Saturday, August 9, 2014

Setting up a Panasonic GH4 for Diving

To a lot of you who’ve been shooting video with DSLRs for some time, the settings on the GH4 might be a bit “ho hum”. But, for me, shooting camcorders for the last 10 years, it’s been a sea-change. I spent a lot of time studying the settings and came up with something that works for me. I thought that I’d share it.

Firstly, I have to say that I prefer a “natural” look; I like my finished video to look as close as possible to what my eyes saw underwater. So that "natural look" bias is in my settings. I don't WB to white or add a lot of red. You can adjust to your own tastes.

Secondly, when I am underwater, I want to focus as much of my attention on the “story” and the “subjects”. But I rarely use an “auto-everything” approach as that does not work well in many situations. But, I do like to quickly get to as close to the "optimal look" without too much fiddling and adjustments (while the whale shark swims away).

So, I have found it very useful to leverage the custom setting feature in the GH4. It works really well with this camera.

After a lot of research and testing, once I had an idea of what I needed, here is the process that I used:
1. Set all the “in menu” settings (my preferred settings are below)
2. Set the camera controls to your most “usual” setting
3. Set the WB presets (more on how to do this below)
4. Save this to C1 (in my case, C1 is full manual)
5. Without changing the menu settings from C1, change the camera settings to your second most “usual” settings
6. Save this to C2 (in my case, C1 is shutter of 1/50 with AFL/AEL for focus and exposure)
7. Change to your third most “usual” settings.
8. Save this to C3-1 (in my case I use “shutter 1/50; auto-everything-else”)
9. (you could do two more settings, C3-2 and C3-3, but I don’t use these because they are not so quick to access)