The Panasonic GH2 Guide for Filmmakers

Welcome to the Panasonic GH2 Guide for filmmakers. I wrote this due to the wonderful feedback on my tutorials in which many of you asked for more help than just improving your video quality with the hacks and patches. You will find the Hack pack and program in chapter 3. & More patches in Chapter 4. But unlike the respective posts i added a few more things in this little guide book. You can ask your questions here from now on or in the previous posts, i will answer and see them either way.

The Ultimate Panasonic GH2 Quick Start Guide For Filmmakers
The Ultimate Panasonic GH2 Quick Start Guide For Filmmakers


Hi! Welcome to The Panasonic GH2 Guide for Filmmakers. This book will assume you are familiar with film making basics and will use phrases like F-Stop, aperture, Iris etc as they are needed without too much explanation. That does not mean we will not go into great detail with learning functions of the camera or how it uniquely handles lenses and the mts format it captures to or how to manipulate the codec as well as hundreds of other things. It just means we assume you a familiar with film making to a basic extent and the guide aims to use that knowledge to speed up the time it takes you to master this camera. We may cover some film making techniques but only when it’s relevant to the feature being discussed. This guide is meant for the filmmaker that used to work with a different camera and just purchased the Panasonic GH2. It is a strange new world, you want to jump into you first project but the GH2 is not exactly a point and shoot experience, far from it. This guide is not a manual for the camera either although we will cover just about every function of the camera critical to your film’s success but we won’t go into features like how to take a photograph, only video features. This guide was written to bring you up to speed so that you can jump into your first project as soon as possible. Being new to the GH2 especially if this is your first DSLR is going to have its learning curve. We are here to minimize the time it takes you to go from zero to hero. This struggle is a classic scenario for anyone coming from traditional film cameras whether it be 8mm, 16mm cameras or bigger digital cameras such as the HPX, DVX and various other choices in the prosumer market.

First of all let us get this one out of the way, the Panasonic gh2 is often grouped with DSLRs but the GH2 is not a DSLR. SLR refers to “Single Lens Reflex” a mechanism employed in just about every photo camera of the modern era. The mirror that sits behind the lens reflects the image to the view finder and moves out of position when the film needs to be exposed. This design made its way well into the digital era in which the film was replaced by a sensor. Before the sensor set up earlier photo cameras exposed to film but used other digital features on the camera body, thus was the birth of the DSLR, the digital single lens reflex camera. Cameras these days are moving to a digital only work flow and using digital sensors instead of exposing film or a combination of newer and traditional technologies.

What makes the Panasonic GH2 so special? This camera is unique in that it is a hybrid camera offering professional quality for both video and photography all in one body. The camera’s chip offers the best video quality a DSLR can deliver today and to make matters more attractive with the use of certain enhancements the camera well exceeds the image quality of far more expensive cameras aimed at the professional market. Having purchased this camera will open you to a fantastic variety of lenses, film like depth of field, image quality and the versatility of the small size of this camera. Besides producing more detail than the average dslr the Panasonic gh2 has no moiré and aliasing issues like the cannon crowd suffers and boosts a higher quality imagery offering more resolvable detail in both its 720p and 1080p resolution choices. With the hack we cover later on it is able to resolve more detail in the 1080p mode than the other options under $5,000 and competes with the $5,oo0 market. The camera offers a host of features and settings but by time i’m done with you, you will be a GH2 master, making great looking films will be second nature.

Chapter 1 Which SD Cards to buy

In order to get the most out of your camera you will have to make the right choice here. Too often is this great camera crippled by the weakest link, the sd card. You won’t be making that mistake. Which SD card to purchase will depend on how much you plan to get out of the GH2. If you are reading this then you probably plan to get the most you possibly can of out the video quality rather than photography performance. Getting the most out of the video capability translates to more than good filmmaking habits such as good lighting and composition. It involves increasing the specifications the camera was designed to run at. Primarily this means increasing the overall bitrate as well as other behavior of the AVCHD specification. To do so you will learn how to use Ptool in order to patch the firmware which dictates how the encoder will treat the data it is processing. By default the camera runs at 24 mega bits per second. For a high quality film like image you will want at least double or much higher than this specification. The reality is that you may not need it for everyday shooting but you will have a great advantage if you are using the camera for professional filming. More data means more accurate color grading and manipulation of the images in post-production, especially if you are green screening or want to get more latitude out of the images. If you are working on a film then you should defintly aim for the highest quality it can muster and for every day use you can still shoot well above stock quality but without eating up unnecessary data, yet certainly still an upgrade. Improving the performance of the camera will be directly linked to how much performance you need out of your SD card.

Most cards will tell you what write speed, data per second they can sustain reliably right on the face of the card, such as “30MB/s” or 30 megabytes per second. It is very simple then to determine if the card will handle the patch you want to run. Just remember that 1 megabyte = 8 megabit, the following example is how I would evaluate the prucahse worthiness of an SD card.

Example: You want to run Aquamotion V2 a patch which runs at 100mbs (megabits per second). You look at your card and it claims a sustained write speed of 32 MBs, 32 megabytes a second. Since 1 megabyte = 8 megabit, you have the possibility of running a patch as high as 256mbs, or 256 megabits per second.

Generally speaking most class 10 cards will allow a decent level of performance but cheaper cards won’t often meet these criteria, just because it is a class 10 doesn’t mean it’s a great card. Besides doing the math on whether a card can handle the new mbs or not, there is such a thing as brand quality. Generally I would recommend that you not run the card more than 70% its maximum ability if you want to depend on its stability in the field. Transcend cards are solid and popular but look up the sustained write speed, is 100mega bits per second its limit? Then buy something better because you will not happily run the Aquamotion V2 patch with that. If you stick to no more than 70% its max write speed to be safe, you will seldom encounter write errors which will lock up your camera and you will have lost the shot! and maybe the job as a result of loosing said shot. For example personally in post, I like to build my own computers and works stations for editing my films with my own two hands. I can run my computer’s cpu at 6.2mhz which is fairly unstable and often crashes or i can find it rarely crashes and runs amazing at 4.5mhz. The Stock setting was 3.6mhz, this is a similar logic and reality. Don’t use cards that can barely run at those speeds you need maxed out or close to it. Brand is certainly a factor as well which can kind of complicate things with build quality concerns, let alone just mbs vs MBs…

I recommend the “Sandisk Extreme” series. These cards run at 45MBs which is well above the average patch. This is a solid investment in quality and performance especially for the price. Currently Amazon has the best prices on these. You really cant go wrong here way better than transcend and still very affordable.

For Really top notch patches like Driftwood’s Senda, Mysteron and especially Mysteron BURST mode check out the “Sandisk extreme pro” series which run as fast as 95MBs, this is especially a solid card for Mysteron BURST mode which is incredibly demanding on the cards write speed. The other upside is longer run time. Since you are shooting such a high bit rate smaller cards will give very short recording times. This card not only supports the highest patches but also gives a better run time with it’s a 64gb capacity. It is a little pricey but the quality makes up for it. I would recommend the 64gb extreme card above for the must have. This one below is for those really extreme settings you probably don’t use as often. Burst mode is amazing! but should still should rarely give you too much trouble with the extreme series. If you find that it does take a look at the 95MBs Extreme pro card below.

I will write more on brand quality soon but for now Stick to Panasonic Gold and Sandisk for the really high quality patches and transcend for most patches that don’t exceed 100mbs.

Chapter 2 Setting up your camera

Recommended set up for hacked GH2 : Body only, 20mm 1.7 Lumix lens, 64gig Sandisk 45mbs, & Extra Battery:
……OR<……(The 32gig (45mbs) Sandisk card will get the job done but as you use higher quality patches you will notice your recording time is going to go down considerably somtimes down to even 30min or less. If you need the extra time go for the 64gig (45mbs). I would say just shell out the extra cash for the 64gig 45mbs because sooner or later you will want to film with the top notch patches.)

To get the best image quality possible out of the Panasonic GH2 you are going to want shoot in a 1920×1080 resolution, 24 frames a second, the AVCHD codec and the Smooth color curve. This is of course assuming you want to get the most latitude and dynamic range or the flattest image possible. For the best latitude you will want to stick to the SMOOTH color profile with all of the options set to -2. The smooth profile uses a curve that handles highlights with a smooth roll off. With the saturation dialed back, muted colors will lend well in post when you are trying to create your look and color grade the footage. A Flat image with the least contrast possible is what you want to take into post production. Anything too saturated or with too much contrast will create problems since you will be STUCK with that look and it will severely limit the color grading options and creativity when you get to post.

-Set the dial on top of the camera to the setting that shows the letter M proceeded by the image of a traditional film camera “Creative Movie Mode”.
-Now go into the menu by pushing the Menu/Set button next to the LCD screen
-The first menu in Creative Movie Mode : has 3 film settings. Select the middle option “24p CINEMA”

Now go down to the second set of options or the “Motion Picture” screen.

– Set Film mode to Smooth with all the options set to -2 and hit Memory to save it.
– Set REC QUALITY to 24H
– Set EXPOSURE MODE to M, This will allow you to take control of your aperture and shutter during recording.

