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GH2 Hack most similar to BMPCC quality
  • I'll try to make this as short as possible. I already own a BMPCC, but I found it frustrating to use sometimes due to its battery life and the fact that it can't take pictures. So I recently bought a gh2 so I can take pictures and records videos all in one camera, instead of having to carry 2 cameras with me all the time. I'm aware that I can't get the EXACT same quality as the BMPCC, but I wanted to know whats the best hack that gives quality most similar to it and produces the flattest image. I have a 64GB 80mb/s sd card, so storage shouldn't really be a problem.

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  • I do own a BMPCC and a GH2, too. No hack will give you the same codec quality as the BM Pocket - simply because the GH2's AVCHD is limited to 8bit 4:2:0 vs. 12bit raw/10bit 4:2:2 log of the BM Pocket. On top of that, the GH2 has ~2 stops less dynamic range. (11 stops according to DxOMark vs. 13 stops of the Pocket - with the GH2 being likely more in the range of 10 stops in video mode since there is no log picture profile, and the BM Pocket being in the range of 12 stops usable dynamic range.) The GH2 has other limitations such as baked-in pixel sharpening. On the other hand, it has one great advantage over the BM Pocket: audio quality of its built-in mics and built-in mic preamplifier.

    Flatness of the image has nothing to do with the hacks, since the hacks don't change the GH2's picture profiles. What the hacks actually do is increase the encoding bitrate/change encoder matrices in order to do away with the encoding artifacts of the unhacked cameras. Using one of the high bitrate hack settings (such as Moon T7) would be recommended in your case.

    The flattest profiles on the GH2 are "Nostalgic" (which however adds color tints) and "Smooth" (flattest for accurate colors). I'd personally advice to shoot the GH2 with settings that are as close as possible to the result you want to achieve, so that a minimum or no color correction will be necessary. Any color correction applied to 8bit 4:2:0 footage will degrade color resolution and introduce banding (even if it's minor and can be masked in post with techniques like dithering).

    On the upside, turnaround times for GH2 footage are much faster because you get a usable image directly out of the camera, with no need of tweaking in post.

    I'd simply consider the Pocket and the GH2 two different beasts - the pocket is the poor man's RED, the GH2 is the poor man's C300. Both have their respective uses and advantages, depending on what you shoot.

    Just my 50 cent.

  • thanks! and it looks like I had the whole idea of bitrates wrong. I thought a higher bitrate meant more dynamic range and better quality. aha care to give the bitrates for dummies explanation ?

  • Bitrate just indicates amount of compression - the higher the bitrate, the lower the compression. The lower the compression, the less smudged-out image detail and pixel block artifacts. It's the same as with JPEG still images where you have different quality percentages based on compression: 70% is small file size, low quality, 100% is large file size, high quality. With the GH2, the standard video compression setting is on small/low, the hack settings simply set it higher.

    Dynamic range is a property of the sensor and also depends on the color curve that gets applied to its image data. If the curve crushes shadows and clips highlights (what most standard camera image profiles do in order to match raw sensor data to the way the human eye sees), then you lose DR. The hacks/higher bitrates may help the codec to retain more differentiated colors in the highlights and shadows (rather than smudging them in order to save space), so this may have a very small gain in DR. But otherwise, DR has nothing to do with bitrates.

    The reason why the BM Pocket has more DR is (a) its high dynamic range sensor, i.e. pure hardware; (b) the codecs that preserve that DR thanks to the flat log profile in ProRes (no matter the bitrate - even ProRes Proxy with its low bitrate will preserve your DR) / thanks to raw recording. Raw makes the difference not because its bitrate is higher, but because it doesn't apply a curve (and hence doesn't throw away recorded shadows and highlights) to the sensor image.

    Again, it's the same difference as with raw vs. jpeg in digital photography. Even 100% Jpeg quality doesn't retain the color information and dynamic range that's stored in a raw file. As a video camera, the GH2 can only record processed/cooked images encoded by its JPEG/MPEG engine.

  • what do you mean by smudged out image detail and pixel block artifacts? And are you suggesting to get the moon T7 hack? my main goal is to get image quality as close to cinema quality as much as possible

  • It's not just about bitrate. The GOP structure makes a huge difference too. Moon patches are GOP1 which means every frame recorded is a complete frame like the ProRes codec. It is still in a avchd mpg4 format but shows none of the typical Long GOP 12-15 frame artefacts, which show up as blocky smudgy detail in shadow areas. There are still issues with chroma resolution due to the 4:2:0 8-bit sampling used in the GH2. You can get banding in smooth gradients like sky etc. The Moon patches are some of the best available but have issues with spanning (long clips are broken into 4GB files on the memory card) in some cameras. My camera will not span using Moon T5 or T7. There are some 3GOP patches from @bkmcwd designed for high quality and spanning for Pal 25fps users which I like better than all the others I have tested.


