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.

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