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The Wall Street Journal goes 4K video with the GH4 – the first newspaper web team to do so?

By site editor Dan Chung:

The Wall Street Journal in-house video team has started shooting and publishing 4K video. To my knowledge this makes them the the first newspaper website in-house team to do so. Their EMEA operation have purchased four Panasonic GH4 cameras as upgrades to their existing GH2s. Eventually the GH4 will become the primary cam in the bureau.

Currently the WSJ can’t display 4K video directly on their own website, but are able to show it on their Youtube channel.

The Panasonic Lumix GH4
The Panasonic Lumix GH4

I spoke to WSJ video journalist and producer Mark Kelly about their choice of the GH4. Having only recently received the cameras they have not yet been used for big news stories, but Mark recently shot and published a 4K video piece about wine – part of their one minute wine series.

This is what Mark had to say:

“I advised my WSJ editor we should get GH4 cameras based on a number of years shooting on the GH2. I bought into Lumix GH2 back in 2010 (when the camera was released in the UK) when nobody in news went near them. The DSLR revolution was well underway but everyone was obsessed with Canon – few were willing to break from the norm and use Micro 4/3. I loved that Panasonic’s prime focus with the GH2 was video, and that in the field I could travel light with three lenses. It was also a camera that you could shoot movement with, something the fixed DSLR brigade seldom did. In fact I used the GH2 on a number of shoots for The Sunday Times when I was managing the Multimedia team there.

While content appearing on the WSJ’s own platform doesn’t yet give a viewer the option to switch to 4K viewing, content appearing on other sites such as YouTube will benefit. 

Shooting One Minute Wine at the Devil’s Dyke
Shooting One Minute Wine at the Devil’s Dyke

The GH4s will mainly be used as field cameras and we might start using the old GH2s as cameras for fixed pieces to camera in the office. Now that the warranties have expired on them I hope to persuade my editor to let me hack them to increase the quality of footage for output.

Lens wise it would be great to have more. Each GH4 field kit will be armed with the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8, 20mm f1.7 and a Canon 50mm with adapter. I pushed hard for the 12-35mm lenses – I’ve wanted one for ages for my personal kit but haven’t been able to afford it. The 14-140mm and the 12-35mm both benefit from image stabilisation – which is of real benefit in the field.

Shooting One Minute Wine on Brighton beach
Shooting One Minute Wine with the GH4 on Brighton beach

These cameras wouldn’t be my first choice for run and gun shooting. Audio is still a massive issue for me and regular camcorders all benefit from built-in XLR inputs making it a lot quicker to manage audio levels. Having that control makes it easier to focus on what’s most important – good visuals and an editorial narrative. As I described in a recent post on my own blog I don’t think the YAGH is a good solution for our audio needs. For protests etc. I still prefer a Sony EX1/EX3, or the affordable and lightweight JVC GY-HM150E.

That said I look forward to trying the GH4 in more challenging environments. As I described in a recent post on my own blog I don’t think the YAGH is a good solution for our audio needs.”

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