PANA­SONIC LU­MIX GH5

Hold on to your hats! Pana­sonic has pumped and pimped just about ev­ery­thing that’s im­por­tant on its lat­est Lu­mix G mir­ror­less flag­ship, creat­ing a se­ri­ously ca­pa­ble work­horse for both pho­tog­ra­phers and videog­ra­phers.

Camera - - CONTENTS -

Pana­sonic’s new Lu­mix G flag­ship is packed to the rafters with new fea­tures, in­clud­ing ‘6K Photo’ which records at 30 fps to yield 18.7 megapix­els stills. Ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phy will never be the same again.

What makes a cult cam­era? It’s highly likely de­sign­ers and prod­uct plan­ners don’t re­ally know – oth­er­wise they would make one ev­ery time, wouldn’t they? But some­times the stars align and ev­ery­thing just comes to­gether so sweetly. Canon did it with the orig­i­nal EOS 5D which re­ally came into its own with the Mark II, the added video record­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties es­tab­lish­ing it as the go-to D-SLR for movie mak­ers. It’s a rep­u­ta­tion that’s been sus­tained de­spite the ap­pear­ance of many com­peti­tors. Canon ad­mits that the 5D II’s suc­cess in the video mar­ket took it largely by sur­prise.

Pana­sonic hit the jack­pot with the Lu­mix GH3, con­sol­i­dated it might­ily

with the GH4 and is now rais­ing the bar again with the GH5. If you’re us­ing a hy­brid-type cam­era for video-mak­ing, it’s likely go­ing to be ei­ther a Canon EOS 5D III or IV or a Lu­mix GH4. Pana­sonic’s achieve­ments here maybe aren’t quite so sur­pris­ing as Canon’s, given its ex­per­tise in pro­fes­sional video cam­eras, but then the mir­ror­less GH3 was also some­thing to­tally dif­fer­ent at the time and its sur­prise fac­tor – how could some­thing this small be this good? – quickly es­tab­lished the leg­end that was ably car­ried on by the GH4.

With the GH5, Pana­sonic has pushed ev­ery­thing fur­ther so it’s es­sen­tially a mir­ror­less still cam­era with the video ca­pa­bil­i­ties of a pro­fes­sional-level camcorder. It’s marginally big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor, but it does so much more with sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance boosts to just about ev­ery key spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

It’s built around a new ver­sion of Pana­sonic’s ‘Live MOS’ sen­sor (a va­ri­ety of CMOS) with a to­tal pixel count of 21.77 mil­lion and with­out an op­ti­cal low-pass fil­ter so this res­o­lu­tion can be op­ti­mised. How­ever, it’s re­ally the next-gen­er­a­tion ‘Venus En­gine 10’ im­age pro­ces­sor that is the star of the show as it’s not only im­mensely pow­er­ful and faster, but em­ploys a swag of new al­go­rithms to en­hance im­age qual­ity in a num­ber of ar­eas.

Work­ing away be­hind the scenes are ‘Multi-pixel Lu­mi­nance Gen­er­a­tion’ and ‘In­tel­li­gent De­tail Pro­cess­ing’ which deal with bright­ness and con­trast, plus ‘Three-Di­men­sional Colour Con­trol’ – the third di­men­sion be­ing bright­ness, in ad­di­tion to sat­u­ra­tion and hue – and ‘High-Pre­ci­sion Multi Process NR’ which is a more in­tel­li­gent method of noise re­duc­tion de­signed to bet­ter pre­serve def­i­ni­tion and de­tail­ing at the higher ISO set­tings. The new pro­ces­sor de­liv­ers a num­ber of world firsts for a mir­ror­less cam­era – firstly, 4K in­ter­nal video record­ing (i.e. to the mem­ory card) in 10-bit 4:2:2 colour which means a leap to around one bil­lion colours (ver­sus 16.7 mil­lion at 8-bits per RGB channel), en­hanc­ing not only the over­all re­pro­duc­tion, but also the smooth­ness of gra­da­tion. Se­condly, the GH5 cap­tures 4K video footage at 50 fps (PAL stan­dard) which im­proves the ren­der­ing of sub­ject move­ment and al­lows for bet­ter-look­ing slow-mo­tion ef­fects. Drop the res­o­lu­tion to Full HD and the frame rate can be as fast as 180 fps for su­per slow-mo. The rest of the GH5’s im­pres­sive suite of video func­tion­al­ity is cov­ered in the sep­a­rate ‘Mak­ing Movies’ panel.

SIX AP­PEAL

There are spin-offs for pho­tog­ra­phers from the GH5’s abil­ity to process more im­age data more quickly, in that the ‘4K Photo’ modes can now also cap­ture at 60 fps – called ‘4K H’ – and there’s the op­tion of ‘6K Photo’ – cap­tur­ing at 30 fps – which de­liv­ers 18.7 megapix­els still frames.

