Panasonic’s Lumix GH line of mirrorless cameras are wildly popular among both professional and hobbyist videographers thanks to their good video quality in such a small form factor. The Lumix GH5 might be one of the best small video cameras around. But is it worth upgrading from the GH4? We hope this Panasonic Lumix GH5 review will help you decide.
As with all of the Lumix GH cameras, the GH5 focuses largely on video. Its predecessor, the Panasonic Lumix GH4, is an excellent camera and has been loved by videographers since it was released in 2014. The GH5 differs from the GH4 in some key ways. It has 5-axis image stabilization, 6K photo burst mode, and the ability to shoot 4K video at a whopping 60 FPS. It also has an improved 45-point autofocus system, performs better in low light, and generally feels higher quality and more professional than the GH4. But is it really worth the upgrade? Let’s look more closely.
The GH5’s 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor has the ability to capture 4K video at a stunningly fast frame rate of 60 FPS. It is the first mirrorless camera to be able to do so. A 60 FPS frame rate was once only available in 1080p, so this is a big improvement. Unlike most cameras, the GH5 uses the entire width of the sensor to take 4K video – there’s no additional cropping beyond the M43’s native crop factor!
If slow motion video is your thing, you are in luck. With the ability to shoot 1080p video at up to 180 FPS, this camera handles slow-mo well. The GH5 can record 1080p video at 60 FPS internally as well as can internally record 4K UHD 60p — but only in 4:2:0 8-bit. To record simultaneous live signal feeding, you’ll need an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun Inferno, which is a small price to pay for video quality that no other camera in this price range can currently offer. Another notable feature is no recording clip time limits! Say goodbye to those artificial 30 minute restrictions found in many other cameras that shoot video but can’t be categorized as “camcorders”.
One of the big upgrades between the Panasonic GH5 camera and its predecessor is the addition of a built-in image stabilization system. The GH5’s 5-axis stabilization system uses the sensor itself, not the lens, for stabilization. On its own, the internal stabilization works well but when you combine it with lenses that have stabilization, you make use of Panasonic’s Dual Stabilization system. This stabilization system is very effective and is especially useful when shooting stills in low light or recording handheld video.
This camera has a 225-point autofocus system with customizable options for increased control of how the camera focuses. This is a serious upgrade from the GH4, which had only 49 points. According to Panasonic, the GH5 can find and lock focus in .05 seconds while the GH4 topped out at .07 seconds. Custom settings allow you to control the speed at which the focus changes between subjects as well as the sensitivity for when focus changes. This type of customization is very useful for videographers who want to film a subject in a crowded space and don’t want their camera focusing on a different subject. The GH5 does a very good job of keeping focus on subjects even when they are moving quickly.
While this camera is largely designed for and loved by people who shoot video, it does a pretty solid job at taking stills. Its 20.04 MP sensor produces sharp images and you get the benefit of the built-in stabilization to help prevent camera shake. If you are looking for a camera that excels at video but won’t let you down when it comes to photos, this is a good choice. It doesn’t have as large of a sensor or as high of photo resolution as some other mirrorless options but for a camera that was primarily designed with video in mind, it holds its own at taking stills.
Ergonomics and Build Quality
The GH5 is built like a professional-level piece of equipment and its ergonomics and build quality do not disappoint. This may be a mirrorless camera but in your hands, it looks and feels a lot like a small DSLR. And for many people, that’s a good thing. The GH5 weighs in at 1.6 lbs, making it almost a half pound heavier than its predecessor. It is nice and solid. The rubber grip, which is an upgrade from the GH4, feels comfortable and secure.
The buttons and dials on the GH5 are intuitive and easy to reach. The mode and drive dials, exposure controls, and record button are located on the top panel of the camera in locations that make sense and are easily accessible. The back of the camera has an AF/AE lock button, menu buttons, and a joystick for toggling between menu items and choosing autofocus points. And of course, the large, bright touchscreen makes it even easier to quickly change camera settings. Compared to the GH4, these buttons and dials feel more solid and professional, adding to the high-end experience of this camera.
The GH5 has a 3.2” fully articulating touchscreen for framing shots and making adjustments to controls. This touchscreen is larger than the GH4’s 3” screen. The GH5’s LCD screen has a higher 1,620 dot resolution. The LCD touchscreen works well and allows you to easily make changes to the menu and camera settings. The LCD also allows you to touch the screen in order to focus, which is useful for people who like to use autofocus when recording video or taking stills.
Like the GH4, the GH5 has an ISO range of 200-25600. They may look the same on paper but the performance is anything but. On the GH5, a small amount of noise begins to appear at 800 ISO. At 3,200 ISO this camera still produces usable videos, which are much less noisy than those of its predecessor. Even at 6,400 ISO, the videos and images this camera produces are pretty clear. The GH4 has some noise even at ISOs as low as 200 and by 1,600 images are quite noisy, so this is a big improvement. Can the GH5 camera compete with the star of the low light world, the Sony a7S II? No, but it still handles low light very well.
