Fun with Function Buttons: Filmmaker Setup Guide

Configuring the Panasonic GH4 for Video
By Sol March in Resources

Stop digging through menus with a streamlined function button setup for the Panasonic GH4, and get instant access to the features you need the most for video production.

The GH4 is a killer video production tool, packed to the gills with useful functionality. However, while the menu system is well-organized, navigating through over 30 pages of menu options (not counting submenus) to find the option you need can take precious time you don’t have.

Getting the shot is what matters, and the GH4’s customizable function buttons are the solution. They allow you sidestep the menus and get directly to the setting you need for the shot in an instant.

Ready to transform the GH4 for video production? Let’s go.

Rear Function Buttons

The Lay of the Land

Before we dive in, let’s get the lay of the land.

The GH4 has a total of 10 function buttons– 5 physical and 5 on the rear touchscreen. Customize the function buttons by going to Menu/Custom (7)/Fn Button Set/Setting in REC Mode.

Function Button Setup Function Button Setup for REC mode Default Function Button Layout

A total of 54 different functions can be assigned to any of the function buttons.

Panasonic GH4 Function Button Settings

The 3 Laws of Intuitive Function Button Configuration

The ideal function button setup must be both logical and memorable. This makes all the difference. An intuitive setup means you spend less time trying to remember what each button does and more time taking care of business.

Abide by these 3 laws for a winning function button setup:

Law 1: Hardware First

The most useful function buttons are the 4 hardware buttons on the GH4’s right side. You hold and control the camera with your right hand, so these buttons are easy to reach with your thumb and index finger. Assign your most-used settings to these function buttons.

Rear Function Buttons

Law 2: Secondary Settings for the Lone Rider

The fifth physical function button is located on the left side of the GH4, next to the EVF. This lone function button is not in the most accessible position, but it is still useful. Assign a setting you use sporadically to this button.

Function Button 5 (Next to EVF)

Law 3: Non-Essentials on the Touchscreen

The remaining five function buttons reside on the GH4’s rear touchscreen. These buttons take longer to access and may even be completely inaccessible if you shoot with the EVF or use a loupe over the screen. As a result, assign non-essential settings to the touchscreen’s function buttons.

Touchscreen Function Buttons

Function Button Setup for Video Production

After extensive shooting and testing, this is the ultimate function button setup optimized for filmmaking and video production:

Note: Go to Menu/Custom (7)/Fn Button Set and select Setting in REC Mode to customize the function buttons.

Video Production Function Button Layout

Here’s the rundown on each function button assignment, including the page where each setting is found:

  1. Quick Menu (page 1) — A custom Quick Menu (covered in the next guide) will give you quick access to the GH4’s more complex functions. The Quick Menu is now next to the other buttons that activate deeper menus, such as White Balance and ISO.
  2. Focus Peaking (page 11) — Toggle focus peaking quickly with your right thumb while gripping the camera. The GH4 cycles through the various peaking levels each time the button is pressed:
    • Focus Peaking off
    • Low Sensitivity Peaking
    • High Sensitivity Peaking
  3. AF Mode/MF (page 14) — One-touch magnification of the frame when in manual focus mode. When Menu/Custom (3)/Direct Focus Area is enabled, you can select a specific part of the frame to magnify by pressing anywhere on the rear control dial. This gives you two ways to punch in on the image for focus confirmation right next to each other.
  4. Zebra Pattern (page 12) — Toggle zebras quickly with your right thumb while gripping the camera. The GH4 cycles through the various zebra presets each time the button is pressed:
    • Zebras Off
    • Zebra 1
    • Zebra 2
  5. Highlight/Shadow (page 6) — Highlight/Shadow should be used with a light touch as excessive settings can dramatically increase image noise. However, it this setting can be useful to subtly lift shadows or recover highlights in certain shooting environments.
  6. Guide Line (page 11) — Select and display various guide lines over the image to aid composition and framing.
  7. Level Gauge (page 2) — Toggles on the on-screen level gauge.
  8. Histogram (page 11) — Toggles the histogram display.
  9. Monochrome Live View (page 11) — Removes color from the displays to help you better gauge contrast and exposure in certain environments (note: video is still captured in color).
  10. Color Bars (page 10) — Toggle the color bars and test tone to add a slate between shots.

Function Buttons for the Win

When the function buttons are optimized for video production, the GH4 is a revelation. The functions you need are right at your fingertips and everything just feels right.

Ditch the menus, configure your function buttons, and get the shot.

The next guide in this series shows you how to customize the GH4’s Quick Menu to make the camera even easier to use for video production. Sign up to receive updates below, because it’s going to be awesome.


  • Panasonic GH4 — One of the most customizable cameras for video production.

Configuring the Panasonic GH4 for Video


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