Some news to cure those winter blues: the Panasonic GH5S has arrived! Here are the features to get excited about:
- Unlimited internal capture of 4:2:2 10-bit C4K video recording plus the ability to simultaneously feed 4:2:2 10-bit out through the full size HDMI port to an external recorder.
- Dual Native ISO to either maximize dynamic range or maximize noise performance so that you can choose the right setting for your particular shooting situation.
- Pre-installed V-Log L, making color grading easier, increasing dynamic range to 12 stops, and providing the sensitivity characteristics of Cineon.
- Rolling shutter reduced by about 25%.
- Multi Aspect design to maintain your lens’ native angle of view even when changing image formats.
Let’s talk about some of these features in a little more detail…
Unlimited Internal 4K Capture
Unlike with other cameras of this form factor, the Panasonic GH5S won’t artificially limit your recording clip lengths – you are limited only by your batteries and card capacities. You also have a fuller range of frame rates in both Ultra High Definition 4K and Cinema 4K formats (60p in 4K at 8-bit internally or 60p in 4K at 10-bit via the HDMI port – to record in 4K at 4:2:2, 10-bit internally, you are limited to 30p).
Just as an example, if you are shooting 8-bit in C4K at 24p, you can record for up to 2 hours and 45 minutes on a 128GB SDXC memory card. Your recording will be played back in separate files if it exceeds 3 hours and 4 minutes (so specific), or if the file exceeds 96GB. The maximum continuous recording time will be displayed on the screen for your particular settings and card combo. At 4K/30p you can get anywhere from 65-130 minutes of recording time on a single battery. Note that batteries can take up to 3 hours to fully recharge.
For 4K recording, you’ll want to use cards with Video Speed Class 30 or higher (60 or higher if shooting with All-Intra data compression at a bit rate of 400 Mbps). For connecting to an external device, you’ll need a high speed HDMI Type A-to-Type A cable. Make sure your device supports 10-bit if that’s what you want to record in, otherwise it will automatically default to 8-bit.
Please see the GH5S user manual starting on page 161 for a very detailed chart on all of the recording capabilities of the GH5S.
Dual Native ISO
Also referred to as Dual Gain, the Panasonic GH5S sports two modes: one that maximizes dynamic range and one that minimizes noise. Every camera has an optimal native ISO (the setting at which the signal-to-noise ratio is best) but the GH5S has two: 400 (adjusts between 160-800, or 80-800 if Extended ISO is used) and 2500 (800-51,200, or 800-204,800 when Extended ISO is used). Optimal just depends on your needs – choosing one or the other allows you to limit your range.
You actually have 3 options with Dual Native ISO if you include “Auto” mode, which will switch between the two for you as-needed. This feature is available in beefier, more expensive cameras, like the Varicam LT 4K Cinema Camera and the EVA1 5.7K Cinema Camera, but this is a first for something with a form factor like the GH5S.
This bridging of separate native ISO readout circuits prevents filmmakers from having to “gain up” their ISOs, allowing them to rely more on ambient lighting while maintaining natural-looking results. This also provides more luminosity during dawn and dusk shooting. Overall, the GH5S is purported to be about 2.38x more light sensitive than the Panasonic GH5.
Rolling Shutter and Multiple Aspect Ratio Support
Less is more with the Panasonic GH5S. With fewer megapixels while still sporting a C4K resolution, the pixels on the GH5S are larger (about 1.96x larger than the GH5’s) and more sensitive. Rolling shutter is a big problem in a lot of other high-pixel-sensor cameras of similar form factors. It’s easier to read out fewer pixels and this, coupled with a redesigned Venus processing engine, allows for reduced rolling shutter effects by up to 1.3x over the GH5.
The sensor is physically oversized compared to its imaging circle (the GH1 and GH2 had this, too). Now when you choose different aspect ratios, you are still using the entirety of the imaging circle projected by the lens – in other words, you get to maintain your lens’ native effective angle of view when changing image formats, whether it’s 4:3 (for anamorphic work), 17:9 (for C4K), 16:9 (for UHD 4K), or 3:2 (for stills – yes, still shooters also have access to the full sensor, rather than just accepting a crop from a 4:3 area).
A Few Trade Offs with the GH5S: A Note on Stabilization and on Still Photography
While the smaller megapixel count of the Panasonic GH5S might turn off photographers, know that the GH5S shoots 14-bit RAW stills, compared with the GH5’s 12-bit RAW stills. Color depth and post flexibility might be desired over file size (where the maximum is 3680 x 2760 on the GH5S vs 5184 x 3888 on the GH5).
The other trade off is in image stabilization – the GH5 has it, this camera does not. That’s not entirely true – the GH5S has a quasi IS system in the form of a “jitter detection” with “normal” and “panning” modes for stills and E-Stabilization mode for video.
The exclusion of 5-axis in-body image stabilization is explained by Panasonic as being something “not needed” by videographers using external support systems and that a floating sensor can actually interfere with gimbals (to which people counter with “then just turn it off” – arguments ensue). But the real reason might be just that the oversized sensor simply doesn’t leave much room for IS. The camera is, consequently, a little bit lighter than its predecessor.
Other Features to Get Excited About
- Over and under-cranked video in C4K for slow motion effects (note that your angle of view will narrow at 204 FPS and above).
- Easy time code synchronization with an external device using the BNC conversion cable (optional with our rental – you’ll find a drop-down menu for it a checkout).
- Microphone input that supports options like Line Level In and Phantom Power.
- Freezeproof down to -10°F with weather sealing on every joint, dial, and button.
Rent the Panasonic GH5S Micro Four Thirds Camera starting at $100
To see even more specs and discover all the great upgrades yourself, be sure to rent the Panasonic GH5S!
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