First Look at the Panasonic BGH1 “Box” Remotely Operated Camera Panasonic makes a Z CAM E2 clone?

Earlier today Panasonic introduced a new “box style” video camera with a micro 4/3 mount which can be controlled (and powered) remotely using software and using in conjuncture with up to 12 similar cameras for live broadcast and other uses which can benefit from its capabilities.

It might not be immediately clear who the new Lumix BGH1 camera was designed for. this mid-size cube (93/93/78 mm a tiny bit smaller than the Z CAM E2 and looks almost identical in many respects), on the one hand, it has no screen and although you can connect one directly to the camera via the HDMI out it doesn’t seem that this was the intended workflow as you can’t control the camera this way. Really the only useful way to control this camera is remote via the computer and the camera control software (either via a computer using an ethernet cable or using BT/WIFI).

Thinking of this camera as a remotely operated device start to make a little more sense especially if you want to work with several of them (the camera does have a timecode In/Out and Genlock). Live streaming is possibly the other major target audience of this camera especially during the current time period when more and more things are going online and require higher quality streaming/recording. Panasonic promises to add in firmware the option to stream straight from the camera which can certainly be useful in some situations.

Let’s look at some of the specs for this new camera:

  • Sensor: 10.28-megapixel micro 4/3 (similar to that of the GH-5S but with an improved dynamic range of 13 stops).
  • H.264/MPEG-4 8-Bit 4:2:0 and H.265/HEVC 10-Bit 4:2:2 (aspect ration – 4:3 with LUT & HLG support).
  • 4K UHD/DCI/Anamorphic resolutions at up to 59.94fps (60p is only in 4:2:0 though).
  • DFD (contrast only) based AF system but with face/eye/body and even animal detection.
  • ISO 160-51,200 (with dual native ISO set at 160 & 800).
  • All electronic shutter ranging from 1/16,000 to 1/2 second.
  • Ethernet remote control with Power over Ethernet (PoE+ support)
  • Microphone input and headphone output (with hotshoe support for the Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone Adapter).
  • Timecode In/Out, Genlock In, SDI 3G out.
  • Dual UHS-II SD card slots, full-size HDMI and USB-C PD (for power/data and control).
  • Built-in 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2.
  • Dimensions: 93 x 93 x 78mm.
  • Weight: 545g.
  • Price: $2000  availability – December 2020.

Looking at some of the first video reviews of this new camera two downsides seems to be quite obvious – the first is the delay in the image (and somewhat jerky) image on the computer software (this should not affect the recording but makes it much harder to monitor in real-time) and the much more problematic AF performance which seems to hunt a lot – something that we hoped Pansonic would resolve by now (but apparently contrast-based AF simply has its limits).

First hands-on of the Lumix BGH1 by B&H

Our colleague Jordan Drake from DPR with an early look at the BGH1

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