Panasonic Lumix GH5 preview
Panasonic's Lumix GH5 is a high-end mirrorless camera, aimed at skilled photographers, videographers and movie pros. Teased back in September 2016 but formally announced in January 2017, it's the successor to the Lumix GH4, launched three years previously; like that model it's based on the Micro Four Thirds standard. My GH5 preview is based on updated information and hands-on experience with the camera at a recent Panasonic event.
The Lumix GH5 is based around a new 20 Megapixel sensor, giving it a boost of four Megapixels over the GH4 and now also dispenses with the low-pass filter for potentially crisper results. In a big upgrade over the GH4, the GH5's sensor is now stabilized within the body, allowing it to iron-out the wobbles on any lens you attach; it's the same five-axis mechanism as the Lumix G80 / G85, claiming five stops of compensation. The shutter is quieter with less vibration than before, focusing is quicker, burst shooting with AF is now available at 9fps, and both the screen and viewfinder have received upgrades: the screen has a larger and more detailed 3.2in / 1620k dot panel, while the viewfinder sports a 3680k dot panel with 0.76x magnification and 60fps refresh for one of the most detailed EVFs around. There's also now twin SD slots, both supporting UHS-II U3 cards.
All are very worthy upgrades over the GH4, but the major headlines concern video with the GH5 now supporting unlimited 4k recording up to 60p and 6k Photo capabilities. You can now film 4k UHD at 50p or 60p internally in 4:2:0 / 8-bit or at 24, 25 or 30p internally at 4:2:2 / 10-bit - both un-cropped and at 150Mbit/s. The wider Cinema 4k is still available and a firmware update in Summer promises the option to record it or UHD (up to 30p) using an All-Intra Codec at 400Mbit/s. There's also the option to shoot 4k in 4:3 aspect for use with anamorphic lenses, the fastest 1080p frame rate has been boosted from 96 to 180fps, and there's a programmable focus-racking feature. Like all recent Lumix cameras, the GH5 supports 4k Photo, allowing you to grab 8 Megapixel stills (now at the faster speed of 60fps), but the sensor and processing now supports 6k Photo, capturing 18 Megapixel stills at 30fps. Completing the feature-set are built-in Wifi (at 5GHz) and Bluetooth too, the latter used for responsive remote triggering and easier connectivity, along with a full-size Type-A HDMI and USB 3.1 port. Expect the GH5 in March for $1999 USD / 1699 GBP. Read on for more details.
It represents a big upgrade over the GH4 whether you shoot stills or video, and like that model could become a game-changer in the movie market. In particular the ability to shoot unlimited 4k at up to 60p internally is not available in any camera at this price point and the GH5 also debuts 6k Photo, with the chance to capture 18 Megapixels from video versus 8 Megapixels from 4k. My only question here is whether 6k will be made available as a standard video recording format in the future.
I had a brief chance to try out the GH5 at a preview event and was immediately struck by the larger and more detailed viewfinder and of course the fact all lenses were now stabilized, making it so much more useful for stills or video shooters. I look forward to adding much more when I get my hands on a body again in the future! Is it enough to tempt A7s owners away from full-frame? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Meanwhile, expect the Lumix GH5 in March 2017 at $1999 USD / 1699 GBP.
PS - Panasonic also announced the GH5 alongside three new Leica zoom lenses, an 8-18mm ultra-wide, 16-60mm standard and 50-200mm telephoto zoom, the latter pair with OIS and all three sharing the same f2.8-4 focal ratio. The company has also announced upgraded versions of four popular lenses, the 12-35mm f2.8, 35-100mm f2.8, 45-200mm and 100-300mm. All share the same optics as before, but now all support Dual IS 2, smooth changes in exposure, 240fps AF, Power OIS and dust and spashproof construction. The 12-35mm and 35-100mm may both have already boasted most of these features, but it's great to have the improved stabilisation, focusing and environmental sealing for the older 45-200mm and 100-300mm.