Panasonic Lumix GH5 | Preview

April 17, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

If "Content Creation" is your thing, no doubt you're pretty excited about the launch of the new GH5. I've used the platform on and off since the GH2 and really didn't pay much attention until the GH4 was introduced. It hit the market just about the time 4K video was taking off and by all accounts, it least until the Sony A7 series came along. Now two years later the GH5 takes just about everything that is good about the GH4 and makes it even better while throwing in a few tricks for good measure.

I'm hoping to have a review copy in my hands within the next couple of weeks and if I do, this "preview" will become a full-on review. If not it will have to wait until my local camera shop starts renting them.

Meanwhile, I've been playing around with some of the various samples widely offered by film makers and the above video was provided by Luke Neumann of Neumann Films. Much of it is handheld and shot at ISO400 and I like what I see so far. I did my usual thing...stabilized the footage, did some slo-mo, added a little Ken Burns effect here and there and then a light color grade and sharpening.

Over the past few years I've gotten more involved with shooting and editing videos for clients. It's one of the reasons I switched from DSLR's to mirrorless cameras. Whenever I job came up I typically used my Olympus OM-D E-M1 if I was sure 1080p was all I needed. Other times I would rent or swap with colleagues for a Panasonic GH4...for those times when I wanted to have a bit more editing options at post production time. There are definitely tradeoffs with the two...the E-M1 is stuck at 1080p with a relatively anemic codec which really can't be pushed too far in post BUT it has an awesome 5-AXIS stabilsation system that makes handholding shots very easy and smooth. The GH4 on the other hand offers very robust video options but lacks the stabilisation unless you lens you are using has one built in. Even then it was never up to par with the E-M1. The GH5 addresses that and more.

Generally if fast auto-focus and good image quality was on your list the Olympus line attracted people like me. If video was the main concern then folks would buy the Panasonic.

True Story - My good friend who uses a pair of GH4's for video work recently told me that he NEVER uses them for taking photographs. Never. In fact, he was equally incredulous that I used my E-MI for video...he's kind of an elitist. This little tidbit will make sense later on when I give you more context.

That divide has gotten much smaller with the E-MII and the GH5 but the GH5 remains the best choice for advanced video production and that's where i'll pick it up..

First...the new stuff, at least the things I care about

  • 20 megapixel sensor...up from 16MP
  • In-Body sensor stabilisation that works in conjunction with lens based OIS
  • 4K 60 frames per second output
  • 1080p at 180 frames per second
  • No more cropping on 4K video
  • 4.2.2 10 BIT (Firmware) internally at 30p, externally at 60p
  • 6K...seudo (anamorfic)
  • HDR Video
  • H.265 codec support
  • HDMI port is now full-sized
  • The "Rolling Shutter" has been reduced with the improved sensor read-out times
  • Sporting a new touch-screen...
  • You can now pull focus between two points automatically...nice
  • 3.68 Million dot viewfinder
  • Rear LCD screen has gained some size
  • Headphone Jack
  • No recording time limitation (Europe or USA/Canada)
  • Splash, Dust and Freeze Proof
  • Dual Memory Card slots
  • Wifi, Bluetooth AND NFC...sheesh
  • USB 3.1 Type C

At this point all the video people have messed up the floor with drool and I don't blame them. This was a huge update that just hits every mark put to Panasonic by end-users. In fact I left out a significant list of other improvements/additions because they don't apply to me.

However...not all is well in Wonderland.

Apparently the Auto-Focus is a bit of an issue (in-Video). There is just no way to rely upon it to the point of comfort. Long-Time videographers won't care, it's manual focusing or nothing for them. The average YouTuber will say otherwise though when they try to selfie-vlog and it won't lock unto their faces.

Check out the acrobatics these two went through trying to make it work: Max Yuryev

The root of the issue though is the fact that the GH5 uses "Contrast Detection" and opposed to "Phase Detection" tech for it's focusing system. It's a years long issue with mirrorless cameras, except the Olympus E-M1 which employs a curious implementation of it. How well it works I'm sure I don't know but I've found my E-MI to be more than sufficient for my needs. Sony has also done well with auto-focusing.

The body itself has gone thru some minor changes but it still looks like a DSLR from a distance. Now about that context..Panasonic must have finally gotten it through their heads that GH buyers (in general) don't care much for taking pictures. As such they have gotten rid of the pop-up It's now an external accessory. That whole thing just reinforces how divided the camps of Video & Stills are, even now.

So at first glance...something for everyone.

BTW: If you want to see this camera in "real-world" action check out the short video made by Griffin Hammond called HAND CUT


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