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Video features get even more powerful for Panasonic's new flagship Lumix GH5

Create: 01/13/2017 - 23:10
Panasonic Lumix GH5

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 16 4K video resolutions available with 10-bit color recording
  • 24.3-MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • High-end video features available with more planned via firmware upgrades

Let’s get right to the point.

While the Panasonic Lumix GH4 is one heck of a good camera for still photography, many bought it for shooting video, and that was always noticed by Panasonic.

In the digital camera space, the Lumix GH4 is considered one of the best cameras for professional video.

It has worked out well for Panasonic, which competes with Olympus in the same Micro Four Thirds space, by giving them a top-shelf camera that meets the needs for those looking for advanced video capabilities. Olympus, meanwhile, has directed its efforts toward the OM-D and Pen lines, each of which has a loyal following.

Panasonic now ups the ante with its new flagship camera, the Lumix GH5, offering many features that will continue to appeal to advanced videographers while still providing plenty for those whose emphasis is on still photography.

The GH5 is constructed of a magnesium alloy body, which is both lightweight and strong. A 20.3-MP Live MOS Micro Four Thirds sensor is at the heart of the camera. The ISO range of 200-25,600 can be extended lower to ISO 100.

Images are handled by Panasonic’s Venus Engine 10 processor.

Because it is Micro Four Thirds, the sensor crop is 2X, meaning that the full-frame equivalent focal length of lens is twice what is indicated on the lens.

There are both manual and electronic shutters with available shutter speeds of 60 seconds to 1/8,000 and 1/24 to 1/16,000, plus B, respectively.

To keep still images and videos sharp, the GH5 has 225-point contrast-detection autofocus that works in conjunction with five-way sensor-shift image stabilization, which works with older unstabilized lenses and really shines with newer lenses that are image-stabilized.

The GH5 is constructed on a magnesium alloy die-cast frame, and the body is weather sealed. It can operate down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. The shutter is rated for 200,000 actuations.

Still photos and video are saved to SD memory cards. There are dual memory card slots for simultaneous redundant capture, sequential or hot swapping one of the cards while it is recording on the other.

The GH5 has both an electronic viewfinder and a 3.2-inch touch-enabled fully articulating LCD monitor. The LCD monitor can be stowed with the screen facing inward.

The GH5 can shoot at full 20.3-MP resolution for up to 12 frames per second and up to 30 frames per second at 18-MP and a blistering 60 frames per second at 8-MP. Notice how that word is overused when describing extremely high frame rates.

Post focus allows the photographer to shift the point of focus well after the image has been captured, while focus stacking brings the possibility of altering the depth of field or selecting multiple focus points in a photo, which isn’t possible with cameras lacking that feature.

The camera does not include a built-in flash. External units can synchronize with the GH5 at 1/250.

ADVANCED VIDEO - NOW AND IN THE FUTURE

There are 16 resolution choices for 4K video and another six for Full HD 1920 x 1080.

The GH5 has internal 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video recording, which should allow it to render subtle colors without banding that is visible with 8-bit capture. Panasonic says 10-bit provides the professional videographers with the possiblity of capturing more than a billion colors and is “four times the tonality of 8-bit.”

When needed, the camera can record 4:2:2 10-bit to the SD card while simultaneously feeding the live signal thru a full-size HDMI port connected to an external monitor or external video recorder.

The GH5 has both headphone and microphone jacks, as well as a 2.5mm two-ring sub-mini plug. WiFi is built into the camera.

But that’s not all. Panasonic also lists these advanced video features, as well as an anamorphic video mode that will be added via a future firmware upgrade.

Wave Form Monitor & Vectorscope: To check brightness, luminance or chroma colour balance.

709 Like Gamma (ITU-R BT.709) & Knee Control: Broadcast flexibility for post-production.

Time Code: A time stamp in motion pictures used for editing and camera sync

Luminance Level 64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10-bit): For choice of video luma levels.

V-LogL & LUT Display Function: A neutral or flat logarithmic (“log”) gamma curve that captures wide dynamic range pictures ideal for colour grading. Plus, a new LUT Display function to assist your exposure and to help show directorial intent (e.g. use VLog to Rec709 Lut for a HDTV look). Upgrade software key DMW-SFU1 is needed.

Hybrid Log Gamma* for 4K HDR Video: For greater human perception of luminance & High Dynamic Range. Feature to be available via firmware update in Summer 2017.

High-resolution Anamorphic Video Mode: For recording 'squeezed' cinematic filmmaking lenses. Feature to be available via firmware update in Summer 2017.

A slightly larger than normal 1,860 mAh lithium-ion battery is included, although those planning to shoot video should give serious thought to purchasing the optional battery grip.

Being a Micro Four Thirds camera, the body is still relatively compact at 5.5 x 3.9 x 3.4 inches (138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm). It weighs 1.60 pounds (725 grams) with the battery and memory card in place.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 body is expected to begin shipping in March 2017 for US$1,999.99.

ACCESSORIES

There are two important accessories available for the GH5.

GH5 Battery Grip, US$349.99
In addition to a compartment for a second battery, the grip also provides a shutter release when taking portraits as well as having two command dials and several buttons. A second battery is not included with the price of purchase.

GH5 XLR Professional Microphone Adapter, US$399.99
Professional videographers rely heavily on XLR connections for microphones. The Microphone Adapter slots into the hot shoe and makes the necessary electronic connections to feed audio from two microphones into the audio channels of the recorded video. The unit draws its power from the camera, which makes the battery grip an accessory worth considering for field work.

The adapter can provide phantom power to XLR microphones and offers audio adjustments to help you record an optimal audio signal. There also are XLR port covers and cable clamps to keep things orderly.

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.