Among all the novelties presented by Panasonic on the occasion of the CES 2017 the one that couldn’t be missing was the Lumix GH5, announced at Photokina 2016. The GH5 is the new brand flagship and recently we had a brief opportunity to experience it during a press conference held in Madrid days before the official presentation.
Although according to the intentions stated by the manufacturer, that the product has been made having in mind wildlife & adventure photographers as well as videographers, by reviewing the list of innovations of this new Micro Four Thirds Camera, it’s clear that the latter will crave it more than the former. Especially those who are professionally involved in event recording, broadcasting and filmmaking will find in the GH5 features unique to large and expensive high-end equipment.
Under a strong, weather-sealed body, composed of a magnesium alloy, it conceals a 20.3-megapixel sensor managed by a renewed and more powerful Venus Engine processor –Resulting in a higher image quality– as well as a 5-axis image stabilization system compatible with a new line of stabilized optics, some of which will be shown these days in Las Vegas.
4K & 6K Modes
Its most anticipated characteristics are the capacity of recording 4K/60p and 50p as well as 4K/30p 4:2:2 10-bit video, furthermore the expansion of resolution to 6K of the system implanted by Panasonic that allows to extract frames from video clips, named “6K Photo”. This is the first camera of its kind to admit these “standards”.
The GH5 uses the “multi-pixel” Luminance Generation which references a 9x larger area of pixel information, analyzing each pixel to detect whether the pixel is located at a flat, detail or edge part of the picture. In the same way, it achieves an excellent color reproduction of the whole range thanks to the controller that detects luminance in addition to hue and saturation.
The noise caused by high sensitivity levels, one of the main handicaps of the Micro Four Thirds system, has been managed to be reduce up to 4 times more than the previous version due to a High-Precision process that identifies any affected areas preserving details at the moment, according to the company.
Inside the GH5 we also find the 5-axis Dual I.S. stabilization system which combines the Body Image Stabilizer of 5-axis with an Optical Image Stabilizer of 2-axis.Of course, as long as it is combined with one the lenses compatible for this Power O.I.S. that day by day are added to Panasonic’s catalog. In fact, these days at the CES it can be seen not only new lenses with Power O.I.S but several firmware updates that will allow previous lenses to adapt to this system.
To compensate both stabilizers, the GH5 incorporates a new high-precision gyro sensor that studies the focal length and shooting conditions, that way, due to a new algorithm, it achieves precise stability. Thus making it possible to use a max. 5-stop slower shutter speed. This is highly beneficial not only for shooting without a tripod but also for video recording without external accessories.
Precisely, as we mentioned, videographers will find in the GH5 a tool to achieve high quality levels and standards in small size – and low price, considering its functionality- camera. Since the signal readout speed has been accelerated -1,7x- as it has the processing speed –1,3x– this realizes that 4K 60p/50p ultra high-definition, video recordings are now possible as well as 4:2:2/10-bit for even more faithful color reproduction. At the same time, thanks to the high readout and processing speed it has been able to effectively suppress rolling shutter distortion.
The possibility to choose between four different recording formats will be appreciated by video users: MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD at a variety of frame rates. There is no recording time limit for both FHD and 4K video and users can set the system frequency to 59.94Hz, 50 Hz or 24 Hz.
New Photo Styles show up, for a more cinematic appearance, named “Cinelike D“, “Cinelike V“ and “Like 709” for compatibility with HDTV. In addition, a paid software upgrade to support V-LogL video recording is also available.
The new upgrades for professional video recording don’t stop here since in response to requests from this sector the LUMIX GH5 comes with a Waveform Monitor and Vector Scope. It also embeds SMPTE-compliant Time Code either in Rec Run or Free Run count-up methods which makes it easy to synchronize multiple video footage or sound sources in the post production workflow. Luminance levels can be selected between 64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10-bit). Synchro Scan mode suppresses flicker and Color Bars (SMPTE / EBU / ARIB Standard) are also available.
In order to reduce ambient noise during audio recordings the GH5 includes an additional internal mic that acts as a noise reference. This information is transmitted to the built in stereo mic and the corresponding noise reduction is apply.
On account of the focus on professional video, a profusion of outputs and plug-ins of audio and video was to be expected. These outputs include a grip to prevent movement in the HDMI cable. Additionally, the optionally available microphone adaptor DMW-XLR1 is a plug-in type adaptor (that goes in the camera’s flash mount) for XLR microphone to record high quality stereo sound.
