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Comments about Panasonic Lumix DMW-YAGH Interface Unit for GH4:
I use it on almost every shoot. This basically turns a gh4 into the 4k capable af100 follow up that I wished they had made. The biggest plus for me is the XLR- gotta have it, don't like syncing in post with zoom or beachtek workarounds (just me personally). I feel as sure using this as I would if the camera had built in XLR inputs. 10 bit out looks great to a recorder, but find mostly I am recording to highest rate 4k on fast cards in camera, which offers a great picture on its own, so I don't use that much. The other nice thing is that it powers the unit- for long studio shoots, this is great. My only complaint is that I bought it prior to the atomos shogun, which will give you the almost same capabilities (albeit audio requires a jumper cable) PLUS a field monitor PLUS an ssd recorder to record all that nice 10bit 4k the imaging the hdmi on the camera puts out for a similar cost. Would recommend that instead at this point. But good job Panasonic for even making this and responding to the needs out in the field.
Comments about Panasonic Lumix DMW-YAGH Interface Unit for GH4:
In my opinion, this unit makes the GH4 into a professional video camera. However, it's certainly not perfect. I begged the Nikon guy at NAB 2013 to build something like this for the D800, but nothing yet. Panasonic is listening.
I'm commenting here with this very quick preliminary review because as of June 4, 2014, you cannot download the YAGH manual from Panasonic's website for details you may need.
It's more than the camera body, which is to say, really expensive. I can only hope the YAGH will fit future GH5 and GH6 camera bodies. Please, Panasonic: don't obsolete this thing.
There is no internal battery. It has to have external power, supplied via the industry-standard 4-pin XLR. This is good and bad. Stated power requirement on the bottom plate is 12VDC at 1.4 amps. The camera can still work with its internal battery, but the YAGH will not work without external power in.
Power is applied to Pin 4, Ground to Pin 1. (Pins 2 and 3 are not used.) The manual says voltage can vary from 11VDC to 17VDC. This means any professional AC camera supply or brick battery like an Anton Bauer 14.4VDC will work. (I'm using a 12VDC battery pack built from ten NiMH D-cells and supplies 10,000 mAh. Should go all day.) You'll need a 4-pin extension power cord and drag the power supply with you. Hello battery belt? Sort of going backward. It would be great to have the ability to add lith-ion batteries somehow but perhaps it draws too much power for smaller cells.
When plugged in, the external power powers both YAGH and the GH4 body. The camera's battery can remain installed, but it not used. Good thing: you'd have to unmount the camera from the YAGH to change its battery.
Once the YAGH is attached to the camera, an "Interface Unit" menu appears on the "Motion Picture" tab. There are many options. One setting allows you to set low battery warnings at 11, 12.5, 13.5 and 15 volts. This is very professional.
Yes, it has a fan. You can barely hear it (can't hear it six inches away), but hot air blows out the left side when it's plugged in. I assume there's a lot of electronics inside to supply all the outputs. Have not demonstrated the fan can be heard by the camera-body's built in stereo mics.
a. the 4-pin XLR power plug
b. two, 3-pin XLR audio inputs, switchable between Line (0dB), Mic (-50dB) and 48VDC phantom power. A stereo/mono switch sends the signal from the left mic to both left and right channels. You can select which mics to use: the built-in stereo camera mics or the XLR inputs.
c. time code-in on one of the BNC connectors
d. the micro-HDMI plug that transfers the HDMI camera output signal to a full-sized HDMI on the YAGH unit. This HDMI interface is implemented clumsily; I hope there is a better reason than engineering laziness. It's basically a short Micro-to-Full HDMI extension cord. The dovetailed arm that sticks up on the left side of the unit holds the micro-HDMI cord with a plug. You mount the camera to the unit, open the rubber door on the camera's left side so that it sticks straight out of the camera, then slide the YAGH's dovetailed micro-HDMI plug into the camera, then tighten the tiny thumbscrew. The rubber door disappears into the dovetail arm and is not removed or abused by being bent back too far. This sturdy plastic arm with its metal dovetail very definitely protects the extremely fragile Micro-HDMI socket on the camera body. (I personally would not directly connect a cable into the camera. One yank and your camera is broken. I thought the Mini-HDMI plugs on Canon 5D's and Nikon D800's were bad. This Micro-HDMI is even smaller and weaker. The YAGH solves the problem.) It would have been better if Panasonic had routed the signal through the bottom of the camera, but that would mean another 15 pins down there, and it's already crowded. OTOH, if they had built a second micro-HDMI socket on the bottom and had a corresponding HDMI plug sticking up from the YAGH, that would have worked too.