If you’re new to th­ese Pana­sonic fea­tures, the orig­i­nal ‘4K Photo’ modes were launched a while back and es­sen­tially cap­tured 4K video clips – orig­i­nally only at 30 fps – from which could be ex­tracted an 8.3 megapix­els still frame. The idea here is to im­prove your ‘strike rate’ when shoot­ing high-speed ac­tion and it’s proven to be quite suc­cess­ful given there’s still a lot you can do with an 8.3 megapix­els frame. At 60 fps, you’re es­sen­tially dou­bling your chances of cap­tur­ing the ‘de­ci­sive mo­ment’. At 18.7 megapix­els, you’re ex­pand­ing the possibilities of what can be done with th­ese images… in­clud­ing the abil­ity to make pretty big prints.

On the GH5 you can switch be­tween the 4K or 6K res­o­lu­tions – and the 30 fps or 60 fps speeds for the for­mer – as de­sired and, as be­fore, there’s a choice of modes: Pre-Burst, Burst and Burst Start/ Stop (S/S). In the Pre-Burst mode, a se­quence of 60 6K frames or ei­ther 60 or 120 4K frames is cap­tured in two sec­onds, but specif­i­cally half are recorded be­fore the shut­ter is fully re­leased and half af­ter, which es­sen­tially elim­i­nates your re­ac­tion time so you won’t miss the shot. The Burst mode is more con­ven­tional and shoots at ei­ther 30 fps (6K or 4K) or 60 fps (4K) for as long as the shut­ter but­ton is held down… now with no du­ra­tion limit. Al­ter­na­tively, the Burst Start/Stop mode does the same thing, but one press of the shut­ter but­ton starts the se­quence and a sec­ond press ends it. There’s also the op­tion of set­ting a loop func­tion which di­vides the Burst S/S record­ing into two minute seg­ments and then starts delet­ing any­thing older than be­tween 10–12 min­utes which is handy if you’re wait­ing for the

THE STEP UP TO THE 6K VIDEO RES­O­LU­TION TURNS THE FRAME GRAB FUNC­TIONS INTO VERY POW­ER­FUL TOOLS, ES­PE­CIALLY FOR ANY SORT OF AC­TION PHO­TOG­RA­PHY.

ac­tion to hap­pen and don’t want to trawl through a load of use­less frames.

Con­tin­u­ous aut­o­fo­cus is au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vated and the ‘4K/6K Photo’ modes are avail­able with each of the stan­dard ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure con­trol modes, as are the cam­era’s choice of four as­pect ra­tios which all main­tain the 8.3 MP or 18.7 MP im­age sizes re­gard­less.

The GH5 also in­cor­po­rates the lat­est ‘4K Photo’ de­vel­op­ments (ob­vi­ously also now ap­pli­ca­ble to the 6K bursts) which in­clude bulk sav­ing in five-sec­ond batches, ‘Post Fo­cus’ and ‘Fo­cus Stack­ing’. Post Fo­cus records a high-speed burst of 4K or 6K video frames, but this time chang­ing the fo­cus point in each – which rep­re­sents a burst of 49 frames – so you can sub­se­quently se­lect the one with the de­sired plane of fo­cus. You sim­ply touch – on the mon­i­tor screen – the de­sired fo­cus­ing point from the 7x7 grid over­lay, and the cam­era se­lects that par­tic­u­lar frame. Al­ter­na­tively, you can have mul­ti­ple ver­sions of an im­age with dif­fer­ent fo­cus points, or th­ese can be com­bined via the ‘Fo­cus Stack­ing’ op­tion – sim­ply tap on all the de­sired fo­cus­ing points – to cre­ate an im­age that could be ab­so­lutely sharp from fore­ground to back­ground (re­gard­less of the lens aper­ture used). Au­to­matic cor­rec­tion is ap­plied for any mis­align­ment of the frames. There’s also multi-frame noise re­duc­tion even with mov­ing sub­jects and, new on the GH5, au­to­matic cor­rec­tion for the dis­tor­tion caused by the ‘rolling shut­ter ef­fect’ when pan­ning. What’s more, this is achieved with­out chang­ing the an­gle-of-view.

The ‘Light Com­po­si­tion’ func­tion in­tro­duced with the GX85 is avail­able too. This again records in ei­ther 4K or 6K, but only reg­is­ters the brighter new pix­els in each frame… such as would be cre­ated by fire­works or star trails. Th­ese frames are sub­se­quently com­bined into a sin­gle im­age.

The step up to the 6K video res­o­lu­tion turns th­ese frame grab func­tions into very pow­er­ful tools, es­pe­cially for any sort of ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phy and, of course, Pana­sonic is promis­ing 8K video down the track… de­liv­er­ing 33 megapix­els stills!

THANKS FOR THE MEM­ORY

For full res­o­lu­tion con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing – which at 20.3 megapix­els (ef­fec­tive) isn’t ac­tu­ally a whole lot more than the 6K video res – the GH5 shoots at up to 12 fps with the AF/AE locked to the first frame, and at up to 9.0 fps with frame-by-frame ad­just­ment and up­dated live view. The burst lengths are ex­tended to 60 frames with RAW cap­ture and “over 600” with max­i­mum qual­ity JPEGs.

