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Panasonic Lumix GH5 Review

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The Lumix GH5 is the latest in the line of Panasonic’s top-of-the-range GH series of mirrorless cameras, which over the years have carved out a niche for themselves among videographers thanks to their breadth of movie-making features.

The current GH4 was launched back at the start of 2014 and has been starting to look a little dated when lined up against some strong competition.

Panasonic is hoping its latest model will not only re-establish the brand as the number choice for the professional videographer but will also appeal to a wider market of enthusiast photographers looking for a highly capable camera that can shoot great stills and movie footage. Let’s take a closer look…

Feature

  • Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, 20.3MP
  • 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
  • 6K Photo still image extraction

As we’ve seen on some other recent Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 features a 20.3MP sensor that forgoes a low pass filter, which should see even more detail squeezed out from the chip.

While the resolution matches that of the Lumix GX8, Panasonic says it’s a different sensor and claims it’ll yield the best image quality yet from a Lumix camera.

There’s also a new Venus Engine, with 1.66x faster processing power thanks to an additional processing core, with Panasonic promising more natural, true-to-life images with better noise control. This should enable the GH5 to effectively correct for artefacts such as unnatural white edges, as well as reducing fringing and over-sharpening.

The GH5’s sensitivity range improves on the GH4’s by a stop at the bottom end of the range, running from ISO100-25,600 compared to 200-25,600 on the GH4. The increase in base sensitivity is welcome, especially if you want to take advantage of some of those fast Micro Four Thirds prime lenses in bright conditions, where an extra stop can be a help.

Specifications

  • Sensor: 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds CMOS
  • Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds
  • Screen: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
  • Burst shooting: 12fps
  • Autofocus: 225-area AF
  • Video: 4K
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
  • Battery life: 410 shots
  • Weight: 660g

However, it would have been nice to have seen this extended even further, especially at the higher end of the range, where the GH5 loses out to rivals like the Nikon D500 and Sony Alpha A7S II.

The Lumix GH5’s electronic viewfinder sees a big jump in quality from the GH4‘s, up to a staggering 3,680,000-dot resolution and 0.76x magnification, while the vari-angle display has also been improved, with the 3.2-inch touchscreen featuring a resolution of 1,620,000 dots. The screen also employs Panasonic’s WhiteMagic technology for increased brightness.

The GH5 gets Panasonic’s Axis Dual IS II anti-shake system. This in-body image stabilisation system works in tandem with Panasonic’s wide range of optically stabilised lenses to deliver up to five stops of correction – great news whether you’re planning to shoot stills or looking for a stable video rig if you’re likely to shoot handheld quite a bit.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the Panasonic GH5’s video capabilities, it’s worth noting that its specs offer some advantages for stills photographers too.

Much has been made of the ability to extract 8MP still images from 4K footage in the past, but the GH5 takes this idea even further, with the GH5 featuring what Panasonic is calling ‘6K Photo’.

This means it will be possible to extract 18MP still images (at either 4:3 or 3:2 ratios) from ultra-high-quality video footage at 30fps at an unlimited burst rate. Very impressive stuff.

The GH5 will also allow ‘4K Photo’ extraction, but this will now be possible from footage captured at 60fps – staggering when you consider that a $6,000/£5,000 Canon EOS-1D X Mark II has a maximum burst rate of 14fps (admittedly this is from a 20.2MP full-frame sensor).

Those who want to shoot more traditionally, and take advantage of the full arsenal of pixels the GH5 has to offer, can shoot at up to 12fps with focus locked at the first shot, or 9fps with continuous AF – that’s with a 100-shot raw buffer too.

Finally, there’s built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, as well as a low-energy Bluetooth connection that establishes a permanent connection between the camera and your smart device for easy transfer of images.

Video

  • Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at 60p
  • 4.2.2 10-bit output and internal recording
  • Further firmware updates coming

While Panasonic is marketing the Lumix GH5 at both pro videographers and enthusiast photographers, most units are probably going to fall into the hands of the former, and as such it’s no surprise to see the GH5 sporting an impressive movie spec.

This means that rather than using a cropped area of the sensor when shooting 4K as was the case with the GH4, the GH5 uses the entire width of the chip and then downsamples the footage in-camera. This also means that framing won’t be cropped, and you’ll be able to use your lenses as if you’re shooting stills.

