed Booster on a GH4, yes.

You could use the Tamron 18-270mm and Canon EF 17-40mm lens with the Metabones Speed Booster on a GH4, yes.

I am a bit confused about lenses. I just bought the GH4 and I really like the Olymus MFT lens 25mm f1.8, 45mm f1.8, 75mm f1.8 & 7-14mm f2.8.

But I have Canon 50mm f1.4, 100mm f2, Sigma 30mm f1.4, Tokina 11-16mm f2.8.

I will be mainly shooting in 4K Cinema 24p mode, so my question is:

1. Will I get better image quality using Metabones Speedbooster with Canon Primes, Sigma Prime & Tokina 11-16 lens?

Or

2. Will I get better image quality using Olympus MFT prime lenses?

If you want to use autofocus at all, I would likely go with MFT lenses rather than adapting your EF mount lenses.  With an adapter, you will gain light.  Though, I think you would likely get better results with Olympus prime lenses on the GH4 rather than adapting lenses. 

i thought with the new firmware you can get autofocus? maybe not

The Metabones Speed Boosters for EF to M43 will provide autofocus with certain Canon lenses.  Autofocus would not be guaranteed with third party lenses, and wouldn’t be as fast/accurate as using a lens that natively has the micro four thirds mount.

Samyang 10mm f/2.8 is a manual lens. How can you reduce the aperture to f/2.0 if there are not electronic comunication from camera to lens? You can change the aperture just from the lens (in the camera you see "0.0"), so how you can reduce it over f/2.8?

The light is being concentrated by the lens which makes it brigther when it hits the sensor. Compare this to using a magnifying glass to ignite your shoelaces with sunlight.

The Canon Speedbooster is out now is it not? So I've been told Canon adapter is the way to go vs Nikon. Would this be the case on the Sony a7sII as well?

I consider to buy the GH4 with the Nikon SpeedBooster and the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. However I'm a bit concerned about one thing: You only taked about filming in 4k. Does this setup also work whene filming on 1080? I love the 4k but a few features are only avalible on 1080. Will I get any vignetting? And what if I use even wider lenses? 
Hope I didn't miss anything in the explenation. Pretty complicated stuff especially for a non-native.

Shooting still images or full HD video, you might experience some vignetting at the wider focal lengths using the 18-35mm f/1.8 lens on the GH4 with a Speed Booster.  You could use wider lenses with the Speed Booster and not experience  vignetting, but they would need to be full frame lenses.

I have this same setup with the metabones ultra x71 with Canon mount.  I get no vignetting at all.  Pictures are RIDICULOUSLY sharp photos and video.  I love it!  Just no Image Stabilization.

Hi,

1) "Will I get any vignetting?"

You can get rid of almost all vignetting if you stop down at f2.8, if you can afford it and the scene is not too dark. -> problem solved. Alternatively stay at f1.8 and use software which is simple. 

2)"Does this setup also work whene filming on 1080? I love the 4k but a few features are only avalible on 1080."

Yes, absolutely, but the crop factor is different. please check the link for the senzor explanation: http://blog.planet5d.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2014/09/mft_formats_...

Hope this helps, Greg

I have Panasonic GH4...can anybody suggest is there any other speedbuster or adapter other than Metabone for my canon ef lenses? its urgent friends

We do carry the Mitakon Zhongyi Canon EF Lens to Micro Four Thirds Camera Lens Turbo Adapter Mark I, which would be similar to the Metabones Speed Boosters.

Thank you so much for this helpful article. Can you point me towards any helpful articles concerning the new XL 0.64x Speedbooster? Or would you not recommend using the XL 0.64x on the GH4 because it designed for Full-Frame lens, which your article specifically mentions is not as ideal as using APS-C sized lens. 

Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any articles specifically about using the 0.64 XL version of the Speed Booster at this time.  Though, it will be similar to using the older Speed Booster, it will simply give a slightly wider angle of view.  If you will be shooting both stills and HD video along with 4K, you would likely want to use the XL Speed Booster with full frame lenses.  While shooting 4K, there shouldn’t be vignetting with EF-S or DX lenses and the XL.   Though, when shooting stills and HD, vignetting could occur.

Hi everyone! Very interesting anf helpfull post btw!

Im sorry but i didnt understand completely the focal lenght equivalent. 

So if for example i have the 18-135 canon stm lens and a combined with a metabones speedbuster on the Gh4, what would actually be my REAL LIFE focal lenght??? I'll be able to shoot wide angle like a 12-14mm or ill have a 25-30 moreless?? Thank you!

When shooting 4K video, the GH4 has a 2.3X crop factor.  The Metabones Speed Booster will increase the angle of view by 0.71X.  So, when you use a lens with the Speed Booster on the GH4, the resulting crop factor would be 1.633X.  This means that an 18-135mm lens shot on the GH4 with the Speed Booster will have a 35mm equivalent focal length of roughly 29-220mm.  This will be roughly equivalent to the angle of view you get with the lens when using it on a Canon APS-C size sensor camera.

Does the GH4+canon ef metabones Speedbooster+sigma 1-35mm canon Ef mount work without vignetting,has anyone tried this combo

When shooting video, there should be little to no noticeable vignetting using the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 with a Speed Booster on the GH4.  When shooting stills, there is a little vignetting noticeable when shooting at 18mm against a light background, but at other focal lengths vignetting shouldn’t occur.

I have the older ( Sigma 30mm F 1.4 prime Canon EF ) and the (Tamron 17-50 F 2.8 with VC Canon EF ) both APS-C. I am guessing they will work with the Speed booster? 

You could use both with a Speed Booster on the GH4, yes.

Hi Chris, Thanks for your great article. I had a Canon 5d M2 with a sigma. I sold them both. i want to upgrade to the GH4 and want my quallity of video to be impecable . Do you recomend i get the speedbooster if so wich one ? for canon or nikon? or to get the series of panasonic and not get the speedbooster? Thanks . dannyknust.com

We suggest that you use a Speedbooster, either Canon or Nikon plus the listed lenses in this article, in order to get the most out of the GH4 sensor for 4K video. With just regular lenses and mounts, you lose a bit of video image quality potential.

Could anyone please let me know whether "Tokina 11-16mm f2.8" can work with Canon EF speed booster (active) on GH4?

The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 should be compatible with the Metabones EF to micro four thirds Speed Booster.  I’ve seen several videos online where people were using this combination for the GH4.

You read this yet!

I thought you couldn't use aps-c lenses on the metabones speedbooster?

All of the lenses discussed here are APS-C format lenses. They are meant to be used with the Speed Booster on APS-C or smaller format cameras such as the BMPCC and MFT cameras. You might have problem covering the sensor using a Speed booster with APS-C lenses on a Sony a7 Full Frame camera in APS-C crop mode.

I have a question about adapters. I have nikon lenses with fotodiox adapters for use on Canon 60d/7d. I am considering the GH4 and I'm wondering if I would remove the adapters and get metabones adapter for Nikon to the GH4 - or can i keep the canon adapter on the leneses and just get a canon to GH4 adapter? I do have a couple of Canon lenses including the Tokina 11-16mm. I wouldn't be able to buy two adapters for both canon and nikon - I hope this question makes sense. Basically trying to figure out best option to using my existing lenses. Thank you.

While you could physically attach a Nikon lens with a Canon mount to a Canon lens to MFT mount adapter and actually get an image, you will not be able to focus to infinity. This is because you are moving the lens further away from the sensor and exceeding the flange depth distance.  Your solution is getting the proper adapters.

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