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Panasonic GH5S Hands-On Review | Digital Trends

Panasonic GH5S Hands-On Review | Digital Trends

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Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S

Whereas few digital camera bulletins got here out of this yr’s Shopper Electronics Present, there was no less than one gem: the Panasonic Lumix GH5S. The Micro 4 Thirds mirrorless digital camera is essentially similar to the usual GH5, which acquired a Digital Trends Editor’s Selection award in our evaluation thanks partially to its many inventions in video. Panasonic has now doubled down on that strategy with the S mannequin, making key inner modifications that give it a fair tighter concentrate on skilled video creators.

We don’t use the time period “professional” right here flippantly. The $2,500 GH5S not solely prices greater than the usual mannequin, nevertheless it additionally merely gained’t attraction to as broad a demographic. Nonetheless photographers have little (however maybe not zero) cause to think about it, and lots of fanatic and even some skilled video shooters might want the usual mannequin.

All of that is to say that the GH5S can’t actually be in contrast side-by-side with different mirrorless cameras, however for a sure sect of Panasonic followers, that is the GH digital camera they’ve all the time wished Panasonic would construct. We have now to confess, it’s refreshing to see a serious company produce such a distinct segment product for a small, however devoted group of customers, even when it’s not the all-out higher digital camera.


The GH5S is nearly similar to the GH5 on the surface, save for a brilliant purple “REC” button on prime (apparently, professional video shooters have been demanding this, we suppose as a result of the unlabeled pink dot document button on the GH5 was too complicated). The digital camera, nevertheless, feels lighter once you decide it up. As Panasonic defined it, that is because of the removing of the picture stabilization system. It’s not an enormous distinction — perhaps the equal of eradicating the battery — however it’s noticeable.

Extra importantly for anybody wanting to make use of the digital camera on an prolonged shoot, the GH5S can now be each powered and charged over USB. This implies it’s straightforward to attach an exterior battery to maintain the digital camera operating all day, which could be particularly necessary if it’s put in in a rig the place accessing the battery door could possibly be troublesome.

Aside from that, it’s enterprise as traditional. It has the identical three.68-million-dot digital viewfinder, similar 1.62-million-dot articulating LCD monitor, and similar ruggedized construct. It’s not the prettiest mirrorless digital camera we’ve seen, nevertheless it definitely is useful.

These weren’t the pixels you have been on the lookout for

The primary spec that jumps out concerning the GH5S is its 10.2-megapixel sensor, which is roughly half the quantity pixels of the usual GH5. This determination could seem a bit odd, as if Panasonic is asking clients to pay extra for much less, however it’s truly an excellent factor. Whereas a number of full-frame and medium format cameras proceed to duke it out within the fabled megapixel struggle, shoppers have lastly wised as much as the truth that extra doesn’t all the time equal higher (and producers, in flip, have wised as much as shoppers wising up). By placing fewer pixels on the sensor, every pixel may be bigger, growing its sensitivity to mild which ought to increase low mild efficiency. Actually, the GH5S has a brand new most ISO of 51,200, two stops higher than the GH5.

The brand new most ISO of 51,200 is 2 stops higher than the GH5.

This doesn’t matter fairly as a lot to nonetheless photographers, who might downscale their 20MP GH5 photographs to 10MP to chop out excessive ISO noise, however videographers don’t have the identical flexibility. For this reason beginning out with fewer, bigger pixels (as long as you continue to have sufficient for 4K decision) is so thrilling to video shooters. However low mild efficiency isn’t the one advantage of the GH5’s decreased decision in relation to video.

Arguably, 4K video has greater than sufficient decision all however probably the most demanding purposes (for instance, if you could have the liberty to considerably crop and reframe your footage). But, it solely measures three,840 x 2,160 pixels — or about eight.three megapixels, a quantity that hasn’t been spectacular on a digital nonetheless digital camera since 2006. Capturing video from a better decision sensor poses an issue: What do you do with all these additional pixels?

