So the GH5 was finally announced on January 4th at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas this year (2017).
The release date being thrown around is the third to last week of March 2017 for pre-orders and store availability according to most online sources.
There are lots of articles and coverage by many others on the camera and features themselves.
I wanted to share my top 10 reasons for wanting to buy this camera:
First lets talk about the GH4 for a second.
Panasonic’s GH4 line has done a lot to bring amazing features for video work. The GH4 was an amazing camera for what it gave you for the product life cycle. Low cost 4K that was actually usable for production work. That in itself was a miracle, even coming out before the release of Sony’s amazing A7S camera.
Now given that i have never owned a GH4, the amount of research i have done looking at my next camera that will fulfill my ability to produce better quality video has been a year or so in the making.
Most of you who have seen my videos will say, but i thought you shot all of your footage on GoPros so far ?
The short answer is yes I have and I’ll tell you why?
One reason is because I never had enough money for a GH4 and didn’t really come to understand what i was missing until the last year or so.
Gopros have some major advantages for exteme low-budget film makers who make certain styles of videos. For example, any wide-angle action or moving images where you are constantly on the move, these cameras work very well for. The technology GoPro has put together in this little package (and i mean little), blew my mind when i first got one.
Why consider other than size you ask ? They allow you to focus on framing and not worry about focus and still can get great quality 1080p or 4K usable footage out of these tiny cameras.
They also can take a beating if you have the right protective gear for them (even underwater) and there are endless mounts and equipment you can get for them which means getting that particular angle or shot is doable !
Where GoPro Action cams fall short is in a few areas. The lens on them is fixed which means, you are not going to get that closeup shot as well when you need to. Any distance or cinematic out of focus Bokeh is not really possible. Also, these cameras although have increased bitrates while using protune, are not on the same level of quality as a larger sensor camera. Low light is also an issue on these cameras in comparison however they do manage to do some low light functions (but not near a pro level).
Enter the next step up to pro quality !
The Panasonic GH Line of cameras.
Here is my Top 10 list of reasons gathered from all the news sources i could find why my next camera purchase is going to be and Micro Four Thirds camera (for Video) and specifically the GH5:
#10 – Weather Resistant
Although the Gopro was weather proof with the various sealed cases and now weather resistant with the Hero 5, Having a DSLR that is weather resistant and freeze resistant is a nice touch and adds to the longevity after buying your camera and using it for years to come. Also its good for re-sale value. I wish my Canon T6S had some weather sealing.
#9 – No Recording Limits or overheating
What good is a camera you need to rely on professionally (or not professionally even) if the camera overheats and shuts down? Due to Sony’s blunder with the processor or cooling and powermanagement with certain cameras, they had an overheating problem when shooting in their 4K modes for short periods of time. This hurt sales of some of their product lines (including the earlier A6000 and A6300 cameras as well as some fullframe cameras). No such problems on the Panasonic GH5 cameras. Also, According to a rep at panasonic the GH5 is not being sold as a video camera therefore there is no time limits on recording, only however much space you have on your SD cards. This was never an issue in the north american market but Europe, you can now breathe a sigh of relief. It’s good to know this was a priority for them during testing.
#8 – Good Battery Life
How many times can you buy a new camera and use your old batteries ? Almost none, until now ! The GH5 uses the same batteries of its predecessor, the GH4 or GH3. Battery life is reportedly a bit lower however you can’t blame them much, 4K @ 60fps ? That would eat up power like no ones business. good job on the power management! Now you save money because you don’t have to buy new batteries (unless your old ones are dead), and you don’t have to buy as many !
#7 – Fully Articulating Screen
This sounds like it should be something on all cameras however as we found out on the Sony cameras, this really is a big deal especially for one man shooters or those situations where you need that screen to articulate and just can’t seem to be able to shoot and see what you are shooting correctly. Also for those of us indie film makers on a tight budget, we can’t afford to buy an expensive monitor or ATOMOS external recorder yet. I have been so used to my Canon T6S articulating screen (and with touch screen focus) that going to anything else seems pointless. No GoPros don’t have articulating screens either but they can connect wirelessly to your cellphone to be used as a screen in those situations where you need it.
#6 – Lens selection and usage – (Micro Fourth Thirds mount)
This has to be one of my favorite things as of recent. Using vintage lenses on Micro Four Thirds. There is nothing quite like the thrill of bargain shopping to find some old Minolta or Canon lenses and be able to use them on modern DSLRs. There is something really Cinematic or Film looking by using that old glass. Not only that, older lenses for the most part are still relatively cheap. The trick is finding a set of them that produces good results. Not all older lenses are equal in that respect and some perform greater than others. To be able to use virtually any lens on a Panasonic camera with the right adapter or speedbooster opens up so many possibilities of lenses!
