Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Review
Panasonic told us that many of the upgraded specs and features on the GH5 are the direct result of feedback by GH4 users. Specifically, many users requested 4:2:2 10-bit recording, and Panasonic delivered. If you can't find specs in here that will meet your requirements, chances are good that your requirements call for a much more expensive camera.
4K Video Modes
The GH5 can capture 10-bit DCI/UHD 4K footage with 4:2:2 chroma sub-sampling to an SD card, and can output the same signal across its full-size HDMI port.
The summer 2017 firmware update promises an impressive 400Mbps All-Intra recording mode to augment the 150Mbps IPB capture offered at launch. These modes are likely to require the forthcoming V60 class SD cards (the V numbering system supersedes the U1/3 speed notation), since they will be the first cards guaranteed to maintain write speeds beyond the 50MB/s needed for 400Mbps shooting.
In the table below, cells marked in green represent modes that will be added by the summer 2017 firmware update.
|Video Codec||Audio Codec|
|4096 x 2160||
||400 Mbps||4:2:2 10-bit||All-I||MP4/MOV
||150 Mbps||4:2:0 8-bit||IPB|
||100 Mbps||4:2:0 8-bit|
|3840 x 2160||
||400 Mbps||4:2:2 10-bit||All-I|
||150 Mbps||4:2:0 8-bit||IPB|
||100 Mbps||4:2:0 8-bit|
Full HD Video Modes
|Video Codec||Audio Codec|
||200 Mbps||4:2:2 10-bit||All-I||MP4/MOV
||100 Mbps||4:2:2 10-bit*||IPB|
In addition to these high-bitrate modes, the GH5 continues to offer MP4/AAC and AVCHD/Dolby shooting at 28, 24, 20 and 17Mbps.
As noted in the table above, the camera can shoot UHD 4K 59.94, 50 and 48p footage with up to 4:2:0, 8-bit capture internally. It's also possible to record these resolutions and frame rates at 4:2:2 10-bit quality when using an external recorder.
|Internal capture||HDMI Output|
|Simultaneous int/ext recording:||
|External recording only:||
Filling in the gaps: 4:2:2 color
You may have noticed much of what we've written uses the terminology 4:X:X and talks about bit-depth. Understanding this notation is key to understanding what the GH5 offers. The 4:X:X naming system describes how much color data is preserved when footage is compressed into a manageable stream. It takes advantage of the fact that human vision is much more sensitive to brightness (luma) resolution than color (chroma) resolution.
Wikipedia does a good job of illustrating the 4:X:X notation, so it's worth checking out the article if you want to read about this in detail.
In a nutshell, the naming system describes how many pieces of color (chroma) information are retained for each group of output pixels. The key thing to note is that 4:2:2 footage retains twice as much color information as 4:2:0 footage does.
|Sub-sampling type:||Luminance Resolution||Chroma Resolution|
|4:2:0||3840 x 2160||1920 x 1080|
|4:2:2||3840 x 2160||1920 x 2160|
Then there's the question of bit depth, which indicates how much precision is recorded for each color. 8-bits of information allow values between 0 and 255 to be stored (numbers that are likely to be familiar if you've ever working on a JPEG in Photoshop). If you use 10-bits of space to describe each data point, that gives you much more subtlety: every data point is captured using values between 0 and 1023.
Greater bit depth means that you have more steps with which to describe subtle variations in brightness and color, which is especially valuable when you stretch and manipulate those variations when doing things like color grading. The finer the steps you used to capture a gentle tonal transition, the less likely you are to see big, stepped gaps (posterization) when you try to increase the contrast. By moving to 10-bit capture, the GH5 captures each tone with 64x more precision than most consumer cameras.
A Log gamma profile is available for the GH5 as a $99 paid upgrade.
'What is Log gamma?' we hear the more inquisitive among you ask. Log gamma is a way of compressing more of the camera's dynamic range into a relatively low bit-depth file, to allow more flexibility when post processing the footage. Log gamma isn't the same thing as Raw capture: even in 4:2:2 you're throwing away half of the color data and you're also fixing the channels, relative to one another, into those 10-bit scales. This means you can't push one channel too much, relative to another, after capture, so you should only shoot Log when the scene demands it. However, like Raw, it can give access to the maximum possible dynamic range if you have a workflow for processing it.
The specific Log gamma used on the GH5 is Panasonic's V-LogL, which is designed to match the V-Log gamma used on Panasonic's VariCam professional cameras. (V-LogL is a slightly modified version of V-Log that accounts for the fact that the GH5's sensor captures less dynamic range than a Super 35 sensor.) For convenience, we'll simply refer to it throughout the article as VLog, or more generically as Log.
Panasonic suggests that Log gamma is a paid upgrade to insure that only users who know that they need it, and how to use it, have access to the feature. The alternative, they say, could be that less experienced users will use Log because that's what 'pros' use, but will get flat, hard to grade results and end up blaming the camera.
On a certain level we can see Panasonic's logic here, especially since users who don't understand how to use Log gamma probably won't bother due to the upgrade fee. At the same time, if there's any camera that should include Log gamma out of the box, this is the one. We fear that the pay-to upgrade approach will have the effect of discouraging curious, but less experienced, filmmakers from experimenting with and learning to use this valuable tool.
VLogL View Assist Function
One of the challenges when shooting Log footage is that the image visually appears very flat. As a filmmaker, you know it will be graded in post to look much nicer than what appears on your screen, but sometimes it can be difficult to visualize what that graded result will look like when you're staring at a very flat Log image.
Along with the VLog upgrade, Panasonic provides the ability to load up to four LUTs (lookup tables) into the camera. These LUTs can be used to view a real time approximation of what your footage will look like when a LUT is later applied for color grading, even while continuing to record flat Log footage. This is a feature usually found on pro video equipment or off-camera recorders, such as an Atomos Shogun or BlackmagicDesign Video Assist unit.
VLog + LUT Display
The GH5 includes a built-in VLog-to-Rec.709 LUT when you upgrade to activate Log shooting. Additional LUT's can be uploaded in the .vlt format, which is the same format used by Panasonic's VariCam cameras. LUTs in other formats, such as .cube files, can be converted to .vlt format using a utility like LUTCalc, though the process isn't exactly for the faint of heart. Fortunately, the creator of LUTCalc has posted a video explaining exactly how to do it.
Note that even with a LUT applied, the image is not in its 'finished' form. Applying a LUT is usually the starting point for color grading, and leaves room for additional adjustments.
Even without the VLogL profile, the GH5 has a profile designed to mimic the ITU 709 standard, and control over the highlight response rolloff (Knee point and Knee Slope), to capture and protect highlights for more general shooting.
The summer 2017 firmware update will also add an industry-standard Hybrid Log Gamma profile, which will capture footage designed for playback on high dynamic range TVs.
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