Im­por­tantly, the GH5 now has dual mem­ory cards – some­thing that’s now re­ally es­sen­tial when shoot­ing 4K video – and both are com­pat­i­ble with the high­er­speed UHS-II UHS Speed Class 3 de­vices. The file man­age­ment op­tions com­prise Re­lay (i.e. au­to­matic switchover when one card is full), Back-Up (si­mul­ta­ne­ous record­ing to both cards) and Al­lo­ca­tion (spe­cific file types to one or the other card, such as split­ting JPEGs and RAWs). Ad­di­tion­ally, the Re­lay fa­cil­ity ex­tends to re­plac­ing the full card – while the cam­era is still record­ing to the sec­ond one – so the new card is avail­able when the lat­ter also be­comes full. Con­se­quently, the GH5 im­poses no time lim­its on a video record­ing’s du­ra­tion (as the tax-re­lated 29 min­utes and 59 sec­onds re­stric­tion isn’t ap­plied here ei­ther).

JPEGs can be recorded in one of three sizes – the largest be­ing 5184x3888 pix­els – with two com­pres­sion lev­els and the op­tion of 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 as­pect ra­tios (al­though the lat­ter three are all crops of vary­ing amounts).

In­ci­den­tally, the ‘6K Photo’ frames are recorded at 4992x3744 pix­els (at the 4:3 as­pect ra­tio) while the ‘4K Photo’ frames are 3328x2496 pix­els in size (at 4:3). All four as­pect ra­tio set­tings are avail­able in ‘4K Photo’, but only 4:3 and 3:2 for ‘6K Photo’.

The GH5’s mag­ne­sium al­loy bodyshell is fully sealed against dust and mois­ture with the ad­di­tion of in­su­la­tion to al­low for shoot­ing in sub­zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius. The LCD mon­i­tor screen is big­ger (at 8.1 cm) than be­fore with a higher res­o­lu­tion of 1.62 megadots and an RGBW dis­play for a brighter im­age which as­sists with vis­i­bil­ity when shoot­ing in sunny con­di­tions. The panel is ad­justable for both swing and tilt, and has touch­screen con­trols. The GH5’s OLED-type EVF also gets an up­grade with in­creases in res­o­lu­tion to 3.68 megadots – which ac­tu­ally makes a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence – and in mag­ni­fi­ca­tion to 0.76x (35mm equiv­a­lent) which makes for much more com­fort­able view­ing.

As has been the case with the last few new Lu­mix G bod­ies, the GH5 is equipped with sen­sor-shift im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion which pro­vides cor­rec­tions across five axes to give up to five stops of com­pen­sa­tion for cam­era shake. As on the G85, it uses a gyro sen­sor lo­cated in the cam­era body (rather than on the sen­sor) to de­tect an­gu­lar ve­loc­i­ties, and the hy­brid ‘Dual IS II’ sys­tem op­er­ates when us­ing the lat­est Lu­mix G lenses equipped with op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion (al­though some mod­els re­quire firmware up­grades).

Also a new fea­ture since the GH4 was in­tro­duced is the pro­vi­sion of a sen­sor-based shut­ter on the Lu­mix G bod­ies which sup­ple­ments the con­ven­tional fo­cal plane type. It’s con­fus­ingly re­ferred to as the ‘elec­tronic shut­ter’ al­though, of course, the FP shut­ter is still elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled, but is now re­ferred to as be­ing ‘me­chan­i­cal’ which es­sen­tially means it has phys­i­cal blades. The main ad­van­tage of the sen­sor shut­ter is that it op­er­ates com­pletely silently and doesn’t cre­ate any vi­bra­tions, but it also al­lows for a faster top speed of 1/16,000 sec­ond (com­pared to 1/8000 sec­ond for the con­ven­tional fo­cal plane shut­ter). The down­side is an ef­fect called ‘rolling shut­ter’ which dis­torts mov­ing sub­jects. On the GH5 you have the op­tions of us­ing ei­ther shut­ter type or a hy­brid ‘elec­tronic first cur­tain’ shut­ter which com­mences the ex­po­sure with the sen­sor shut­ter and fin­ishes it with the phys­i­cal one’s sec­ond cur­tain (which, of course, is ac­tu­ally a set of metal blades). This hy­brid op­er­a­tion is pri­mar­ily to al­low for the use of flash while still re­duc­ing shut­ter noise and vi­bra­tions.

Pana­sonic rates the GH5’s FP shut­ter at 200,000 cy­cles and while it’s a con­ven­tional spring-loaded mech­a­nism (un­like the G85’s elec­tro­mag­net­i­cally-ac­tu­ated type), Pana­sonic has em­ployed a “float­ing shut­ter” de­sign to help min­imise vi­bra­tions or shock. There’s also a shut­ter re­lease de­lay timer – which can be set to one, two, four or eight sec­onds – so any vi­bra­tions have time to die away be­fore the ex­po­sure com­mences.

While cam­era-in­duced vi­bra­tions are less prob­lem­atic with the mir­ror­less de­signs than re­flexes, re­mem­ber that the M43 for­mat has a fo­cal length mag­ni­fi­ca­tion fac­tor of close to two so, par­tic­u­larly as more longer lenses ar­rive, even the tini­est of in­ter­nal move­ments could be mag­ni­fied into images of­ten­ing blur.

WORK­ING THE LIGHT

Ex­po­sure con­trol with the Lu­mix GH5 con­tin­ues to be based on 1728-points multi-zone me­ter­ing with the op­tions of ei­ther cen­tre-weighted av­er­age or spot mea­sure­ments. The sen­si­tiv­ity range is equiv­a­lent to ISO 200 to 25,600 with a one-stop ‘pull’ to ISO 100.

