PANASONIC LUMIX GH5
The Lumix GH5 is already proving a huge hit with video shooters, drawn by its 4K/ 60 resolution, but is it any cop for stills photographers?
Is this 4K powerhouse just for videographers? Or can it hold its own as a camera for stills photography too
Price: £ 1,700 ( body only) Image sensor: Live MOS Sensor ( 17.3 x 13.0mm) Resolution: 20.3- megapixels Maximum image resolution: 5184x3888 pixels AF points: 225 contrast ISO range: 200- 25600 ( ISO 100 expandable) Shutter speeds: 1/ 8000sec- 60 seconds & Bulb ( 1/ 12000sec electronic shutter) Continuous frame rate: 12fps ( AFS), 9fps ( AFC), 30fps ( 6K Photo) Built- in flash: No LCD monitor: Tilting 3.2in ( 1,620,000- dot) Storage: Dual SD ( SDHC/ SDXC) Size: 138.5x98.1x87.4mm Weight: 725g ( including battery and card) Website: www. panasonic. co. uk
THE PANASONIC LUMIX DMC- GH5 is the latest in a long line of highly popular Lumix mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Since the launch of the Lumix G1 almost ten years ago, at Photokina 2008, the Lumix DMC- G line- up has been tempting users away from larger DSLRS with their compact form factor, comfortable ergonomics and great image quality. Thanks to Panasonic’s Micro Four- Thirds ( MFT) standard ( launched in conjunction with Olympus), the Lumix DMC- G range boasts a form far smaller and lighter than its SLR counterparts – a major pull for photographers who don’t like to be weighed down.
While take- up of the Lumix G1 was great with amateurs and enthusiasts, the model never really gained the same amount of traction with professional users. That was until the launch of the GH1 in 2009, and with it the addition of a more video- focused system – it was the first mirrorless MFT camera to offer AVCHD Full HD video recording capability, nipping at the heels of the bigger Canon EOS 5D Mk II . The GH line- up continued to appeal to those more interested in video than stills, and when the GH4 was launched in 2014 – complete with 4K recording – it was the era of the small camera revolution for many videographers. Therefore it’ll come as no surprise that the latest model in the DMC- G range, the Lumix GH5, already has a big draw for those who want to record motion.
However, as we’re primarily a still- image publication, I’m going to focus on how the GH5 handles in that regard. We can’t ignore the impressive nature of the video functions on offer however – of course there’s 4K video, with internal recording at 60/ 50p ( 4: 2: 0 8- bit) and 30/ 25p/ 24p ( 4: 2: 2 10- bit) and full- size HDMI and live output too. There’s also super- slow motion at 180fps in Full HD too, as well as no recording time limit on all resolution settings, dual SD card slots, five- axis Dual Image Stabilisation II, a focus transition function for smooth focus racking, 3.5mm mic and headphone terminals, and V-Logl and LUT Display Function. There’s Hybrid Log Gamma for 4K HDR Video and a high- resolution Anamorphic Video Mode coming later this summer too. If much of that sounds like gibberish to you then you might not appreciate just how impressive the GH5 is as a video- making tool, that being – very. If it does make sense then you’re probably already pricing one up…
But what about stills? Inside its dust, splash and freeze- proof body, the GH5 packs a 20.3- megapixel Live MOS sensor capable of capturing 12fps stills in AFS mode, or 9fps in AFC mode, powered by Panasonic’s Venus Engine 10 processor. There’s no anti- aliasing filter, for maximum sharpness, and the resulting image quality is mighty impressive. Forgiving the smaller Live MOS sensor, the GH5’ s ability to record a wide dynamic range, and the latency to recover shadow and highlight detail during processing is very good. Obviously image quality isn’t quite as high as you might expect from say, a full- frame sensor, but there’s not much in it unless you’re the pixel- peeping type.
The GH5 boasts a new 6K Photo mode which, when selected, records bursts of images at a blistering 30fps. These images are actually pulled from video, and are limited to JPEG only, recorded at an 18- megapixel equivalent. This mode is aimed at those who want to record a crucial split- second moment, but don’t necessarily need a huge- resolution Raw file as a result – think parents at sporting events, amateur wildlife snappers and so forth.
As covered before, the GH5’ s in- body five- axis stabilisation is a headline feature. There are two levels of stabilisation – a hybrid system that uses both the in- body five- axis IS and in- lens dual- axis IS together ( with compatible lenses), or the standalone five- axis in- body system, which works with literally any other lens. It works very well, and I was able to shoot at much slower
shutter speeds handheld than usual – this is amplified at longer focal lengths.
Autofocus performance is respectable too – there’s a new and improved Depth From Defocus technology that cranks the GH5’ s focus speed down to a nippy 0.05 seconds. There are a plentiful 225 autofocus points spread across the entire sensor, and picking one is as simple as tapping your finger on the GH5’ s large 3.2in articulated touch screen – a zoomed picture-inpicture display aids you when doing this using single- point AF mode, which is fast and intuitive to use.
Speaking of which, the 1,620,000- dot resolution touchscreen is bright and detailed, with the controls being reasonably easy to follow. The menu system is vast but simple to navigate, once you learn where the important functions are hiding. There are plenty of configurable Fn buttons too ( four, in fact) so you can always move your most oft- used controls to within easy reach. The 0.76x magnification 3,680,000- dot OLED viewfinder is very good too – it’s really nice to use and I didn’t find myself missing an optical viewfinder.
In terms of handling, the GH5 offers plenty of physical controls – something that is often lacking on smaller cameras, which can become too reliant on touchscreen controls. A plethora of tactile buttons, dials and a new rear joystick provide the key inputs, and everything is well- laid out and ergonomically pleasing. Panasonic have clearly spent a lot of time making sure the GH5 feels good in the hand.
All things considered, the Lumix GH5 is a very capable camera. As a stills- only shooter, it doesn’t quite offer the wow- factor to sway me away from my beloved DSLR, however if I was a dual video and stills photographer, or thinking that video was due to play a bigger part in my work in years to come, then the Lumix GH5 poses an attractive proposition.
Above & left: It's not the most stylish camera in the world, but what the GH5 lacks in looks, it makes up for in features.
Top: Image quality and dynamic range can't be faulted. Above: The articulated touchscreen and tactile controls make it really easy to adjust to the GH5' s layout and functions.