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

The upgrade is available from multiple retailers, including Panasonic’s own online store and the stalwart B&H Photo.

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.

DVInfo

AbelCine

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.

Upgrade Process

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.

Commentary

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.


10 Replies to "Panasonic announces paid V-LOG L upgrade for GH4"

  • John Stockton
    September 2, 2015 (9:54 am)
    Reply

    Sony A7r11 here I come. You know I got mugged the other night. I was beaten up and had my wallet stolen. But the robbers could have actually murdered me and stole my wallet so in that respect, they were very reasonable.

  • joe12south
    September 2, 2015 (9:57 am)
    Reply

    So you’ll spend $3,000 to avoid spending $100? The sense of entitlement surrounding software versus hardware mystifies me.

    • John Stockton
      September 2, 2015 (10:54 am)
      Reply

      Why do people insist on thinking it’s about money?? If it was money I’d buy the firmware. it just goes to show some people just don’t understand what it’s like to have principles. I have spent thousands on camera gear and will likely spend thousands more over my career. Didn’t you get the point of what I was trying to say?? Robbery is robbery. I’ve seen so many people even before this was released saying how reasonable this was. I simply disagree. I think it should be free because it amounts to being charged twice. Do you really believe this firmware release took any more effort than any other. Panasonic saw the excitement that this release was causing and did a money grab.
      If you bought a chocolate bar and had to pay extra to unwrap it but weren’t told until you had actually purchased the chocolate bar would you think that was OK. There are many people who have said Panasonic never promised it would be free, not technically but it’s an excepted truth that firmware is FREE and Panasonic have been aware of the speculation for months and months about whether it would be free or paid and did nothing to clarify the situation while at the same time being aware that many were buying the camera with the expectation that V-Log-L would in fact be free.
      But hey if you believe it’s about money there’s nothing I can do to convince you to the contrary. I just don’t like big corporations taking the mic when all they’re doing is playing catch up to other manufactures that have offered nothing more and nothing less as standard.

      • 1barnet1
        September 7, 2015 (2:33 am)
        Reply

        Then please point me to a camera maker that made something as important as Vlog/Slog/4k available on a existing camera?
        Sony has not done this to any camera except their professional line-up. Which by the way were very steep upgrades. A grand to get 4k recording on the F5.

        You did not get charged twice. You bought the Gh4 for it’s incredible 4k capability back when released for a very competive price. The camera was well worth it’s asking price even without Vlog. They pushed the envelope. It also has all of the other features you might expect. intervalometer, 96 fps fast burst shooting good buffer performance. touchscreen weathersealing everything is built-in.

        Now about development i do agree that it probably didn’t cost that much. But this is a standout feature you can use to push a newer model. By not doing that Panasonic is actually losing revenue as well. Sony has been releasing no less then 3 new camera’s with SLOG 2. But no existing Sony got SLOG by a firmware update.

        Firmware is indeed free. But then firmware used to mean fixing bugs and issues with the camera. It’s inability to record VLOG is not a stability problem. Then Panasonic did add additional capabilities for free with the FW 2.2 update.

        The only problem here is communication. We knew some lucky ones had VLOG GH4’s for ages.Yet Panasonic did not make statements on release date and whether it was a payed upgrade or not. They should’ve given a time-frame and price.

  • joe12south
    September 2, 2015 (11:28 am)
    Reply

    I simply don’t understand your “principal” problem, and your chocolate bar analogy is fundamentally flawed.

    VLOG-L is not a feature we are being charged to “unwrap”. It’s a feature that didn’t exist when the camera was created. We’ve been eating the chocolate bar we purchased for over a year. Not only did Panasonic not promise VLOG-L would be free (at any time) they did not even promise it would *exist.* (Re-read their official statements.) Everything else before yesterday was Internet fueled conjecture.

    You’re not being charged twice. You were charged once for the published features that existed when you bought the camera, and you can continue to use those forever. If – and only if – you want this optional new “pro” feature, you will be charged once for that feature, and you can then use it forever. Or not. Your choice.

    As a software developer, I simply cannot accept your “firmware” should be free mentality.

    • Manny L.
      September 2, 2015 (1:36 pm)
      Reply

      Totally agree with you Joe! …I’m stoked it’s only $99 considering Sony F5/F55 users had to fork over $1000 to unlock internal 4k recording.