There’s the stan­dard set of ‘PASM’ modes, but no sub­ject pro­grams ex­cept for when ‘iA’ fully-auto con­trol is se­lected and then the cam­era per­forms scene recog­ni­tion. The over­rides for the auto ex­po­sure modes are an AE lock, up to +/-5.0 EV com­pen­sa­tion and auto brack­et­ing which can be per­formed over se­quences of three, five or seven frames with up to +/-3.0 EV ad­just­ment per frame. There are also auto brack­et­ing modes for white bal­ance, fo­cus and aper­tures (i.e. depth-of-field). Fo­cus brack­et­ing can be pro­grammed for se­quences of up to 999 frames with the fo­cus shifted in each us­ing one of five pre­s­e­lected step sizes. Ad­di­tion­ally, you can vary the se­quenc­ing or­der. The aper­ture brack­et­ing func­tion can be set to a se­quence length of three or five frames, but there’s also an ‘All’ set­ting which cap­tures a shot at ev­ery one of the at­tached lens’s aper­tures.

The GH5’s auto white bal­ance cor­rec­tion is sup­ple­mented by a set of five pre­sets and there’s pro­vi­sion for creat­ing up to four cus­tom mea­sure­ments plus there’s fine-tun­ing (over am­ber-to-blue and/or green-to-ma­genta) and the afore­men­tioned brack­et­ing. Man­ual colour tem­per­a­ture set­ting is pro­vided over a range span­ning 2500 to 10,000 de­grees Kelvin and, again, up to four set­tings can be stored for im­me­di­ate re­call. The stan­dard auto cor­rec­tion can be switched to a ‘keep warmer tones’ op­tion to pre­serve the am­bi­ence when shoot­ing un­der cer­tain light­ing types in­doors. This is ac­tu­ally the ‘AWB’ set­ting in the cam­era whereas the full cor­rec­tion is tagged as ‘AWBc’ which could lead to a bit of con­fu­sion for new users.

STAY­ING ON TRACK

Pana­sonic’s ‘Depth From De­fo­cus’ (DFD) has al­ready proven it­self in Lu­mix G mod­els such as the G85 and GX8, over­com­ing the speed lim­i­ta­tions of con­ven­tional con­trast-de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus­ing. It’s sig­nif­i­cantly up­graded in the GH5, which is im­por­tant as aut­o­fo­cus­ing is now the key bat­tle­ground in the war be­tween mir­ror­less and re­flex …plus ri­vals Olym­pus and Fu­ji­film have both de­liv­ered much-im­proved AF per­for­mances with their cur­rent flag­ship mod­els.

DFD works by analysing mul­ti­ple frames cap­tured at very high speed – up­rated to 480 fps here – in or­der to de­ter­mine the lens’s out-of-fo­cus char­ac­ter­is­tics and then cal­cu­late the sub­ject dis­tance. From here the lens is driven di­rectly and con­tin­u­ously to that dis­tance – sim­i­lar to the way phase-dif­fer­ence de­tec­tion AF op­er­ates – with only mi­nor fine­tun­ing sub­se­quently re­quired to achieve sharp fo­cus.

The GH5’s sys­tem in­creases the num­ber of fo­cus­ing points from 49 to 225 ar­ranged in a 15x15 pat­tern which cov­ers a very large part of the frame. Given th­ese points can be se­lected in­di­vid­u­ally, Pana­sonic has fol­lowed the likes of Fu­ji­film and in­stalled a joy­stick-type con­troller for speed­ier move­ment around the grid. Sin­gle point se­lec­tion can be made even more se­lec­tive in the ‘Pin­point’ area mode, but there’s a host of op­tions for creat­ing clus­ters of points in var­i­ous sizes and shapes us­ing the ‘Cus­tom Multi’ func­tion. Here the points can be ar­ranged cen­trally, hor­i­zon­tally or ver­ti­cally and po­si­tioned wher­ever you want in the frame, but you can also cre­ate any shape you want which can be stored as one of three cus­tom pat­terns. The quick­est way to do this is via the touch­screen, but the joy­stick works ef­fi­ciently here too. What’s more, you can cre­ate sep­a­rate pat­terns for when the cam­era is ei­ther hor­i­zon­tally or ver­ti­cally ori­en­tated.

More gen­er­ally, the AF area can be set to a va­ri­ety of sizes and moved around the frame by var­i­ous means, in­clud­ing the touch­screen and joy­stick.

Pre­cise po­si­tion­ing can be as­sisted by a mag­ni­fied im­age, ei­ther full-screen or as a pic­ture-in-pic­ture (PIP) in­set panel. Full screen mag­ni­fi­ca­tion is up to 10x, PIP up to 6x. ‘Touch AF’ sets the fo­cus by sim­ply tap­ping on the screen and there’s the op­tion of also set­ting the ex­po­sure for this point too.