Optional but highly recommended: Go down to the third menu screen that looks like a C and a wrench. Set Histogram to on. The histogram is crucial! When you cant trust your eye or the LCD screen a histogram will accurately tell you if your clipping your highlights or if you are under exposed, it’s a great tool you shouldn’t pass up on.

Other Options

With compatible lenses this will determine whether or not it will auto-focus continually during recording in an attempt to keep the subject in focus at all times. Not generally recommended for a film but can be useful at times in casual situations.
Note: If this is set to on you can still manually focus by half pressing on the rec button and turning the focus ring.
Off: You have to focus by turning the focus ring on your own

Generally i love this setting and tend to keep it on. It boosts the exposure in darker areas exclusively. When would you NOT want more dynamic range? The default setting is OFF

Metering Mode
Try them, i use the second one the most but metering mode really depends on your style of lighting and preference. They can each useful in the right lighting.

When this is set to ON the camera will try to cut out wind-noise on the internal mics, nothing you cant do in post. I recommend leaving this set to off.

Set this to to ON unless you don’t want your mic levels on screen Even in that situation it’s good to have it ON so you at least know your cameras mic is not broken and that you’ll be able to sync your sound without a visual clap. Also, to impress your Canon friends whose cameras don’t do that.

Determines microphone sensitivity. Generally 2 suits most situations just fine and if anything i go down to 1 in louder situations.

This is a nifty feature that doubles your focal length. It scans the center of the sensor recording 1080p in about 4x “zoom” compared to off. IT IS NOT A ZOOM feature, It doesn’t degrade the image. This can be very useful with lenses not designed to cover the sensor. For example an old c-mount lens from your old Bolex camera. You can adapt it to the GH2 and if you get sever vignetting… problem solved.

Remember Zebras? Its the same thing! If any part of your image is severely over exposed to the point that there is nothing but white, no detail there. It is going to blink and flicker in a solid black covering the over exposed area. I keep this off and instead rely on the histogram. You could do a combination of the two but its far from necessary since the histogram already gives you all the information you need.

Chapter 3 How to hack the Panasonic GH2

Tthe Panasonic GH2 right out of the box performs as well and exceeds the image quality of some the more famous DSLR alternatives for Video. Vitaliy Kiselev hacked the GH1 back in its day to well exceeds it’s software / firmware limitations and earlier this year he has managed to crack the encryption on the GH2.

Why would you want to hack the GH2 ? It does look great under stock settings as it is but if you consider the hack enables the ability to film more detail and resolution, especially for film, there is a lot to gain from the boost in quality. Shadows can be pulled in post better (dynamic range) and over all resolvable image is increased (closer to film detail) amongst many other useful features such as 25p for the pal community.

Key Features
-Higher Bit-rate for Video creates film like image detail & motion quality.
-Ability to allocate data towards Motion vs still scene detail quality.
-Higher Bit-rate for Audio, Boost audio quality from 192,000bps to 440,000bps
-Pal & 25p framrate by switching PAl & NTSC in camera.
-Unlocked ISO up to 12,800k enables you to shoot in extreme dark conditions or overcome a slow lens

The actual hacking of the camera is much easier than many would have you believe and no it will not void your warranty!! it is a simple process to revert to the stock firmware if you ever need to send it to Panasonic for maintenance. The following are simple foil proof steps i have prepared to make the process as simple as possible with my GH2 hack pack!

Neumannfilms has made an excellent walk through of my website and a step by step “how to hack” video. If you find my written instructions difficult, they make you nervous or you simply prefer to learn things visually. The video above will walk you through the process and show you how to download and install the tools below.

Download The GH2 Hack Pack (<--this is the link) Everything you need is in the folder. Easy!! Step 1 : Download the Gh2 hack pack and unzip the folder. Step 2 : Run "Ptool3.64d (200212)" step 3: Load Firmware, "GH2__V11" Step 4: The letter J will be highlighted in green along the button, click the letter J to load the patch settings. Step 5: Select Save Firmware and save it as GH2__V1x , the x can be any number from 0 - 9 just don't over write the original firmware so don't use..1! Step 6: Put the new firmware on your GH2 SD card, (Freshly formatted and with a full battery charge) With the firmware now on the card you can disconnect and turn the camera off. Step 7: Turn the camera on and push the play/preview button. The camera will detect the firmware and ask you if you want to update, select yes. Please be careful not to interrupt the update, don't push any buttons or turn it off during the update because it will likely brick the camera. Step 8 : Wait a minute and you are set! Enjoy !!

*Mac users are getting a “.cpgz” added to the firmware file name after the .bin. The correct extension for the firmware is .bin, that is what the camera looks for, fix that before trying to load it in camera.

*Keep i mind you can use the patches from the patch pack instead of the one included by just dropping them in the same folder. Their respective letters will light up and you can just click those instead.
**Remember to view basic hardware set up for hacking in CH.2 and recommended SD Cards in CH.4**

Chapter 4 Improving Video Quality: Patches

Example of a scene i shot & graded In After Effects using “Spanmybitchup v1″ A Driftwood Intra AVCHD


The above example illustrates an untouched “before” image which is a still frame from a video shot with the GH2. The second image illustrates the most basic advantage of patches, increased detail in shadows. This was shot using “Spanmybitchup v1″ A Driftwood Intra AVCHD patch which is the lowest quality of the intra patches. Notice how much detail was revealed when I pushed the shadows in that right background area. Before the patch was applied the codec had a bad habit of just throwing away the information in darker areas. Without the patch if you tried to brighten these darker areas in post it would reveal a kind of mush and not nearly as defined detail like it is now making it a useless gesture in attempting to increase latitude or pursing the look of film. Being able to capture more detail in the shadows and revealing it increases the perceived latitude we brings us much closer to the look of film which is the king in this respect. This is critical because it means we do not have to be afraid of losing all that data and can focus more on exposing for highlights knowing the shadows aren’t a total loss. The other advantage of the higher fidelity is color correction and grading is far more accurate and produces crisper and cleaner results than working with videos with less data in them.

When testing new patches, low light and shadow quality is one of the areas i focus on the most when determining how effective or high quality a patch is. After all more shadow detail basically equals more dynamic range. Recent advances have made it possible to make Intra-AVCHD level patches without the side effects of losing the ability to have automatic file spanning. I loaded an Intra-AVCHD Patch and set out to test it in low light. After shooting a low light scene i graded it in after effects with red giant colorista II color correction tools. I used Driftwood’s Patch “Spanmybitchup v1” to film the scene.

As you may have already guessed “Spanmybitchup v1” is designed for full spanning compatibility featuring files spanning correctly even on lower end cards. I highly recommend it because its the Intra-AVCHD patch that uses up the least data while keeping an excellent film like image. A 32gig SD card will run you approx 1hr with “Spanmybitchup v1”. That’s pretty good considering Intra-AVCHD is supposed to eat up data like crazy. Consider that under stock settings a 32gig card would have been able to record about 3 hours vs the now 1hr max with this Intra Patch.

Here is a low light example of a scene i shot & graded using Driftwood’s “Spanmybitchup v1”
(Different grading than the example above)

Actor: Cristian Paul

So that’s it. If you are looking to shoot professional footage, especially the most film like highest quality images you can squeeze out of the Panasonic GH2, then look no further! I bring to you The Driftwood patch pack featuring the best Intra-AVCHD patches. I haven’t had to design any patches or do any math since Driftwood entered the scene. THANK YOU! I have not made a single patch since the last ptool release. Kudos to all the excellent “Intra” Work.

Download The Driftwood Patch Pack What’s Included:
Sedna A Q20 High Detail matrix
Video Bitrate 24H=154000000 Megabits
Video Bitrate 24L=77000000 Megabits
Q20 is REALLY pushing the Quantisation to best levels without having to use AQ. Q20 Bitrate is measured to detail and will achieve in places AQ3 or AQ4 size bitrates without distorting Q so much as before.

Mysteron & Mysteron Burst : Top notch 24pH Intra setting with deblocking. 720p50/60 (GOP3/6) Workling and spanning. HBR / 1080i INTRA. Plus special burst mode setting of Mysteron giving 170M+ recordings and 900k Intra frame sizes at 5 secs hi detail, longer at less detail. Burst is not intended for always on or for normal use
Video Bitrate 24H=154000000 Megabits
ideo Bitrate 24L=77000000 Megabits
Mysteron Burst mode
very hi quality i frames for 5 secs
Video Bitrate 24H=176000000 Megabits
Video Bitrate 24L=77000000 Megabits

Quantum X ‘SpanMyBitchUp v2b’ For v1.1
Video Bitrate 24H=100000000 Megabits
Video Bitrate 24L=5000000 Megabits
The most compatable of the bunch for lower end cards but still offering intra level quality.

Chapter 5 Audio : Hacks & Hardware

Improving the audio quality of the Panasonic GH2 can be done with the hack via Ptool to increase the BPS of the audio from 192,000bps to 440,000bps. Just add it to the patch you are currently using. You will lose the ability to preview the videos on camera but its not a bad trade off. That’s the simple method via in camera settings but what about external methods? Syncing in post is common in the film world and big names include the infamous marantz and the zoom products for the indie crowd. Only one of these is perfect to keep on board or on a shoulder rig / cage offering the unique opportunity to feed directly into the camera and avoiding post syncing.

The Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder
Zoom H4n Handy Mobile 4-Track Recorder

The zoom h4n is a great tool for recording audio on set while you film with The Panasonic GH2. The downside used to be having to sync in post and while this is a common practice when shooting with film, the digital crowd may not be as patient. As a result you may want to plug in an H4n directly into the camera. This is a great idea but the only problem is losing the ability to monitor audio with your headphones/line output plugged into the gh2 or the h4n. There is also a difference in the line level between the H4n and the gh2. The solution to this is the wonderful Sescom cable that will give you a headphone tap as well as get your line into the gh2 from the h4n. Sescom has designed this cable specifically for the Panasonic GH2 and it handles the audio and level difference while giving you a headphone tap! Fantastic.


Combining the two you will now have the ability to use professional microphones via the h4n and not worry about syncing! Thanks to this cable design you can still monitor audio from the h4n but Depending on the microphone you use, on board mics, or externals you will have to readjust your levels (volume) to match but that’s just about as complicate as it will get.

I highly recommend using the hack for audio in Ptools for your GH2 and setting it to 448000 bps. This will allow you to use higher quality audio settings in the h4n and maintain fidelity when running the line into the GH2 but it is optional.

Chapter 6 Lenses & Crop Factor

The Panasonic GH2 is a micro four thirds camera which means it is sporting a sensor about 75% smaller than a full frame 35mm camera producing a 2x crop factor. This means that you will have a greater depth of field for the MM reported on your lenses by nearly 2x (although many are reporting it is closer to 1.8x) This has its disadvantages but does present unique advantages as well. Due to the shallow distance between the sensor and native MFT lenses just about any other kind of lens can be adapted to the Panasonic gh2 as well since most lenses require a greater distance between sensor and lens. This means that with the use of the many widely available adapters out there you can use fancy cannon, Nikon, Leica glass as well as native Micro Four Thirds lenses.

Comparison Chart for popular formats
Sensor Crops

The above image illustrates the crop factor in comparison to popular sensor and frame sizes. If you came from a traditional film camera for photo you will want to compare 35mm to four thirds system to understand the difference in crop factor.If the whole image above was a persons face then you can understand how using a four thirds camera will only get you the nose and mouth for example im comparison to the full image. This is easily fixed by taking a few steps back. Considering the sensor on the Panasonic GH2 is newer and does not exhibit all those aliasing and moire issues I consider this a small trade off for the increase in quality.

It is important to keep the crop factor in mind when making a lens purchase. If you have a 50mm lens then it is going to look and function as if it were a 100mm lens when used with the GH2. This can present problems if you are in doors and cannot take a few steps back to adjust for how much closer you are to the subject with this camera. On the other hand it can be very useful as well in the opposite scenario where being twice as close would be an advantage. It should be noted that when adapting glass to the GH2 with the various brands and adapters out there it will also present some unique challenges if you are the kind of user that relies on automatic focus. For film it is rare to rely on automatic anything but just keep in mind that many of the cheaper adapters out there will not give you electronics so that the camera can control the lens as it would a native one and you may be stuck with manual operation. Since this is a guide for film making it is hardly an issue but I can see how some users may not want to work manually when shooting casually or are novice at camera work.

Chapter 7 Anamorphic Lenses

The Anamorphic lens or lens adapter is a type of attachment that is used in combination with a prime or sometimes zoom lens. It will open up a world of possibilities in terms image quality, style, and it will completely change the way you work with your composition due to the new aspect ratio. Originally the 2x adapter was the most common type of adapter because of the 4:3 aspect ratio of 35mm film. It allowed filmmakers to create the wider cinematic aspect ratio by extending the field of view horizontally rather than cropping an image from the original frame to create a similar composition. Anamorphic adapters are attached to the front of your lens and will increase the horizontal field of view most commonly by 1.33x, 1.5x and 2x with no effect to image height. In zoom lenses going too wide will often produce a vignette which is not desirable unless you want that darkish ring around your images. Generally you will want to find a prime lens that will not produce this effect by not being too wide for the anamorphic attachment; this will prevent the prime from seeing the edges of the anamorphic lens you placed in front of it. Shooting with an anamorphic attachment will allow you to go beyond the aspect ratios common to the aesthetic of television. If your camera shoots a 4:3 frame then a 2x attachment would give you 2.35. To achieve a 2.35 aspect ratio when shooting with a 16:9 frame you will want to add a 1.33x attachment. Typically a film shot for television will be done in 4:3 or 16:9 while cinema is most commonly shot at 2.35, about twice the width of the 4:3 standards and 1.33x wider than 16:9 The Panasonic GH2 shoots 16:9 but in mpeg mode the hack will allow for 4:3 which makes the 2x adapters useful. The downside in my opinion will be that AVCHD is the superior codec but a great image can still be achieved using the mpeg method. Below I have provided a comparison of the 3 most common aspect ratios you will be asked to work with.

aspect ratios Characteristics of Anamorphics
Anamorphic attachments produce a number of visual properties that are common to the look and feel of cinema and as a result are highly sought after. The main reason to work with an anamorphic lens would be to produce an aspect ratio or image like that of cinemascope rather than the usual 16:9 or 4:3 commonly used for television. 2.35 is the most common cinematic aspect ratio you will see in theaters, it is wider and imitates the field of view of human perception without going too wide so as to be distracting or unpleasant which can happen if you chose the wrong adapter. Since most cameras shoot 16:9 these days you will want to find a 1.33x adapter to achieve 2.35 rather than the previous cinematic classic, the 2x adapter. Anything higher than 1.33x for 16:9 will produce an far more experimental image. Below we have the result of using a 2x attachment with a 16:9 frame which produced a 3.55 a field of view. Take note of the stretched flares produced by using the anamorphic attachment. This type of flare is common to anamorphic lenses and it is a characteristic that is sought after and when not as pronounced many will go as far as to exaggerate this look or add it into films that don’t otherwise have it. This type of lens flare occurs naturally with these lenses but it can sometimes be used ostentatiously like in the film Star Trek and Super 8 Directed by J.J. Abrams. .
2x Anamorphic Flares
This kind of image is so wide it becomes distracting for most purposes although it can work well on landscape shots and if you can make interesting use of the too wide effect. The 2x adapter is not difficult to find because of how common they were all throughout film’s history. It can however become difficult to find the far more useful 1.33x adapter for the now common 16:9 standard which just about every camera shoots these days. It should be noted that the expense of quality anamorphic lenses will be a characteristic as well, especially for a quality 1.33x adapter. They can be hard to find and few manufactures ever really mastered the art. Particularly Lomo which went on to paten their focus methods which make them the easiest to use. Combine that with their excellent quality image they are very popular and very rare.

Clamps To use an Anamorphic adapter you will learn to work with clamps because generally these lenses are not going to be made to thread with just any prime due to the many sizes out there. Anamorphic lens clamp will secure the lens one end while providing the necessary thread on the other for your prime or zoom. This is critical because an anamorphic attachment must be perfectly level with the camera or sensor. Any slant I the lens will result in a skewed image; a characteristic that is not desirable. The correct way to mount a lens is to be sure that that glass bends horizontally because that is the direction it is morphing. The curve of the lens should be bending towards the subject.

Diopters Anamorphic lenses often have the short coming of a poor minimum focal distance. This can be fixed with the use of Diopters. Diopters are essentially like adding a filter but the only effect they have on the image is as a result of their magnifying power. They can make an image sharper and shift the focal plane so that instead of only being able to focus 5 feet ahead we now have a minimum focus of 1 foot for example. The downside of the advantage is making infinity focus unachievable at times. This is by no means a deal breaker for the added bonus of sharpness and better focusing distances considering more often than not your subject is just a few feet away. Diopters can also be stacked to increase overall strength.

Anamorphic Lenses
There are a variety of anamorphic lenses out there but these are the most common especially if you are going the eBay route.

2x Lenses

Kowa Prominar / Bell & Howell
Of the 2x Lenses this are the best deal. The image quality is on Par with the Isocroma lenses which are a few times more expensive. The widest you should use this attachment with is a 35mm Prime lens on Micro Four Thirds

Hypergonar H Chretien Societe HiFi2 or the mnini version
These are not often mentioned but produce great cinematic quality and can also be had at a great price.

-LOMO OCT18 or OCT19 for Konvas 35mm
-Sankor 16C, 16D, 16F / Singer
-Isco CentaVision 2x

1.5x Lenses

-Iscorama 36
-Iscorama 54

These are the best of the best but very rare and expensive

1.33x Lenses

-Panasonic LA7200
-Century Optics anamorphic
-Isco 2000
-Optex anamorphic


If you enjoyed “The Panasonic GH2 Guide for filmmakers” or i helped you in the comments. Please consider a contribution to help me help you and my readers…

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  1. This is almost exactly what I’d suggested over at Personal View: a good, concise, direct guide that brings the newbies up to speed. This is a _sincere_ thank you for a terrific piece of work here.

    1. Post

      You are welcome! its a work in progress, i’m doing a lot of it in video as well as the written portions. Please give me a week or two for a final product. Personal – view has taught me a lot, especially when i was figuring out the math on how patching works. If you can spread the word over there of my work here i would really appreciate it!

