My experience with the Sony FDR-AX33 4K camcorder wasn’t 100% satisfactory so I ordered another camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4. This is a 4K-capable mirrorless DSLR that allows you to use your existing Canon/Nikon DSLR lenses with an adapter. Now, this is touted by many videographers as one of the best 4K DSLR cameras out there. So, I had to try it.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 is a pretty decent DSLR camera. There’s more buttons and features than my Canon 7D and 60D, plus the touchscreen is a bonus along with easy live view with your Android or iOS devices. What’s really nice is that you can hook up to any of your high-quality DSLR lenses using lens adapters. Now, you can grab a regular adapter (I recommend the Kipon) or the Metabone Speed Booster to get smaller F-stop (reduces by 1 F-Stop), which essentially turns your F1.8 lens into F0.8. Of course, since the GH4 has smaller sensor, this all works out to be a bit different but I did notice I could now take photos/videos in much darker setting. I am actually still waiting for the Metabones Speed Booster but using a cheaper Fotasy Speed Booster. Still, the results are pretty amazing I think.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 vs. Sony FDR-AX33
Here’s a quick comparison test I did with the Panasonic GH4 and the Sony FDR-AX33 in 4K, if you have a 4K monitor/TV, do let me know which camera you like more!
If you cannot carry all your DSLR gear with you everywhere, perhaps you are a travel blogger, I would say the Sony FDR-AX33 is an excellent choice to record 4K videos. But if you are doing a lot of close-up, low-light, and you can carry the gear with you, the Panasonic GH4 may be the right choice. Also, if you are not familiar with DSLRs, you may want to go with the Sony FDR-AX33 as everything is nearly automatic and you can start shooting from day one. On the other hand, shooting video with Panasonic may take a bit longer to get hang of.
Of course, the biggest advantage with Sony FDR-AX33 is its BOSS optical stabilization technology as it’s almost like having an invisible tripod with you at all times. In my comparison video, you will see the BOSS does make a ton of difference if a tripod is not used. But the biggest disadvantage with Sony FDR-AX33 is its lack of depth-of-field, which makes your videos come alive and you get those cinematic angles/views. For me, I need lots of depth-of-field since most of videos I make involve Android smartphones close-up to the camera.
So, I’ve decided to keep both, each has its uses and I plan to use the Panasonic GH4 as my primary camera and the Sony FDR-AX33 for when I cannot (or don’t want to) carry all my DSLR gear with me. There may be situations (like CES or tradeshows) where Sony FDR-AX33 may be more useful to carry around.
Here’s my current “perfect” 4K DSLR setup with Panasonic: (I will definitely have an update once I have messed with it more.)
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 – $1498 on Amazon – Link
- Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Lens – $799 on Amazon – Link
- Metabones Speed Booster Adapter for Canon – $699 – Link
I also noticed the Panasonic GH4 lacks good handle and my lenses bulge out when using tripod making it impossible to use the zoom, so I ordered the GH4 battery grip (that should help it stabilize and fix the tripod problems).
You can also try the Panasonic 12-35mm lens if you are not familiar with DSLRs yet as it comes with auto-focus and OIS image stability). (Also you don’t need to buy an adapter.)
This setup is rather expensive but you get the freedom to add/change lenses in the future. Also, Canon or Nikon will have affordable 4K DSLR coming out soon, which means then you can keep all your lenses and switch the body back to Canon or Nikon.
Overall, I think it really depends on what kind of video you produce. Do you take a lot of shots inside a studio with tripods? Or are you taking shots outdoors mostly so you can make a video about your travels? For me, it’s mostly in my downstairs office and areas around my house where I just throw all my camera gear in the back of my car. But for some of you, having a portable camera with great stability may be more important. Think about what you are making a video about and I hope this helps you in making your next video equipment purchase!
You can check out all my camera gear here.
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