The imminent release of the Panasonic GH5 has caused quite a stir within indie filmmaking circles with it's powerful array of video recording tools built in, notably 10-bit 4:2:2 4k recording. Sadly, Panasonic will once again activate the V-Log L color profile recording capabilities as an additional purchase. So is it worth the additional cost?
Firstly, it's important to note that the GH4's standard color profile is perfectly for acceptable for plenty situations, but if you intend to color grade your footage, then shooting in a "flat" color profile will give you a little more flexibility when it comes to post production.
In most cases, the GH4 in V-Log L creates a noticeable amount of noise that is difficult to grade out completely. This is because the internal recording bitrate of 200Mbps does not suffice to record in a flat colour profile on this camera. V-Log L comes into use when you record using the HDMI out feed into an external recorder. I like to use the Blackmagic Video Assist, with the Atomos range of monitors being a popular alternative. Recording in 10-bit 4:2:2 on an external monitor gives you the data for an effective color grade.
And this is why it is so disappointing that Panasonic have not included this color profile as standard in the new GH5. Recording at 10-bit 4:2:2 internally is where a flat color profile will become so useful to filmmakers and show off it's dynamic range when graded.
Panasonic released the GH4R a few years after the initial release with V-Log L built in, so one may assume that there could be a similar release pattern with the GH5. But it will nevertheless be frustrating to early adopters of the GH5.
In terms of actually grading the footage when in post, Premiere Pro's Lumetri Color tools have significantly improved in releases over the last 18 months, particularly with the ability to mask colours in the grade using the "Secondary Color" panel. I, for the most part, now do all my grading in Premiere Pro, rather than round tripping to DaVinci Resolve becuase the Non-Linear Editing tools are superior in my opinion. Film Convert Pro presets, or the official Panasonic V-Log L LUT (which is included in the purchase of the activation key) are good places to start with your grade before adding character into your scene using color.
The videos included in this article are some examples of my grades before and after using the GH4, recorded on the Blackmagic Design Visual Assist.