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Beginners: Basic hacks questions
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  • so what's the ultimate final working settings hack for the GF1?
  • I feel stupid about this but how do I download one of the patches someone else posts? I try to save it, but my computer will only save the png file not the zip file.
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  • Using Wine Bottler on Mac - this was working last week when I tried it last, but now trying to open the GH2 V10 firmware and am getting an Invalid Character(s) in Path window -

    Any thoughts? Can't find anything about this online - I just upgraded to the latest version of Apple Lion...

    Anyone out there that can help verify this???
  • I know... many attempts have been made to get a comprehensive guide for GH2 hack beginners going. This is the next such attempt. I created this file for my own reference, but feel that it might be helpful to others, so here it is.

    I have borrowed from @driftwood , @OSGondar and Thorsten Ott @ . I hope that's all right. Thank you guys for your work.

    Please feel free to correct or add, I'll be glad to work your suggestions into the text.


    The GH2 Firmware v1.0E is the current hack for the GH2 firmware. It allows to change bitrate settings (that are fixed in the factory settings), as well as other manipulations that Panasonic locked in their version.

    The "PTool v3.62d" is a Windows based software that lets you load the hacked GH2 Firmware v1.0E and marry it with a patch (group of settings) that you may select. The PTool will create a new firmware package, called something like "GH2_V11.bin", which can be uploaded into the camera via an SC card through a special procedure (see below, "PTOOLS PROCEDURE").

    A "patch" is a specially formatted text document (ending with .ini) that contains a unique set of user-defined bitrate (and other) settings. Many creative useres on this forum have been extensively playing around with the numbers in these settings, trying to find a balance between stability (i.e. no crashes, freezes, drops etc.) and highest possible image quality - sometimes knowingly sacrificing some of one to benefit the other.
    The naming of patches is as follows: "set" plus a letter (a-j). Hence, a typical patch name would be seta.ini or setf.ini. The last letter refers to the patch number which PTool will identify. PTool has 10 buttons on the bottom of the window, labeled a through j. If there is a patch in the same folder as PTool, the program will recognize it and make the button green as to indicate the availibility of the patch. This way you can have up to 10 patches readily available in PTools (as long as they are named correctly and reside in the same folder as PTools).

    In order to use a different bitrate setting, one needs to use a different patch, and hence go back into the PTool, load another patch, output a new .bin firmware, and load that into the camera via the SDC card again.
    Hence, within one firmware, one cannot switch between different patches, or settings. Once uploaded into the camera, there is exactly one 24H setting, one 24L setting and so forth one can use. To use a different bitrate, one has to go through the PTool process again.
    Alternatively, one could just get a few cheap 2GB or so SD cards, and load a different firmware/patch on each one. This way, in the field new patches could be loaded at liberty, without the need of a computer or going back to the PTool. (Of course, these cards would not be used for recording, but ONLY to load firmware patches.

    In order to get a new patch into PTool, one just saves the selected patch .ini in the same folder than the PTool. Once starting the PTool, it will recognize the patch, the corresponding letters at the bottom of PTool will be green and can be clicked.

    The most conservative and highly tested bitrate suggested by Master Vitaliy is 42M. The highest bitrate that seems to be absolutely stable is 66M, provided by CBRADIN (66M_44M stable or 66M_44M max variation patch). The most popular patches are usually uploaded by the masters who create them at

    The highest bitrate that can span is 32M. "Spanning" refers to a writing limitation on the SD card, which cannot write file sizes larger than 4GB. If the 4GB file size of the recorded clip is reached, the GH2 will start writing a new file, "spanning" the information between the two files. In the hacked GH2 with with patches containig higher bitrates than 32M, the GH2 will simply stop recording once the 4GB limit is reached.

    Higher bitrates create bigger file sizes. The factory setting bitrate of 24M will record about 5 minutes per 1GB, the Vitaliy recommended stable 42M patch records only about 3mins per 1 GB (which means it has a maximun recording time of around 12min - as it does not span and is limited to 4GB file size).


    PTOOL PROCEDURE (based on @OSGondar and Thorsten Ott @

    (01) download these files: GH2 Firmware v1.0E ("GH2__V10.bin"); PTool Firmware Manipulation Tool v3.61d ("ptool3.exe") at

    (02) format the SD card in the camera

    (03) fully charge battery; do not use DC coupler; this is ESSENTIAL - low battery or fluctuations in power during the firmware upgrade can "brick" the camera and turn it into junk

    (04) mount camera on PC using provided cable (or on Mac: use SD card reader and mount card on Desktop)

    (05) Windows: open the "ptool3.exe" file; Mac: make sure you have Winebottler installed, right-click "ptool3.exe" and choose "Open with Wine App"

    (06) Ptool asks for fimware; click "Load Firmware" and point at your download ("GH2__V10.bin")

