Panasonic was one of the early adopters of the mirrorless format, though Epson made the first true mirrorless camera. Panasonic DMC-G1 was the first mirrorless camera in the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless system. Panasonic has come a long way since those early days since 2008, especially when we consider the GH series.
The GH1 was the first to introduce HD video recording in a mirrorless camera, all while supporting continuous autofocus tracking and Dolby Digital Stereo Sound. Panasonic GH4 brought to the mirrorless world in-camera 4K recording (at high bitrates) and now, with the GH5, Panasonic is taking thins one step further by introducing 6K video.
Lumix DMC-GH5 is the latest addition to Panasonic’s lineup of mirrorless cameras. Over the last eight years, the lens ecosystem for the micro four thirds camera system has really matured, as have the cameras. The Panasonic GH5 isn’t just about the 6K video. It improves its predecessor’s capabilities for recording 4K video, brings a number of enhancements for focusing, and also clubs a bunch of modes that photographers might love. Do all these features justify the price tag of Rs 1,94,990? We find out in our review.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 Specifications: 20 Megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor | 2x lens crop factor | 4K Video with 10-bit colour at 150mbps | 5-axis sensor shift image stabilization | 225 focus points | Touch screen LCD | 12fps burst mode with AF tracking | USB 3.1
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Design review
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 (or GH5 for short) is one big camera. For a mirrorless camera, it weighs 725 grams (with battery, without a lens) and measures almost 4 inches at its widest on the hand grip. At first glance, you wouldn’t be at fault to mistake this for an entry level DSLR, which is weird because the whole point of the mirrorless camera system was to be a compact camera system, offering the same performance as a DSLR in a much smaller size.
The GH5 has a roughly 22-megapixel micro four thirds sensor, which creates 20 megapixel images. The sensor size means that whatever lens you attach to the front, the resulting field of view will be two times the mentioned focal length. The review camera we received came with the Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 kit lens, meaning that what you see through the lens is equivalent of 24-120mm, which is a great focal length for most purposes. The starting aperture of f/2.8 is great to have on a kit lens and Leica is a known name when it comes to lens quality.
My major issue on the design front would be that the Panasonic GH5 is anything but compact or light weight, especially once the lens is attached, weighing in at a little over a kilogram. If you’re going to be shooting for long hours, you might want to consider the fact that your wrist will be hurting after the shoot.
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Autofocus and Touch Interface review
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 has a 223 point autofocus system, which is a major improvement from what was on the GH4, not just in terms of ‘on-paper specifications’ but also in real world performance. The first most convenient feature is being able to tap on the LCD at the back to select the area of focus. There’s a handy, conveniently placed switch on the back which allows you to choose between single shot AF, continuous AF and manual focus.
If you choose continuous AF, the system will effectively be able to track the subject across the frame. You can expand the active focus area using one of the dials on the grip, to make the tracking a little more effective. While shooting a sprinting dog, we got 8 shots in crisp focus, out of 13. That is a pretty good hit rate for a body that is not designed to be a sports camera.
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Ultra-HD Video review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 can shoot in a multitude of resolutions. There is of course the 1080p resolution, which can shoot up to 180 frames per second. You can even record in 4K resolution (with a choice of 8-bit or 10-bit colour) and choose between three varying bit-rates. Higher the bit-rate, higher the general image quality. The GH5 offers up to 150mps data streams, meaning this is the highest quality in-camera 4K you can record.
If 4K doesn’t do it for you, there is also a 6K mode, but there are a number of catches to it. Unlike the usual 16:9 aspect ratio, the 6K footage is “anamorphic” and comes out as 4:3 aspect ratio footage. Second, the 6K mode doesn’t shoot actual video, but instead shoots multiple frames at 30fps and compiles it into an mp4 file.
The upside is, you get a video file with 6K resolution, the downside is there is no sound. Also, you can’t just record 6K video by pressing the record button. You need to have the shutter button pressed, and there is a limit to the recordable duration.
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Features review
It might seem like Panasonic’s Lumix DMC GH5 is a video centric camera, with so much emphasis on video and what not, but Panasonic isn’t leaving the photographers out to dry. The camera comes with fully programmable intervalometer to allow you to shoot time lapse. There’s also a built-in multiple exposure mode, which we see in several cameras in the market.
What is unique is the built-in focus stacking mode, which, unlike most modes, isn’t crippled by the need for simplicity. You can either get a stacked image processed in-camera or you could take the individual RAW files (or JPGs) and stack them manually in Photoshop or another stacking software.
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Low Light Performance review
Unfortunately, the autofocus suffers when the sun goes down. As good as the camera is at focusing and tracking subjects in good light, once the camera goes indoors or into mixed lighting, locking onto subjects that are close to the lens becomes frustratingly difficult.
We often ended up switching to manual focus in order to get the shot, which was made very convenient thanks to a physical switch. High ISO photos (beyond 6400) tend to show some noise, but nothing that can’t be cleaned up in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, but it does mean you’re going to have to post-process your images before they hit the internet.
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 Verdict
Panasonic Lumix DMC GH5 is every bit a professional machine as you would expect from a camera that costs Rs 1,94,990. The kit lens is incredibly sharp, very atypical of what kit lenses stand for, but absolutely expected from something that carries the Leica branding. The GH5 feels more like a compact video camera that a tool for great photography.
The 20 megapixel micro four thirds sensor doesn’t cope with low light as well as other cameras in this price bracket, but no other camera can do the kind of video the GH5 can, reinforcing its image as more of a video camera than a stills machine.
If you’re an amateur photographer dabbling in a little bit of video production, there are a number of better options out there for you, at a much lower price point. On the other hand, if you’re a video production outfit, the GH5 can add some serious quality to your video offering. This is not a camera for anyone and everyone, but only for serious video professionals who also like to occasionally dabble in photography.