Home Camera Micro 4/3 Lenses that add Cinematic Imagery to your GH4 – Part 2

Micro 4/3 Lenses that add Cinematic Imagery to your GH4 – Part 2

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

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Part 2: Voigtlander paired with the Panasonic sensor

We had such great response on Part 1 of this series so here goes Part 2. I really wanted to find a set of lenses that I felt would deliver a cinematic look with this very sharp sensor that is known as the GH 4. The lens that really grabbed me was the Voigtlander.

Shane sets the light for testing the Voigtlander lenses

Shane sets the light for testing the Voigtlander lenses

In Part 1, I went into the whole theory of finding that right set of glass to tell your story and that many times it is pushing that glass to its breaking point to where it will reveal its magic.

Lens Test Rules of Engagement

We will be on the GH4 camera the whole time. We will shoot three different focal lengths on all three lens types as well as at four different f-stops. We will color grade at f5.6 and let the color, contrast and sharpness change as the f-stop drops. Remember we are looking for the breaking point.

Cross Comparisons
I will also show you the Panasonic Leica lenses side by side with the Voigtlanders. Each test will build like this so in Part 3, you will see all of them side by side so that you can make a more educated decision about what glass revs your engine.

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You have the rules. Now let’s test these babies.

1. GH4 with Voigtlanders

Part 1 went into using the Panasonic glass that was paired with the camera’s sensor. Now we will go in a different direction with the Voigtlanders. The characteristics of this lens set is creamy, softer in tone and contrast alone with football shaped bokeh. The detail in the skin is minimized and this creamy quality that I talk about is prevalent.

Here are the focal lengths for the Voigtlanders: 17mm, 25mm, 42.5mm.

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Wide Focal Length: 17.5mm

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Right off the bat this lens looks cinematic even at a f5.6 where that depth of field would not be so nice. The Panasonic Leica looks very sharp in a video way on this sensor, but the Voightlander really turns this camera into something I would shoot. Obviously on a lower ISO than 800, this camera seems to function the best at 200 with noise that would be acceptable. Bokeh looks round and nice.

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This is an amazing f-stop on this lens. The lowering of the contrast with the change in the f-stop really makes it work. I feel this makes it more cinematic in nature. Love these lenses across the board on this camera system. Bokeh nice and round.

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Here is where the lens falls apart, not in a good way. Not sure what to focus on. Distracting in nature.

Here is a little shot of our lighting setup for the shoot.

Here is a little shot of our lighting setup for the shoot.

“It is not always the best to shoot wide open on a lens just because you can.”

Medium Focal Length: 25mm

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The f5.6 looks really great and wonderful color. This is not as sharp as the Panasonic, which is a good thing.

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F2.5 on this 25mm is amazing. This looks stunning. If I were to do a movie with this camera, I would be shooting on this glass.

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Again wide open is not the way to go with this glass just like the Panasonic Leica glass. Still retains good color and contrast but loses its sharpness; nothing is in focus. The Panasonic loses so much color and contrast. Notice the football shaped bokeh in the background. At a f2.5 the bokeh remains round.

Tight Focal Length: 42.5mm

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At a f5.6 this lens looks very good. Great color and contrast and I love the amount of sharpness in this glass.

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This is a very sweet spot a f2.5. Good color, great contrast. Sharpness is wonderful.

The long 42.5mm on the Voightlander holds up beautifully at a .95 where the 17.5 or 25mm didn’t. Eyes are still sharp, great effect on this lens for close ups. Check out the stunning football bokeh.

Next, we will move onto Part 3 with Olympus Glass and how these lenses have a very bizarre feel to them.

TECHNICAL SPECS
Camera
16×9
Shot in 4K UHD, Mastered in 1080p HD
Picture Profile: Cinema-D
Sharpness turned all the way down and contrast lowered -2
Panasonic Lumix GH4
Voigtlander 17.5mm
Voigtlander 25mm
Voigtlander 42.5mm

Lights
(2) KinoFlo Celeb 200s
(2) KinoFlo Celeb 400s
(2) KinoFlo Divas
DIY Lights: String of bulbs and clamp lights
(4) 4×4 Light Grid Cloth
(2) 4×4 Floppies
4×8 Beadboard for Fill

Shooting Location: Revolution Cinema Rentals

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40 comments

Elvis Ripley February 11, 2015 at 10:14 AM

What is the picture profile/photo style on all of these?

