Movie Maven: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 First Impressions Review
Customizable AF system
As part of the reworking of its autofocus system, Panasonic has added extra control over what the camera attempts to track. The answer it's arrived at is very similar to the approach taken by both Canon and Fujifilm: a series of presets built from parameters that define the movement of the subject being shot.
Like those other brands, Panasonic has created presets that combine three parameters. The first, 'AF Sensitivity', informs the camera about how rapidly it might have to respond to a sudden change in depth (essentially whether it should or shouldn't jump the focus to something crossing between the original subject and the camera). 'AF Area Switching Sensitivity' tells the camera the degree to which it should expect to have to follow the subject around the frame. And, finally, 'Moving object prediction' tells the camera how predictable and consistent the subject's movement is.
It's interesting to note that these three parameters are broadly the same three that most manufacturers appear to be settling on, in terms of fine-tuning the AF behavior to match the photographer's intentions for shooting different types of subject.
The GH5 is also the first Panasonic to receive an updated, 'cleaner' menu system. Part of the change is aesthetic; the menus' visual design is stripped back and attractive, but there are structural changes, too.
|In the updated menu system, the Custom Setup tab has been split into five themed sub-sections for more straightforward navigation.|
The more streamlined pages include eight menu options per page, reducing the number of pages in each tab of the menu, which should make them easier to recognize and remember. The Custom Setup tab of the menu has been broken down into five named sub-sections (Exposure, Focus / Release Shutter, Operation, Monitor / Display and Lens / Other), which should make it quicker to find a specific setting.
In addition to these refinements, the GH5 gains a customizable 'My Menu' tab that can have up to 23 menu options added and ordered as you see fit. We've not spent enough time with the GH5 to know how well these changes work but in principle they bring the camera's behavior into line with the best of its peers.
802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth LE
While nearly all cameras have Wi-Fi these days, the GH5 is one of the first to support 802.11ac, which runs on the 5GHz band and is capable of much faster transfer rates than what has been offered previously. 802.11ac is backward compatible with the old b/g/n standards, as well.
The GH5 gains Bluetooth LE capability that enables it to stay connected to any smart device it's been paired with. This should mean that it's much faster and simpler to re-establish a Wi-Fi connection, even with Apple devices (which don't allow use of the NFC technology that the GH4 used).
The 'Low Energy' subset of the Bluetooth standard has very limited bandwidth but, in return, demands very little battery power to maintain a connection, which should be beneficial for both the camera and any connected device.
The camera's Wi-Fi system can be set to automatically transfer images to a smartphone or can auto-wake from a smartphone when remote shooting is activated on the phone. Furthermore, Panasonic says that the smartphone app will be one of the ways in which the camera's settings can be copied from camera to camera, enabling quick setup when switching between GH5s.
As well as the increased capture rate and resolution, the GH5's 4K and 6K photo modes gain more sophisticated processing that takes information from surrounding frames to improve the image quality.
By comparing multiple frames, the camera is able to apply noise reduction to unchanged areas of the image. Multiple shots of the same detail can be combined as if they were part of a single, longer exposure: resulting in an increase in captured signal and a decrease in the proportion of noise.
The camera can also use frame-to-frame comparison to reduce the appearance of rolling shutter in grabs from video. Comparing frames allows the camera to detect which elements of the scene are being distorted by capture delay, which can then be compensated for.
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