Panasonic GH5 Hands-on – “6K” Anamorphic Video, 4K 60p, 180fps FHD

Panasonic GH5 Hands-on - "6K" Anamorphic Video, 4K 60p, 180fps FHD

The GH5 was announced back in September last year, but Panasonic kept many features of the camera close to the chest. Today, at CES, Panasonic pulled back the curtain. We have the full feature list and were invited to an exclusive prior GH5 hands-on event in Los Angeles. Spoiler alert, the camera looks great and it’s a cinematographer’s dream. Features, pricing and availability below: 

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Watch our new interview about the GH5 with Panasonic advisor M. Uematsu in this new article by clicking here.

The built-in flash found in the old GH4 is gone and a whole new array of magical features aimed squarely at indie filmmakers have taken its place in the MFT Panasonic DMC-GH5, unveiled today at CES in Las Vegas. However, the Panasonic GH5, like a fine wine, will need to age gracefully into the summer to reach its full potential. More on that later.

Back in May of 2014, the Panasonic Lumix GH4 hit the market and became an instant favorite. Lauded for its internal 4K, variable frame rate option, XLR input module and professional video features such as peaking, zebras and cinema color profiles, it was clear that Panasonic built the camera with the cinematographer in mind. On paper, engineers have outdone themselves in every way with the new GH5.

Panasonic will be squishing features like 4:2:2 10bit 4K with a bitrate of 400Mbps and 180fps FHD variable frame rate recording into the tiny 2.0 pound body of the GH5. Over the years you get used to seeing specs like this from companies such as RED Cinema, but with the price point of a BMW 5-series. For the GH5, we are more in 1998 Honda Civic territory with a camera body price point of $2,000.

In short, the GH5 looks stylish, feels great to hold and shoots gorgeous video.

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The camera launches with a max resolution of 4096×2160 up to 60fps with a bitrate of 150Mbps. Notice the differences from the features in bold above? That’s because Panasonic is rolling out a free firmware plan upgrading the camera into the summer, and 4K (400Mbps) All-Intra recording will unlock by July.

Of course, it would be great to have all the banner features right as you open the box, but like many video games these days, you’ll need to wait for updates before the camera has its full feature list, but what a list of features it is.

Here is the full firmware breakdown:

GH5 Firmware Upgrade Path:

4:2:2 10bit – Available April, 2017
6K/24p Anamorphic Video Mode (4:3) – Available Summer, 2017
(200 Mbps) FHD 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra – Available Summer, 2017
(400Mbps) 4K 4:2:2 10bit ALL-Intra – Available, Summer 2017

V-Log Color Profile  – Available at launch, Cost: $100

6K/24p Anamorphic Video Mode will be available in a 4:3 aspect ratio in the Summer and the very fact we are talking about getting 6K, or close, Anamorphic out of a $2,000 MFT body is exciting. Panasonic is calling this upcoming mode: “High Resolution Anamorphic” as it is 6K resolution in terms of pixel density, but not 6000 pixels of horizontal resolution.

**Update: The camera ships with Anamorphic 4K (4:3) with H.264 compression enabled. Come Summer 2017, 6K (4:3) will be shootable in H.265 compression with free firmware update. Firmware schedule below.  

Unfortunately, if you previously purchased V-Log for your GH4 you will not be able to transfer that update over to the new GH5. A new purchase is required.

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While the GH5 has the same dynamic range as the Panasonic GH4, it has slightly improved lowlight performance, but I wouldn’t call this a lowlight camera by any means. We were presented with a ISO 6400 video sample and noise in the picture was very evident. On top of that, when shooting with high ISO settings, the camera will automatically reduce noise internally. This feature cannot currently be turned off and can only be controlled via the menu with high/mid/ and low settings. Panasonic is certainly willing to listen to feedback and might consider adding a complete “off position button” if there is a demand for it.

Color depth is improved and the GH5 will eventually shoot internal 4:2:2 10bit, compared to the 4:2:0 8bit of its predecessor, but launches with 4:2:0 8bit only in IPB compression. 4:2:2 10bit color is double the information of 4:2:0 and provides greater grading flexibility in the post process before the image falls apart.

Here is some gorgeous footage, shot on GH5, from the good folks over at Neumann Films:

Dual SD Recording in the GH5 is a new added feature and has three modes: continuous, backup and distribution copies. When “distribution copies” is selected the camera will save stills to one card and video to the other.