    (07) IMPORTANT: make sure "Version increment" on the top is checked, and enter "10" in the first green line below; this allows to at some point revert back to the default Panasonic firmware

    (08) PAL only: check the "30 minute time removal" and "PAL<->NTSC Menu" boxes

    (09) under "Patches for end users" click on "AVCHD Compression" and from that drop down check all of 4 options; when you highlight each option it literally pops up and tells you type in this number instead of current number; type in that number for each of these 4 options; this value is a recommended stable setting (42mbs in AVCHD 24H)

    (10) check "Auto Quantizer for 1080 (&720) modes", and select "3" in green pull down below - this will increase the minimum bit rate for less detailed scenes

    (11) optional: set GOP for 1080 24p to 3; some argue this gives a more film-like handling

    (12) save the settings to one of the letters

    (13) save firmware; use same file name as original except change the last digit to anything else; DO NOT use the same last digit "0"

    (14) drag or copy and paste your new firmware that you made over to camera's card and wait until transferred

    (15) unplug and restart the camera (or on Mac: make sure camera is off and insert SC card)

    (16) once camera is back on, wait a second and push "play/preview" button; it asks you "would you like to update?" - hit "yes"

    (17) DO NOT TOUCH anything or mess with camera during update, that's the only DANGER of this process (next to the power issue outlined in (3))

    (18) the update should take about 1-4 minutes

    (19) before reusing the card, format it in camera


    ADVANCED (based "Basic Facts" by @driftwood)


    GOP (= "group of pictures") begins with an I-frame ("intra-coded"), followed usually by an number of P ("predictive") and B ("bidirectional") frames

    "intra-coded" frames, key frames
    = frames that are coded without reference to any frame except themselves; a "whole picture"
    average about 7:1 reduction

    = predicted frame, based on prior I or P-frame plus the addition of data for changed macroblocks
    have to be decoded before the B frames between them
    average about 20:1 reduction, or about half the size of I-frames

    = bidirectionally predicted frames based on appearance and positions of past and future frame macroblocks
    require more decoder buffer memory because 2-4 frames are compared during the reconstruction process
    require manipulation of the coding order: frames moving from the coder to the decoder are NOT in presentation sequence
    the use of B-Frames does improve the compression/quality of the codec by a considerable amount but requires a lot more motion estimation (a large portion of the encoding time) to be done, hence the much longer encoding times; B frames are typically 1/2 the size of P-Frames but require more encoding and decoding
    average about 50:1 reduction

    each GOP is independent; all frames needed for predictions are contained within each GOP

    GOPs can be as small as a single I-frame or (usually) up to 15 frames in length

    "Open GOP" - compression more efficient; if B-frame used, the last B is dependent on next I-frame, which makes the movie harder to cut - you have to delete the last two B-frames and cut between the P and I
    "Closed GOP" - compression less efficient, but you can cut between B and I-frame


    Long GOP
    = GOP with many frames, such as 12, 15 etc.
    the longer the GOP, the lower the bitrate you can use and still get the same quality
    advantage: recording at the same bitrate, it achieves better compression (and thus yields higher video quality) than a shorter GOP

    Short GOP
    = GOP with few frames, such as 1, 3, etc.
    a short GOP with high bitrate gives a 'cinematic motion' look and is preferable for some filmmakers

    GOP1 - all I-frames
    GOP3 - sequence of IBB frames in the recording and no further P frames after the initial first half second burst (GH2)
    GOP5 - sequence of IBBPB frames and no further P frames after the initial first half second burst (GH2)

    as you go from a GOP length of 1 through 4, the filesize and bitrate drops dramatically but after about a GOP length of 5-6 the filesize and bitrate levels out. i.e. there is not much to gain in terms of filesize and bitrate by using a longer GOP than 5 or 6

    its best to run GOPs in multiples of 3 (ie 1, 3, 6, 12, 15, etc...) to avoid problems like losing P frames

    the standard unhacked or base GOP of a GH2 (AVCHD standard) at 1080p24H is GOP12 = IBBPBBPBBPBB

    MPEG2 GOP encoding works by referring to one frame before the current frame and one frame after; AVCHD H.264 encoding is more powerful in that it uses four frames at a time, consequently more blocks in these frames can be used for compression of the intended block in the current frame, thus enhancing effeciency

    3. MISC

    Image degredation due to data compression is often more noticeable in flat patterns (such as gradients) and can be visually disregarded in detailed patterns. Employing a "quantisation matrix" enables the retention of high image quality by applyiing low compression ("fine quantization") to the flat areas of an image, and high compression ("rough quantization") for busyer parts of the image.