On the other hand, future firmware updates for video users with further improvements are expected such as Full HD 4:2:2 10bit video recording capability, 400Mbps 4:2:2 10bit All-Intra video recording in 4K 30p/25p/24p, Full HD, high resolution video recording in Anamorphic mode, Hybrid Log Gamma in Photo Style mode which enables popular 4K HDR video recording and slow motion in 4K.
In the same way the AF system has been completely renewed. The GH5 comes with DFD (Depth from Defocus) –previously seen in other Panasonic models- and Contrast AF technology, which not only calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness levels, but also analyzes the shape, size and even motion of the subject comprehensively.
This technology, combined with the capabilities of the new processor and the speed of the sensor drive during auto focusing in photo shooting mode increased up to 480 fps, realizes ultra-high-speed AF of approximately 0.05 sec and 9 fps high-speed burst shooting in AF continuous – 12 fps in AF single-.
To this adds the new shutter that combines electronic aperture and mechanical seal, shutter speed achieving that way, not only a faster burst but also less vibrations, less noise and a larger lifespan for the device (guaranteed to be durable for approximately 200,000 shots). The mechanical shutter reaches a speed of a maximum 1/8.000 sec, although it can be chose a completely electronic shutter to reach a speed up to 1/16.000 s.
The number of focus areas consist of 225 points controlled easily with a new joystick located on the thumb position. The focus areas can be modified depending on the scene.
In addition, The GH5 includes the Post Focus functions previously seen in other Lumix cameras: Post Focus, Focus Stacking.
The 4k Photo functions from previous models are still present, but have also been upgraded to enhance the resolution up to 6K. Thus, making possible to extract an 18 Mpx photo from a sequence obtained at 30 fps or, if we can settle for an 8mpx resolution, we can record the sequence at 60 fps.
Thanks to the increased power of the new processor, the 6K Photo technology can be used to reduce noise in pictures shot at high sensitivity ISO values: The camera analyzes the information of every frame taken and corrects distortion and reduces noise.
For the time being there’s not – neither is planned to appear a- specific software to extract frames post recording. For this reason, the camera itself comes with tools that allow to extract the desire photo. Otherwise, any conventional editing software can always be used.
The GH5 has been made to endure and for it to be tough enough to withstand harsh conditions. That is why the body is composed of a magnesium alloy, sealing of every joint to make the camera not only splash/dust-proof, but also freeze-proof down to -10 degrees Celsius.
Yet another nod to video users is found in the inclusion of a double SD Memory Card slot compatible with UHS-II. There are three modes of use for those two slots. The first, works in “relay” automatically switching cards when one is full. It’s really interesting that using this mode we can switch out one of the cards while recording in the other, this is what is called “hot swap”. Let’s remember that the GH5 can record continuously thanks to the different systems implemented to appropriately manage heat dissipation. Another mode is to save information simultaneously in both cards, as instant “backup”, while, under the third mode, we can record video in one card and still images in the other.
The viewfinder has been completely renewed as well featuring a 3.680.000 dot high resolution and 100% field of view. The 3,2 inch rear screen with 1.620.000 dot high resolution is free-angle and uses a touch control system.
As it becomes customary, to the Wi-Fi 5GHz connectivity adds the Bluetooth 4.2 and USB 3.0. The owners of the GH4 can copy its settings to automatically incorporate them to this new camera.
Even though the battery life has also been revised, due to a high power consumption expectation, a specific grip –DMW-BGGH5– has been made as an optional accessory. Therewith, in addition to improve on the already good ergonomics, it extends the battery life as the grip contains an extra battery.
This brief contact we had with the new GH5 barely gave us time for a good first impressions. Despite its small size (in comparison with a high end DSLR) it has a robust look with really good handling and weight distribution. Being that it will be offered as a kit it turns out to be well balanced: it won’t fall off our hands nor will we get tired by carrying it.
The larger grip contributes to the good handling, as it does to access every button. Users used to the GH4, or any other camera from Panasonic’s G series, will in no time get used to this new camera in which the focus control panel constitutes one of the most important improvements handling wise.
The higher resolution of the viewfinder also stands out, offering a viewing experience at the same level as optical viewfinders, so much in refresh time as in image quality and sharpness.
During this brief presentation we had the collaboration of the trialsin champion César Cañas over whom we were able to check the focus precision and the speed burst of the camera. Indeed, during his exercises, done inside a well-lit studio, the camera quickly and precisely focused the cyclist movements without losing focus.
Ultimately, this is a camera that promises important improvements and progress, especially to videographers, who will find in the GH5 a professional tool that’s the right size, for a good price. We hope to soon have one in our hands and experiment every possibility and confirm these first impressions.