Face recog­ni­tion can be fine­tuned to the left or right eye and the track­ing can be ad­justed to bet­ter match the sub­ject’s move­ment char­ac­ter­is­tics via four sce­nario-based sub-menus. Th­ese each have three ad­justable pa­ram­e­ters for AF Sen­si­tiv­ity, AF Area Switch­ing Sen­si­tiv­ity and Mov­ing Ob­ject Pre­dic­tion. The four de­fault set-ups are for ob­jects mov­ing quickly in one di­rec­tion, slow ran­dom move­ment, rapid and ran­dom move­ment, and ‘ba­sic’, which is ob­vi­ously non-spe­cific.

Sin­gle-shot or con­tin­u­ous AF op­er­a­tion is se­lected man­u­ally via an ex­ter­nal switch with the op­tion of au­to­matic switch­ing be­tween the two if the ‘Auto Fo­cus Flex­i­ble’ (AFF) set­ting is pre­s­e­lected in the main shoot­ing menu. Ad­di­tion­ally, the pri­or­ity in ei­ther mode can be set to ei­ther Fo­cus or Re­lease.

Man­ual fo­cus­ing is se­lected via the same con­trol and as­sisted by a mag­ni­fied im­age: a sim­ple dis­tance scale or a fo­cus peak­ing dis­play which is avail­able in a choice of five colours, each with two in­ten­sity lev­els. Again the mag­ni­fied im­age is shown ei­ther full-screen or as a pic­ture-in-pic­ture in­set panel. AF+MF op­er­a­tion is also avail­able, pro­vid­ing a full-time man­ual over­ride with what­ever as­sis­tance method has been pre­s­e­lected.

DUE PROCESS

The GH5’s in-cam­era pro­cess­ing op­tions for JPEGs start with a se­lec­tion of seven ‘Photo Style’ pic­ture pre­sets, in­clud­ing the new L Mono­chrome en­hanced B&W set­ting in­tro­duced on the GX85.

The colour pre­sets have ad­justable pa­ram­e­ters for con­trast, sharp­ness, colour sat­u­ra­tion, hue and noise re­duc­tion. The mono­chrome pre­set re­places the colour-re­lated pa­ram­e­ters with a ton­ing ad­just­ment (ad­justable from sepia to blue) and a set of B&W con­trast-con­trol fil­ters (i.e. yel­low, or­ange, red and green). Up to four mod­i­fied pre­sets can be stored as cus­tom ‘Photo Styles’.

A to­tal of 22 ‘Cre­ative Con­trol’ spe­cial ef­fects are avail­able as ei­ther stand-alone shoot­ing modes or, more use­fully, ap­plied to the ‘PASM’ ex­po­sure con­trol modes. Quite a num­ber of th­ese ef­fects are ad­justable and they can also be com­bined, so there are al­most end­less possibilities. Ad­di­tion­ally, you can si­mul­ta­ne­ously cap­ture one im­age with the ef­fect ap­plied and an­other with­out.

Be­ing the Lu­mix G flag­ship, the GH5 boasts a long list of ad­di­tional fea­tures, in­clud­ing a mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity, an in­ter­val­ome­ter and multi-shot HDR cap­ture.

The mul­ti­ple ex­po­sure fa­cil­ity al­lows for up to four images to be recorded in a frame with the op­tion of auto ex­po­sure ad­just­ment. An over­lay func­tion al­lows ad­di­tional ex­po­sures to be added to an ex­ist­ing im­age. The in­ter­val­ome­ter can be pro­grammed for time­lapse se­quences of up to 9999 frames which, in the ‘Stop Mo­tion An­i­ma­tion’ mode, are pro­cessed as a movie clip.

The HDR cap­ture func­tion al­lows for the man­ual set­ting of the ex­po­sure ad­just­ment be­tween frames – from +/-1.0 to +/-3.0 EV – as well as au­to­matic cor­rec­tion based on the scene’s con­trast range. Again, there’s an auto-align func­tion to cor­rect for any mis­align­ment from frame to frame caused by move­ment of the cam­era.

THE AUT­O­FO­CUS­ING PER­FOR­MANCE IS IM­PRES­SIVELY FAST WITH A NO­TICE­ABLE IM­PROVE­MENT IN THE TRACK­ING’S RE­LI­A­BIL­ITY, AL­THOUGH YOU DO NEED TO EX­PER­I­MENT WITH THE NEW SCE­NARIO SET­TINGS.

Dy­namic range ex­pan­sion is avail­able with ei­ther three man­ual set­tings (called Low, Stan­dard and High) or auto cor­rec­tion based on the scene’s con­trast range. There’s also long ex­po­sure noise re­duc­tion, in-cam­era lens cor­rec­tions (switch­able for vi­gnetting and dif­frac­tion, au­to­matic for chro­matic aber­ra­tions), res­o­lu­tion en­hance­ment and the ‘High­light/ Shadow’ ad­just­ment con­trol which is now a fea­ture on quite a few Lu­mix G mod­els. It works in a sim­i­lar way to Pho­to­shop’s Curves, with ad­just­ments ap­plied to a tone curve that’s dis­played in the mon­i­tor screen. The front in­put wheel ad­justs the high­lights while the rear one ad­justs the shad­ows. There’s a se­lec­tion of four pre­set curves (Stan­dard, Higher Con­trast, Lower Con­trast and Brighten Shad­ows), and up to three cus­tom set­tings can be cre­ated and stored.