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

One technique is just to disregard them, utilizing pixel skipping or binning to chop out the pixels you don’t want. The superior technique is to oversample the pixels, pulling larger decision than you want from the sensor and letting the processor downscale it to 4K. In reality, many mirrorless cameras at the moment, just like the GH5, oversample 4K video from roughly a 5K area of the sensor. The GH5S, as we perceive it, data precisely the variety of pixels it wants: One pixel is recorded for each pixel that’s processed and output within the last body.

Whereas 1:1 sampling is definitely higher than pixel skipping or binning, oversampling ought to technically nonetheless produce sharper outcomes (for a headache-inducing rationalization of why that is, learn up on the sampling theorem). Nevertheless, on account of present limitations of sensor and processor know-how (no less than anyplace close to this worth level), a digital camera just like the GH5 has to learn out pixels one line at a time. The extra pixels it data, the longer this course of takes, which makes the dreaded jello cam impact worse. That is notably troublesome for handheld photographs, fast pans, or when capturing fast-moving topics, which can appear to be they’re “leaning” in a single course.

The GH5S, then, ought to produce much less jello cam, have larger low mild efficiency, and nonetheless keep sharp video with 1:1 sampling all because of its decrease decision sensor.

Video picture high quality

The GH5S makes use of the identical four:2:2 10-bit, 400 megabit-per-second inner codec because the GH5, which continues to be some critical energy for a small digital camera. However Panasonic has discovered methods to enhance it.

Borrowing a know-how from its skilled Varicam line, Panasonic has launched twin native ISO know-how right into a Lumix digital camera for the primary time. In line with a Panasonic consultant, this places two capacitors behind every pixel, every tuned for a unique ISO. This provides the GH5S two ISO totally different settings (400 and a couple of,500) which might be each “zero gain,” which means they need to have the identical efficiency when it comes to dynamic vary. (Panasonic states the GH5S can hit 14 stops of dynamic vary for RAW nonetheless pictures, however hasn’t truly listed dynamic vary for video, which is probably going a tad decrease because of the lack of a RAW video format.)

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

The sensible impact of twin native ISO is that videographers have larger flexibility for working in several lighting circumstances, as they gained’t need to rely as a lot on synthetic lights or impartial density filters so as to management the sunshine for the most effective ISO setting. The digital camera can even easily ramp ISO routinely for pure transitions from indoors to out.

The GH5S additionally receives a pleasant increase to its excessive framerate choices. Whereas the GH5 provided 4K Extremely HD (three,840 x 2,160) video at 60 frames per second (fps), the GH5S brings that framerate to DCI 4K (four,096 x 2,160) — a world’s first. Meaning customers of the broader facet ratio can now shoot sluggish movement footage with out dropping decision and having to scale it up in publish. And at 1080p, the GH5S can now shoot as quick as 240 fps, up from 180 within the GH5, albeit with a small crop.

New instruments for video execs

Enhancing video high quality is all the time welcome, however high quality alone isn’t the one factor skilled videographers want. The GH5S is full of options that make it extra acquainted, extra helpful, and extra versatile as a video digital camera than the GH5 earlier than it (which, admittedly, was already fairly nice on this regard).

At 1080p, the GH5S can now shoot as quick as 240 fps.

First up, V-LogL — a $100 add-on for the GH5 — is now included normal, as is Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG). V-LogL is Panasonic’s implementation of a logarithmic tone curve, which preserves extra dynamic vary, however the image comes out wanting “flat” and have to be colour graded. Luckily, the GH5S now has a LUT show perform, which lets customers preview log footage in a better to ultimate state proper within the digital camera, one thing that would solely be carried out on the GH5 with knowledgeable exterior monitor.

That’s not the one cue the GH5S took from exterior screens. The digital camera now has video scopes built-in, together with waveforms for judging publicity and a vectorscope for colour. Having these instruments proper within the digital camera means customers can produce extra correct footage when a monitor can’t be used, comparable to in run-and-gun conditions or when mounting the digital camera as a crash cam or in one other tight spot.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S In contrast To

Old fashioned filmmakers may also respect the choice to show shutter angle instead of shutter velocity, whereas the ENG crowd will like that ISO may be displayed when it comes to decibels of achieve. If these further phrases don’t imply something to you, don’t fear — simply stick with shutter velocity and ISO and every thing will perform such as you anticipate.

