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GH1 Firmware Hack FAQ
  • The Panasonic GH1/GF1 debuted in 2009 with a sensor in between 16mm and 35mm Academy size. It is approx a 2x crop sensor related to SLR terminology. The short focal distance allows the usage of any lens built for cameras – except the CS-mount lenses. Russian hacker tester13 figured out a way to modify the firmware to give custom recording rates – among other goodies. At this point in time, the GH1 has the best recorded image out of ANY camera less than 10K. Here is my article about installing the firmware for noobs.

    The article also appears here.

    This is a very simple tutorial that will attempt to organize everything for first time users.

    Video is essentially a sequence of still images taken 24,25,30,50 or 60 times a second. Also, during a video recording there is a spatial relationship between successive stills. The camera records in 2x formats – AVCHD and MJPEG.

    MJPEG records video as a sequence of JPEG stills (also called an intraframe codec). Hence, it can be easily edited on any computer. On the flipside, it is less efficient than AVCHD for storage. Both the GH1/GF1 only record 30p videos in MJPEG.

    AVCHD uses the spatial relationship to record each frame as a DIFFERENCE of stills (called an interframe codec). This encoding is called a Group of Pictures (GOP) encoding. So, the sensor takes its snapshots which it passes to the encoder. The encoder takes the first snapshot, saves it as a still, and calls it an I-frame. The next few frames are encoded as a difference frame, encoding only the regions that have changed. These are called P-frames. There are also D and B frames, that are variations on this theme. If there is lots of movement (i.e. foliage on a windy day, or ocean current), the encoder gets stressed trying to calculate P-frames. This causes errors while using your camera.

    Finally, we need to understand colorspace. If you have ever painted, you know that all colors are composed of the primary RGB (Red-Blue-Green) spectrum. So, a basic representation of a color image involves at least 3 values for R, G and B. Depending on the color depth (8,16 or 32-bit), this can mean 24, 48 or 96-bits per pixel. That is a LOT of information. Hence, another colorspace is used for encoding stills and video – called YCrCb. The intensity of light on a pixel is called luma, and the color value (a composite of Red, Green, Blue) is called chroma. In practice we only need 3 values, Y (luma) Cr (Y – Red) and Cb (Y-Blue). The value of green can be derived from these 3 values. Now, the human eye is more sensitive to luma than chroma. So, a common scheme is to reduce the sampling for Cr and Cb. This is called 4:2:2 colorspace, where luma is sampled at twice the rate of chroma. A more efficient alternative is to sample Y at twice the rate of Cr and Cr at twice the rate of Cb. This is called 4:2:0 sampling. Obviously 4:2:2 sampling will stress the sensor circuitry and cause more errors.

    MJPEG can offer 4:2:2 or 4:2:0 sampling, while AVCHD can only offer 4:2:0 sampling.

    Finally we need to understand interlaced vs progressive footage. Consider standard NTSC rates of 60i or 30p. In progressive mode, a sequence of 30 still images are written to disk in 30p mode. In interlaced mode, the encoder reads the odd or even lines on each image. Thus even though the sensor is sending out 30 images each second, the encoder takes each image and encodes the odd lines on odd frames, and even lines on even frames. In interlaced mode, there are 60 calls to the encoder to write 1920×540 resolution images per second. In progressive mode, there are 30 calls to the encoder to write 1920×1080 resolution images per second. Obviously a progressive encoding for the progressive image generated by the sensor is more efficient but also more stressful for the encoder.

    Having read this, lets start with the hack.

    1. Use a Windows PC for this. Things can work with Parallels or other emulators on a mac. Winebottler can cause a problem where the bottom part of the hack utility (with options for various hack settings) is not seen.

    2. Download the LATEST version of ptool from here. Unzip it into a GH1 hack directory

    3. In the past, we had to modify each individual setting. It was a tedious task to setup a GH1 or GF1. Now we can have multiple settings files that can be used, as long as they are in the same directory as the ptool. Check out the Ptool FAQ and the various settings available.

    4. Now I will offer what I do for my shoots. I use AVCHD as its the only choice for 24p/25p footage. 30p is pointless unless all you need is to post videos on Vimeo. There are 3 hacks, available for the GH1 which offer Reliable, Turbo and Extreme modes of the hack (my terms). I use 3 cheap SD cards, some 16MB cards I have lying around. Format them in the camera and load 1 setting per card as shown in the FAQ above. Use a sharpie to write down Reliable, Turbo and Extreme. The 3 settings are provided the lpowell.

    They are :
    Reliable 2 - 40Mbps Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch - highest reliability for all camera models and all SD card types
    Direct Reliable patch download.