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Elvis – Shot in Cinema D, Sharpness turned all the way down and contrast lowered -2

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Revit February 13, 2015 at 12:56 PM

CineD -5, -2,-5,-5,0 Contrast curve S+2, H-2, turn off all iDyn and iRes all OFF. This will give you an incredibly flat but clean image. It’s generally accepted to be the best film settings right now.

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Brian February 11, 2015 at 10:35 AM

The comments under the photos seem to be the same from the Panasonic lens test.

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 2:37 PM

That is what you call a big snafu. David Weldon- you’re fired! My original comments are now in the post.

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jo February 11, 2015 at 12:46 PM

yep, comments are the same as Panasonic lens test..

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 2:38 PM

So sorry. Thanks for pointing that out. The post is now corrected with the appropriate comments.

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skeptic February 11, 2015 at 1:11 PM

copy pasted text from the previous gh4 post? Not very cool or professional or acceptable

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 2:39 PM

Thanks for pointing that out. A big error in translation. My comments on the Voigtlanders are now where they should be in the post.

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optimist (former skeptic) February 11, 2015 at 3:57 PM

Great. Thx for the quick fix and reply. and my apology for the overreaction :).

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 9:26 PM

No apology needed! I thank you for being a wonderful, active reader and making sure that everything goes up on our site correctly! You expect the best, that’s what the Hurlblog is all about! Thank you for being an optimist 🙂

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Denis February 11, 2015 at 5:51 PM

Hope you’ll test Veydra mini primes as well. Seems to be a sweat set with T2.2.

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 9:27 PM

Those babies do look solid. We are interested in checking those out as well. Stay posted on that, I’ll see what we can do soon.

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Paul A February 11, 2015 at 8:11 PM

Great tests Shane hope you have time for similar with the Blackmagic Cameras.

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 9:30 PM

These lenses go well with the Blackmagic Cinema Camera and the Pocket Cinema Camera. These Voigtlanders bring a filmic look, which goes well with that BMCC sensor. We stuck to the GH4 on this test, as we started testing the Panasonic primes, which did not work on the BMCC, as they are electronic lenses in their control. With sticking to the GH4, I felt it gave a better foundation to showing you what the Micro Four Thirds line of lenses have to offer. This way you can see a foundation in color, and you can reference not only our model, but the background and color chart accurately.

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Paul A February 12, 2015 at 4:55 AM

The Voigtlanders look lovely, for my EF BMCC I own a few Zeiss ZF.2’s the 21mm & 28mm, a Samyang 35mm (Zeiss 35 was out of my $ range). For my Pocket I bought the Olympus 12mm and I’m looking at getting the Olympus 45mm f1.8. Maybe one day I can afford the Voigts. I’m trying to buy smart within my budget, I don’t always make the right decisions lol. I do have the Cube & Checkr. Looking forward to your review of the Olympus lenses.

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Julian F February 12, 2015 at 8:43 PM

I have the 17.5 and the 42.5 and they really are amazing lenses, I can’t wait for the 10.5mm to come out later this year.

I’m just about finished editing a music video I shot with these lenses on the GH4 and they hold up really well even when you punch into a 4K shot. 2.5-5.6 really is the sweet spot, but when used on my Pocket camera, f0.95 is a little better depending on your focal point. I’ve never actually used that f-stop on a real shoot, but taking it outside and shooting under streetlights just looked amazing, so it is a great option to have when you need it.

The one thing that you didn’t mention but I feel needs to be brought up is the amazing build quality of these lenses. They just feel like solid tools, fully manual with no fly-by-wire focus, but even more useful is the option to either have a clicked, or click-less aperture ring.

Overall, I really like these lenses, but the biggest downside is that there are so few cameras they can be used on. My options are really the Pocket Camera, GH4, or the Digital Bolex (Which by the way, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that camera). However, I also think those three cameras are some of the best options in that price range.

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Shane February 11, 2015 at 10:50 PM

Thanks for this, Shane. It’s great that you take the time to do these tests despite it being a camera/system you don’t exactly love. We have been using Voigtlanders on GH and Blackmagic cams for a while now, and they’re great. But as we grow as a company, we find ourselves increasingly craving internal NDs, bigger sensors and a better workflow, so it’s either a C100mk2(for the colour/quick turnaround) or FS7(future proof-ish) for the next purchase. Will definitely hang on to at least one GH4/Voigt combo though.