In the ‘In­tel­li­gent Auto’ (iA) mode – which is based on scene anal­y­sis – ev­ery­thing is done au­to­mat­i­cally, in­clud­ing back­light com­pen­sa­tion, sen­si­tiv­ity ad­just­ment, fo­cus track­ing, face de­tec­tion and recog­ni­tion, long ex­po­sure noise re­duc­tion, red­eye re­moval and au­to­matic scene mode se­lec­tion. Ad­di­tion­ally, if deemed nec­es­sary, ‘iHDR’ and ‘iHand­held Night Shot’ multi-shot cap­ture will au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vate. There’s also the op­tion of se­lect­ing an ‘iAuto+’ mode which is a bit like a set of train­ing wheels. All op­er­a­tions are still fully au­to­matic, but ba­sic man­ual ad­just­ments are pro­vided for im­age bright­ness, depth-of-field and colour bal­ance. Th­ese are ap­plied via touch con­trol us­ing on-screen slid­ers which are ac­cessed via a tabbed menu lo­cated along the right edge of the screen. Just how many GH5 users will be at this level is ques­tion­able, but Pana­sonic’s ‘iA’ mode ac­tu­ally works very re­li­ably and there’s cer­tainly a good case for re­ly­ing on it in some sit­u­a­tions.

IN THE HAND

Sim­i­lar to Olym­pus’s ri­val E-M1 Mark II, the GH5 has put on some bulk and weight com­pared to its pre­de­ces­sor al­though, like its M43 com­pa­triot, it’s still pretty com­pact com­pared to a sim­i­larly-specced D-SLR. Nev­er­the­less, it’s no longer a small cam­era and feels more like a mid-sized D-SLR es­pe­cially with Le­ica’s fairly weighty 12-60mm zoom fit­ted. Of course, you’re still way ahead when you start ad­ding lenses to your GH5 kit – the bril­liant 100-400mm tele­zoom, for ex­am­ple – and no doubt some users will pre­fer the ex­tra ‘heft’, but this cam­era is nowhere near as dainty as, say, the G7 or the OM-D E-M5 II.

It’s an all-new bodyshell with mag­ne­sium al­loy cov­ers and full weather pro­tec­tion – in­clud­ing now for shoot­ing in sub-zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius – and it feels a lot more rugged than pre­vi­ously. There’s a big­ger grip to help han­dle the load, and a re­shaped EVF hous­ing, as one of the rare dele­tions among all the new ad­di­tions is a built-in flash. Nei­ther the Canon nor Nikon D-SLR flag­ships have built-in flashes and none of Sony’s A7 or A9 mir­ror­less mod­els have one ei­ther so Pana­sonic cer­tainly isn’t alone here, but there are those who ar­gue that a built-in flash can be use­ful… cer­tainly for fill-in pur­poses or as the op­ti­cal com­man­der in a wireless TTL flash set-up. What­ever, it’s hardly go­ing to be deal breaker.

De­spite the new bodyshell, the con­trol lay­out is much the same as that of the GH4 with the ob­vi­ous in­ten­tion of mak­ing the tran­si­tion from this model (or even from the ear­lier GH3) as smooth as pos­si­ble. The main and drive mode di­als re­main as be­fore – the for­mer lock­able – but the front and rear in­puts wheels are a bit chunkier - as is the nav­i­ga­tor dial - so have an im­proved feel. The video start/ stop but­ton is now on the top deck where it should have been all the time and its place has been taken by the new joy­stick-type con­troller. As noted ear­lier, its pri­mary role is to fa­cil­i­tate the faster se­lec­tion of fo­cus­ing points, but its four-way move­ments plus its press-in ac­tion also serve as the ‘Fn12’ to ‘Fn16’ cus­tomis­able op­tions. The GH5 now has a to­tal of 20 cus­tomis­able con­trols shared be­tween var­i­ous but­tons, the nav­i­ga­tor, the joy­stick and, as be­fore, a set of touch­screen tabs which op­er­ate as ‘Fn7’ to ‘Fn10’. All the cus­tomis­able con­trols can be as­signed dif­fer­ent func­tions, de­pend­ing on the cam­era’s op­er­at­ing mode and, for nor­mal shoot­ing alone, the list runs to 41 items. Nev­er­the­less, cus­tomis­ing the GH5’s op­er­abil­ity is still very much eas­ier and less time-con­sum­ing than it is on the E-M1 Mark II. Sim­i­larly, there hasn’t been a whole lot wrong with Pana­sonic’s user in­ter­faces so far, but the GH5 gets a makeover for its menu sys­tem which gives a cleaner, crisper look and, more prac­ti­cally, in­creases – up to eight – the num­ber of items dis­played in a page. The ba­sic lay­out still com­prises ver­ti­cally-ar­ranged tabs for the ‘chap­ters’ with num­bered pages, but there’s now also a scroll bar so you can more eas­ily gauge at-a-glance where you are (it’s also pro­vided with the func­tions lists for cus­tomis­able con­trols). Nav­i­ga­tion can be via the new joy­stick con­trol as well as the in­put wheels and rear con­trol di­als plus, of course, the touch­screen.

