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The Panasonic GH5 Is Officially Here! These Are My First Impressions

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.

gh5_body_slant_k

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

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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.

image_29lenses

Panasonic also announced another brand new lens. Their 12-60 F2.8, which also boasts the new O.I.S.

h_es12060_frontslant

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).

gh5_body_front_k

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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!

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About Author

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!

34 Comments

  • […] 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… Read Article […]

    Reply
  • Mouse Films
    February 18, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Thanks for the great review, looking forward to the internal IOS!
    You forget to mention that the GH5 comes with 24bit XLR audio connections.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      February 23, 2017 at 2:28 am

      Good point! Thanks for adding this.

      Reply
  • petew
    January 24, 2017 at 12:20 am

    Thanks Noam, Another point that I should have emphasized is that maybe in the future we will all be able to afford to have a compact video camera AND a bigger FF camera- rather than having to choose- much like many have a good point and shoot and a DSLR now. I can see many opting to keep their GH4 and also purchase a GH5 pro rather than sell and upgrade. As the technology matures , I can see a GH5pro equivalent costing about $1000 and a GH4 say $500. Take the GH4 out when absolute image quality doesnt matter, use it as a B cam and use the GH5 pro when low light/absolute best quality is a requirement.
    The democratization of video will also no doubt bring much more indie content onto the web- spurring web sites for consumption of their content- more in the spotify model than the youtube model though

    Reply
  • petew
    January 22, 2017 at 9:43 pm

    I think this camera brings us all to a point with the micro 4/3 cameras, that can be seen to be analogous with the tablets of a few years ago.
    The tablets burst on the scene became immensely popular just in the same way that the mirrorless cameras have. The popularity of the m4/3 has given the producers the courage to pour money into innovations led primarily by panasonic and sony . So much so that the average person can buy unheard of performance . So the sony/pana efforts have rapidly expanded the market for video and still cameras, just in the same way that the ipad and galaxy have done with tablets.
    But people soon learned of the limitations of the tablets and the producers eventually hit a brick wall in being able to innovate to meet expectations. At about the same time that this brick wall was hit with tablets, there came a plummeting in price due to quality no name android tablets out of china flooding the market. Soon every person could afford to have a tablet that wanted needed one. And it is at this point that the penny dropped- the tablet didnt need to be a replacement for a laptop or phone- it was neither and never would be. it could never have the same processing power or expandability of a notebook, and it would never be a convenient replacement for a phone due to size. But people realised that it didnt need to be- it was an additional tool, not a replacement and , with the fall in prices , people could have all 3.

    I see the same restrictions on mirrorless cameras and m4/3 especially as the tablets. lets examine the rationale for a m4/3 camera. First and foremost it is size. To remove the mirror allows a compactness that is impossible with SLR’s and this was the inital attraction, like the tablets- size and portability. But as they have become more popular, peoples demands on performance have reached a point where it becomes impossible to go much further. Look at the heat problems with the Sony cameras where compactness has limited cooling ability, as well as limited sonys ability to make the cameras easy to use- look at the AF lamp placement, look at the Sony menu system. Simply the compact size is now reaching a point where the performance is exceeding the physical size ability to handle it.
    When we look at the GH5 we here that panasonic didnt want to increase the sensor size-yet that is the obvious next step for them to make. In theory. The reality is that panasonic realises that the step up to full frame would introduce problems that a small camera just cant handle, and even without going full frame , panasonic have had to increase the body size of the GH5 over the GH4- its getting to the point now where the GH5 is starting to resemble in size the compact SLR’s- just like the ipad pro resemples a notebook in size. So waht we have here is a mirrorless camera slowly morphing back into what it was meant to replace- the SLR.

    So what is my point? My point is that perhaps we need to concede now, that to get the low light of an A7s we need full frame at least. For that we need bigger bodies. For ergonomic usage we need bigger and sharper screens with responsive touch screens. To get the best out of these 4k and 6 k sensors we need great lenses, and great lenses simply dont hang off a mirrorless camera in a comfortable fashion. The industry have whetted our appetite for high quality portable solutions, they have brought costs down through innovation and pricing that gives the manufacturers a target audience ready to upgrade. Now they need to start building cameras that simply work without compromise but in a SLR footprint. panasonic seem to be dipping their toe in the water by making the GH5 bigger, and I believe that Sony will need to respond with something that works better . That means better ergonomics , better heat management and connections- in other words they are going to have to get a bigger body also. Panasonic have taken the heat off by allowing their engineers to increase the body size of the GH5, so It would seem the door is now open for sony to follow. if this does indeed happen, I could see a 2 level range in the future- maybe a GH5 pro where a bigger body is released with a full frame sensor and bigger screen etc.
    The ability to apply LUTS in body with the GH5 can be seen also as another step in the right direction. one of the things that sony and panasonic suffer from is that many dont like their color science. the ability to apply LUTS could go a long way to getting around this.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      Thanks for the detailed note, Pete! Great points in here…

      Reply
  • Arno
    January 10, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Hey Noam,
    Thanks for the blog post, it’s interesting !