e. One drawback of this HDMI interface method: if you screw the dovetail in, it takes up the whole left side of the camera and you cannot pivot the flip-out viewfinder down at all and upwards only about 5 degrees. The whole point of the pivoting viewfinder is the ability to frame low- or high-angle shots. If you don't need to remote the HDMI to the YAGH (say you're using the audio interface and DC in and not monitoring via the HDMI) you can let the dovetail hang there, flopping in the wind, and allow the viewfinder to rotate.
a. full-sized HDMI socket under a rubber door on the left side outputs 4:2:2 8bit or 4:2:2 10bit. You can't record both internally and externally if in 10bit. You access this setting while in "Creative Video Mode." The 8bit is good for sending to an external monitor while recording to the card.
b. 4, SDI BNC connectors under a rubber door on the right side, marked 1, 2, 3 and 4. They output different signals based on the resolution of the recorded signal.
- any of the four BNCs can output a 1.5G HDSDI signal if resolution is set up to 1080-29.97p.
- 3G-SDI is output on BNCs 1 and 2 if you record in 1080-59.94p or 1080-50p
- 1.5G-SDI Square Division (whatever that is) is output on all four BNCs as a group if you want to output the Cinema C4K (4096x2160-24.00p) or Broadcast 4K (3840x2160-24.00p/23.98p/29.97p). Apparently you will need all four BNCs to get enough bandwidth to send the 4K signals to an external monitor or recorder.
6. Plug and socket covers
Minor point, but of some concern. The camera is not waterproof but is touted as "splash proof." To achieve this, rubber doors seal the camera all over. The bottom of the camera has two rubber seals that cover two sets of contacts -- one with five, one with 18 contacts. The YAGH unit has quite exposed corresponding spring-loaded pins sticking up. When you attach the camera to the YAGH, you obviously need to remove the four covers. There's no place to store them. You will want them if you split the units apart, especially the camera seals.
7. Audio Controls
a. two sets of 8-segment Ch1/2 LEDs indicating level: 4 green, 3 yellow, 1 red. There are no numbers anywhere I can find. No idea where -20dB is if you're sending tone to the unit from a mixer. All the manual says is that if the red LED lights, you're at 0dB.
b. two approx. 1/2" diameter knobs to adjust level, shielded by a clear cover so they won't get hit accidentally yet are easy enough to adjust during a take without shaking the camera or making noise
c. LED brightness is adjustable to either "Hi" or "Low" via the Interface Unit menu item under the Motion Picture tab
a. two locating pins register to the camera body and are held tightly via the 1/4-20 tripod socket. It really becomes a single unit
b. Both 3/8-16 and 1/4-20 threaded tripod mounts on the bottom. There's also a hole for the tripod plates that have an anti-rotation pin. Having both 3/8-16 and 1/4-20 allows you to use two screws to mount the YAGH to your tripod plate so it cannot rotate.
c. two 1/4-20 threaded holes are supplied on the lower front of the YAGH to allow mounting a set of matte box rods, once some third party supplier starts making the rod/rail adapter. The two holes are exactly 32mm apart and centered 85mm below the optical center of the lens, conforming to the 15mm Light Weight Support (LWS) standard. If you hang a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 on a Metabones Speed Booster, you will definitely need rod supports. The little GH4 simply cannot hold that kind of weight out front without really stressing the joint between the YAGH and GH4.
d. It's still not too giant for hand holding, but it's getting there. It's really designed to be tripod mounted.
e. Because the YAGH extends forward of the camera and slopes downward, if you use one, the Metabones Speed Booster tripod foot must be removed for the adapter to fit the camera while attached to the YAGH. Fortunately, Metabones allows this and supplies necessary Allen wrenches and caps.
f. One strange quirk: I hooked my Sound Devices 302 mixer to the YAGH with its Return audio monitoring the camera's headphone out, just like I do with any other video camera (Nikon D800, Sony, Panasonic) and I heard a terrible hum/noise if I monitored from the SD302's headphone return. If I plugged the headphones directly into the camera's jack the audio was clean. It sounded like an AC adapter ground problem, except both the YAGH and the SD302 were being powered by batteries. Again, did not effect the recorded audio -- just the monitoring through the return to the mixer. Present workaround is to plug the phones into the camera.
The audio itself is very clean and the 48V phantom powers my Audio Technica AT4073a great. May not even need a mixer.
Overall, the YAGH is useful -- allows (well, requires) external power for long runtimes, protects the camera from HDMI socket damage, outputs all kinds of signals up to true 4K via SDI and HDMI, allows timecode input and allows professional audio inputs.
However, if you don't need external power, SDI-out or HDMI-out, a simple audio interface like the JuicedLink RM222 Dual-XLR Preamplifier with Phantom Power or a BeachTek DXA-SLR MINI PRO HDSLR Audio Adapter might suffice to get pro audio in.