#5 – Price compared to competition
I was a little upset that Panasonic increased the prices for the GH5 over the GH4. I mean money is money after all. In canada, the exchange rate makes this camera that much more expensive over her.. however for the quality and numerous new features the GH5 provides its customers you still can’t beat it in terms of price for value with any other DSLR system. Pre-orders right now are charging $1999.99 USD (aprox $2,800 CAD) as of this article for the Body alone. with the Panasonic lens choices its more money. If you compare that to say an A6500 from Sony which has a bigger sensor, does have image stabilization and shoots 4K (although not 10-bit) it seems a bit pricey. However when you consider all the other factors like tilt screen LCD, no time limit recording or overheating issues the cost difference of about $800.00 canadian (or $400.00 USD) it doesn’t seem that much different. Forget comparing to Full frame cameras which cost upwards of $4,700 CAD. The GH5 also has features that are only seen in higher end video cameras and DSLRs as well.
#4 – Improved Autofocus
Panasonic Claims that the Autofocus system has been improved since the GH4 (or will be by launch time). It appears that this autofocus may actually only be more improved when using Panasonic lenses designed to take advantage of the new technology improvements using Panasonic’s DFD Autofocus System. Obviously if you are shooting Manual for video this is a mute point but Photographers shooting with native glass will be excited. Its unclear however how much faster shooting with a speedbooster like Metabones or Kipon’s Baveyes will be. There is video subject tracking as well and a mode that lets you set manual autofocus targets and allows you to rack focus between them. This is an interesting feature that I can’t wait to try as for some video projects this may work well. One thing is clear the GH5 now having 225 autofocus points now rather than 49 on the GH4!
#3 – Improved Low light and Full Sensor readout and Scaled down to 4K!
This is a big deal. Due to the fact that the GH5 uses the full sensor readout now and does not crop the 4K mode by only using a portion of the sensor, the image quality benefits from gathering more light! previously a 2.3X crop for 4K mode meant that less of the sensor was receiving light and lenses had to factor in focal lengths with this in mind. Things like Speedboosters helped but that 2.3X crop factor was definitely an issue. Now that’s all gone. Vintage adapted lens and speedbooster users rejoice ! The 4K shooting mode now downscales from the full sensor readout down to 4K (the full sensor is larger than 4K pixel resolution) and is native 2X crop. All modes therefore are now 2X crop on the entire sensor. No more guessing. This in theory should also affect noise in that noise should be less as the 4K is scaled down and the sensor is more sensitive. All in all, i firmly expect about a 25% to 30% improvement here over the GH4. We will wait and see.
#2 – In-Camera Body 5-axis Image Stabilization (even with a lens that doesn’t have any!)
As other makers like Sony have come out with Inbody Image 5-axis stabilization, it only makes sense that Panasonic has followed suit with this. Don’t get me wrong, this is big in terms of shrinking the requirement for more gear to help create outstanding imagery and videography. Obviously the best configuration is to use Panasonic’s lenses with built-in Image Stabilization alongside the in body stabilization, Panasonic calls it Dual IS however the best part is that even if your lens doesn’t have any stabilization built in at all (yes your lens stabilization from another vendor may still work if you have a speedbooster that supports it), you still get some stabilization in your shots! For traveling or those videographer’s who need to get into tight spaces or areas where more gear is a bad thing, this is fantastic! The less gear you have to use and carry the better.
#1 – 4K 30fps or 24fps 4:2:2 10-bit!
4K is nothing new in cameras but having the ability to record 4K video @ 4:2:2 10-bit color depth INTERNALLY to the SD card in such a small form factor for that price is a world first and truly ground breaking in its own right. 4:2:2 means that film makers can now explore more options for filming things that previous caused banding effects or caused issues with Greenscreen work. It also means a lot more information in color in general can be captured and displayed than ever before from a DSLR. Previously you needed to spend a lot more money for the quality that the GH5 is capable of outputting internally. On top of that the GH5 can output 60 Frames per second 4K (4:2:0 8-bit only internally) ! It is also capable of full 10-bit output @60fps 4K using an external recorder with its full HDMI port onboard.
There are more things about the GH5 in terms of specs, I didn’t even mention 6K photo mode or Dual SD card slots (using latest UHS-II standard) however from my perspective the GH5 is not a stills camera. Its video centric and that’s what I intend to use it for with the occasion still photo taken. At 20 MP even my 24 MP Canon T6S is much better at taking photos in my opinion as Canon is more known for Photography work. I may be proven wrong and I hope I am. Ultimately the decision to use the right tool for the job should always be the standard.
I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of the GH5 and I think it’s a game changer camera. Now I just have to figure out how to pay for one when they are available !
*GH5 Photos taken and used courtesy of B&H photo – www.bhphotovideo.com