    AVCHD ("Advanced Video Coding High Definition")
    = 1080p video format developed by Sony and Panasonic, that uses MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 codec

    A 1/4 Pixel accuracy is used in motion estimation to get the best fit for each macro-block. Say you have a panning camera and each frame the picture hasn't moved an entire number of pixels across the screen then 1/4 accuracy helps get the predicted macro-blocks in a much better possition. This isnt used in I-Frames because motion estimation isnt used in I-frames as it is basically a JPEG encoded frame using a different Quant value (typically 16).

    Always keep lower bitrate settings within 95-70% of high bitrate settings; otherwise, you'll see a dramatic bitrate drop in the low modes. (GH2)
    There is currently a known drop in bitrate in the first frame set or GOP - known as the blip. Still to find out a definitive answer as to why. (GH2)
  • The highest bit rate which can span is 32M.
  • Thank you, nomad! Could you shortly explain "span"?
  • Ah, I just found this entry by @JDN : Spanning simply means that when you reach approx 4 gigabytes in one clip and new clip (.mts file) is created which seamlessly continues where the last clip left off (i.e. you could run the camera for an hour and get a bunch of 4 gig .mts files that are continuous). With ptools 3.62 high bit rate settings, when you reach 4 gigs the camera does not span anymore, it just stops recording.
  • Hi how do I load back to the cam the original firmware? cuz I got a not that fast sd card(only 10mb\s) that can run Driftwood Smackmygopup!
  • dohh I found it!!
  • thankyou the BIG V for the hack! My dumb question is, everytime I do the ptool, do I need to save the firmware file with a new sequential # or can I just say keep it like "GH2_V11" no matter what bit rate setting firmware I loaded out from ptool? thank you in advance.
  • never mind I found it! THANK YOU DRIFTWOOD. So I can have GH2_V11 over and over again with different bit rate setting as long as I don't use the GH2_V10.
  • Another beginner's question:
    Is bitrate the only difference between the L and H settings, or is there anything else affecting the quality?
  • I have become familiar with changing the GH2 firmware's individual settings on ptool 3.62, but I still don't know how to apply one of the pre-made patches (from the patch vault) onto the ptool software.

    I would like to load the Driftwood 132mb GOP 3 patch (prov. by sohus, setf.ini) on to ptool 3.62, but I just don't know how to go about loading the .ini file into the ptool 3.62 interface and apply its settings.

    It might help to let you know that I'm on a mac running the software through winebottler.

    Furthermore, if this can't be done, can someone just give me those settings that I can dial in myself and just program the patch that way?

    Thanks to everyone involved who is turning the GH2 into a beast of a camera!
  • Just put the ini files into one folder with PTool and they'll be one click away via the green letters at the bottom. Works fine for me with Wine on a Mac.
  • nomad - I assume you're running Snow Leopard then? - Lion's update won't let me open anything in PTool now...
  • No, I'm running Wine under Lion without a problem.

  • ptool30 / 3 6 0 0

    ptool31 / 3 6 1 0

    ptool32 / 3 6 2 0

    There are 3 right?
  • @ matticusmaximus -- you have to be logged in to download .zip files, otherwises they will show up as png.

    @chenopup, I'm running Wine & ptools 3.62 on Lion no problem. Sometime notice I have to click the patch I want a few times to get it to load, but that's about it....

    Also for those who posted they want to revert to original firmware because their SD cards are too slow for driftwoods patch, check out other patches in the Patch Vault threat in Hacks and Patches -- you should find some that work with slower SD cards.
  • @Vitaliy_Kiselev I'd like to try to drastically lower the bitrate of one mode (24L would be nice), just to see how it looks (may be interesting in an "artistic" point of view),

    - do you see any risk to do that ?
    - if I change 24H to 32 and 24L to 1 for example, do I have to expect any edge effect (buffer size issue, or anything else) ?

    Thanks !

    Edit : I see that Ptool can't take smaller number than 4Mbps, could you advise of how I could degrade more the quality (using tester settings maybe) ?
  • @lenuisible

    Try to change quantizer.
  • Hey guys, how do i flash the original 1.32 firmware from panasonic to my gh1. i cannot get the camera to read the firmware following the instructions on the panasonic site.

    The version on my camera is ver 1.2

    When i load the 1.32 firmware to the SD card on the gh1 and press play nothing happens
    The battery is fully charged and the firmware is in the root directory

  • First, try to make at least one photo.
    Second, press play after powering camera on.
    Third, use another SD card.
  • ok, tried it with one photo, no luck

    i guess i have to go try another SD card

    thank you
  • just tried it with a microSD card plugged into a microSD adapter, card read fine through USB to the computer, uploaded panasonic firmware, still no luck with both the no photo method, and with taking one photo.

    does it matter that its a microSD card? it seemed to work fine including taking the photo

    AND im assuming i don't delete the folders on the SD card the GH1 automatically creates? as long as firmware is in the root directory it should work right?
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