With the release of the firmware v2.2, Panasonic’s wildly popular GH4 mirrorless camera gets what many shooters have been asking for—native anamorphic support. Since the early days of Panasonic’s GH series of cameras, owners have toyed around with anamorphic lenses and conversion lenses to capture ultra-wide cinematic images—myself included. The only caveat was that you were stuck shooting video in a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning a standard 2x anamorphic lens, or even a 1.5x anamorphic lens, yielded aspect ratios that, while fun to experiment with, were too wide for most practical applications. While firmware v2.0 expanded the aspect-ratio options in certain recording modes, the new firmware v2.2 gives the Panasonic GH4 a true 4:3 recording mode, well suited for anamorphic shooting.
Anamorphic lenses were born out the desire to capture a wider aspect ratio with 35mm motion picture film, without having to extract only a part of the frame. To do this, the lenses have optical elements that squeeze more horizontal information out of a scene. A 2x anamorphic lens, for example, is twice a wide horizontally as a spherical lens of the same focal length. The captured images are then stretched out in post or at an anamorphic-equipped projector to the proper aspect ratio. Over the years, the unique characteristics of the anamorphic lenses, such as horizontal lens flare and oval out of focus highlights, have become a part of the cinematic aesthetic. For more information on using anamorphic lenses, check out our Explora article on the subject.
The GH4’s new Anamorphic (4:3) Mode supports a resolution of 3328 x 2496 and offers frame rates of 23.98, 24, 25, and 29.97 fps. When used with an industry-standard 2x anamorphic lens, the recorded footage can be un-squeezed to yield an aspect ratio much closer to the 2.39:1 theatrical standard In addition to internal recording, the anamorphic footage can also be output over HDMI in 10-bit 4:2:2, but the video is forced to fit into the height constraints of standard 4K footage, resulting in a scaled-down 2880 x 2160 image with black bars on either side. Additionally, internal recording with the Anamorphic (4:3) mode is disabled when using 10-bit output. To get the most out of the new anamorphic mode, it seems internal recording is the way to go.
Panasonic’s decision to bring native anamorphic support shows not only the company’s willingness to listen to wishes of its customers, but also the continued popularity of the wider 2.39:1 aspect ratio and anamorphic aesthetics. With the new firmware update, I have a feeling that this popularity will only continue to grow.
I love my GH4 and I'm very happy about the new native anamorphic update... my question is - will we start to see more reasonably priced lens options to use the entire chip in the broadcast "B4" lens type? I would like to see affordable servo zoom lenses for broadcast shooting as well as maintaining the HD/UHD clarity that non-anamorphic primes give us... is this possible?
Happy that you are loving your Panasonic GH4 and the latest firmware update offering anamorphic capabilities. We will be seeing some dedicated MFT mount anamorphic type lenses in the future. SLR Magic recently announced several options. Veydra also has options coming in the future which may be on the more affordable side. See the following two links for details on the SLR Magic and Veydra lens announcements. http://www.slrmagic-europe.com/news.html , http://bit.ly/1O5jOs2
Unfortunately there is nothing currently under the radar that I am aware of in terms of affordable servo zoom lenses with grip in native MFT mount similar to 2/3 B4 lenses you find on ENG cameras. Currently your best options to go for are the Panasonic PZ MFT lenses as well as a select few Olympus lenses. Perhaps Panasonic may release a firmware that offers in camera cropping similar to the size of a 2/3 sensor which can open up more options for mounting native B4 lenses on the Panasonic GH4.
There are larger servo zoom lenses available that cover the sensor currently but they do come in at a higher cost and will need adaptation in both mount and power options. One example of such a lens is the Fujinon 19-90mm T2.9 Cabrio Premier PL Lens (ZK4.7x19) - see the following link for details on that: http://bhpho.to/1Gwquy6