The GH5 | Is It Everything Filmmakers Have Ever Wanted?

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Early last year I got to play with the Panasonic VariCam LT and got to learn how much of a filmmaking beast that unit was (that article can be found here). The colours, the images, it blew my mind. So when the GH5 was announced a few days ago I became immediately excited.

The Lumix GH5 is the successor to the very popular GH4, their flagship Micro Four Thirds system. The GH5 improves upon its predecessor with 4K 50/60p, upping the megapixels by 25% to 20mp and also comes with a new image processor that delivers higher performance colour and sharpness reproduction. 

One of the reasons I chose to buy the Sony A7s a couple years ago over the GH4 was mostly the low light performance. So it’s very exciting to see Panasonic working hard to improve image quality in low light situations. I don’t expect it to ever beat the A7s range as this is still a Micro Four Thirds camera and it has more megapixels (essentially sacrificing light sensitivity for more resolution). The GH5 is able to deliver better low light performance to the GH4 by upgrading its noise reduction processors. 

It (GH5) boasts 4x the noise identification accuracy compared to the previous engine and preserves details even after the noise reduction process. As a result, photos can be clearly shot even at high sensitivity ISO values of up to 25,600. 
 

The above video is by Nick Driftwood who has been one of the few filmmakers who has been working with Panasonic on the development of the GH5 and sent this through to newshooter.com 

It was shot in 4:2:0 8-bit 60p mode (59.94fps) in 4K UHD, H.264 Level High 5.2, 158 Mbps, married with the new 12-60 Leica f2.8-4.0 ASPH lens.

Had he shot in 24/25/30p instead, it would have indicated the true low-light potential of this camera so instead my judgements are going to be more on the level of noise.

Up to 12,000 ISO it is still very usable and cleaner then I had initially expected of the GH5. 6400 ISO looks to be very clean (for a micro 4/3 sensor at least). Mind you, despite the A7S being known as a low-light king, my particular taste is to not push it past 10,000 ISO as beyond that point I start to dislike the level of noise. The GH5 seems to produce similar levels of noise as the A7S (at 10,000 ISO) somewhere between 3200 and 6400. 

Slow motion capabilities have also been improved with the camera shooting at an impressive 180fps in FHD. 

Also included in the camera is a 5-axis dual image stabiliser (IS) so photographers can be a bit more liberal with their shutter speed and filmmakers can achieve smoother, sexier camera moves. This will not be a substitute for having a Steadicam or gimbal but together I can imagine you’ll be able choreograph some exceptionally stable shots. Which is fortunate as the GH5 is a small unit, so shooting handheld would otherwise be annoyingly shaky if it weren’t for the IS. 

The camera is capable of 4K 60p/50p ultra high-definition. Awesome. 

It will be capable 6K/24p in Anamophic mode (4:3). Very exciting!

It also does internal 4:2:2 /10-bit video recording. THANK YOU! 

Previously the GH series could only achieve this by outputting to an external monitor/recorder (such as an Atomos Shogun) and being limited to 8-bit video internally. My A7s is no different and although the A7sii is capable of internal 4K, the colour depth is still lacking, still only managing 8-bit video. 

These improvements are especially important for colour grading and the indie filmmaking community is going to rejoice the fact that 4:2:2 10-bit is now not limited to expensive cinema style cameras. 

Rolling shutter has also be reduced, no cropping of the sensor in 4K (take note Canon) and finally we have a mirrorless/DSLR that has no recording time limit.

Your picture profiles like ‘Cinelike D’ and ‘Cinelike V’ are there while V-LogL will come as a paid upgrade. Like I mentioned earlier, it will be capable of 6K/24p later in the year. Here are all the future upgrades expected to come. 

Photographer: Daniel Berehulak - Shot on the Panasonic GH5

Photographer: Daniel Berehulak - Shot on the Panasonic GH5

GH5 Firmware Upgrade Path:

4:2:2 10bit – Available April, 2017

6K/24p Anamorphic Video Mode (4:3) – Available Summer, 2017

(200 Mbps) FHD 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra – Available Summer, 2017

(400Mbps) 4K 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra – Available, Summer 2017

V-Log Color Profile  – Available at launch, Cost: $100

Info from Cinema5D 

Autofocus speed and accuracy has been improved and although it doesn’t have phase detection, it utilises ‘Depth from Defocus’ and Contrast AF processes.

The speed of sensor drive during auto focusing in photo shooting mode has been increased to 480 fps, which is 2x faster than that of the GH4. Consequently, the LUMIX GH5 realizes ultra-high-speed AF of approximately 0.05 sec7  and 12 (AFS) / 9 (AFC) fps high-speed burst shooting using a mechanical shutter in full resolution. By analyzing every single frame precisely, it achieves a maximum 200% higher precision frame detection with minimum motion detection error for higher tracking tolerance against moving subjects.
For even more precise focusing, the number of focus areas has been increased from 49 to 225. Users can create a group of focus areas depending on the composition and can control it easily with a new joystick located on the thumb position, without taking your eyes off the subject. This is possible even when using the LVF or releasing the finger off the shutter button.

Naumann Films - http://neumannfilms.net/

I’m going to be keeping a keen eye on this camera when it launches. I’ll soon be upgrading from my old trusty Sony FS700 to the Pansonic Varicam so getting the GH5 as a B-Cam will make a lot of sense. It is still a Micro Four Thirds camera which will leave me second guessing but regardless of that, I can see Panasonic selling this camera like hot cakes. I do reckon it is worthwhile to see if Sony does anything new with their mark iii versions of the A7S as you do have that beautiful full frame sensor and incredible low light sensitivity. But with the GH5 you will soon have higher frame rate 4K and 4:2:2 10-bit and I’m honestly torn on which alternative I need more!

The Lumix GH5 will be available (body only) in late March for $1999.99 US.  

 


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