Q&A: Panasonic GH2 “Hack” Questions

This week I present the first Q & A post. This is where I answer questions that have been posed either in direct correspondence or on a forum that I think might be helpful to others. If you have questions you would like answered, please e-mail pasadepulse@gmail.com.

This week I’ll answer questions @djkoz originally posted on DVXUser.com.

djkoz: Will the GOP = 1 hack files be easier to edit in Vegas or Premiere since there is no compression?

I haven’t noticed a big difference in Vegas, though the higher bitrates sometimes slow things down on a slow system compared to factory footage. It depends on the extent to which your system is bandwidth vs CPU limited.

djkoz: Can you implement 2 hacks at one time? I think the answer is no.

Just to clarify – I think you mean “patch” when you say “hack”. The PTool hack that Vitaliy Kiselev came up with is what has been allowing all of us to come up with these patches. But as far as the patches, you can mix and match settings from one patch to another, but you can only load one patch at a time onto the GH2.

djkoz: The guide on how to use PTools seems to indicate that you make various selections about GOP, bit rates, etc. from drop down menus. I don’t understand how these relate to the multitude of hacks (set?.ini ) files available. Do the ini files populate the drop down options. If so, can I have more than one set’s hack options available to me at one time? (All of this might be clearer to me if I could only download and play with the hacks… That said I think I did manage to successfully download PTool3.exe which, hopefully is the latest version)

Yes, the patches (.ini files) only populate those drop down options. You can modify any setting you like after the fact, though the stability may suffer if you don’t know what you are doing. As mentioned above, you can mix and match settings as much as you like (with that same caveat).

The latest version of PTool (at the time of writing) is PTool 3.64d (200212). You can’t tell the version number by looking at the filename, you have to open the program and see what displays at the top of the window.

If you don’t have the most up to date version, you can download it at


djkoz: How do I determine whether I might even want one hack or the other?

Unfortunately, the rapid update progress on the different patches and the number of different authors make it difficult to keep with the differences. Testing yourself or looking at comparison videos can help, but the first thing I check is the descriptions the author provided.

Also, here is a bit about what some (of the many, many) patch authors are known for.

@Driftwood is known for his GOP1 patches, including several high bitrate ones on the GH2. In the forum threads for them, he often discusses the differences between them. @bkmcwd is known for higher GOPs on the GH2. @LPowell is also equally well-known for his GH1 patches and @Ralph_B made some great Firmware 1.0 GH2 “Sanity” patches for lower bitrates but he has not had any profile releases since the Firmware 1.1 update.

There are many other authors that I know less about, not because their patches are of any lower quality, but simply because they do not seem to cater to my specific production priorities. I have used @Driftwood patches more than any other but also appreciate using some of the other patches I have mentioned.

djkoz: Where can I get more information about the audio hack. I read about it someplace and have not been able to find it since. Can I use the audio hack along with another hack?

Since I’ve been overseeing that area since October, I can tell you that the best places to find information are my Tutorials section on this site and my thread GH2 Audio Hacks” at http://www.personal-view.com/ though there are plans to add it to the Personal-View Wiki soon.

djkoz: I plan on buying the SanDisk Extreme Pro SDXC 95 MB/sec, 64 GB so, hopefully, it will be able to handle even the fastest hacks, if that is the way I decide to go, i.e., should I choose to go with the hacks that capture 176mbps?

What the best hack is changes all the time, but I personally favor the GOP1 options from Driftwood vs. the higher GOP options. This is generally agreed to provide better lowlight performance but there are debates about some of the other advantages that some higher GOP (such as GOP3) patches, can provide. I would start with one of his Orion/Dark Matter/Sedna patches if you want to make use of a high bitrate.

At the time of writing (check the date above), you can find Nick Driftwood’s most current patches (all GOP1 except for Cluster) at http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/2477/driftwood-quantum-x-series-settings-cluster-v1-orion-v4d-rocket-%CE%B2-pictoris-series-2/p1 and he is just about to release new ones.

djkoz: will the camera record continuously at that bit rate, with spanning? and, for about how long? around an hour at 64GB?

Spanning performance depends on both the patch used and the card. The card you mentioned seems to do better with spanning than many others but I haven’t used it personally. Some of my testing with early Orion patches indicated it did not span on the Delkin Elite 633x 16GB card I used, but that may have changed in more recent versions.

djkoz: I’ve been looking for a place to download the various hacks and found this link: http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/953/gh2-patch-vault-most-popular-patches-in-one-place 

On this website there appears to be links to various hack files, they show up as icons that look like a sheet of paper with the upper right corner folded over. When I roll the mouse over the icons I see something like “driftwood 132M.zip 378B” but these are not links. When I click on them nothing happens. I have this same problem with Firefox and Internet Explorer. How do I download the various hacks?

That’s one good page, but there are a few other patches not included there. Try http://www.personal-view.com/talks/discussion/2477/driftwood-quantum-x-series-settings-cluster-v1-orion-v4d-rocket-%CE%B2-pictoris-series-2/p1 for starters.

As to the download problem, you have to register at the site and sign-in before you can download them.

djkoz: When you install a hack do you remove some of the built in Panasonic options ?

No, nothing is removed and you can revert to the factory default Panasonic options using PTool if you want. The hack is currently compatible with any version of the GH2 made so far and with the firmware released to date (which would be version 1.0 and version 1.1). At this time there are no reported issues introduced by Version 1.1 and many of the new patches require it. Older patches were all designed for Firmware version 1.0 so use that if you want to try one of those out.

Note that your configuration settings (what custom button does what, custom white balance, etc.) are preserved when switching between different patches on the same Firmware version. But in my experience going from Firmware 1.1. back to Firmware 1.0 resets those settings.

3 Responses

  1. dennis kane says:

    My first time to your website, and very nice. Thank you for sharing your knowledge of the various “hacks” I tried to view the newest MTS files, but I could not log on. The log on box asked for a password, I tried Driftwood1, but no luck. Please let me know how I may view these new files.
    Thank you

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