Panasonic lumix DC-gh5s
The Finalists: Nikon Z 7, Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S, Sony A7R III
In general, thIs category recognises the video capabilities of cameras that are also designed for still photography, although we have occasionally strayed outside this brief when something warranted it. Of course, video is now an integral part of most mirrorless cameras and a growing number of frame-grab functions are further blurring the boundaries between stills and video… for example, 8K video (coming whether you’re ready or not) yields 19 megapixels stills.
Panasonic is celebrating ten years of its Lumix G mirrorless system this year, and it’s in the video world where the Micro Four Thirds sensor will continue to make a lot of sense even after the full-35mm Lumix S system arrives in mid-2019. The balance of sensor size and camera size along with the wide choice of lenses from both Panasonic and Olympus (plus many of the independents) makes M43 ideal for videography, especially in 4K resolution. The Lumix GH5 (winner of this category last year) is a video camera that’s also happens to be very good at stills… and the GH5S is even better at video. In fact, videographers are undoubtedly the primary target audience for this model which has a lower resolution sensor – 11.93 megapixels (10.2 MP effective) – so the bigger pixels have an increased dynamic range and better low-light sensitivity.
The new sensor also employs Panasonic’s ‘Dual Native ISO’ technology – original developed for its Varicam broadcast cameras – and which has two separate read-out circuits to handle the low-range (up to ISO 800) and high-range sensitivities, thereby optimising dynamic range via more tailored noise reduction. The sensitivity range is equivalent to ISO 160 to 51,200 with extensions to ISO 80 and 204,800. The sensor also has a ‘Multi Aspect Ratio’ design – because it’s actually larger than the M43 imaging circle – which gives the same angle-of-view in the 4:3, 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratios. This also applies to video recording in the Cinema 4K, 4K UHD and Anamorphic 4:3 formats. The GH5S is capable of internal 10-bit 4:2:2 video recording up to Cinema 4K at 30 or 25 fps, and internal 8-bit 4:2:0 recording of Cinema 4K at 50 or 60 fps. It records 10-bit 4:2:2 (with a bit rate of 400 Mbps) using All-Intra compression in 4K at 30, 25 or 24 fps and All-Intra in Full HD (with a bit rate of 200 Mbps).
The choice of variable frame rates has been increased to up to 240 fps in Full HD (i.e. 10x slower) and the GH5S also records overcranked/undercranked (i.e. time-lapse and slow-motion) video in C4K/4K (2.5x slower at 60 fps).
There isn’t much Panasonic has missed here, and essentially everything that is an optional extra on the GH5 is standard on the S model, including having the V-Log L profile and Rec.709 LUT (Look Up Table) pre-installed. This makes it incredibly powerful as a video camera, but with a much smaller form factor (and price tag) than something comparable from, say, RED or Black Magic. No other hybrid camera gets close.