Live view mode on the GH5 works well and is useful for photographers and videographers who don’t like looking through the viewfinder. Using live view on the GH5 makes it easy to see exactly what you are filming without having your face smashed up against the camera. This, combined with the fact that the screen rotates, makes it extremely easy to frame shots at odd angles such as above your head or on the ground. Live view mode is also beneficial in that it makes it easy to check things like focus and exposure in real time.
6K Photo Mode
While the Lumix GH5 is largely a video workhorse, it does have a few features that make it a solid option for people who like to take stills. One of those features is 6K photo. 6K photo allows you to take a burst of frames that you can export high quality stills from. It uses 6K video technology to let you extract 18 MP stills at a staggering frame rate of 30 FPS. What this means for you is that you can capture more of the action and have a better chance of nailing your shot when shooting things that are moving quickly. The GH5 makes it easy to scroll through these burst shots, zero in on what interests you, and pull out an 18 MP still. The GH5’s 6K photo capabilities are a notable upgrade from its predecessor which was able to capture 8 MP stills at 30 FPS.
As with many professional-level cameras, the Lumix GH5 has dual SD card slots. This is an upgrade from the GH4, which only has one slot. You can write to one card at a time, beginning the second card once the first is full. Another option is to write to both cards at the same time so you have a backup in the event one card fails or gets corrupted. This is a feature that serious videographers really appreciate!
Rolling shutter or “jello” is an effect caused by the way a sensor is scanned when a camera takes video. It causes straight lines to look curved and wobbly (like jello) when a subject is in motion. Rolling shutter is most prominently seen in situations where there are vertical lines or spinning wheels. Rolling shutter is an issue that is common in CMOS cameras but the GH5 handles it very well. The jello effect is minimal in videos taken with the GH5. The GH5 has fewer issues with rolling shutter than many of its competitors, including the Sony a7SII.
Battery life is one of the little things that can make or break a camera. Few things are more annoying than having to stop what you’re doing to change batteries. The good news is that the battery life on the GH5 is really good! Tests have shown that this camera can record 4K video for over two hours without needing a new battery.
Full-Size HDMI Port
Among the small features that make this camera really shine is a full-size HDMI port. This port makes it easy to hook the camera up to an external recorder or monitor. A cable retainer screws into the body of the camera, helping to ensure that the cables don’t come loose and protects the HDMI socket from accidental damage. It’s a little thing but it shows how much thought Panasonic put into making this a camera for serious shooters.
The Lumix GH5 is an incredibly powerful hybrid camera for those who are serious about videography. It presents some groundbreaking technology that hasn’t been seen before in a mirrorless camera. The GH5 also has some professional-level features that are typically only available in gear that is considerably more expensive. But is it worth upgrading from the highly-praised GH4? And how does it stand up to increasing competition from other companies?
The GH4 is an excellent and very capable camera but the GH5 takes it to the next level. The differences between the two are significant. The ability to take 4K video at 60 FPS, full-width 4K, 6K photo mode, an improved autofocus system, and Waveform Monitor and Vector Scope make the GH5 a better option for serious hobbyists and professional videographers. The GH4 is still a very good camera, though. If you will make use of the GH5’s upgraded features, it is probably the best choice but if you’re on a budget and just looking for a really solid camera to get started with, the GH4 is still an excellent piece of equipment.
For all of the buzz surrounding the GH5, it does have some considerable competition from other camera companies. Sony’s a7S II may be its most formidable opponent. One of the key differences between the GH5 and a7SII is that the Sony has a full frame sensor. The a7SII has minimal noise at ISOs up to 102,400, which the GH5 just can’t compete with. The a7SII has a maximum 4K video resolution of 30 FPS, which is not quite as impressive as that of the GH5. The bottom line here is that if you want a full frame camera that will excel in low light, the a7SII is probably the one for you but if you want to shoot 4K at 60 FPS, go with the GH5. Lastly, again, the unlimited clip length of the GH5 is a huge bonus.
The Fuji X-T2 is another competitor of the Lumix GH5. The X-T2 has a larger APS-C sensor but it does not have features like built-in stabilization or 6K photo mode. While the X-T2’s LCD screen does flip and swivel, it’s not a touchscreen. The X-T2 does come out on top in terms of maximum photo resolution, continuous shooting rate, number of autofocus points, and price. For video, the GH5 is the better bet but if you are a hybrid shooter who cares about stills just as much (or more) as video, the Fuji X-T2 is a very good choice.
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is an incredible camera for serious videographers and hybrid shooters who put a large emphasis on video. If you’re unsure if it’s worth upgrading from the GH4 to the GH5 or whether one of the GH5’s competitors may be a better choice, renting a few cameras to try out may make your decision a lot easier.Tags: Best Camera for YouTube, Cameras for Beginners, Crop Sensor Cameras, UHD 4K Last modified: June 4, 2020