Why Panasonic’s BGH1 Box Cam is a statement for MFT users

Panasonic just announced their first micro-four-thirds, MFT, cinema camera and with it a statement to MFT users everywhere. The MFT is not going anywhere. Why I think the introduction of the BGH1, box cam, is not only innovative but fantastic for creators.

If you’re looking for specific break down of the specs this post is not for you and you should check CineD’s first look.

With the announcement of so many new cameras this year. There certainly are no shortages of amazing options to choose from but like many MFT users I was beginning to worry. The gh5 although an amazing camera, is nearing four years since it was released. Originally, they were going to announce the gh6 at NAB 2020 but COVID shut that down. As MFT users have waited anxiously for the gh6. Panasonic instead announced the new portable and powerful full-frame S5 camera.

The S5 itself is a very appealing camera if I do say so myself. It has many features gh5 users have come to love. Panasonic also added a few improvements to make it easier to capture slow motion video and designed it to be a very capable hybrid camera. The issues I was running into was that I’ve married into the MFT lens ecosystem and I’m not sure I’m ready to give those up yet.

Enter the Box Cam

I won’t lie. I’m still bummed that the gh6 hasn’t been announced but the announcement of the box cam was sweet. My mind wasn’t blown when I first saw the specs and camera but here are a few specs I find the most interesting:

  • The same sensor as the GH5S, which is a 10.2MP Live MOS sensor with multi- aspect and dual native ISO (V-Log L: ISO 400 & 2,000, HLG: ISO 320 & 1600, Cinelike: ISO 160 & 800)
  • Tweaked V-Log L to add an extra stop of dynamic range in the highlights.
  • Internal recording in C4K/4K at up to 60 frames per second in 4:2:0 10-bit Long GOP form (and 4:2:2 10-bit All intra up to 30fps)
  • No record limits.
  • Power over ethernet PoE and USB c connection to webcam utility on mac or windows.
  • box format
  • hot shoe mount
  • Improved Autofocus

This camera was designed to be a swiss-army knife of cinema cameras.

Making it Versatile

The fact that Panasonic decided to go with the same design choice as the extremely popular z-cams is a smart move. The box style design makes it modular which is why Zcam and Red go with that design.

One of the benefits of the MFT system is its compact size for cameras and lenses. The lenses are so TINY. You don’t realize how small they can be until you’re holding them and comparing them to full-frame glass. The new box cam will be an amazing addition for productions that need a car cam, unique angles but don’t want the GoPro look. The MFT is one of the most adaptable mounts out there. I still think Zcam has them beat on modularity when it comes to mounting options.

The addition to PoE and USB c makes it a fantastic camera for multicam studio productions. I could see this setup for news station that are adapting to reporters having to work from home YouTube cooking shows, and of course streamers.

Why This is a Content Creator’s Dream

Okay enough with the specs and overview. The question that remains for any creator is why this camera? I can’t answer that for you but as I’ve been weighing my options the box cam really tics a lot of different things that I’ve been wanting.

Which has been:

  • cinema camera style body
  • better low light
  • improved AF
  • versatility

The fact that I can have it stripped down and powered via USB C and use it for work meetings, live streaming, or even just quick recordings at my desk but then be removed rigged up and shooting a commercial or documentary within 20 minutes is exciting to me. Although the z-cam line is similar they don’t have a any audio options which means I’d have to do something externally which adds to the rig. Where the Box Cam does have a hot shoe adapter that is compatible with the lumix xlr adapter which I do own. The only thing I wish it did have is an internal ND.

Everything else is great. Now I am coming from a place where I have several micro-43rd lenses and a ninja v so my road to getting up and running is low but if you’re someone who is new or hasn’t been in the micro-43rd route it could be cumbersome, and z-cam might be a better fit for you.

I hope to get my hands on this camera as soon as I can and when I do, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts with ya’ll.

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