  2. Hi, i just donated, couple of questions though and maybe you will add them to the guide later but its not in there now. If i use the Hack Pack you provided in chapter 2 will i still be able to use the new firmware Panasonic put out? If i install the new firmware can i still use the hack?

    1. Post

      Thank You! The new firmware you speak of is not yet compatible with the current version of Ptool but it is being worked on. You can go from the hacked firmware to the new official 1.1 and back to 1.0 as you like or need to while you are waiting. Neither blocks or prevents use of the other version. I would recommend you stick to the hacked 1.0 firmware until the new ptool release is compatible since the new firmware only adds a few new functions that aren’t critical unless you need 25p. Firmware 1.1 unhacked still pales in comparison the the quality offered in the hacked 1.0e.

  3. Hi Orlando,

    Thank you so much for your work and clarity. I have one question about the GH2. I heard that it’s not a full frame camera and that this somehow matters. I wonder if you could tell me a little more about this?

    Thanks so much in advance!



    1. Post

      The GH2 crop factor nearly doubles your focal length, more like 1.8ish. So if you want to match a 40mm look from a full frame camera then you need half as much , a 20mm on the GH2. If you wanted a nice wide 20mm shot you need to find a 10mm ish wide lens, currently they have quality 12mm, 14mm lenses so its not a problem to get wide shots.

  4. Hi, I recently used your hack guide and now I notice my pictures have what looks like a bar of static on the right side when I import them. Any clue what might be causing this? Also, any suggestions on a good picture program for raw?

    1. Post

      I have no idea what your bar is, the hack doesn’t cause this. No one has reported such a thing either in thousands of discussions all over the internet. It only increased the bit rate on video nothing else is messed with, first i hear of something like that. I use Premiere to edit Mts no need to trans code or anything for video.
      For the photo raws i use light room to manage my libraries and all photo editing. For anything beyond mastering a photograph there is Photoshop. I use the adobe suite for all my video editing + red giant magic bullet suite 11 for video plugins.

      1. Sorry. Didn’t mean to make it sound like the hack caused it. Apparently Picasa just sucks. Using Lightroom now. Having no problems! Thanks for this guide, it has been really helpful! Can’t wait to see a section on lenses!

        1. Post
          1. So I tried using the settings in this guide, but when I went to shoot, the screen just shows white, no actual image. I switched the exposure from M to P and it actual gave me an image, but when I got the footage home, I noticed it was insanely grainy. Any advice?

  5. Excellent guide! I had searched for many hours for a concise guide and it was a pleasure reading yours. Many thanks : )

    1. Post
    1. Post
  6. Hi Orlando,

    I have a few questions and I’d love to hear your thoughts on them if you have a bit of time… 🙂

    1) So, just to be clear the lenses, the one that comes with the camera, 14-140 for example, the 14mm there does not make it a full frame is that correct?

    2) I guess I’m confused because some people say the crop factor IS important. It seems that it matters more for photography than video, though. Does that make sense? ( )

    3) It seems like it might be a little difficult to import the footage in the AVCHD mode into Final Cut while preserving the amazing quality. Is that right or do you find it easy?

    Would so appreciate your input and time…thank you.

    1. Post

      “So, just to be clear the lenses, the one that comes with the camera, 14-140 for example, the 14mm there does not make it a full frame is that correct?”

      That is correct, any lens you use will be affected by crop factor so the 14mm looks more like a 28mm when used on the GH2. Nothing you can do or attach to the camera will change the sensor size and crop factor effect.

      “I guess I’m confused because some people say the crop factor IS important. It seems that it matters more for photography than video, though. Does that make sense? ( )”

      Its is important to keep in mind the advantages and disadvantages of being twice as close with the same lens as you were with full frame. The advantages of using nearly any lens ever created is by far more appealing to me than the disadvantage of a crop factor.

      “It seems like it might be a little difficult to import the footage in the AVCHD mode into Final Cut while preserving the amazing quality. Is that right or do you find it easy?”

      AVCHD or .mts files off of the GH2 will edit natively in premiere pro, drop them right on the timeline. No need to waste valuable space or time transcoding. I hear most people manage to use final cut for GH2 video files but its advisable to make them pro res first. I find the ability to edit a premiere pro timeline right in after effects a far superior combo to anything final cut can ever offer you.

  7. I recently bought a GH2 because of the hacks and sold my canon 60d with magic lantern on it. the hacked GH2 eats canons alive lol. Anyway, used this whole guide to get me get started using the gh2 and it helped out tremendously, thank you and great work!

    What confuses me is the modes and the gh2 manual didn’t explain squat. Where can i find the 720 60p? I’m trying to do some slow mo shots and its confusing. is it the variable movie mode with the 80%,300% etc?

    switching frame rates on the canon was much more easier to understand than this little beast of a cam. Thanks

    1. I’m in the same boat as Mike here! Coming from the Canon world, I’m used to a very clear path to 60fps. I’ll admit that my addiction to slow-motion is probably detrimental to my work, but I still want it from the Panny, especially since their are fewer issues with aliasing and the like. I’ve honestly spent a good amount of time searching for an answer, but it’s either not obvious, or I’m a moron. I’m okay with either.

      Orlando, you’ve done such an awesome job, and I’m going to donate when I can. You’ve already graciously helped me with the .cpgz mac issue, so thanks again for all your work.

  8. Hi!

    Thank you so much for this. I really look forward to listen to audio quality now I put the hack! Yesterday I fed the camera with sound and had a really muddy sound.

    I am a bit puzzle about something. do you have an idea why I can’t film more than 8 minutes? The hack says I should film more than 30 minutes, but, even with a class 10, 16 gigs card, I can’t film more than 8 minutes, and when the count down is finish, it stops, and I could film another 8 minutes only, and so on.

    Thank you so much, really useful website. Really good work!!

    1. Post

      That is weird unless of course when it stops filming it displays a write error. In that case your card it not keeping up to the higher data rate. Keep in mind 16 gigs cards is not what my estimates are based on, they are based on 32 gig cards…

      Are you sure you did not touch ANY parameters of the patch? Load firmware, hit patch letter, SAVE. That’s it. now install. Any odd behavior maybe the result of mixing up the steps. try it again step by step with the how to hack chapter and get back to me so i can figure it out.

      1. hello i added this patch in the same folder i added the hack and im not seeing anything the hack is doing? im use to canons magic lantern where it does something to the camera. how do i select the dirftwood patch how do i know its working. im so confused here. i fell like somethings wrong since i dont see nothing that changed in the camera i just got it yesterday

        When I Put this on the card by the hack do i have to load it up or is it just automaticly on there. im so use to ML on Canons hitting the trash button. I cant tell if the hack worked or not

        1. Post

          Put patch in ptool folder, run ptool, SELECT A LETTER TO LOAD PATCH, now save firmware. put firmware on card in camera, restart camera, push play and select yes to update, installed.

          You will have less run time with hacked firmware, clear indication right there if not the increase in quality!

  9. When I set the camera to Creative Movie Mode and then press menu/set, I can change the settings for the first tab to 24p Cinema. However, I can’t move down to the other tabs. Any suggestions to what I may be doing wrong? (I just got my camera today so still getting used to the new settings =) …)


    1. Post
  10. I noticed on the B&H Photo site that the Sandisk Extreme Class10 30mbs HD Video cards are being discontinued. That’s what they are showing for the 32 and I think also the 16gb. Those are the ones I’ve been using with the GH2. They have been rock solid for me. Just an FYI for you and others. Nice website!

    1. Post
  11. O.k, now listen to me carefully, I have some movie its format is .VOB…
    I want to change color of it because of one part of movie’s background (50 min) seems Red but another part’s background seems Green. I want to fix it and then change its format to AVI or MKV. I mean I want to make a really good release of my DVD movie, now U tell me, how I can do it? is it possible that I can change my video’s color by Red Giant Magic bullet suite 11. actually when I searched for a movie editor software I found Magic Bullet suite, I really don’t understand how it work when I installed it, only one shortcut was created on my desktop (Photo Looks looks builder), I run this shortcut, but its suport formats R only jpg ,tif…! I was confused, I don’t know what can I do, it’s exactly my problem can U help me, pleeeeeeease?

  12. now U know what’s my problem at least U should say to me, can Magic bullet suite resolve my problem or not?
    if not, so is there any software to resolve my problem?
    … somebody help me please

  13. Please finish it! i will even throw in another donation your way. please please please! So far its amazing though thank you, without this i would have learned things the hard way and much slower. I really appreciate this and i know you do films and stuff so you are busy but i am especially interested in your workflow for gh2.

    1. Post
  14. Hello,
    I find your guide very interesting. I donated tonight. I want to get the PDF version for the Panasonic GH2 Guide for Filmmakers. Unfortunatly the link to download is not working. Could you send it by e-mail?

    1. Post

      Hi thank you for your interest the pdf will be down for a few days please enjoy the version embedded on the page above. The reason for the pdf being down is that i am almost finished with a major update to my guide and the pdf. The above embedded guide will also see this major update soon. I have a few days to dedicate to the guide as of tomorrow. Thanks !

