GH4 or EM-5markII?

I’VE been using micro four-thirds camera since the E-P1 – yep, the first digital PEN from Olympus, a 12mp rangefinder-style interchangeable lens camera.

I liked the E-P1, but it has its drawbacks and I sold it a while back.

It was effectively replaced by the OM-D EM-5, the first SLR-style Olympus m4/3 body, and that came was (and still is) great. I liked it so much I bought the E-M1 as soon as it came out and I still really like using that camera.

Apart from the awful menu structure and its poor tracking performance, there is little to dislike about the E-M1, and a lot to like. It handles well, it almost too customisable, it offers capabilities and features you won’t find in many other cameras.

However, times change and when my TV show became a reality, video performance became a huge issue and the Olympus cameras were being used less and less (no 25p, a requirement for PAL production here in Australia).

I shot series 1 of Cycle Torque TV on a Canon XA-20, Canon 5D Mark III, action cams from GoPro and Contour. For series 2 I bought a Panasonic HC-X1000 and a Leica D-Lux (type 109), because I wanted the luxury of being able to crop and stabilise footage – when shoot motorbikes guys, and that’s hard!

I’ve long wanted a Panasonic GH4 to replace the Canon 5D3, because the pano is lighter and shoots 4K (although it’s not the weight of the body so much as the weight of the kit – a m4/3 kit of camera, 3-4 lenses, flash etc is way, way lighter than the equivalent in DSLR.

But now there’s new wrinkle in the plan – the Olympus OM-D EM5markII. No 4K, but at least it shoots 25p. And has a fully articulated screen. And (with a grip) has headphone and microphone support. And 77mb/s data capture to SD cards. And 40mp stills.

But the biggest attraction is the 5-axis stabiliser. The GH4 relies on stabilised lenses, but my lenses are all from Olympus, so they don’t have stabilisation, Olympus went with in-body stabilisation.

So if I had a crew, and a gimbal, I’d go with the Panasonic – but on the contrary, I’m really thinking of getting this new body for a week-long ride through the USA, shooting with it to make a special edition of Cycle Torque’s TV show about the ride – one man, one bike, one week. I can’t even take the HC-X1000, it’s too bulky.

The kit will likely be the Leica D-Lux, EM-1 and either the GH4 or EM5II. Lenses will be 9-18mm (unless I can afford/get the new 7-14mm), 12-40 f/2.8 and 75mm f1.8. I’ve got the slow 40-150 too, but I’ve never liked it and might leave it at home. I’d love the 40-150 f/2.8, but the budget won’t allow everything. And I’m not sure I could fit it all onto the bike anyway.

I’d like people’s thoughts on what to buy. My research has so far uncovered:

Robin Wong

John Brawley


Published by Nigel Paterson

Writer, photographer, videographer, motorcyclist, parent...

4 thoughts on “GH4 or EM-5markII?

  1. If you’re going to be shooting video without a lugging a mechanical stabilizer, I think the EM-5 II is the obvious choice. The smoothness (versus with no stabilization) is beyond dramatic. The difference between TV news and mom’s vacation movies!

    The only thing you may have to contend with is some moiré, depending on subject.

    Good luck!

    1. The big difference for me is how cinematographers have really taken to the GH4 and how it does 4K – which is great if you want to deliver in 1080 but be able to crop and stabilise in post. The Olympus is a bit of an unknown so far, but 77mb 1080 with the stabiliser is cool.

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