Panasonic announces paid V-LOG L upgrade for GH4
As promised, on September 1st, Panasonic formally announced the V-LOG L upgrade for the GH4. As many (including myself) predicted, this is a paid upgrade being targeted at “pro” users.
Panasonic’s description of the upgrade is as follows
- LUMIX GH4 function enhancement for film production/professional videographers
- Increases dynamic range from 10 stops to 12 stops
- Makes color grading easier with improved compatibility between LUMIX GH4 and Panasonic Varicam
- V-Log / V-Log L were developed to feature similar characteristic to Cineon
What is V-LOG L?
The “L” stands for “light“. Why the variation? The standard V-LOG profile is designed to represent 14 stops of dynamic range. The GH4’s sensor is only capable of 12 stops of sensitivity, so Panasonic had to create a new profile that performed similarly, but was designed for that limitation.
Supposedly VLOG-L is “compatible” with workflows designed for its big brother. If this proves out, it will be a real boon to GH4 shooters because a lot of compatible post tools (such as LUT’s) will be available on day one, not to mention intercutting GH4’s and Varicams on the same shoot should be a snap.
Is V-LOG L just another “flat” profile?
No. No. No. If you don’t understand the difference between a logarithmic gamma profile versus what you can accomplish by tweaking settings, then I strongly encourage you to do some Googling.
Is V-LOG L the same as shooting “RAW”?
No, but there are a few similarities. In fact, you get some of the benefits of shooting raw (expanded dynamic range and post flexibility) without some of the downsides (large file size, heavy processing requirements.) Shooting LOG video versus a “baked” profile is not too dissimilar to shooting RAW stills versus baked-in JPEGs. (The analogy only goes so far, though. True RAW files give are even truer representation of what came straight off of the sensor.)
Should I shoot with V-LOG L?
- If you’re running and gunning, trying to make a same day deadline, V-LOG L is probably not for you. LOG profiles require post processing.
- If you’re recording little Johnny’s 3rd birthday for grandma to watch on YouTube, you probably don’t need to bother with V-LOG L, either. Just use the Natural profile and forget about it.
- If you’re shooting a music video, or a wedding, or a movie, or anything else you expect to color correct, the your probably do want to shoot with V-LOG L. Those two extra stops and better color rendition are more than worth the little bit of extra work in post.
The upgrade process itself looks a little gnarly, requiring multiple swaps of SD cards between camera and computer. First, you must upgrade to a new firmware (not yet released) and then there is a multistep process of acquiring your camera’s serial number and generating an activation code which is finally loaded onto the camera. (It is this activation code, not the firmware, that is what you actually purchase.) It’s unknown yet what the “brick” potential is, but Hot Rod Cameras is already planning an “upgrade” party during which they’ll perform the upgrade for you if you are faint of heart.
If you’re reading between the lines, this upgrade, (along with previous firmware upgrades) has clear implications for Panasonic’s business, and the industry as a whole. Panasonic is really going out on a limb here. By introducing 4K, the YAGH, anamorphic shooting and a LOG profile that is compatible with their Varicam line, Panasonic has hopelessly blurred the lines between their professional and consumer products in a manner that Canon or Sony won’t even come near. Think about that for a moment.
So, while there is hue and cry all over the internet because Panasonic is charging $100 for an upgrade, what Panasonic is really doing is betting that it can sell enough GH4’s (and GH5’s when the time comes) to offset losing sales of much more expensive cameras. (The cheapest Varicam costs double the GH4.)
I for one applaud Panasonic for their bold move, and look forward to a few more rumored upgrades to the GH4 before it is replaced by the GH5 some time in 2016.