  15. Hi mate – nice work! I just applied your hack pack. I noticed that the “Auto Quantizer for 1080 modes” option is not ticked – is that correct? I don’t need to tick this and tweak the options?

    1. Post

      The patch in my hack pack is designed by driftwood for max compatibility. the settings are as they should be. I will be adding more of the best patches for the patch pack in chapter 4 this week, you can give those a try if you aren’t satisfied.

    1. My book focuses mainly on film making and those relevant functions which for the most part is movie mode. C1 C2 C3 are custom options which the hacks and stuff i write about don't really effect in the manner i intended. Photo modes are not relevant in this context either. It would turn it into more of a manual for the camera rather than jump in and make a film guide it is now. I intended it as a streamline step by step for film and improving the quality via the hacks and other hardware. I could give it some thought as a bonus but at the moment its not planned, maybe after i finish the chapter on workflow for film.

    2. or did you mean like iso button, how to white balance etc, f1, f2, like to the right of the lcd, those are definitively useful for the film stuff. The shortcuts are handy! ill add that at least =)

  16. Hi! I would just like to say that this is the most organized, most well presented gh2 tutorial out on the web!

    Just 2 quick questions:

    On chapter 4 the list of patches says:
    AQuamotion v2 is medium-high quality with decent spanning recording times + 80% slowdown / EX TELE.

    What exactly does 80% slowdown mean? I searched and what driftwood says is that its ” 80% slowdown is pure INTRA at 30fps roughly. However, that mode does not record audio. People use it for effects.”

    That makes me even more confused! help! 😀

    Also what does ex-tele on the AQuamotion patch mean? Do other patches remove the ability to do ex-tele?

    Thanks and appreciate all your time/effort in helping us out!


    1. Post

      The variable speed modes never record audio, that’s irrelevant to the patch. Have you never looked through your menu? In creative movie mode instead of choosing 24p cinema you can chose variable speed mode. It just says that this patch will work with 80% mode. You know… like instead of freezing up or errors etc. and it wont crash on using the ex tele conversion feature either.. All that compatibility and it is STILL a solid intra patch. no more no less. use your common sense, you are over thinking the obvious. if he says and it now supports this or that , it means before it simply didn’t work right. A perfect patch is a process you know…

    1. Post
  17. Pingback: How to hack the Panasonic GH2 *Updated* - OSGFilms

  18. I feel dumb asking this. I upgraded so I can use the Pal 25p option but can’t see it. Which menu is it in? Otherwise it’s great, it loaded easily and the iso is unlocked. Thanks for your quality work.

    1. Post

      Your 25p mode can be found in ‘HBR’ mode which is high bitrate 25p or 30p depending on if you have a PAL or US camera. It is located right next to where you selected Cinema 24p and its silly but with a name like HBR who would guess. Good one panny. I never use it but there it is for you.

  19. Hey Orlando, I would just delete the comments and tidy up this section. There’s a lot of people out there who expect answers delivered on a plate (like ‘which hack is best?’) without taking time to read and experiment themselves. Don’t let it get to you – I would delete all the bunfights and negative comments above and just continue expanding on your excellent guide. Use the Force! 🙂

    1. Post

      LOL thank you for that, i appreciate it! i will tidy up the comments that distract and keep the good ones. I will do so in the near future. Thanks

  20. Thank you for all of efforts. I am just getting into hacking my GH2 and I read your excellent guide. I am a bit confused about running the Ptool after I have placed the desired “ini” files in the folder. If I want to construct firmware with the first Driftwood patch I click on “i” to load it. Do I then have to click on “j” also and load it too ? I guess what I am really asking is does each “ini” file create a complete piece of standalone firmware with improved benefits”

    1. Post

      Each patch set up will correspond to the same letter in ptool. So if you press i then you will have loaded the patch currently in the i slot. They do not combine so pressing J as well or and any of the other letters you will simply have loaded the last patch corresponding to what ever letter you pressed last. So loading J after loading i just means you loaded J settings and will make firmware based on J. please read the instructions clearly laid out in “how to hack the gh2” chapter, you load ONE patch and make save firmware once its loded. you load ONE patch i never said anything about pushing multiple letters to combine patches, it doesn’t work that way. Follow the guide step by step please. If it where possible to press all the letters to combine a gazillion contradictory settings i would have mentioned it.

  21. Well I have a problem and I was hoping you could help. I just got my GH2 yesterday and I decided to test out the video by filming my dog. When I put the files on to my computer and watch them, everything is really clear until I move just a little bit (very slow as well) then all the squiggles just appear over the video. Do you have any idea what I am doing wrong? Also if I want to edit my film on Final Cut Express whats the best format to convert to.

  22. Pingback: Panasonic GH2 Intra-AVCHD Patches

  23. B&H lists the SD card you recommend as “discontinued” and thus not available for purchase. Might update the manual to keep it current. Might also recommend a substitute. I’m currently investigating these Class 10 Transcend cards and am having trouble pinning down a definitive answer on them. Thanks!

    1. Post

      I would recommend the sandisk over Transcend cards if you don’t want write error with the extreme patches. Read the chapter on which card to buy carefully as you can see the data it is able to write is important. Most transcend cards are solid for the hacks that aren’t the top notch ones.

      i added new links thanks, i didn’t realize BHPhoto dropped the old series here is the update on the most recommended cards and has also been added to the guide.

      These are the new improved extreme series bumped up 10mbs from the previous 32. Its up to 45mbs now! For the price these are easily the must buy.

  24. Hi!
    Great tutorial you have made! It’s a perfect resource for the beginner.
    Do you still recommend the “Quantum X ‘SpanMyBitchUp v2b” patch? Have you tried any newer patches?

    Best Regards

    1. Post
  25. Pingback: Usb Floppy Drive

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  27. I see affiliate links on this page in the browser on my iphone for the cards you are mentioning but not in chrome on os x.

    1. Post

      Yes but not in AVCHD mode, you can change the aspect ratio for using anamorphic lenses when shooting Mpeg

  28. Pingback: neopangaia » Lumix GH2 Overview

  29. Pingback: neopangaia » GH2 Overview

  30. Pingback: Panasonic GH2 Overview | ummo – adult mmo rpg sim

  31. When I'm in ptool, load the firmwire, all letters are red, except for F… which is half green… not full, but half. It does however offer all the details for the patch I'm trying to get. I've scoured forums to see if anyone else has this half green effect, with no answers 🙁 still saving it, loading it into the camera, gets "No Valid Picture To Play". Any help would be amazing. Thank you.

  32. I get a half lit up "F" in ptool…. I've scoured forums to see if anyone else gets this half green light effect, but no answers 🙁 It does however show all the hack detail when I mouse over it. Tried saving, moving to SD card, and installing in camera- but get the lovely "No Valid Picture To Play". Any help would be amazing! Thank you.

  33. Thank You for the heads up!! I designed my site while on chrome on windows 7… they also show up in Firefox and safari for me. I am not sure why they are not view able on your chrome os x but i will look into it. THANK YOU!!

  34. "No Valid Picture To Play" is usually the result of the wrong increment or not naming the firmware correctly. Attempt to change version increment to 2 or 10 right after you load the patch. If its half lit i don't think it matters.. does the patch load when you click it? you didn't mention that. Did you definitively name the firmware correctly as well?

  35. I put the spammybitchup V2 onto my gh2, worked fine. now when i try to put any .bin file on the card, the camera seems to not even notice these. help?!

      1. Post

        Increasing the count is not necessary and the file name can be the same if you wish, in fact i often use the same name myself many times in a row while testing a similar series of patches. Works great for me. So could that be the reason? i doubt it. I am curious to see if that fixed it for him but my money is on forgetting other simple steps.

  36. Do these patches apply to all frame rates?

    I have a ton of footage from my old camera at 30fps and would really like to avoid a nightmare when I want to edit with footage from both cameras.

    1. Post

      ALL patches are meant for improving 24p AVCHD Mode but many also enhance mpeg mode, 720p mode, 30p (HBR), and some feature all this together with some AUDIO enhancements in the same patch. Every patch is different. Some only do one thing for one mode. Without telling me which you plan to use i have no idea what your patch will effect. Try looking at the settings in the patch? that’s a good indicator of what it does.

      What nightmare would that be? Your NLE cant handle mixing bit-rates? Thats what the patches do, Seems irrelevant to me, mixing bit-rates is no biggie.

  37. There are two classes for the Sandisk 45MB SDHC memory cards. One, being the Sandisk Extreme 32GB (example) 45MB and the other, Sandisk Extreme Pro 32GB 45MB. It’s a lot more and close to the Extreme Pro 95MB series. Maybe it was discontinued as it’s not listed on their website.

    Should I stay with just the Sandisk Extreme 45MB as I’ll be able to purchase at least 2 32GB cards.

  38. Pingback: Panasonic GH2 : Everything you need to know - OSGFilms | OSGFilms

    1. hi, I recently purchased a gh2, I want to record live concerts (up to 90 min often in low light situation).. my camera has the european 30 min. limit.. Sometimes I would like to record continuosly without touching the camera…
      which is the best hack (patch) for my case (have a 32gb card class 10)?
      thanx in advance

      1. Post

        yes.. ANY PATCH includes remove 30min limit. Load ANY Patch already in my hack pack or in my patch pack and if “remove 30min limit” isn’t already checked. check it. Follow instructions as usual, the video makes things super clear. As for recording up to 90 min, i’m not a mind reader.. how big is your SD card? I cant possibly guess your recording time with out that information or recommend a patch without it.

