Last year, I was fortunate enough to have been invited by Panasonic to take a look at a working Lumix GH5 at their offices here in Los Angeles. After seeing the camera in person for the first time, hearing about all the specs in detail, and viewing some really great test footage, I was excited to share the news, to say the least. It wasn’t easy to keep a tight lid on this until now, but as of today Panasonic have made the official announcement and as such I’ll be sharing some of my first impressions below.
This post isn’t intended to be a review of the GH5. I haven’t yet shot with the camera, and although what I’ve seen so far looks extremely promising, I will of course need to actually shoot some material on the camera before creating a proper review. That said, I do want to highlight some of the more groundbreaking features included in the camera, and touch on my overall thoughts of Panasonic’s execution with their latest addition to the GH lineup.
Before we go on, take a look at some highlights and specs for the GH5:
- Nearly identical body to GH4
- Dual SD Card slots
- 20.3 megapixel MFT sensor
- Venus Engine image processor
- Three Dimensional Color Control
- High Precision Multi Process NR (4x better noise reduction)
- 5-axis Dual I.S.
- 4K 60p/50p
- 400Mbps 4:2:2 10bit All-Intra video recording in 4K
- High speed sensor readout resulting in minimal rolling shutter
- No additional crop in video mode
- V-Log picture profile (paid upgrade)
- Waveform Monitor & Vectorscope
- Improved Autofocus capabilities
- Post Focusing
- 6K Photo Mode
- Availability: Late March
- Price: $1999
Panasonic have clearly been paying attention to the needs of their users, and as a result the GH5 is packed with truly useful features and upgrades, many of which have been requested by GH4 shooters for some time now.
I’m happy to see that the GH5 sticks with a form factor that is nearly identical to the GH4. The body design of the GH4 was already quite strong in my opinion, and for those GH4 users that will be upgrading to the GH5 (and I imagine there will be a lot of them), having the ability to transfer over accessories will be a big plus. I also love that Panasonic has included dual SD Card slots. This will be massively helpful for video shooters as it will allow for Relay Rec, Backup Rec or Allocation Rec.
It’s no surprise that Panasonic has stuck with a MFT sensor on this camera – despite many GH4 users clamoring for a Super 35 sized sensor in the GH5. Panasonic has a growing lineup of really great MFT lenses, and it simply wouldn’t have made sense for them to leave the MFT format behind on the GH5. Even still, the sensor in the GH5 is brand new and will likely offer better color reproduction, improved low-light capabilities, and a higher megapixel count for stills – (20MP vs 16MP on the GH4).
Arguably the most critical feature added to the GH5 is it’s in body 5-axis Dual Image Stabilization. It seems like internal image stabilization is quickly becoming a must-have feature on mirrorless cameras, and many GH4 users seemed to consider jumping ship to other brands simply because Panasonic was lacking in this department. With that in mind – Not only have Panasonic included in-body stabilization on the GH5, but they have also upgraded the O.I.S. on several of their lenses so that they can fully harness the power of the in body stabilization on the GH5.
On a side note, the new lenses announced are version II of the: 12-35, 35-100, 45-200, 100-300.
Panasonic also announced another brand new lens. Their 12-60 F2.8, which also boasts the new O.I.S.
Back to the camera specs though –
One of the other big highlights – perhaps the biggest for many users – is the GH5’s ability to record 4K footage at 4:2:2 10bit internally. This is virtually unheard of on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, although I’m sure we will see more cameras following suit in the future. It’s worth noting that while shooting in 4K/10bit mode, you will be limited to 30p, 25p, or 24p.
4K/60p material will be recorded in 8 bit.
It’s also important to note that the 4:2:2 10 bit recording functionality will be launched in April via a firmware update. When the camera first ships, it will be limited to 8bit recording.
Other updates that we can expect via firmware updates are an Anamorphic shooting mode and Hybrid Log Gamma (for 4K HDR recording).
The GH5 will support the V-Log picture profile, but unfortunately this will be a paid upgrade above and beyond the base price of $1999 for the camera. It would have been nice to see V-Log included as part of the package price, however I doubt this will be a deal breaker for shooters that are interested in the GH5, as the V-Log licensing fee won’t likely be very costly.
As previously announced, the GH5 also features a 6K Photo mode, which effectively records a burst video file at 30 frames per second in either a 3:2 or 4:3 aspect ratio. This feature is designed to allow photographers to extract high resolution stills from the video recording, but it will not be a feature used by filmmakers as it’s aspect ratio and burst-style recording make it less suitable for most video work.
It goes without saying that Panasonic really hit the mark with the GH5. They’ve focused on the right things – image performance, stabilization, color science, low light capabilities – amongst other core functions, and have made big strides in doing so. The GH5 has set the bar very high with regards to the level of performance and quality that we should expect from DSLRs & Mirrorless cameras in 2017, and I’m really glad to see that Panasonic is once again leading the pack in so many respects.
The only real drawbacks with the GH5 would be the same ones you might take into account when considering any other MFT camera. A smaller sensor size generally means low-light capabilities aren’t as strong as larger sensor cameras, and of course it also makes achieving ultra-shallow DOF a bit more challenging… That said, I’m a big fan of the MFT format and believe for the majority of shooters out there, Micro Four Thirds cameras offer more positives than negatives – including their small form factors, adaptability, and wide range of lens choice, just to name a few.
For me personally, the GH5’s color science will be the deciding factor on whether or not the camera becomes a part of my kit. I loved the GH4, but I could never quite get it’s colors to look perfect – even when using color charts and extensive grading. Oddly enough, I found the GH2 much stronger in this department… So I am really hoping to see an improvement on this front with the GH5, and from what I’ve seen so far, things are looking positive.
Once the camera is officially released, I will be sure to get my hands on it and do a more detailed writeup. So check back soon for more updates on this front!
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!