Movie Maven: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 First Impressions Review
Body & Design
The GH5 may look a lot like the GH4 but Panasonic has made a series of important changes. For a start, the headphone socket has been raised up to reduce the degree to which it blocks the rear screen when it's flipped out. It's not completely clear but it should allow the screen more freedom of movement. The GH5 also gains a full-sized HDMI socket and holes for screwing-in the included HDMI cable retainer.
Look closely and you'll see a few less significant, but notable, changes as well. The flash is gone and the microphones have been moved forward to a more prominent position on the viewfinder hump. Perhaps most significantly, the [REC] button has also been moved to the camera's top plate, which may make it a little crowded.
|Despite being a little jaded when it comes to camera technology, our team was surprised and impressed by how life-like the GH5's viewfinder is.|
The GH5's viewfinder is a completely new unit. A 3680k-dot OLED panel gives a resolution of around 1280 x 960 pixels, which may not sound like a huge leap forward from the GH4's 1024 x 768 panel, but it makes a huge difference. This 25% jump in linear resolution is enough to make the GH5's viewfinder probably the best we've ever seen.
At the briefing meeting, all the DPReview writers present took it in turns and proceeded to do a series of double-takes as they held the camera to their eye. Despite being larger than the GH4's finder (0.76x magnification in 35mm terms, rather than 0.67x, means it's 13% larger in each dimension), the new finder gives a remarkably life-like image with no individual pixels being visible.
AF point joystick
|The GH5 is the latest camera to gain a joystick control on the rear of the body.|
Despite inheriting one of the best touchscreen/AF touchpad implementations on the market, Panasonic has added a focus point joystick to the GH5. This joystick can be used to navigate around 225 directly selectable points.
It's generally the case that touchscreens offer the fastest means of positioning an AF point, and Panasonic's pioneering touchpad AF system means this speed can be maintained when shooting with the camera to your eye. However, some photographers find the screen blocked when shooting with the camera in portrait orientation. The addition of a joystick overcomes this problem, as well as simply offering the user a choice.
Dual Card Slots
|The GH5 provides dual UHS II card slots that also support the new V60 speed class needed for 400Mbps video.|
The GH5 becomes the first in the series to offer dual SD card slots. These can be used in a number of ways and are designed to do more than just provide additional capacity (though that's not going to hurt, once 400Mbps video capture starts filling cards at 3GB per minute).
The camera provides several options for using these slots. To start, it can write to one slot then the other (including the ability to then hot-swap cards that have already been filled). Alternatively the camera can write to both slots simultaneously in order to create a backup copy. Finally, you can tell the camera to write stills (including the 4K/6K Photo mode images) to one card and video to the other.
Both slots support UHS II cards that have an additional row of contact pins. Both slots will support U3 class cards (guaranteed 30MB/s sustained read/write) but this will not be sufficient to dependably shoot the 50MB/s that 400Mbps video shooting requires. As such, both slots will also support the V60 protocol/speed class that guarantees 60MB/s sustained read/write, once such cards become widely available.
Auto ISO has been revamped in major ways: first, you can now set the minimum shutter speed threshold before the camera raises ISO, with an (albeit un-biasable) 'auto' setting. You can even add this 'Min Shutter Speed' setting to the custom 'My Menu' for quick access (though it remains un-assignable to a custom button).
Equally as important: the GH5 becomes the first Panasonic to allow the use of Auto ISO in manual exposure mode. It also maintains exposure compensation when doing so. This is true for both stills and video.
This means that you can set your shutter speed and aperture value and the camera will maintain its metered brightness level by adjusting the ISO. The ability to adjust exposure compensation means that you can adjust the brightness that the camera is trying to maintain.
The GH5 continues to use the same DMW-BLF19 battery as the GH4, which will be welcome news to any existing users. Battery life falls from 530 shots per charge to a rating of 410 shots per charge.
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