        You will need at least a 32gig card if you want that long a rec. time with a mid level patch. For the best high quality settings you’ll need 64gigs for that run time.

  39. "-Set the dial on top of the camera to the setting that shows the letter M proceeded by the image of a traditional film camera “Creative Movie Mode”.
    -Now go into the menu by pushing the Menu/Set button next to the LCD screen.
    -The first menu in Creative Movie Mode : has 3 film settings. Select the middle option “24p CINEMA”.

    Now go down to the second set of options or the “Motion Picture” screen.

    – Set Film mode to Smooth with all the options set to -2 and hit Memory to save it.
    – Set REC QUALITY to 24H.
    – Set EXPOSURE MODE to M, This will allow you to take control of your aperture and shutter during recording."
    Did that, and all I am getting when I am filming is a smear of horizontal lines.
    What gives?
    Please help!

  40. I know this is a basic qustion, maybe not awfully interesting, but I do need help. I have set the camera as.
    recommended in this guide, and instead of a good video I am getting a picture smeared horizontally.
    Any ideas why it happens and what I need to change?

  41. Is this the latest on the hack of the GH2 – in other words…if I buy a GH2 now, it won't conflict with the latest Panasonic firmware update 1.11 I believe? And one total other question…Do you think Panasonic has included the fabulous features of this Hack in their upcoming GH3, which maybe get introduced in september?

  42. Absolutely wrong about memory cards.
    30MB/s or 95MB/s on memory cards are only reading speeds, especially for Sandisk. And it’s maximum speed. Has nothing with writing speed and minimum and average reading speed is lower.
    10 class has nothing with 100mbit/s, it’s 10MBytes/s, so no wonder why 80Mbits/s is around 75% of 100Mbit/s

    1. Post

      No one said that. i never said a class10 card is 100mbs or any specific speed. I suggested not using a patch that uses the card at full write speed. This almost always results in twice as many write errors or worse. I clearly said how to figure out the math by letting you know that 1megabyte is approx 8 megabits. So depending on what your write speed is pushing not much more than 80% its max is not a bad practice. Even with sandisk tests i found this to be true. other cards especially cheaper cards can not handle a consistent write near their top write speed at all, let alone 80 or more percent with any consistency resulting in even more write errors etc. I never specified what a class 10 write speed is, not even once. You are confusing what i wrote, sorry i was not clear enough for you to get it.

  43. I love spanmybitchup…this last time i used it i had a issue. I recored some video and when i tried to play back it would say “No valid Picture to Display”. Is it because of the increment ? Just curious. Thanks.

    1. Post

      That particular patch is the least likely to give a read error or playback error. Are you sure you did not mess with any settings? Are you sure you even recorded a video?

      Increment could be the cause for “No valid Picture to Display” yes but you said you already installed the patch first, THEN recorded video. In which case it would be irrelevant what increment you chose now that its successfully installed, does not effect video at this point.

      I don’t know why you couldn’t play back your video in this case. The error you mentioned only happens when trying to install the patch. But you are saying you installed it, recorded something, and are only getting this message now. So it sounds like you are saying you you recorded something and it didn’t save… or it won’t play back. Are things playing back now? was it a one time error? etc.. I have never heard of anyone recording something and it disappeared.

      Couldn’t playback after recording can happen with very high bit rates but its RARE and mainly happens if you patch audio too much. Did the video save or not? You aren’t very clear about that part. Did you even look yet? please do that.

  44. Can you suggest a GH2 hack for the following parameters:

    1. Using SanDisk 64GB / 95MB SDXC
    2. 30P WITH audio (scratch-track, to be replaced with double-system sound)
    3. Very stable for long interviews (~60-minutes, where failure to span would be a disaster)
    4. Not much motion – talking head with mostly prime lenses

    Thank you,

  45. The easiest way to get a 2.39:1 aspect ratio is to simply crop the video. Create a timeline at 1920 x 804 pixels. Import the 1920 x 1080 video, and it's automatically cropped. No anamorphic lenses required, and it allows you to adjust the headroom in post. You can also add some gaff tape to your on-set monitors to show how the crop looks, or not.

  46. I'm curious. With the patches, do/can you install numerous patches on the Camera. I.e. patch 1.2, patch 1.3 etc. Or do you use them one by one, removing one, then adding another for different results etc. Also, is there an instruction on how to remove the patches and hack in the event that the camera needs to be returned.

  47. Hi im sorry for the late reply, you should have sound if you did everything correctly. It may just be your computer isnt keeping up with the codec. Do you get sound on the editing timeline? or after a render?

  48. Did you watch the video as well? i cant imagine why you are getting smeared horizontal lines, which patch did you use? also i am so terribly sorry for the extremely late reply. The new Facebook comments are iffy because fb doesn't alert you when you get a new one. It has to end up at the top of the patch for me to see it =(

  49. It sounds like you might be shooting indoors under fluorescent lighting which can give you this effect if the frame rate and shutter speed aren't in sync with the light flicker – when shooting under fluorescent lighting you need to make sure you are using the correct video standard for the territory you are in (e.g. PAL or NTSC) in order to make sure the frame rates are compatible with the AC electric frequency that the lights are flickering at, and you also need to make sure your shutter speed matches – so for Europe – record in PAL with a shutter speed of 50, and for the US – record in NTSC with a shutter speed of 60… otherwise you will get crazy flickering strobing lines smearing up your footage.

  50. Juan & Orlando: I just joined the site tonight and haven't bought a camera yet. I am moving to OKC area soon. I used to do oral history video programs/documentaries for WW2 veteran's groups (non-profit) with old video tape cameras and linear editing decks, and they want to start it up again. So I need to upgrade to GH2 and non-linear editing systems. I'll start contributing to, and learning from the OSG website as well. Question #1: what affordable editing systems work best with GH2 video, and Question #2: do you know of any GH2 editing tutors or photo clubs in the OKC area? I could pay the GH2 editing tutor an hourly rate I think, just to get me started. I have a five year old Apple G4 Quad Tower and a FCP 5.1, but these may be too outdated to use… thanks for any suggestions..

  51. First off, Thank you for all your hard work and educational material. I am brand new to the game, and have been reading and reading and reading… It’s a bit overwhelming to be honest with you, but I’m exited to be jumping on board.

    My questions are the following:
    I see the patches that you recommend, but how do they compare to Apocalypse Now and Boom?

    Have you tried those? What in your opinion are the differences, benefits and downsides to Apocalypse Now and Boom.

    Thank you again for your time and help.

    1. Post

      I will be updating the patch pack to include my favorite of the Apocalypse now patches. The ones with 444 simulation and the new sharp / shoft matrix. I don’t think you can get much out of the camera after this, i think it maxes it out. In terms of motion and quality per mbs i think its superb that anything else. I have not shot with boom very much.

  52. what patch did you use? i cant imagine why that is happening.. . is it doing that with no hack installed?? did you fix this? im sorry fb hides comments from time to time. its aggravating

  53. Hi sorry for taking so long to answer, I would recommend premiere cs6. I use this for all my work both personal and professional. As far as tutoring check out my gh2 guide its free! if you still need help shoot me an email to my about me section, contact form.

  54. Thank you so much for your guide. I was going crazy trying to understand the GH2 hack. I have given you a small donation towards your effort, I wish I could give you more but I am on disability. Thank you again for making the book and site available.

  55. Hi, first thank you guys for this guide and all the other material you provide. It’s really great. Second one question… Just today I had a problem with the the “spanmybitchup v2b” patch. I got this error several times, that the card was too slow to record. I use the sandisk exreme series which theoretically should be working with this path, right? After a few minutes everything was working just fine again, but it worries me that it could crash again anytime I’m filming. After some googeling I read that the new firmware version v11 could be the problem. Any Idea? thanks

    1. Post

      Hi and you’re welcome, thank you for visiting my site! It depends what card you have, sandisk in general are great but i cant tell you for sure in regards to compatibility without knowing the exact card, size and MBs etc. Its not usually the firmware version… v1.1 is great with ptool. Tell me more about your setup, might i suggest a better patch. The ones that simulate 444 color are great. i will upload it this week.

      1. Hi Orlando,

        I wanted to thank you for providing a very useful, informative how to for hacking the GH2. I remember that you posted a comment about using a specific patch, if I am not mistaken I think you mentioned that lately the only patch that you have been using is the cluster 7 nebula patch. I wanted to know are still using this patch?

        I know that it is difficult to use or recommend just one patch because the patches themselves seems to be made for a specific type of shot. If you were to only use one patch would the cluster 7 nebula patch still be the one to use? I am aware that you are allocating more time to focus on the GH3 but I would appreciate your recommendation on using just one patch.

        Thank you for your time….