    Everyone says the GH5 is an incredible upgrade, they say it’s cheap, and it’s a no-brainer that they should upgrade.
    Really ? Let’s take a loot at the main new features.

    Stabilization = on serious shoots we use the GH4 on gimbals like the Ronin-M. Whenever we have to do handheld, zoom lenses have OIS and that works ok.

    4k50 = This is prety hard to edit on a laptop. Did you see the price of the newest macbook pro ? Upgrading to GH5/4k50 is not going to be cheap when you add 3,500$ for a new macbook pro

    10 bits = On GH4 it’s really hard to see the difference between 8 bit and 10bit, even when heavily color grading.

    That being said, Will I get the GH5 ? sure. why?

    I’ve had the GH4 for almost 3 years. It has always worked like a charm (except the touch screen but you can do without it) . I paid 1,600$ for the body. For 3 years of use that’s like 45$ / months.
    I’ve used it mostly for paid jobs, but also as my personal camera on trips and with family.
    During these three years, firmware updates fixed most things I didn’t like at first, and it brought even more features than I could think of when I got the camera.

    I shoot mostly HD (70%) – and some 4k (30%). None of my customers require 4k delivery. So why do I still want to upgrade ?

    Because I trust Panasonic for delivering another camera that will be great for the next 3 years. When the first customers will want delivery in 4k with some slo-mo, i’ll have the right tool.

    And during the next three years hopefully the GH4 will keep on working great and be a good b-camera.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 9:18 pm

      Great points Arno, and thanks for sharing! I agree that the GH4 is still an incredible camera, and for some users there may not be a need to upgrade, even though the GH5 does offer a ton of new features. Hope you enjoy yours and be sure to let us know how you like it!

      Reply
  • Ross
    January 9, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Do i still use the same settings from my GH4 for your LUTS in the GH5

    Cheers Ross

    Reply
  • Austin
    January 9, 2017 at 2:41 am

    How do you think the image of the GH5 will compare to your URSA mini? Do you think it would be smart to pay an extra $1000 for something like an URSA mini 4k that is producing a cinematic image that is really hard for Mirrorless cameras to do?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm

      I think it really just comes down to which camera is better suited for any given production. The GH5 is going to deliver a gorgeous image. But I doubt that right off of the cards the files will look as organic/cinematic as URSA Mini footage. At the same time, there are a lot of things the GH5 can do that the URSA Mini can’t – including it’s ability to shoot stills, and it’s smaller physical build. Also, if you’re in the market for an URSA Mini you need to take into account the extra costs associated with CFast cards, V-Mount batteries, and other more expensive accessories.

      Reply
  • J Bruce
    January 8, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    I always thought you managed to get the GH4 colors better than most. The 1080 60p intercut with 4k footage test you did on the beach a ways back had some of the best highlights and skin tones I ever came across with the GH4. And if memory serves that was pre-V-Log.

    I think Panasonic’s color science and skintones are better than people give them credit for. The fact that everyone was urged to use ‘Cinelike D’ initially in place of a log profile gave the GH4 a bad rap as that profile had waxy skintones. But I’ve come to appreciate how much better skintones do even when shooting in V-Log. Much better than can be obtained without extreme effort from S-Log on any of the Sony mirrorless cameras.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 9:11 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! And I definitely agree that V-Log offers far better colors and skintones when compared to S-Log on the Sony lineup. Looking forward to trying it out for myself soon and seeing how it performs!

      Reply
  • Alessandro
    January 8, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Hey Noam! What do you think for a solo operator filming mostly documentary style? Could this camera be better than, say, a c100 mkII?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Great question – and it really depends on what your needs are and how you like to work… If you need 4K, stills capabilities, a smaller footprint, etc. then the GH5 is the way to go. That said, the ergonomics of the C100 are still better (at least in my opinion), so you’ll want to factor in rigging/accessories if you do decide on a GH5.