    Blackout-Powell Native 24p Patch v2

    Extreme - 100Mbps Max Latitude Native 24/25p Patch v2- GH1 only, Class 10 SD cards, Native 24p FHD, 30p SH mode

    All three patches are switchable between NTSC and PAL modes, and support multiple language selection, unrestricted recording time, and third-party batteries.

    The robustness is obviously less for Extreme and Turbo than Reliable. At night, or for places indoors use the Extreme patch. If it does not work, use the Turbo patch. For dense foliage, or clip with running water use the Reliable patch. lpowell has stated that the Extreme patch is at least as robust if not more than the Turbo patch. Since the patch is new, I may update this information after it has been widely tested.

    5. After recording, you may decide to view the video files for errors or out of curiosity. Please download cbrandin’s StreamParser - for more fun.
  • 71 Replies sorted by
  • Thanks, zcream!
    You can use HTML tags to format text if you wish.
  • I was looking for a topic where one could discuss possible bugs and did not find it. Thus forgive me if this is the wrong place to post this. I just used the latest Native 24p Patch of Blackout-lpowell and the MTS files produced are reported as 47.952fps by an old version of Mediainfo. The latest version of Mediainfo reports the correct 23.976fps. Another video program I use, Corel's Video Studio, also reports double the framerate. I am wondering if the AVCHD encoder in the GH1 is inserting double the frame rate somewhere in the created MTS files which PTOOLS could correct?
  • @aljimenez

    You can always make new topic.

    As for reprted framerate - do not bother about it. Different utilities use different methods to get it. And it do not affect actual data anyway.
  • My GH1 runs on v1.30 it shows serial number from jan 2011 - should i need to upgrade firmware to v1.34 and then next week apply future patch or do i simply need to apply patch as it is.

    Thanks again vitaly you are truly a Weapon of Mass Destruction, us as a community should contribute more so you can hack whatever it gets in your way.

  • If oyu GH1 is made in 2011 it already runs on v1.34 :-)
    In version info it won't show 1.34 :-)

  • right on!!!
  • Zcream, great explanation of colour space / avchd etc. Although I'm a GH2 owner, of course this applies to that camera too. Very clear - thanks!!

    By the way, interested in 4:2:2 mjpeg as that would be better for chromakey work.
  • You should add you need a FULL BATTERY for this to work and not to use the DC adapter as Vitaliy said any power fluctuation could brick your camera.

    I couldn't hack my new GH1 because my battery was only 2/3rds full and when I charged it, the hack worked.


    I got a gh1 'unhackable' about 1 month ago from B&H. Today I was able to get it working with Vitaliy's new ptool. Here is a beginner's version of what to follow that I used to get it to work. Also at the bottom are various quotes I have copied and saved over the last few months off various forums as I researched this topic.

    I downloaded the new Ptool zip file, then downloaded the panasonic GH1__132 bin file from the panasonic link. Extracted them into the same folder. Then I downloaded the settings file online called "lpowell - Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch". I then put the 'setj' file into that folder too.

    Then I opened ptool from the folder. I clicked the "j" highlighted at the bottom letters, then I made sure all 3 boxes at the top were selected.

    I clicked the "version increment" and then typed in '10' where the default was '1'.

    (I tried before without typing in 10 in the version increment and it did not work when I did that, so make sure you put 10 or maybe a higher number in there and save as GH1__135)

    I then clicked "save firmware" and made the name of the file GH1__135. I saved the file to the same folder on my computer as the other 3 files.

    I then formatted the sdhc card on the gh1, and then took 1 photo and 1 video. Then put the sdhc card back in the computer and uploaded the GH1__135 bin file into the root of the sdhc card (not in any folder). (if it doesn't work this way, just try again with total reformat without taking 1 photo and 1 video).

    Then I put the sdhc card into the gh1, and turned it on again and pressed and held the play button for 5 seconds, a screen came up asking if I wanted to update, I said yes, and then it started and took a couple minutes.

    I then took a movie in avchd and mjpeg. I shut off the camera and took out the card and put it back in the computer again. I then used a program called 'mediainfo' to view the settings that the videos were recorded at, and they were the high hacked settings!!!

    Thanks to Vitaliy!!!


    To compare the different settings file choices at a glance download the following files off the internet by doing a search for them.

    Blackout - Powell Native 24p Patch
    lpowell - Fast Action 3-Frame GOP Patch
    lpowell - Reliable In-Camera Playback Patch

    Look for necessary topics in this category of our forums!