Currently, the Lumix GH5 allows you to shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at 60p with a bit rate of 150Mbps, while Full HD video is also possible, up to a very impressive 180p.

That’s not all, as the GH5 offers colour subsampling at 4:2:2 and a colour depth of 10-bit, delivering greater colour information and richer graduations. The GH5 also offers live output to external recorders such as Apple ProRes via HDMI, as well as simultaneous internal recording.

Finally, there’s an XLR Microphone adapter for professional video production, which attaches via the hot-shoe and offers two XLR jacks with physical switches and dials.

That’s certainly a comprehensive video spec, but Panasonic is also planning to introduce several firmware updates over the coming months to bolster the GH5’s recording capabilities even further.

This will include 400Mbps 4:2:2 10-bit All-Intra video recording in 4K 30p/25p/24p, Hybrid Log Gamma in Photo Style mode, which enables 4K HDR video recording, and USB tethering.

Performance

  • 12fps burst shooting (9fps with AF-C)
  • 1,728-zone metering system
  • 410-shot battery life

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 uses the company’s tried and test 1,728-zone metering system to work out the exposure, and it does a very solid job. There were very few occasions when we had to toggle with the exposure compensation to get the results we were after. It’s a similar story with the Lumix GH5’s auto white balance, with the camera returning natural-looking outcomes – if you’re looking for a bit more warmth when conditions are a little overcast you might want to opt for one of the dedicated presets to give things a bit of a boost. The GH5’s clever hybrid image stabilization system works a treat – even when the shutter speed was at a slow 1/10 sec (and in some cases even slower) it was still possible to get sharp handheld shots with a focal length equivalent to 120mm.

The IS system also plays a part in how satisfying the view through the viewfinder is. Not only is it incredibly large and bright, with a resolution that allows you to assess focus easily, but the IS also helps to stabilize your view without the uncomfortable yaw that can be an issue on some systems. Battery life is rated at 410 photos, so it’s worth thinking about packing some extra batteries if you are planning on shooting for long periods. There’s also a BGGH5 battery grip available for the GH5, although while this gives you additional stamina it doesn’t deliver any of the performance advantages, such as an improvement in burst rate, that some grips offer.

Image quality

  • ISO100-25,600
  • No optical low pass filter
  • Good dynamic range

 

From a stills perspective at least, the smaller proportions of the Micro Four Thirds sensor used by the Panasonic GH5 have been seen as a bit of an Achilles heel when cameras that use it are pitted against cameras using larger APS-C and full-frame sensors at a similar price point.

Panasonic (and, for that matter, Olympus) has made huge strides in sensor design, and the GH5’s 20.3MP chip is the company’s best yet. The absence of an optical low pass filter sees the GH5 deliver excellent detail at lower sensitivities; it’s a match for APS-C rivals boasting an identical amount of pixels. When images from the Lumix G5 are viewed in isolation, results through the ISO range look good, although we can see a hint of luminance (grain-like) noise at lower sensitivities. This is primarily in blocks of colour, and while it’s only noticeable under close inspection, it is there.

As you ramp up the GH5’s ISO luminance sound becomes more pronounced, with chroma (colour) noise also becoming apparent. Results at ISO3200 and 6400 are more than fine – while they have noticeable noise of both varieties, you should be able to suppress this with a bit of tinkering in Lightroom.

That said, compared to those from larger-sensor rivals such as Fuji’s X-T2 or Nikon’s D500, pictures from the GH5 come up a little short, with outcomes not appearing quite as clean.

Dynamic range is very good, and it’s possible to recover a good amount of detail even in JPEG files. For best results though, raw files deliver the widest latitude, enabling you to pull back useful amounts of fine detail in the shadows and highlights.

Check Out: Best Lenses For Panasonic Lumix GH5

Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is the company’s flagship mirrorless camera and one that is focused more toward video than stills. It features a 20.3MP Four-Thirds sensor, updated Venus Engine processor, ultra-high resolution EVF and a fully articulating LCD. The rugged body is sealed against the elements and has 5-axis in-body image stabilization. It has an updated Depth from Defocus AF system which can track subjects at 9 fps and offers 225 focus points. The camera has Panasonic’s usual stable of features that take advantage of its video capabilities, including Post Focus, Focus Stacking and both 4K and a new 6K Photo mode.

Check Out Panasonic GH5 Price and Bundles 

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