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Molnár Tamás February 12, 2015 at 1:25 AM

Dear Shane!

Congratulations on your great work!
Could you make a comparative test with a couple of full frame lens with SpeedBooster adapter?
Very interested in.

Best Regards,
Tamás

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Axel R February 12, 2015 at 3:02 AM

Great article, Shane! This will help next time I shoot with them.

I’ve shot with these lenses on the BMCC 2k, the pocket and GH2. Even on the GH2 it made a huge difference. This glass is pretty amazing and relatively cheap. I can recommend it.

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Julian F February 12, 2015 at 8:46 PM

It brought completely new life into my GH2! I bought the Pocket Camera in July when it went on sale and my GH2 has gotten no use. But I was shooting a concert and needed all the cameras I could get, so I threw the 17.5mm lens on my GH2 for the first time and it blew my mind, it looked like a completely different camera and got the best shot of the night.

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JustynRowe February 12, 2015 at 7:26 AM

Thanks so much for doing this! I’ve loved the Voigtlanders for years now! Do you have plans to try out those new Vedyra Primes for the Micro 4/3. I”m really interested in those.

Keep up the FABULOUS WORK!!!!!

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Rimas February 12, 2015 at 8:54 AM

Awesome! thank you!

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RG February 12, 2015 at 10:48 AM

1st time poster, long time lurker.

Thanks for this Shane, even though I’m a Voigtlander user, it’s always good to have someone like yourself confirm their awesomeness.

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Aaron February 13, 2015 at 2:46 AM

I would also love to see you test out the SLR Magic lenses. I’m a big fan and think they’re sharper but still plenty cinematic than the Voigtlanders.

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Dave February 17, 2015 at 9:01 AM

I would love to see a test of the SLR Magic lenses myself. I have a 12mm SLR Magic Cine II and absolutely love what it does in terms of cinematic style and character. I am planning on purchasing the 35mm t.095 cine ii next.

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Vance K February 14, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Shane, yes please include the Vedra cinema primes in your testing. Also with the Olympus lens tests, I hope you can include the 75mm f1.8, the 45mm f1.8 and the 12mm f2.0. Although the 75mm may be too long of a lens to include in your comparisons, I am really curious as to how you would view it’s image when shot wide open! Certainly for still photos, that lens renders beautiful images but how is it for extreme close ups in cinematography?

I have the BMPCC as well as the GH4 and use both for different purposes. I prefer to shoot scenic nature with the GH4 with it’s more detailed image but the BMPCC has such a signature/organic film look. I want to try and see if I can come close to matching there two cameras in post should I require a two camera shoot! Do you think this is impossible?

I am tickled that you have come around at least a little bit toward the GH4 when certain glass is used. I have found in addition that by using certain film LUTs in post which were created specifically for it’s Cinelike D profile, the GH4’s image can be made even more cinematic.

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Stuart Howe February 15, 2015 at 7:10 PM

Hi Shane,

Great review. Just wondering if we will be able to see some other lens combinations such as the Speedbooster with the Sigma 18-35 (as this is regarded as one of the best combinations for this camera – or so I’m told) and perhaps the Zeiss ZF 50mm 1.4 with speedbooster and Nikon mount. I think it would also be great to see the many Canon lenses too using the newer EF speedbooster.

Thanks again mate, really appreciate all your tests!

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Mike Cooley February 16, 2015 at 7:35 PM

Shane,

Question, why acquire in 1080 on the Gh4 as opposed to either of the 4k flavors of the camera? Doesn’t the line skipping etc. that the camera does create the 1080 reflect less of what the sensor is truly capable of for moving images? And doesn’t it too mitigate the true potential of the lenses as they were engineered to be resolving a picture far bigger than 1080?

I think it’s fair to say that the standard for acquiring with the Gh4 is in 4k even if the edit is in 1080, and it’s been posed that the color space improves when one downconverts in post to 1080. I moved into this from the Gh3, and have found their 1080s very similar.

Looking forward to your next review of including the Olympus glass — I use all three brands in my kit (all of the Panaleicas you used, the Oly 75 which may not make the test because of focal length, and the Voigt 17.5) — loving the 17.5, it’s my newest addition and I share your enthusiasm for it.

Thanks for these!

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Tobias February 17, 2015 at 2:23 PM

Shane, thank you for another great read!
I find myself looking forward to your blog posts just as much as I do each new issue of American Cinematographer.