  • tidefilm
    September 2, 2015 (5:26 pm)
    Reply

    Fist of all, when I bought the GH4 by ordering it in march 2014, there was no rumor about vlog, 4k & Slomo were the jawdrop arguments..and the camera was well worth the money i did cost then.
    Quite some time ago, when film / video production was n t a one man orchestra. And buying a camera able to produce high end footage was like buying a car, really expensive and it lasted for a long time, and still after some years it stayed quite state of the art (3ccd etc. not to mention the time before that..:) Big changes came faster after saying goodby to tapes (and capturing…:)
    and now over the last years, in which I made my living producing high end digital video content, each and every year enough revolutions were made to sell the one year old model and buy a new camera because it was so much more advanced
    (for example GH1-4).
    To get the feeling now that this time it might be the fist time in years, that i ll stay using a camera for more than a year without dropping it directly for the next model exites me.
    At least in a way, in which I think it should be normal to not buy a new camera every year.
    This is a time of technoligical revolution in digital imaging which will be legendary.
    And besides the price for the update to Vlog, which I think is completely fair for people like me who earn money with this camera, the decision to not bring out a GH5 in 2015 and keep the GH4 for a year getting the most out of its sensor via post release developement and firmware update is a good step regarding sustainability.

    That said, yes, of course and like everybody else reading this, I also can’t wait to see what Sony ll throw into the game later this month 🙂 I really love the GH4 and will probably stay using but maybe the camera to last 2-3 years will have internal 4kp60, log, never again any low light noise problems,240fps fhd, full frame and an awsome in-body-stabilisation…
    we ve become such tec-junkies – somehow I hope this is going get more relaxed soon …:) or do you want to eternally thinks about missing features?

    • John Stockton
      September 3, 2015 (3:20 am)
      Reply

      I completly agree with most of what you said and I won’t get rid of the GH4 as it’s a great day time or studio camera. I simply won’t buy the V-Log on principle. In my view its a money grab born out of the fact that they’ve seen the excitment caused by the expectation and realized there was money to be made. If there wasn’t as much excitment they would have brought it out without a wimper. I respect the fact that you think it’s worth it and that is your opinion, why can’t you except that I have the right to have my opinion. People just can’t see past the money. If I don’t want to pay, it must be because I just want something for free. This simply isn’t the case. I just spent nearly £700 on C-Stands. This upgrade is only £65. I refuse to upgrade. I feel Panasonic haven’t played fair, they’ve played a dirty game. Had they been honest from the start it would have sat better with me. People have just rolled over and mark my words the firmwares will come more often with less features and more and more expensive because now they know you will pay. It’s simple economics. Find something people are prepared to pay for and create a need, feed that need until people come to rely on it and then, BAM, ramp up the payments and milk them for every penny you can. When the GH5 comes out features WILL be withheld to be released later on as paid firmware ungrades in the future. This will not mean the original price will reflect this and be cheaper to purchase it’s just another way of charging more without everyone realising they’ve put the price up. It’s a cheap sales technique. It’s called up-selling. I reckon we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. But a word of warning this is a red flag, the thin end of the wedge. How much will the next upgrade cost, when will they introduce the monthly payment plan when they simply rent out the upgrades becuase you and others are happy to pay without complaint. Adobe CC mean anything to you!!!!

  • joe12south
    September 3, 2015 (6:15 am)
    Reply

    Adobe CC means a lot to me. It means I get updates several times a year instead of once every year or two. I happily pay that subscription fee.

    • tidefilm
      September 3, 2015 (2:00 pm)
      Reply

      when the gh4 came out i was fine paying around 1300€ (special lauch offer) and i know people who brought it recently for the same price more than a year later. this because the gh4 is alone in this price level, it is really cheap, compared to the competition.
      especially in the beginning of last year. i would have paid 100€ more without a blink. and they could have charged more for vlog aswell.
      i think you might be right concerning that they charge money for this update because they are sure that a lot of gh4 users won t have any problem with the 99$ upgrade. they are right about that. they ll get the money they can. so does every company. selling a camera on a really low price point making its buyer completely satisfied because of a great value for the money and than after a year selling another feature aimed at pro users, who can voluntaryly spend under 100$ for a great pro feature for color grading is ok in my opinion.
      why does the sony A7rII cost 3500€? isnt charging so much money for a camera that will probably loose value really fast (as every camera does these days, when cameras come out with a lot of problems that would be great to get fixed by the next generation) the same kind of thing?


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