Wisentgehege 2014 (Version 5) from Bettina + Uwe Steinmueller on Vimeo.

Want to see how good the Video Frame Pulls can get?  Be sure to take the QUIZ at the end of the article.  The results will SHOCK you!

Recently, Bettina + Uwe Steinmueller received their new Panasonic GH4.  One of the reasons they bought the GH4 was in order to pull stills from 4k GH4 video. The lovely video above is one of their early examples using the GH4 for some of the clips, and the still photographs below are sample stills pulled directly from the GH4 4k video stream using Lightroom.

Needless to say, as a video camera the GH4 with its native on-board 4k recording capability is something very special.  Right now, it is the only 4k mirrorless camera that has been released; and of the DSLR crowd to my knowledge, the $12,000 Canon 1DC is the only other-and it doesn’t even have an electronic view finder!  $1,895, this makes the GH4 a stellar value. But what does this camera have that my GH3 doesn’t have already?  Both of these cameras make excellent 1080P video.  At first blush, while the resolution is noticeably greater in the GH4 video, not every scene looks “pretty” in 4k.  To my eye, as with all other effects, a little bit goes a long way. Ultra HD footage is not particularly cinematic in my eyes, as the ultra high resolution makes most things hyper sharp vs. a softer, cinematic style.  Of course, as Uwe pointed out, you can always soften the 4K video if you want, but you cannot add back in resolution that was not there in the first place.

 

A vivid orange poppy in a green field.

An Example Still Frame Taken From A GH4 Video.

An Example Still Frame Taken From A GH4 Video.

 

Example Still Frame Taken From A GH4 Video.

What Ultra HD footage does have though is plenty of resolution.  3,840X2160 worth of it in each Ultra HD video frame.  Or, about eight megapixels worth.  4k has even more.  4,096 X 2160.

Single Frame Capture Using Lightroom From Panasonic GH4 4k Video Clop

This is going to sharply, and dramatically change still photography for good.  In the example below, Uwe examined his final footage to find the perfect frame that had the horse with the right foot forward.  Try doing that with just a stills camera, and best of luck to you.

Still Frame From Panasonic GH4 4k Video Stream.

A still pulled out of the 4k footage from the GH4 is capable of rendering such fine details as the pin feathers of a duck.

A 4k

Even Tiny Details Such As Pin Feathers Can Be Rendered Cleanly In Stills Pulled From The GH4 4K Video Stream.

If the democratization of the still photograph was not enough impact for you on the field of photography, Kattie hang onto your hat, you haven’t seen anything yet. One day soon, we will no longer have single exposure still cameras, we will have moving picture cameras with still frame capabilities.  I don’t know if that is a happy day, or a sad day for photography. The entire visualization process is different for me shooting still vs. motion images.  Both though are equally important tools in a hybrid storytellers bag of tricks.

So in the end, is this new Panasonic GH4 the first true Hybrid Storyteller’s camera?  No.  Those honors go to the Canon 1DC.  However the Panasonic GH4 does get the honors for being the first reasonably priced true hybrid storytelling tool.  This year at Photokina is going to be very interesting, as cameras in general further converge.

The days of having a “still” camera or having a “video” camera are nearing a close.  Most still cameras today record video just as most video cameras today can capture a still frame. How each accomplishes the task is very heavily influenced by its roots. I.E.: video cameras are always better at video than for capturing a still, while many still cameras have simply “tacked on” a video capability. The Panasonic GH4 appears to be one of the first where that is not the case.  Close attention has been paid by Panasonic to both the still frame capability as well as video recording features.

With the Sony A7S nearing its shipping date, it will enter the market as the third 4k capable small portable “still” camera derivative. Clearly, this move to 4k is not just a passing fancy, it is a reality that is here to stay. IF any of you still have doubts about what I am saying, take the quiz below, look at the images and decide for yourselves.

UPDATE #1: Here are the actual statistics results from the poll below, as of 6:42AM on May 29th in Hollywood, CA:

91 (58.33%)65 (41.67%)

What this means is that 91 correct answers were selected, with 65 incorrect selections being made.  In other words, only 58% of the time have people who have taken the test below been able to pick correctly between a native GH4 Still, and a Single Still Frame pulled from the 4k GH4 video stream.  Think you can beat the average?  Give it a try!  I’ll keep updating these statistics as long as people want to play the game. (Hint: It is a LOT harder than you think it is!)

UPDATE #2: Here are the actual statistics results from the poll below, as of 10:53 AM on June 4th in Hollywood, CA:

184 attempts has yielded

93 (50.54%)91 (49.46%)

Basically, statistically dead even.  In other words, simply guessing would yield the exact same results.  Half of the guesses are correct, half of the guesses on average are incorrect.  The sample size is also getting large enough now to get into the range of statistical relevance.  The net/net of this data is that the Video Frame pulls from the Panasonic Lumix GH4 are more than good enough for use on the web!  Most people really can’t tell the difference.  In fact, out of 184 attempts, only one reader got all four quiz questions correct!  Why don’t you give it a try and see how you do below?  Just press this button to begin.

 

GH4 Still, or Video Frame Pull?

Here is the test. Can you pick which of the images below is a GH4 Still, and which are a GH4 4k Frame Pull from the video feed?

 

Nice job Bettina + Uwe Steinmueller!

You are welcome to download the full 720p rendered version (original was 1080p)

 

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