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high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack

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Peter DeCrescenzo
high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 5:29:14 am

Here's a brief rough edit of some "hacked" GH1 footage I've been shooting of a friend's restored 1972 Plymouth 'Cuda:


The hack is working well and noticeably improves the GH1's performance. No more "mud"! However, there's an intermittent lack of smoothness in the frame cadence in these clips which I haven't tracked down the cause of yet. I suspect it may be operator error. :-)

There are add'l. details are on the Vimeo page, but in summary: Shot with a Panasonic GH1 configured with Vitaliy Kiselev's free "PTool" firmware modification utility software for Panasonic m4/3 cameras (AKA "the GH1 firmware hack"). For info see:
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=206788
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=212263

GH1 camera info: PTool firmware mod AVCHD "C" settings (50... 52... 60...), 1080 24pN (no pulldown), Panasonic 8GB Class 10 SDHC card. Camera in full manual Creative Movie mode. Lumix 20mm f1.7 & Nikon 55mm f1.2 prime lenses wide open. ISO 200, 1/50th, WB = Tungsten preset, Film Mode = Smooth (-2 -2 -2 0) & iExposure = High.

Dolly shots using a DIY "Zaza slider" I built:
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=145701


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John Frey
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 2:12:41 pm

Peter, it was beginning to look like this forum should have been named the Canon DSLR Users Forum. I recently decided to buy 2 GH1's instead of going with Canon. They are working out great fully rigged. I have been following this hack since the day you posted the link to that user group. From what I have seen, it's implementation looks very impressive. I also saw that Vitaliy is working on getting HDMI out during recording along with manual audio control. Since there are continual daily updates, do you think the firmware is now at a point to install? I know there is much more to come. Your footage, along with others I have seen on Vimeo, shows just how well the upgrade works. Thanks for the post.

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore


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Noah Kadner
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 3:38:58 pm

I'm wondering if this hack will come to the GF1 too- thinking of pulling the trigger on one of those cameras....

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
Learn DSLR Cinematography.


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 6:00:20 pm

I haven't used Vitaliy Kiselev's PTool firmware modification utility app on a GF1 camera's firmware myself, but apparently the current version does enable new capabilities in this camera, too, not just the GH1.

There's some info about the GF1 in Vitaliy's main post here:
http://www.dvxuser.com/V6/showthread.php?t=206788

If you're shopping for a camera and feel adventurous, one of PTool's benefits is allowing you to shop for a good deal on a body-only GH1 or GF1 on the internet -- even a PAL or non-English-UI unit if you're in the USA, and then switch the cam to NTSC and an English-UI at will. Among other things, PTool lets users pick & choose a video standard and UI. Civilized, just like a Canon DSLR! ;-)

As for the general usability/suitability of PTool, I feel its benefits far outweigh the few (very few) issues it raises.

For example, as a Mac user who doesn't have Windows installed, it took me a little while to figure out how to install and use the free Winebottler app (there's a link to it in Vitaliy's post) to enable running the "ptool3.exe" application, but after that, running PTool itself is relatively straight-forward. Of course, Windows users will be able to run ptool3.exe as-is.

Like most apps, using PTool takes a little get used too, but it makes sense once you get the hang of it. It has a very basic interface which offers a few dozen features/choices. Vitaliy provides pop-up help/tip windows for each feature containing brief but clear info & guidance on each feature.

Recent versions of PTool allow you revert back to Panasonic's current factory firmware at any time by following Panasonic's instructions on installing their firmware.

The main "issues" users of the patch need to contend with aren't so much problems with the patch itself -- ptool3.exe seems very solid & reliable -- but rather rather ramifications resulting from using the patch.

For example, in practice, Vitaliy's software allows you to select data-rates for AVCHD or MJPEG HD recording which can easily overwhelm a slow Class 6 SDHC card's ability to store the data. Even some good quality, name-brand Class 10 cards aren't fast enough to record the higest data-rates that PTool allows you to select. The solution is to avoid using settings which your hardware can't handle.

Note: There's apparently a bug/feature either in Vitaliy's software or in the GH1 itself which results in high data-rate spikes if you use the patch's "24pN" (no pulldown) feature. As a result, recording in 24pN mode _and_ selecting higher than standard data-rates can be too fast even for a SDHC card which otherwise should be fast enough to handle the selected data-rate. Together with these settings, this result is typically seen in a locked-down shot containing lots of fine detail/texture and little or no movement. For me the solution has been to either keep the camera/subject moving, or shoot with pulldown instead of 24pN, or lower the recording data-rate, or use one of the fastest SDHC cards on the market such as a SanDisk Extreme, or use a softer lens or a subtle diffusion filter. YMMV.

