Re­view: Pana­sonic’s Lu­mix GH5 is ul­ti­mate model for vlog­gers

Irish Independent - Business Week - - BUSINESSWEEK - ADRIAN WECK­LER

Pana­sonic Lu­mix GH5 (€1,929) Pros: Un­ri­valled video ca­pa­bil­i­ties, su­perb aut­o­fo­cus, good im­age qual­ity Cons: A lit­tle chunkier and heav­ier than it needs to be IN the shrink­ing cam­era world, com­pa­nies are start­ing to spe­cialise in niches with their flag­ship mod­els. For Canon, it’s the all-round pro­fes­sional stills cam­era. For Fuji, it’s the trendy, metal retro look. And for Pana­sonic, it’s video.

The com­pany’s most re­cent high-end cam­era, the GH5, now stands alone as the ab­so­lute best model you can get if tak­ing video is a sig­nif­i­cant part of what you use your cam­era for. From am­a­teur vlog­gers to pro­fes­sional pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies, it is to this small cam­era that many now turn.

I had it for six weeks and used it mainly as a stills cam­era, with only a bit of video thrown in. In do­ing so, I am prob­a­bly a lit­tle off the GH5’s prin­ci­pal in­tended mar­ket. Nev­er­the­less, the out­put of the cam­era was good to ex­cel­lent most of the time. (This was helped by the su­perb Le­ica 12-60mm f2.8 lens, which comes with the cam­era at a heavy dis­count.)

The GH5 is a 20-megapixel mir­ror­less cam­era us­ing the Mi­cro Four Thirds sen­sor sys­tem. This is a lit­tle smaller than an APS- C sen­sor (such as that on a Fuji ‘X’ cam­era or a mid-range Canon) and only about half the size of a ‘full frame’ sen­sor (such as on the Sony A7, Canon 6Dii or Nikon D610). But it is still big enough to de­liver fairly out­stand­ing im­age qual­ity, es­pe­cially with some of the lenses that Pana­sonic now has in its arse­nal.

I rel­ished some of its top-end fea­tures, such as a dual card slot (es­sen­tial to pro­fes­sion­als) and a fo­cus­ing joy­stick.

I also en­joyed play­ing with some of the ef­fects of its souped-up en­gine spec­i­fi­ca­tions, such as its ‘6K photo mode’. This ef­fec­tively lets you shoot video at 30 frames per se­cond and, later, ex­tract any one of those frames as an 18-megapixel still im­age. There are ob­vi­ously some lim­i­ta­tions to this, but if you have the ba­sic light­ing right to start off, it’s a pretty amaz­ing fea­ture to have when you’re try­ing to cap­ture a per­fect mo­ment.

I’ ll also say that the GH5 was ab­so­lutely su­perb in ‘quick photo’ sit­u­a­tions where I didn’t have time to man­u­ally ad­just set­tings and had to rely on its au­to­matic mode. Here, its light me­ter­ing and dy­namic range were matched any other cam­era I’ve ever used.

In low light, the cam­era held up rel­a­tively well too, although it doesn’t match the Canon 6D in this re­gard.

Pana­sonic has ab­so­lutely nailed aut­o­fo­cus speed on this de­vice. This cam­era’s 225-point sys­tem is a big step up to what most ma­chines at this level of­fer.

As a mir­ror­less cam­era, the GH5 can shoot com­pletely silently. This is one of my favourite fea­tures of mir­ror­less snap­pers. In par­tic­u­lar, it makes it a far more ap­peal­ing de­vice to bring to func­tions.

That said, the GH5 is much chunkier and heav­ier than any other Pana­sonic cam­era. This is par­tially to make room for some of the pro­fes­sional fea­tures it has, such as dual card slots and au­dio ports and a good-sized bat­tery.

But it’s par­tially also to give the cam­era a more solid ‘feel’ for those who are plan­ning to use this as a tool in video-mak­ing.

The up­side to this big­ger form is more space be­tween but­tons and di­als (hit­ting the wrong one is an oc­ca­sional prob­lem on the likes of the GX80 or GX8).

The down­side is ex­tra weight: the GH5’s ex­tra heft made it less likely to go in my bag ‘in case I needed a cam­era’. (I cur­rently use an older Pana­sonic GX7, which is won­der­ful in this re­gard – it’s about two thirds of the weight and size. As a re­sult, I of­ten bring it around on spec.) A quick word about buy­ing into Pana­sonic’s lens sys­tem. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, the Mi­cro Four Thirds sys­tem is very un­der­rated. Also sup­ported by a well of good Olym­pus glass, Pana­sonic is now way ahead of ri­vals such as Fuji in the num­ber of lenses avail­able. It is ar­guably a solid third be­hind Canon and Nikon (although Sony would say that it has more top-end pro­fes­sional lenses for stills shoot­ing). I had the Le­ica 12-60 f2.8 with this cam­era. I would highly rec­om­mend get­ting it if you buy the GH5, es­pe­cially as it’s half its nor­mal price (€500 com­pared to €1,000) when pur­chased at the same time. There is a cheaper Pana­sonic kit lens that costs €200 if you buy it with the GH5, a dis­count of €250.

As I said be­fore, the GH5 is mainly about video. In terms of what it records and how it records it, there’s lit­tle to com­pare at this price point. It shoots 4K at 60 frames per se­cond, way above any other cam­era it’s com­pet­ing with. It also shoots 1080p ‘full HD’ at 180 frames per se­cond, which ef­fec­tively al­lows for slow mo­tion video. For videog­ra­phers, there are 3.5mm mics in and out, with ex­ter­nal record­ing via USB- C and HDMI. There is also a host of other pro­fes­sional-level fea­tures from time stamps to fo­cus peak­ing.

Hon­estly, I just didn’t use these fea­tures: I’m not a videog­ra­pher. And therein lies the rub for me. The GH5 is an ex­cel­lent piece of kit and one of the best-per­form­ing cam­eras you can buy for un­der €2,000.

How­ever, its clear ad­van­tage lies in its video prow­ess. If you were mainly in­ter­ested in tak­ing still pho­tos, there are many other cam­eras that are at least as im­pres­sive. In par­tic­u­lar, Fuji’s (cheaper) X-T2 is hard to beat in this field. Canon’s new 6D Mark ii may edge the GH5 as a stills cam­era (although bear in mind that it costs al­most €300 more and is a bit chunkier and heav­ier).

If video is a grow­ing part of your reper­toire, this beats all com­ers for the money. But if it isn’t, this may not be the right stand­alone cam­era to get, as ca­pa­ble as it is.

There are few pro­fes­sional still pho­tog­ra­phers I know us­ing a GH5. For land­scape purists, a big­ger ‘full frame’ sen­sor on a Canon, Nikon or Sony is al­most al­ways the pre­ferred op­tion.

The same goes for por­trait pho­tog­ra­phers (even though Pana­sonic’s 85mm-equiv­a­lent Noc­ti­cron Le­ica lens is one of the best por­trait lenses I have ever used on any cam­era, match­ing Canon’s prized 85mm f1.2 model).

So for a still pho­tog­ra­pher, I can’t help think­ing that one of Pana­sonic’s slim­mer, cheaper (but equally im­pres­sive for im­age out­put) mod­els such as the GX8 wouldn’t be bet­ter.

‘Pana­sonic has ab­so­lutely nailed aut­o­fo­cus speed on this de­vice with a 225-point sys­tem’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.