THE RE­LAY FA­CIL­ITY EX­TENDS TO RE­PLAC­ING THE FULL CARD – WHILE THE CAM­ERA IS STILL RECORD­ING TO THE SEC­OND ONE – SO THE NEW CARD IS AVAIL­ABLE WHEN THE LAT­TER ALSO BE­COMES FULL.

The Cus­tom Menu has been re-ar­ranged into five sec­tions – group­ing re­lated func­tions – for eas­ier nav­i­ga­tion and there’s a new cus­tomis­able My Menu which can be loaded with up to 23 of your most-used func­tions. It’s a sur­pris­ingly handy fea­ture which, of course, Canon and Nikon have been of­fer­ing for quite a while.

The ‘Quick Menu’ has been com­pletely re­designed so it’s much more con­tem­po­rary look­ing with a splash of colour (for ex­am­ple, the index mark on the ex­po­sure com­pen­sa­tion scale) big­ger read­outs and bet­ter use of back­ground tones. Touch­screen con­trols make the ‘Quick Menu’ truly quick and, as be­fore, it’s also cus­tomis­able. There’s also the op­tion of switch­ing to a ‘Video-Pri­or­ity Dis­play’ which is very sexy with big read-outs which in­clude all the video mode info (res­o­lu­tion, for­mat, frame rate, bit rate, etc), time cod­ing, au­dio lev­els and the avail­able space on the mem­ory cards (ex­pressed in record­ing times). Touch con­trols are avail­able here too, for things such as chang­ing the ex­po­sure mode, colour bal­ance or ‘Photo Style’ pre­set. The live view screen can be con­fig­ured with a real-time histogram (which you can po­si­tion wher­ever you like), dual-axis level in­di­ca­tor, high­light warn­ing (or ze­bra pat­terns, take your pick), grid guides and a cen­tre marker. In­ci­den­tally, the viewfinder and mon­i­tor dis­plays can be in­di­vid­u­ally ad­justed for bright­ness, con­trast, sat­u­ra­tion, red tint and blue tint.

As with just about ev­ery­thing else, the GH5 of­fers more choice when it comes the re­view/ re­play screens with no fewer than five op­tions for the de­tails ac­com­pa­ny­ing a thumb­nail – cap­ture data (lots of it!), RGB and bright­ness histograms, the ‘Photo Style’ pa­ram­e­ters plus the High­light/Shadow con­trol set­tings, white bal­ance mode with any fine­tun­ing, and lens info, in­clud­ing the in-cam­era cor­rec­tions. You scroll those pages us­ing the up/down nav keys in the same fash­ion as on a Nikon D-SLR.

The play­back func­tions in­clude thumb­nail pages of ei­ther 12 or 30 images, zoom­ing at up to 16x, a cal­en­dar thumb­nail dis­play and a slide show with a choice of tran­si­tion ef­fects and back­ground mu­sic. The in-cam­era edit­ing func­tions in­clude re­siz­ing, crop­ping, im­age ti­tling, RAW-toJPEG con­ver­sion, and the ‘Clear Re­touch’ fa­cil­ity which has fea­tured on all the re­cent Lu­mix G bod­ies. The­o­ret­i­cally, it’s de­signed to en­able images to be re­touched in cam­era, but in prac­tice is lim­ited due mainly to the size of the mon­i­tor screen (ver­sus your com­puter’s dis­play) which makes any­thing that’s even a bit fid­dly hard to ex­e­cute.

Speed And Per­for­mance

Loaded with our ref­er­ence 128GB Lexar Pro­fes­sional SDXC UHSII/U3 (Speed Class 3) ‘2000x’ mem­ory card, the GH5 cap­tured 161 JPEG/large/fine frames in 13.515 sec­onds, giv­ing a shoot­ing speed of 11.9 fps which is as close to the quoted 12 fps as makes no dif­fer­ence. The test files av­er­aged 8.0 MB in size and writ­ing all this data to the card was com­pleted vir­tu­ally in­stan­ta­neously.

The aut­o­fo­cus­ing per­for­mance is im­pres­sively fast with a no­tice­able im­prove­ment in the track­ing’s re­li­a­bil­ity, al­though you do need to ex­per­i­ment a bit with the new sce­nario set­tings. In the ma­jor­ity of cases, the set­ting for sub­jects with “rapid and ran­dom move­ment” seemed to de­liver the high­est suc­cess rates. There’s a lot to learn here and the test cam­era had to be re­turned be­fore we’d re­ally delved into it all deeply enough, but the po­ten­tial to op­ti­mise the AF track­ing per­for­mance is un­doubt­edly there.

The GH4 proved to be a par­tic­u­lar hit with wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers, per­haps be­cause it worked so well as both a stills cam­era and a video cam­era, but there was room for im­prove­ment in its JPEG per­for­mance. With high-vol­ume JPEG shoot­ers – which in­cludes sports and ac­tion pho­tog­ra­phers – no doubt in mind, the GH5 de­liv­ers dis­tinctly bet­ter-look­ing re­sults. The colour re­pro­duc­tion – par­tic­u­larly the sat­u­ra­tion and ac­cu­racy across the spec­trum – the def­i­ni­tion, dy­namic range and the noise re­duc­tion pro­cess­ing all step up a good few notches. As a re­sult, JPEG images sim­ply look cleaner and brighter over­all. The ad­di­tional res­o­lu­tion – fur­ther en­hanced be­cause it isn’t throt­tled by a low-pass fil­ter – is ev­i­dent in the re­pro­duc­tion of de­tail­ing, tex­tures and a fine pat­terns which is much crisper.