  56. Wow what a quick answer. Memory card is a 32Gb Sandisk Extreme 45MB/s.I’m shooting in creative movie mode, 24p cinema. Recording mode is 24H, shutter speed 1/50. Patch is as told “Quantum ‘spanmybitchup v2b’ for v1.1”. greetings

  57. Is there anyway I could get a pdf of this book?

    Thanks for creating such a resource. I come from the Canon DSLR world so making the switch to the GH2 requires re-learning a whole new system, and all this hack stuff is not as straightforward as the Magic Lantern stuff. But it seems more powerful.

    1. Post

      I will consider this request, for now i am working on the next guide to release this month for the GH3. The GH2 Image is very close in quality and better in many ways. If there is still GH2 interest when i finish the current GH3 guide, i will consider going back and working the GH2 guide and making a PDF of it available. As of right now i do not plan on doing that but its possible.

  58. Please watch the video to understand how patches work. You do you one at a time, and install one set of settings at at ime. its very clear on the process so please take a look! As for going back to stock settings it is very simple. Its the same as installing a patch except you leave it at stock settings, ie dont load a patch, just check off version increment and create firmware as usual. load as usual etc. You just installed stock firmware.

  59. You did not ask a question. All you did was say i have a question then say you don't get the same results. How can i possibly help you without mentioning the issue? What isnt the same? WHAT IS WRONG? be specific, i cant help you unless i know what is going wrong…

  60. That's true and all but technically instead of the 1920 x 804 pixels you mentioned i believe for bluray the standard iis 1920 x 800 pixels if you plan on that output so set your sequence to that instead. More importantly Anamorphics are about a lot more than the aspect ratio. It gives a very specific bokeh and streaks of light to the image, and likens your image to some very classics films. Many if not most, don't want to lose resolution in order to get the ratio so they consider the crop a worst case scenario. But yes you could just crop your image to get the ratio.

  61. Pingback: The Panasonic GH3 Guide for Filmmakers | OSGFilms

    1. This is wonderful that you’re doing this and more than worthy of a contribution. I bought the camera a year ago as an unobtrusive video camera in documentary situations and interviews. Never mastered it or used it! Suddenly this can be an important camera for a film we’re doing outside the country. So we luckily hit on to your website and marveled at how we went from step to step. UNTIL it came to hack and patch time. It sounded like hacks and patches were on your website there to download. We couldn’t find them. The video was nice but again where to find the hack to download.
      None of those who commented seemed to get well beyond that step so I’m feeling quite retarded in a world where I don’t speak the language. At the same time you presented it with such an enthusiastic spirit I’m dying to make it work.
      THANK YOU!

        1. Post

          This is indeed a bit silly.. but.. ok.

          To download the hack pack go to chapter 3, How to hack the Panasonic Gh2.
          I have written instructions under the video tutorial version. Just before the written steps like step 1, 2 etc. Right above Step 1 There is the words “download The GH2 Hack Pack” to start things off. So this is where it gets tricky… Click on the text “Download the GH2 Hack Pack” right before step one. lol. It starts the download!

          Considering you didn’t attempt to even click on download the hack pack..I worry for you messing around with the camera hacking stuff lol…
          I have a separate post called How the hack the Panasonic GH2 ( which is a single post version of chapter 3. In that post clicking the words “Download the GH2 Hack Pack” will also download it. Although I have it very obvious in that one, I have adjusted it above as well to be more obvious here. Though i figured it was already! Hope this helps. (Thank You for the contribution by the way!)


  62. Hi there,
    I have a GH2 and am quite excited about a few of the enhancements mentioned on this site.
    Im a little confused about the selection of hacks using ptool.
    In Ptool there seem to be a way to click on the “Patches for End users” and “Patches for Testers” and choose the things you want.
    I have chosen a bunch of things, clicked to Save Firmware and flashed that to the camera… but nothing I do seems to make any difference, ie, no change to the camera.
    Auto ISO max is still 3200
    There is no 1080p
    I am guessing the time limit is still on 29:59, though I did not test that…
    Is there something I am not doing right, cherry picking the parts I want, saving, copying to SD, flashing…

    Thanks, fantastic work!

    1. Post

      Patching for end users is the advanced stuff you cant even really see like messing with the encoder matrix but it makes a difference if you know what you are doing. What you should do is load a trusted or popular patch FIRST and see how its being done. Don’t just jump in messing around with random things. We all have a gazillion questions just randomly ticking things. Its no way to do it.

      The best patches especially by driftwood , max out the camera anyway. So load a patch like that FIRST, then tick off things like time limit , time limit, iso limit, and your done but All patches include those and the audio enhancements anyways so yours are a none issue.

      You are guessing time limit isn’t working but you didn’t actually test it? ok great.. so you don’t belong testing then. No guessing! Patching is not for guessing its for TESTING and endless hours of patching and TESTING. not guessing. Besides We are already at the stage where we have gotten everything we can out of the GH2, so use one of those patches, they all include the features you want. Check out the “patch” chapter or post, and load one of those to see how patching is being done. Study those first if anything.

  63. Hi Orlando! Thanks for a great tutorial for GH2. I live my GH2, and it´s a great camera. One question: If I add a hatch, how can I afterwards restore the camera to default? Thanks again for what you are doing.

    1. Post

      It is the same as hacking it, open p tools, DO NOT LOAD A PATCH, just change version increment and save the firmware. You just patched a firmware with stock settings… you are there fore back to stock settings, tada!

    1. Post

      Absolutly! Some patches pair with certain lenses better than with others. Too sharp a patch is awful for modern very shape lenses. Too soft a patch and its not great with vintage lenses that are softer etc. Of course lens affects the image!

  64. With regard to your advice:

    Generally i love this setting and tend to keep it on. It boosts the exposure in darker areas exclusively. When would you NOT want more dynamic range? The default setting is OFF

    A VERY good tip. After some testing I discovered that I.DYNAMIC reduces the highlights, or more correctly, reduces the overall dynamic range allowing for far superior colour grading. It does not boost the darker areas as you mentioned.

    I have been doing tests in DaVinci Resolve 9 which has very good controls and scopes.

    Thanks for the great information.

    Update to my previous post:

    The I.DYNAMIC function changes with the dynamic range of the scene. Shooting in very bright daylight, camera in shade but towards the sun, the darker areas are slightly lifted while highlights are lowered a tiny amount. It’s VERY close to increasing exposure slightly.

    My previous test was shooting through a window with flyscreen, the same outdoor scene. This reduced the contrast.
    I.DYNAMIC affected the highlights and not shadows.

    I stand corrected. I posted too soon. More tests required.

    1. Post

      Thats is ok, no worries.

      Of course testing is in order to fully understand how it works but I mentioned lifting shadows because that is one of the more ideal benefits and in my situation that was precisely what it did. I’m sure it behaves differently depending on the lighting conditions so it may not always manifest in working shadows, it may work on highlights instead like it did for you, at least at first. It really depends what is needed to achieve a better dynamic range as is the purpose of this feature. In order to correct an exposure, it would depend on the what is off in the current exposure right? By default the corrections needed would not be the same for both our lighting conditions or time of day or etc etc etc. It should be expected to behave differently depending on what we expose it to! Let me know if you learn anything interesting.

  65. Hello: Any one here using Final Cut Pro with their hacked GH2 footage? I am able to ingest my footage through "log & transfer," but it would appear to be compressing the footage into Pro Res 422 files, much much much smaller than the original GH2 video files. Doesn't this somehow defeat the purpose of having the hacked files, or does it even matter? THANK YOU

  66. My name is Colbert Johnes. I am Zimbabwean filmmaker based in Johannesburg I bought a GH2 in December 2012. I shot a short film in Zimbabwe. I edited in Final Cut Pro 7. The footage looks amazing on camera and on the timeline. I logged and transferred to Apple ProRes LT. I am facing problems when I export the footage looks grainy throughout the whole film. Here are my sequence settings: Sequence Settings , Frame size 1440 by 1080 (HD 1440 by 1080) 16:9 , Editing Time base :23,98 : Compressor :Apple ProRes LT : Quality : 100%. Please help me I need to get the best quality. Here is my email address: and on Facebook its: Colbert Johnes.

  67. My name is Colbert Johnes. I am Zimbabwean filmmaker based in Johannesburg I bought a GH2 in December 2012. I shot a short film in Zimbabwe. I edited in Final Cut Pro 7. The footage looks amazing on camera and on the timeline. I logged and transferred to Apple ProRes LT. I am facing problems when I export the footage looks grainy throughout the whole film. Here are my sequence settings: Sequence Settings , Frame size 1440 by 1080 (HD 1440 by 1080) 16:9 , Editing Time base :23,98 : Compressor :Apple ProRes LT : Quality : 100%. Please help me I need to get the best quality. Here is my email address: and on Facebook its: Colbert Johnes.

  68. What exactly is the difference between a 'hack' (like FlowMotion, which I use) and a 'patch'?
    Do you install it the same way as a hack (ptools)?

    1. Post

      You are confusing the terminology. HACKING means we modified the firmware. A patch is the settings you loaded in ptool to change the settings like with flowmotion for example. There are many many different settings to try, as a result many ways to hack the camera.