Thankfully, no cropping is required in 4K anymore with its 20.3 megapixel sensor. I’m not a fan of calculating the crop factor with my lens each time I switch my resolution settings in-camera and hopefully those days are soon behind us.

The body is about 10% larger than the GH4, so you may be able to fit the GH5 into your old cages, but the HDMI port will likely not line up correctly. Time to buy a new camera cage.

5-Axis Internal Stabilization: 

Not to be outdone by Olympus or Sony, the GH5 includes internal 5-axis stabilization that, when paired with a Lumix OIS-capable lens, will work together with the lens to further stabilize the shot, especially at longer focal lengths.

Slow Motion (Variable Frame Rate): 

Achieving those slow motion and quick motion shots is possible with a wide range of selectable frame rates available in the GH5. You can now shoot up to 60fps in 29.98 in full cinema 4K, up to 180fps in FHD, or you can under crank as far as 2fps in both 4K and FHD.

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Panasonic GH5 with optional XLR accessory.

DMW-XLR1 Microphone Adapter:

The blocky looking XLR module for the GH4 required a separate battery to power and wasn’t the greatest thing to look at in my opinion. This time around, Panasonic has created a microphone adapter that is powered from a hot shoe on top of the camera and will still feed phantom power. This is a much more elegant solution and a cold shoe (not visible above) on top of the adapter makes a great spot for a small external shotgun mic. Note that the microphone adapter supports a very welcome feature: high-resolution audio (96khz) mode.

Other accessories include an HDMI lock shipping with the camera (thank you, Panasonic) and an optional battery grip.

Technical Highlights of the Panasonic GH5: 

  • Max Resolution:  4K/60p (Output Only)
  • Internal 4:2:2 – 10bit – Available April, 2017
  • 6K Anamorphic Video Mode (4:3) – Available Summer, 2017
  • Slowmotion (Variable Frame Rate): Max of 180fps/23.98 in FHD
  • Improved Auto Focus (0.05 sec AF, 9 FPS AF Burst)
  • Large HDMI (Type A/USB 3.1)
  • 3.2″ 1,620-dot Free Angle Monitor
  • 4K Hybrid Log Gamma (4K HDR Video) – Available Summer, 2017
  • SD Card Slot x2: UHS-II U3 (Vide grade 60)
  • No Recording Time Limit
  • H265 for 4K 50/60p, Edit: Now confirmed that H264 will be used for all 4K formats while H265 will serve “6K photo mode”. H265 6K anamorphic mode is still being tested by Panasonic.
  • Waveform Monitor Display
  • Separate Video Menu Mode
  • .MOV, MP4 (AAC, LPCM) AVCHD Progressive
  • Selectable System Frequencies (59.94, 50.00, 24.00 Hz)
  • Splash, Dust, Freeze proof up to -10 Degrees Celsius
  • Bluetooth
  • Weight: 2.0 lbs
  • Power: Same batteries as GH4

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If the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II is the perfect Micro Four-Thirds camera for photographers, then the Panasonic GH5 might just be the answer videographers have been looking for. However, with the planned firmware rollouts, the GH5 may be a purchase that requires a little bit of patience.

Cost: $2,000
Availability: Shipping March

Panasonic 12-60mm

LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 12-60mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH OIS

New Lens – LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 12-60mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH OIS

Alongside the GH5, Panasonic announced a new lens today: the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 12-60mm / F2.8-4.0 ASPH OIS. The lens focal range is equivalent to 24-120mm on a 35mm camera and is the first lens to be added to this new series, with planned additions of 8-18mm and 50-200mm to the LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 series in the future. No pricing or availability information yet.

Panasonic is also renewing four lenses to improve weather proofing and compatibility:

LUMIX G X VARIO 12-35mm F2.8 II ASPH. OIS, Price: $999.99
LUMIX G X VARIO 35-100mm F2.8 II ASPH. OIS, Price: $1099.99
LUMIX G X VARIO 45-200mm F4.0-5.6 II ASPH. OIS, Price: $449.99
LUMIX G X VARIO 100-300mm F4.0-5.6 II ASPH. OIS, Price: $649.99

Panasonic GH5 Compatible LensesWhat do you think of the new Panasonic GH5? Will it find a place in your kit for shoots this year? Comment below!

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