Movie Maven: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 First Impressions Review
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is the fifth in the company's industry-changing video and stills 'hybrid' lineup. With its 20MP Four Thirds sensor and deep video-centric feature set, it looks likely to pick up where the GH4 left off as a favorite of indie filmmakers and photographers whose interests venture into the realm of motion picture work.
The GH5's feature set moves on suitably far from its predecessor that the company says the GH4 will remain in its lineup as a lower-cost option for users who don't need the additional capability that the GH5 brings.
For many users, the addition of in-body stabilization and 4K video without cropping might be enough to make the camera a worthwhile upgrade, but Panasonic has revised and improved almost every aspect of the camera's behavior and performance.
- 20MP Four Thirds sensor (no OLPF)
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization system with 'Dual IS 2' support
- All 4K footage taken using full width of sensor (oversampled from 5.1K footage)
- Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture
- 4K/59.94p and 50p shooting with 10-bit 4:2:2 output or 8-bit, 4:2:0 internal recording
- 1080 video at up to 180p, enabling 7.5x slow-motion
- 9 fps shooting with continuous autofocus
- Advanced DFD autofocus
- Dual UHS II card slots (V60 ready)
- Autofocus point joystick
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
- Pre-configurable rack focus mode
- Waveform and vectorscope monitors
- Paid upgrade to enable V-LogL video capture with LUT-based preview display
Two pre-announced firmware updates
It's worth noting that Panasonic already has two firmware updates planned for the camera, one expected around April, which will bring 10-bit 4:2:2 1080p capture, and a second at some point during the summer.
The summer firmware update promises some very big improvements, including DCI/UHD 4K 4:2:2 10-bit recording at 400Mbps, and 1080/60p 4:2:2 10-bit recording at 200Mbps, both using All-Intra compression. Support for anamorphic 4K capture will also be added at that point.
|With attachments such as the DMW-XLR1 accessory microphone unit, the GH5 promises to be a great tool for video enthusiasts and pros.|
4K 60p video
The eye-catching feature on the GH5 is its ability to shoot 4K footage at up to 59.94p and 48p (or 50p if you're shooting for PAL). Footage is oversampled from 5.1K, thanks to full sensor readout, meaning sharp footage that takes advantage of the full size of the sensor. Internal recording will be limited to 8-bit 4:2:0 IPB encoding at up to 150Mbps but with higher quality available if an external recorder is used. 4K video is shot using the full width of the sensor and has no time restrictions.
At lower frame rates, the camera can capture 10-bit, 4:2:2 footage internally: the kind of quality you needed an external recorder to capture from the GH4.
To understand the distinction (and much of what is significant about the GH5), read our basic explanation of video capture terminology.
The GH5 features the latest iteration of Panasonic's Depth From Defocus autofocus system, which uses pairs of images and an understanding of a lens's out-of-focus rendering to create a depth map of the scene, to speed up focusing. The latest version samples the scene more often and builds up a higher-resolution depth map, for faster, more decisive focus.
The GH5 also gains a more advanced algorithm for interpreting movement within the scene, to reduce the risk of the camera getting confused by movement as it builds its depth map. This, combined with faster sensor readout, should mean faster and more accurate autofocus. Further to this, Panasonic has added more AF configuration options to help the camera understand subject movement and the correct response to it.
Still image processing
Panasonic is keen to stress the GH5 is intended for stills as well as video. The greater processing power of the GH5 allows the camera to consider a wider area of the image when calculating the color values from each pixel. Panasonic says this makes it possible to extract greater JPEG resolution from the captured image.
The GH5's greater processing power also allows more sophisticated sharpening, promising reduced over-shoot that can cause unnatural-looking 'halos' on high-contrast edges.
Updated noise reduction is also supposed to be better at distinguishing between noise and detail, meaning that detail is better preserved during the noise reduction process.
'6K' Photo and advanced video-derived shooting modes
Also on the stills side of things, the GH5 offers higher resolution versions of its video-derived stills features such as 4K Photo, Post Focus and Focus Stacking. The GH5 uses its higher pixel count sensor and more powerful processor to add '6K Photo' modes at up to 30 fps, in addition to 4K Photo at up to 60 fps. As before, there are various ways of triggering the mode to ensure you have a short video clip from which you can extract exactly the moment you wanted to capture.
However, don't go assuming that '6K Photo' mode is taking images from an area of the sensor 6000 pixels across: it isn't. Instead it's capturing images with the roughly the same number of pixels as a very widescreen 6000 x 3000 video clip would have. It's not the most misleading marketing statement we've ever seen, but be aware that 6K may not mean quite what you might expect.
The Panasonic GH5 will be available in late March for $1999 (body only).
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