I haven't used PTool to increase my GH1's MJPEG recording data-rates, or adjusted its AVCHD GOP settings, or most of its other features, some of which are clearly labeled as being intended for testing/development only by Vitaliy and his growing band of fellow programmers.

The PTool features I'm currently using are "version compare" (so the GH1 stops checking for firmware version numbers higher than what's currently installed), "allow 3rd party batteries" (otherwise Panasonic's firmware locks them out), "24pN" (so I don't have to remove pulldown in post), and the three so-called "C" data-rate settings (also referred to as "50... 52... 60...").

The result is what you see in the 'Cuda video I posted on Vimeo, linked-to in my previous post.

I've just scratched the surface of what Vitaliy Kiselev's PTool firmware patch brings to the party. It really does make a GH1 a whole new camera. Given that a stock GH1 is pretty nifty fresh out of the box, any improvements are icing on the cake.

If you use PTool, please consider donating to the hack software development/materials fund. There's a PayPal link on Vitaliy's main page linked above.

===


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Stephen Smith
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 10:56:53 pm

[Noah]

I'm wondering if this hack will come to the GF1 too- thinking of pulling the trigger on one of those cameras....

This article says it will work with the GF1 and has some samples to look at. I don't own the camera but take a look.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/06/18/panasonic-gf1-gets-1080p-video-recording...

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Stephen Smith
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 1, 2010 at 10:57:30 pm

Has the hack caused any overheating issues?

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Motion Tutorials


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 2, 2010 at 12:37:10 am

I haven't heard of or experienced any heat-related issues using a GH1 with modified firmware. This is one of the advantages of shooting video with the GH1 (as compared to occasional overheating with Canon DSLRs) that is retained when using the GH1 firmware hack.

This is especially interesting given the timing: The firmware hack has been available since April, and most of its users are likely in parts of the world where it's been getting seasonally warmer. But no reports of GH1 over-heating, or at least none that I've heard of.

A GH1 with hacked firmware recording higher data-rate video seems to consume battery power a little bit faster than without the hack, but not by much.

For example, I had my GH1 running almost continuously for several hours (I'd wake it up every time it was about to go into normal sleep mode) while shooting the 'Cuda video on a warmish day in a studio with hot lights, including crammed into the driver's seat area of the car. My GH1 barely got warm and used about half of one battery charge.

Perhaps the larger, higher-res sensors & electronics in Canon DSLRs use more power & create more heat than the GH1. Perhaps the non-articulated Canon LCD, which is always flat up-against the cam body might be a factor in heat build-up. Perhaps the weather-sealed body of some Canon DSLR bodies might be a factor, too. I don't know.

Whatever the differences, overheating does not seem to be an issue in any way with the GH1, hacked firmware or not. I also understand that overheating isn't an everyday occurrence with Canon DSLRs, but it does happen. And I haven't tried to overheat my GH1 on purpose by running it unshaded for long periods in the hot sun or directly under a blazing hot light (grin). YMMV.


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Noah Kadner
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:26:58 am

Sweeet- I'm getting a GF1 tomorrow and can't wait.

Noah

Check out my book: RED: The Ultimate Guide to Using the Revolutionary Camera!
Unlock the secrets of 24p, HD and Final Cut Studio with Call Box Training. Featuring the Sony EX1 Guidebook, Panasonic HVX200, Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Canon 7D.
Learn DSLR Cinematography.


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: high bit-rate footage: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:37:24 am

Hi Noah: Just to be clear, I haven't closely followed exactly what the PTool firmware mod does for the GF1. I don't own that cam so I'm not up on the specifics.

I'd expect that even with the firmware mod the GF1 doesn't match the GH1 in every way, and that the differences are pretty specific concerning frame rates, resolution, etc.

But the little GF1/hack info I've seen online seems to indicate the hack offers benefits for users of Panasonic's less-expensive, more compact Micro Four Thirds cam. Good luck!


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John Frey
GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 9, 2010 at 9:43:35 pm

Peter, I have not yet installed the latest hack for my 2 GH1 cameras. Have you had any major issues - freezes, etc. Which settings would you recommend for both 1080 24p and for 720 60p. I am starting on the 2nd part of a motorcycle racing 'slo mo' project, and the 720 60p looks like the right choice. Are you able to use SDHC class 6 cards successfully with the new settings? Can you comment on 16 GB card capacity comparing the default Panasonic 60p setting vs. the hack! Any info that you can share would be greatly appreciated, as I am considering the firmware hack install this weekend.

John D. Frey
25 Year owner/operator of two California-based production studios.

Digital West Video Productions of San Luis Obispo and Inland Images of Lake Elsinore


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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: GH1 w. firmware hack
on Jul 11, 2010 at 3:36:39 pm

Because I love circular links ("feedback links"?), see:
http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/280/2213

:-)


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