  69. Which is a better hack to use — Orlando's Quantum X SpanMyBitchup 100 mbps or Apocalypse Now 4:4:4 90 mbps? I believe Apocalypse Now was one of the last GH2 hacks made by…

    1. Post

      Apocalypse now 444 sharp 2 variation

      The default patch in the hack pack is just one of the most stable and least likely to give you issues of the driftwood patches. As far as BEST that is up to you testing and deciding for yourself from some of the higher mbs offerings. The apocalypse now 444 simulated color sharp 2 is definitely one of my favorites! I basically never took it off once I started using it if not for a few tests here and there.

  70. Hey. I would just like to know this: the best stable GH2 Patch. I know "best" is subjective in opinion to most people here, but I really mean it, what is the BEST GH2 patch. By this I mean one of the HIGHEST possible bitrates paired with the best finished look/product. May not. I do not care about files sizes, convenience, in-camera playback. I come from celluloid film training- I don't need in-camera playback. simply put, If I were to attempt to shoot a full-length feature film and want the highest quality finished product ready for whatever non-linear editing program I use, what is the best patch? I am currently using Mysteron (Driftwood). PLEASE POST LINK =).

    1. Post

      I disagree, I Highly recommend you give it a try and see if you like the footage. Don’t go by what you hear. TEST IT! My favorite or in imo the best image is one of the Driftwood Apocalypse now sharp 2 patches. While technically a lot of these patches are far superior to to stock, flowmotion does not offer something many other patches don’t. What you have to go by is the look it gives the footage and if that is the look that is right for your project. In the end that is what matters most. Kind of like of like shooting your favorite film stock for..well the look. There may be a technically superior film stock out there but is the look all wrong for what you need? TEST SOME PATCHES! dont “i heard” be what you go by.

  71. thx a lot Ade. yeah this a good patch, i actually just tried it out like a few minutes before u sent me this because my boy vlad also did some research on this one. its cool cause it plays batk in camera, but unfortunately i am looking for even higher quality. the Mysteron i have maxes at 172mbps or something, which is crazy…so i am not sure ill even find anything better. i just dont know how reliable this one is tho so i gotta test it. thx a lot tho dude i really appreciate it. i was confused how u knew i posted this but i realized it linked to facebook since i was signed in

    1. Post

      Bad idea to judge by bit-rate. The best patches are not that high in bitrate but have a better IQ and better matrix for SMARTER handling of the data, IE high bitrate is not the key. In the end what you must go by is your own TASTE, for me the best image was found in a patch that hardly uses 70mbs, yet to me its the best image for the cinematic results i like and pairs the best WITH THE LENSES I USE. The lenses you use are HUGE factor in choosing a patch. Don’t get sucked into the numbers game, get sucked into smarter use of those numbers. Its like you are trying to find the fastest car in the world, unfortunately it has the WORST handling, and a fuel guzzler and looks like shit that color.

  72. haha nah bro i like my $500US camera which is like some crazy fraction of the mk3 price. and have u seen Upstream Color by any chance? its on netflix. it was shot on a hacked gh2!

    1. Post

      Sorry not available, a free online guide book can only survive if it gets traffic so that i can keep the site running. If i offer a pdf it ends up being ripped and posted on sites everywhere and makes its harder to afford fee offerings like this. I hope you understand. However i have made pdfs for readers that have donated and requested it. In this case i stand to lose nothing and keep my reader happy =). I am by no means a marking wizz or anything, i just find the keeping it on the site approach works better for a free guide book.

  73. I want to make the final decision…may I buy a camera LUMIX GH2 or CANON 60D.
    My work is mainly to news reports, documentaries, etc.
    But very important the quality and accuracy of the image to be found in the camera.
    What do you recommend.

    1. Post

      At stock settings neither are technically at a high enough bitrate, for news it is often 50mbs minimum in US but each station has its standards and can be as low as 40 which the Canon can indeed shoot stock. The high mbs is needed so the footage does not break up when being re-encoded for airing and on the fly adjustments. However, the LOOK of the footage is superior in the GH2 due to the better resolution and sharpness, and that is still improved greatly after being hacked. For the news reports, broadcast question, both cameras can be hacked to meet the requirements of various news reports and television broadcasting. This will not be the deciding factor.

      Documentaries… if you are making a movie its up to you based on the look of the footage or the lenses you want to shoot with. I go with the GH2 or rather the MFT mount over canon any day so that i can adapt just about anything. This gives me access to really pretty leica and zeiss lenses and the ability to shoot my vintage collection for certain looks. You are very limited in this regard with the canon vs the MFT which adapts just about anything. GH2 in this regard is the clear winner.

      I have shot documentary, films, music videos, etc with the GH2 and would not trade for a canon thanks to the vast amount of lenses available to the MFT mount via cheap adapters. This is the deciding factor for me since i love many a lens from different brands. It is a bonus that the footage quality is superior on a hacked gh2 which can easily be cinematic with the right patch. And if you find the sweet spot of the patch on the GH2 that makes your favorite lens shine… no contest.

  74. Hi Orlando
    I could resist any more and the 6 January 2014 it’s late but i find
    and buy a brand NEW Panasonic GH 2.

    I Got it for 625$ with the 14 to 42mm lens…
    I am looking for something how could shot in great quality and versatile and small
    for scouting for scene i will shot after in 35mm.

    When i get it’s first i will using like it’s is and i will try few lens i got a nice 10mm RX from my bolex and a nice 150mm on c mount, i have also a great foton zoom 37mm to 140mm i like to try. A friend got the same zoom and using it with is C300 from canon
    the foton zoom came from my 35mm movie camera ( Konvas 2M ) the lens cover the super 35mm.

    So outthere they still have bran New GH 2.

    1. Post

      Its nice you found a gh2 but these days im much more interested in hacking the GH3 because if we put similar matrix and settings on it we will have more dynamic range and kick GH2 butt. For not much more the GH3 is wonderful, and then there is the pocket cinema to consider. GH2 will not compete with these amazing new advancements! Its years later, its inevitable. Of course i still have a lot of love for the GH2.

    1. Post
        1. Post

          This filter is very common knowledge. I personally do not like faking the anamorphic flare. Why do you think vignetting will make anamorphic fakes look more convincing? I also don’t like faking vignetting too often. I do use it aesthetically in some of my work because at times it can be beautiful with the right images but i have not used it for faking anamorphic, That doesn’t really make sense. It is not a given that anamorphic images will have a lot of vignetting. This is a choice you are making subjective to your own taste.

  75. I agree with you about fake flare but when you have a defect and you could not fix it
    when you editing, one way it’s increase this effect until he became art.

    For me flare in a film must be there to tell a story, if it’s not concerning the
    film or any help in storytelling it’s should be remove.

  76. I asked this the other day, but can no longer find my question… How I keep the camera from “zooming” while I focus? I get that this can be useful sometimes, but other times it is a nightmare, as I lose the “bigger picture”. I realize I am probably dumb, but thought I would at least ask.

    1. Post

      Its very useful to take some time and look at your menus. It doesn’t take very long but you will find what you are looking for in there. Every menu item is explained when you highlight it. “Display enlarged area to focus correctly” sound familiar? Go to “MF Assist” It stands for Manual Focus Assist. You can find it in the 3/8 , third page of the second menu tab if you are in movie mode. The tab looks like a wrench over the letter C. Please take some time and read what each item does!!! Whatever you highlight the camera will explain to you what it does. This can only help you, i highly recommend it. It could have taken you a minute or two to find it for yourself compared to how long it took for me to search for the feature, write this and then you wait around for a reply. Dont waste your and my time like that! You cant be lazy when it comes to getting good at camera work. You gotta get passionate and put in some real time!

  77. Orlando

    After you hacked the camera. All said format the SD card with your new program in the camera.

    Could you stop the camera and change the card for a 64gb if you like and restart the camera and continue with the program you just load before ! with a fresh card to full.

    1. Post

      I am confused at what you are asking. Once you install the hack, thats it. You are done. Use whatever card you want to use to film with. I only have 64 gig cards and bigger so i only use that in the first place. Whatever card you use to install the hack does not matter as long as you install the firmware correctly. After that you can format the card or change the card. It doesnt matter at this point what you use so use whatever you want!

  78. Excellent guide, but I do have a problem. I just bought a brand new SanDisk 64gb, 30MBS class 10 card; put it straight into the camera, however, it stops recording after several seconds due to “limitation of the writing speed on the card”. I’ve formatted the card in my camera and reset all the factory settings, only to have the same problem. I’ve tried googling it, only to find that people having the same problems are using hacks; I am not. Straight out of the box settings. Any ideas?

    1. Post
  79. Pingback: Internet Film School (or: why I stopped worrying about my degree and started learning about what I love) | Jack Hallett CIS 2050

  80. Pingback: OSGFilms’ Panasonic GH4 Guide | OSGFilms

  81. Can someone pls help me? I followed the vid. downloaded all. clicked on j to load settings.. change increment to 01 and saved… but when I put the new file on my sandisk extreme pro 32gb and put it in my gh2, press the play/preview button it only says that there is nothing on the card… ideas? thank you

    1. Post

      Yes, you have to try a different increment change than 01. Some say 10 will work for them. Try 02, 05, I use 01 but for many of my readers that didn’t work. Also are you SURE you put it on the card root and NOT in any folders? Another reason why it may not work. Recheck the file name and these two points, i hope that fixes it!

    2. Post

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