Noise is well su­pressed up to ISO 3200 with the sat­u­ra­tion, def­i­ni­tion and dy­namic range hold­ing up well, but all be­gin to suf­fer to vary­ing de­grees at the high­est sen­si­tiv­ity set­tings. How­ever, thanks to the dy­namic range, the RAW files have plenty of scope for ad­just­ing the ex­po­sure post-cam­era so you can shoot at lower ISOs and then brighten the shad­ows with­out any in­crease in noise in th­ese ar­eas (and plenty of de­tail­ing is re­tained in the brighter high­lights). Pana­sonic con­tin­ues to demon­strate that sen­sor size re­ally isn’t so much of an is­sue now that the im­age-pro­cess­ing al­go­rithms are so so­phis­ti­cated. Full-35mm sen­sors with big­ger pix­els ul­ti­mately de­liver on dy­namic range and high-ISO

the Gh5 is the top pick if you’re plan­ninG to make videos as it’s es­sen­tially on a par in ca­pa­bil­i­ties with one of pana­sonic’s pro-level cam­corders.

per­for­mance, but the gap has been sig­nif­i­cantly closed, and the GH5 eas­ily per­forms on a par with any com­pa­ra­ble ‘APS-C’ cam­era.

THe Ver­DicT

If you are in the mar­ket for a high­end mir­ror­less cam­era, mak­ing a choice is get­ting much harder… the Lu­mix GH5 joins the Olym­pus OM-D E-M1 II, Fu­ji­film X-T2 or X-Pro2 and Sony A7 II or A7R II in this club and all have their par­tic­u­lar at­trac­tions, in­clud­ing the lens of­fer­ings.

How­ever, the GH5 is the top pick if you’re plan­ning to make videos as it’s es­sen­tially on a par in ca­pa­bil­i­ties with one of Pana­sonic’s pro-level cam­corders.

Does this mean that stills pho­tog­ra­phers are buy­ing a lot of stuff they don’t need? Not re­ally, as the hard­ware fun­da­men­tals are still the same re­gard­less of how you use the cam­era – sen­sor, pro­ces­sor, aut­o­fo­cus­ing, im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion, big­ger buffer mem­ory and dual mem­ory card slots. And the video-de­rived ‘6K/4K Photo’ modes have great po­ten­tial… more so than you might think un­til you ac­tu­ally use the fea­tures, es­pe­cially now that Pana­sonic is ad­ding more file man­age­ment ef­fi­cien­cies and func­tions such as ‘Post Fo­cus’. Any­thing that in­creases your suc­cess rate – es­pe­cially when shoot­ing fast ac­tion – is to be ap­plauded.

With the GH5, Pana­sonic once again demon­strates that it un­der­stands the needs and the wants of pho­tog­ra­phers via the care­fully con­sid­ered ap­pli­ca­tion of new tech­nolo­gies… rather than in­clud­ing them just for the sake of it. The Lu­mix DHC-GH5 may be a bril­liant video cam­era, but it’s an equally fine stills cam­era.

The Lu­mix GH5 is marginally big­ger than its pre­de­ces­sor, but still com­par­a­tively com­pact com­pared to a sim­i­larly-fea­tured D-SLR.

Bodyshell is weather-sealed as be­fore, but is now also in­su­lated to per­mit shoot­ing in sub­zero tem­per­a­tures down to -10 de­grees Cel­sius. Larger 8.1 cm LCD mon­i­tor has an RGBW dis­play and an in­creased res­o­lu­tion of 1.62 megadots Rear con­trol lay­out is dom­i­nated by multi-func­tion nav­i­ga­tor. No fewer than 20 con­trols – both hard and ‘soft’ – can be cus­tomised.

New ‘6K Photo’ modes de­liver 30 fps shoot­ing with ex­tractable frames now 18.7 megapix­els in size. ‘4K Photo’ cap­ture is now avail­able at ei­ther 30 fps or 60 fps. The GH5’s OLED-type EVF has an in­creased res­o­lu­tion and a higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tion for more com­fort­able view­ing. Top panel con­trol lay­out has been slightly re­vised with the video start/stop but­ton now much more log­i­cally po­si­tioned.

Im­age re­view screens in­clude a thumb­nail ac­com­pa­nied by (from left) a full set of histograms, ‘Pic­ture Style’ and ‘High­light/Shadow’ set­tings, any white bal­ance fine-tun­ing, and lens de­tails.

The live view screen can be con­fig­ured with a va­ri­ety of el­e­ments in­clud­ing a real-time histogram, dual-axis level dis­play and grid guides.

The menu sys­tem’s de­sign has been given a re­fresh and now in­cludes more el­e­ments per page.

Full-size Type A HDMI con­nec­tor is just one of the many small man­i­fes­ta­tions of the GH5’s pro video cam­era cre­den­tials.

Dual mem­ory card slots don’t just of­fer the stan­dard over­flow func­tion, but al­low for a full card to be ‘hot swapped’ for a new empty one dur­ing record­ing

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