      Reply
  • JR
    January 6, 2017 at 5:51 am

    The camera will not be limited to 8bit at launch, it will come with 4:2:2 10-bit @150Mbps Long GOP out of the box. The April update is only for HD mode, adding 4:2:2 10bit @200Mbps All-I, with the massive 4K 400Mbps All-I update and other goodies following in Summer. You can see all of the official specs that it will be shipping with in writing here:
    http://www.43rumors.com/download-the-official-gh5-leaflet-and-specs-list/

    Reply
    • JR
      January 7, 2017 at 2:50 am

      Quick correction to my own info, the April update will only add FHD 4:2:2 10bit, aparently Long GOP. Both All-I updates are coming in summer.
      There’s so many new features I can obviously understand how easy it is to get confused (even made this one mistake myself in trying to correct you!) but I’ve seen a lot of blogs reporting that the camera will only do 8bit when released, while all info direct from Panasonic indicates otherwise. Neumann films even posted some 10bit clips to play with:
      https://youtu.be/T-qUZTTb1fY
      I’m not much of a colorist but just playing around a little bit in FCPX I found the these clips held up to a lot of abuse. Compression artifacts seem minimal even at this “low” bitrate, so I can imagine 400Mbps All-I is going to be AMAZING.

      Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 6:17 am

      Thanks for the link!

      Reply
  • John
    January 5, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    Thanks, Noam.

    Like many, I’ve been waiting on this camera. And while there will be countless opinions rendered out there, we can always count on your objective views. That’s a rare commodity on the web.

    John

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 6:17 am

      Very much appreciated John. Hope to see you around the site again soon!

      Reply
  • Wes
    January 4, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Thanks for all the info, Noam! Of course with my timing I’ve already ordered the original 35-100mm and just saw the version II announced.. I know it’s pretty much impossible to tell, but do you think the new Dual IS will be a big step up from the version I ?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 6:16 am

      Hard to say Wes, but I would guess there will be a noticeable improvement. Even still, the IS on the original is quite good – so I’m sure you’ll be fine even with your current lens!

      Reply
  • trey
    January 4, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    What makes this camera so appealing to me right now is the lens adaptor you can get for it. Or will be able to get for it .

    Aputure DEC and a ND Filter version. I believe they will make one that has ND and have a focal reducer glass.

    Turns the camera into
    1. s35
    2. better low light (getting more light out of the glass.)
    3. “Built-in” Electronic ND Filter
    4. Wireless focus system

    Even if you we just get the s35 and wireless focus that’s pretty big IMO.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 6:15 am

      Good point Trey! Thanks for sharing this.

      Reply
    • Martin Bleazard
      February 28, 2017 at 3:41 am

      I don’t think they’ll make one with ND and focal reducer!?!? That would be amazing though

      Reply
  • mike chenoweth
    January 4, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks for the write up! – I’m in the same boat with color science. LOVED the GH3 – and perks of GH4 aside, I never felt color was in the same league as earlier versions of the GH cams. Guess we’ll see this spring 🙂

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 23, 2017 at 6:13 am

      For sure! Here’s hoping…

      Reply
  • Matthias
    January 4, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Once again: thank you for such valuable insights!

    Can you say anything about the dynamic range the sensor will be able to capture?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      January 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Any time Matthias! I can’t say with 100% certainty, but I am guessing it will be within range of the GH4’s DR capabilities. There might be some improvement, but I don’t expect us to see a huge jump in numbers.

      Reply
      • Daniel
        January 4, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        Dang, I love my GH4 that I just recently bought but I hate the fact that it can’t do internal 10bit 4:2:2 and has absolutely zero IS (nor do my primes). I’m finding my Glidecam is the only way to stabilize it properly (unless it’s on a tripod) and makes taking stealthy street video around Los Angeles impossible without a big intrusive Glidecam flying the GH4 and attracting [unwanted] attention. Would my best recourse be to just invest in the Atomos Shogun so that way I can get my 10bit in ProRes 422 (still does nothing about IS) or should I just sell the GH4, suck it up, and shell out the extra cash for the GH5?

        Reply
        • Noam Kroll
          January 23, 2017 at 6:15 am

          It really depends on your needs. The GH4 is still an incredible camera. If you absolutely need 10 bit and don’t want to use an external recorder, I would go GH5 of course… Or if you need internal stabilization for the type of work that you do. That said, you can still capture gorgeous images on your GH4 so don’t feel like your camera is obsolete! It’s all about how you use it at the end of the day.

          Reply
      • gardezi
        February 9, 2018 at 8:13 pm

        i have to decide whether to buy sony a7sii for travel show type documentary project (to be broadcasted on tv) or to go for GH5. by the way i have L series canon lenses for these bodies. Will be grateful if you can just write couple of sentences about it. thank you.

        Reply
        • Noam Kroll
          February 27, 2018 at 11:35 pm

          If you need ultra low light sensitivity, go with the A7S II, Otherwise, the GH5 is the way to go!

          Reply

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