Lastly, the GH5S has time code in/out by way of its flash sync port (a BNC adapter cable is included with the digital camera) so it may possibly sync to different skilled video cameras. That is big for multi-camera productions the place maintaining totally different angles in sync is essential, like occasion or music movies.

Why some videographers won’t need the GH5S

On the excessive finish, the GH5S in all probability is sensible for many customers, however there’s one potential space the place it’s nonetheless outclassed by the GH5: Anamorphic four:three capturing. The GH5S nonetheless has this potential, however because of the decrease pixel rely, it’s restricted to 4K decision. The GH5 can document 6K anamorphic footage, which is basically fairly spectacular, particularly for a $2,000 mirrorless digital camera. Nonetheless, whenever you throw within the higher noise efficiency and decrease danger of jello cam, the GH5S would be the more sensible choice.

For common customers, the primary disadvantage of the GH5S is the shortage of in physique picture stabilization. The usual GH5 has a implausible 5-axis sensor-shift stabilizer, which makes it simpler to make use of handheld. This doesn’t matter as a lot to professionals, who’ve strong rigs and gimbals for mounting the digital camera, nevertheless it might be extra essential to the likes of vloggers and YouTubers than all the video advantages of the GH5S mixed.

Time-lapse images can also be higher left to higher-resolution sensors. The GH5S has inner intervalometer and time-lapse controls, however it gained’t supply the identical flexibility for zooming and panning in publish because the 20MP GH5.

Is the GH5S any good for nonetheless images?

In the event you’re a nonetheless photographer, Panasonic doesn’t thoughts in the event you say no the GH5S — the corporate will very fortunately promote you the brand new Lumix G9. That stated, the GH5S does have one potential benefit over the each the GH5 and the G9: 14-bit RAW information. Presumably, that is to carry the additional knowledge from the elevated dynamic vary of the 10.2MP sensor. How massive a distinction this makes, and whether or not or not it makes up for the shortage of decision relative to its friends, is one thing we’ll attempt to take a look at in our full assessment. (Even on full-frame cameras with oodles of pixels and excessive dynamic vary, the distinction between 12 and 14 bits is usually onerous to identify.)

Aside from decision, the GH5S retains a lot of the nice nonetheless digital camera options of the GH5. Panasonic’s wonderful Depth from Defocus autofocus system returns, however is now much more delicate, right down to -5EV, which ought to make capturing in darkish circumstances simpler. Burst price stays a powerful 12 fps with AF locked or eight with steady AF (11 or 7, respectively, in 14-bit mode). And naturally, the physique continues to be ruggedized towards mud, moisture, and chilly so you possibly can take it virtually anyplace.

Our ideas thus far

The Lumix GH5S is a really thrilling digital camera for a small variety of individuals, and we’re fairly impressed — maybe even a bit shocked — that Panasonic made it. This will seem like a hybrid mirrorless digital camera, however it’s a skilled video software by means of and thru, one we anticipate to see utilized in every part from scholar movies to Hollywood blockbusters. It’s a (comparatively) reasonably priced entry level into the world of cinema cameras, and a succesful B digital camera and crash cam for high-budget productions. Oh yeah, and it’s a decently succesful nonetheless digital camera if, you understand, you need to take some photographs with it.

Nevertheless, the area of interest attraction of the GH5S means it comes at a $500 premium over the usual mannequin. We’re unsure how we really feel about that. Understandably, that is nonetheless a really low cost digital camera from the attitude of many professional shooters, however it may hold superior instruments like video scopes and time code sync out of the palms of budget-conscious amateurs and college students who may benefit from studying and dealing with these instruments.

That stated, no matter worth, the usual GH5 stays the higher selection for many customers. The upper decision sensor and built-in picture stabilization make it extra versatile and approachable than the hyper-focused GH5S. But when video is your factor, we anticipate the GH5S could also be the most effective sub-$three,000 digital camera on the market, and it even provides costlier cameras a critical run for his or her cash. As constructive as our preliminary impressions are, we’ll have to spend extra time with the digital camera and document extra check footage earlier than we will actually decide it.


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Saurabh Shah

Saurabh Shah

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