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james February 18, 2015 at 1:57 AM

hi shane, first time reader here, fantastic site. could you recommend a ultra wide beside the lumix 7-14? ultimately i would like the 35mm equivelant of at least 16mm.

thanks

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Nikola February 18, 2015 at 6:54 AM

Very well but please put a link to Part 1 of your review. I couldn’t find that and consider that there are many other people coming on your website through this article for the very fist time and they would also want to read Part 1. So put the link somewhere at the beginning!

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Shane February 18, 2015 at 11:52 AM

The link was in the second paragraph, but we’ve added one in the first sentence for you 🙂
http://www.thehurlblog.com/micro-four-thirds-lenses/

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Thomas Smet February 18, 2015 at 7:23 AM

Shane thank you for this test. The concept of using lenses in their optical sweet spot is something I have been experimenting with recently. After reading a bunch of lens reviews and seeing how the lenses scored at different apertures I started to realize I was sacrificing quality by shooting wide open all the time. Your lens reviews have helped make this even clearer for me.

Would love to see a test of the Rokinon cine lenses as well in the future. These are pretty popular with GH4 shooters due to the high quality/low cost factor. Recently bought a 12mm t2.2 Rokinon that I love. Has a softer feel to it than the native m43 lenses from Panasonic but like you said that can sometimes be a good thing. Would be interesting to see how the Rokinon’s stand up to the Voigtlanders.

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Vance K February 21, 2015 at 2:47 AM

Shane, with all due respect, I agree with Mike Cooley. Even though final output would be 1080p, the GH4 performs optimally when shooting in 4K. The consensus among the fast majority of users seems to be that the only reason not to shoot in 4K would be when you need a higher frame rate. Perhaps this issue is similar to your initial testing at 800 ISO when in fact the camera performs best 200? Why test, judge and evaluate the camera at less than optimal settings or am I missing something?

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Shane February 24, 2015 at 10:08 AM

Vance, you’re all over this blog, I love it! You actually caught a minor mistake in the post, which I just had it corrected. We shot the test in 4K UHD and did the final master in 1080p. We mastered in 1080p as we have been doing most of our video uploads to Vimeo and at the time of the edit, Vimeo would only allow at 1080p upload. We tested the GH4 at it’s native ISO of 800, even though we had see a lot of other tests where people talk about ISO 200 looking much cleaner. I wanted to see how this camera performed not only out of the box, but with some small adjustments. The idea is to see what this camera can do, without hacking it, without changing all of its settings immediately. This was the same way that I tested the Canon 5D Mark II when I first got my hands on it. The idea is to get the camera in your hands, start to learn it and understand it, so you can see where you have the ability to bend but not break the system.

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Vance K February 26, 2015 at 12:50 AM

Thanks Shane, that makes perfect sense. By the way regarding my earlier question about matching the GH4 with the blackmagic pocket, although I am in the beginning stage of exploring this, by shooting a color checker board for each camera, for each change of lens, and again for each change of lighting and then using the checkerboard feature in DaVinci Resolve, you at least get to a great starting point. Plus you can create your own LUT for each checkerboard scenario and use it in any editor. I just love this technology!

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Arya Boustani March 4, 2015 at 10:20 AM

Thanks for the test. 42.5mm at 0.95 looks great. For some reason the face light profile becomes too bland when you are closing the iris to 2.5 and it gets even more bland with 5.6. Also the colours shift. Red turns more orangish with 2.5 or 5.6. I’m not a pro and haven’t worked with numerous DSLR cameras. Do most of them change colours with different aperture settings? I wish LUTs would cater appropriate variables according to aperture settings rather than just Cine-D, Cine-V, etc. I think the luminance curve need a bit of swell in about 70 to 80 percent point to make the face shadow profile more interesting. Just guessing.

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Shane March 4, 2015 at 1:03 PM

Hi Arya,

No, lenses should not shift and change color. I wanted to show everyone what is out there for the Micro Four Thirds market, but these are the limitations you run into cutting cost where it matters most, in your glass.

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Romsprod April 4, 2015 at 12:38 AM

Hi Shane

Thx a lot for these tests, it is really interesting and useful ! So surprising to see the color changes between lenses AND apertures…and film look too. And we all know that the GH4 do needs to be paired with such great Voigt lenses if we want to avoid the “electronic look”.
Just a remark : it look like you forgot to add the last test-photo (42,5mm at F0,95 !)…

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