    @Enzo101 If I remember correctly the hack setting called Apocalypse Now Boom was for a flat look. I tried it a while back and it seemed to do that and grade nicely. The link to that hack setting is above.

  • GH2 = "Poor man's C300"

    BMPCC = "Poor man's RED"

    Great way to think about it! (Though I'd say in 2015 that NX1 / BMPC4K would be a better example, however they're more expensive.... maybe "On a Budget" rather than "Poor man's" instead)

  • @matt_gh2 so you would suggest the apocalypse now boom or the moon t7 hack ?

  • Try either one or try out all patches. Once you understand how simple it is to upload the patches, you can try them out and see which you like. Just make sure you follow the steps in FAQ to install the patch and nothing will go wrong. From what I understand no one has reported any issues when following each step. But if you don't follow the steps you can ruin your camera.

    The differences between some patches will be minimal. Some more pronounced. From what I understand there has been no complete comparison between all the patches. So really you have to test them out yourself or read what others are saying about each patch in TOP SETTINGS of the forum.

  • @Enzo101 Like @Manicd said, I'd try a bunch of them and you'll soon see what you like. Here's a few popular ones Moon T5, Moon T7, Moon T8, Apocalypse Now Boom, Intravenous v1, Intravenous v2 (one of my favorites as I have think it's an 80s film look), Flowmotion (not sure which version but check that thread for latest), Sanity and many more (hope I didn't forget any of the popular favorites! ).

    Also play with the in-camera menu "Film Mode" settings such as "Smooth", "Standard", "Nostalgia". I like Smooth. Seems Smooth and Standard tend to be favorites. Also the four other settings that can be adjusted from -2 to 2, will change the image.

    Combine those things with lens experimentation and you'll soon come up with a "visual texture...aka an image type...a canvas" whatever you want to call it. Then it's all about composition and lighting, and post color correction/grading.

    Have fun. Great thing about this cam is ability to get a lot of different looks. Over and out!

  • @matt_gh2 thanks a lot! and just one more question, how do I turn off the exposure compensation on this camera ?!

  • @Enzo101 You're welcome. If you mean auto-exposure, it may be in the menus or it may be on the physical dials on the camera. I set mine up a long time ago for all manual, so I can't remember. The info is all in the manual/user guide, but if you didn't get one with your camera, you can google "GH2 manual user guide" and it's online as a free PDF. It's worth poking around that manual for a bit to get to know settings and stuff.

  • What do you mean turning Exposure Comp off? Off just means 0? You press the command dial until the Exposure Comp icon is highlighted in yellow near the bottom of the screen. Then turn to dial to turn Exposure Comp up or down. Hope it helps.

  • Hi, my favorite hack for the GH2 is - Apocalypse now cluster v7 DREWnet 12/15gop 444 Sharp Matrix... Why? Because its gave me a very nice sharp image and completely eliminated the Patchy Blue noise as seen on the stock firmware in very low light! here's a test i did with the worst lens in my collection.

    my 2nd best hack
    I always used this camera in the 24p mode. As for dynamic range the BMPCC wins easy. A GH4 shot at 4k converted to 1080p is STUNNING!
    4k noise (with high ISO's) looks like film grain, WIN WIN for me. I also dialed down to the Minus '-' the NR noise reduction on ALL my picture profiles on the GH2 to eliminate muddy looking shots in grey areas. Try and use a faster lens as poss anything under f3.5. I was sooo tempted to scoop up a BMPCC when the price dropped for a limited time but i still considered battery issues, fussy about memory cards, basic in-camera options i gave it a pass.

  • @LiquidAlpinist I tried that, but it always skips the exposure comp option and goes to the iso speed icon instead

  • What mode are you in?

  • @LiquidAlpinist manual in movie mode

  • Ah there is your problem. Exposure Comp is only available in A, S or P modes. The meter you see on the bottom in Manual Movie mode is a light meter. If it's in the negative then your scene is underexposed, according to what the camera thinks; vice versa for over exposure. The whole point of Exposure Comp in the automatic modes is for you to choose whether or not you want to over or underexpose your picture, and then the camera will adjust either aperture or shutter speed or both, depending on which mode you are in. Since in Manual Video or Manual mode you are setting both parameters manually, Exposure Comp simply isn't applicable.

    This is definitely a RTFM moment. The Panasonic manual is actually very well written.

    Hope this helps!

  • @LiquidAlpinist so just to clarify, that light meter isn't affect the exposure of the video, just indication whether or not it's under or over exposed

  • Correct. As you change your shutter speed or aperture you will see the meter change as well.

  • @LiquidAlpinist I almost forgot to ask, how do you enable autofocus ? I've been going through the af options in the menu but none of them seem to work(at least I think they don't). I'm so used to a af/mf switch on canon lenses

  • There is a physical switch on top of the camera with three options, MF AFC AFS. Do you have a user's manual? You should get a user's manual.