    Then simply open each one at the same time in separate notepad windows and then right click the taskbar and choose "show windows side by side". You can then see all the differences between each of the settings files that others have made and if there may be anything you may want to change yourself to make a new settings file. It is a good way to see everything at once as an overview. To load any one of them just copy and paste all the files into the main folder you put the new ptool and the panasonic file. Then when you open up ptool you will see more of the letters at the bottom highlighted, just click on each one to initiate each one of the settings files one at a time. Then save different bin files for each setting you want to experiment with. You can only run one at a time, so if you want to change settings, you just go back into ptool, repeat the above process, and choose different settings each time you want to change anything, then save a new bin file, and do the upload to camera all over again from the beginning like you were starting from scratch.

    Update, I tried changing a few settings and then reloaded a different bin with different settings, the camera just shut off within like 5 seconds. I think I was trying to see if I could get 24p mjeg 1920. I also was trying a non panasonic battery I think too, so am not sure which caused this problem. I just reinstalled the native 24p settings as is on a new bin file and loaded that and it works now.

    I just did a 1 hour test record, on fhd 24p native and on the card it was split into 2 files but the camera didn't stop until the battery went dead around the hour mark. I was not moving the camera though, I have read that moving the camera around a lot may be a problem for some settings. I will try that next and post results.

  • @Toronto

    Thanks for you input.
  • and its hacked!!!!!!! Thanks V
    Serial WE1AA00
  • it says i hacked my gh1 the firmware version 0.0 but when i record in avchd it comes up with the same old bitrate someone help
  • blackseedz: AVCHD is a variable codec. If you record a low detail scene, the camera will still record at around 16-17Mbps. Record something with alot of detail like a leafy tree or grass blowing in the wind and you'll likely find that your camera bitrate shoots up to where you expect.

    I thought the hack had not effected the bitrate when I first hacked my camera. I was still getting around 16Mbps. Then I shot footage of an elaborate test pattern and my bitrate shot up to 40Mbps and locked up my camera ;-)
  • thanks schmoe im play with the cam a little more
  • My hacked GH1 stops recording every time it reaches the 4GB limit. The GH1 hack is stable in all modes & on all scenes and has not stopped or thrown an error (other than this). The 4GB clips are not corrupted and you can resume recording again without repowering. Any previous postings on this?

    update 6th june:

    yes this is a known issue -

    I have tested a modified form of the standard 'seta.ini' as in link below (ie. loaded a new hack in my gh1)

    My gh1 in FHD 25p mode now spans 4gb file ok without stopping on a fast moving scene (21mbps ave, 45mbps max) - so the patch to increase buffer size seems to work.

    Also in my modified hack, I set SH mode (with these seta.ini values in link) but with frame rate at 720 60p & 50p and with sandisc class 10 card the camera locks up immediately on going into record whatever the scene (battery reset needed).
  • xman: Are you shooting in PAL? Did you check the box for "30min limit removal" under Movie Related Restrictions when you did the hack?
  • I may be totally stupid, but is that about the GH1 hack only? GH2 is still "under construction"? And what do I do if I'm a Mac user? Thx
  • >I may be totally stupid, but is that about the GH1 hack only? GH2 is still "under construction"?

    Yeah, GH2 hack is in the development stage. I am working on it.
  • So I just started with the GH1. Lovely camera. I was just curious, what is the worst that could happen if you incorrectly configure a firmware patch? Will the camera just not take it, or will it brick the camera? I know that the battery MUST be fully charged to be safe during the actual firmware swap, but what if I just don't correctly configure it? Check all the right boxes, etc. I imagine the camera will just reject the firmware. Is this true?
  • @zerilliworks

    Worst thing could be that camera will hang during video shooting :-)
    And you'll need to pull battery off.
    But use original fully charged battery for firmware update for safety, ok?
  • Can the camera be "reset" to its original state after the hack has been applied? Can it be "unhacked?"

    Edit: By "the camera" I mean a new previously unhackable GH1.
  • I had never had a GH1 in my hands prior to today. I followed Toronto's instructions, loaded the fast action Powell config, put in play mode, was a little confused by "UP" as the choice for upgrade, chose it, green bar appeared, and it happened. I went to the version display on the GH1 and it read 0.0. WOW! Good piece of software Vitaliy. As a developer I can really appreciated you getting it into this kind of state. And I appreciate LPowell's work and everyone that has contributed to this project.
  • I went to Panasonic's website and the firmware that could be downloaded there was version 1.3 not 1.32. Does that mean that a new hacked (previously unhackable) GH1 cannot be "unhacked" back to ver. 1.32?
  • radicalkat - GH1__V13.exe is a self extracting archive that gives you GH1__132.bin.
    Note the two underscores __ in the filenames.
    You can ""reset" to its original state after the hack has been applied" by renaming the original GH1__132.bin to a higher number than the hacked bin file you last used.

  • xman - "My hacked GH1 stops recording every time it reaches the 4GB limit. "
    That's a feature of the file system. For more info -
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