Panasonic teased us with an announcement at Photokina in September that it would soon unveil a new top-of-the-line digital single lens mirrorless camera, the Lumix GH5. The time has come, and the camera will be available in late March.
It’s quite the camera, as a flagship model should be, a Micro Four Thirds camera delivering a high-end, hybrid performance to photo enthusiasts and professional videographers looking to capture 4K 60p/50p video and 6K Photo.
The proof will be in the pudding, as the saying goes, but let’s see what the company has to say about the GH5 and its performance:
The camera is able to achieve high-quality images with real-life details through excellent resolution, image rendering and colour reproduction. Its new Digital LIVE MOS Sensor increases the pixel count by 25 percent compared to the GH4, from 16.05-megapixels to 20.3-megapixels, while also removing the low-pass filter.
The camera also comes with a new image processor Venus Engine, which achieves improvement especially in natural texture expression. The engine’s Multi-pixel Luminance Generation renders clear, sharp images by referring to a 9x larger area of pixel information during the de-mosaic process for precise detail reproduction. With Intelligent Detail Processing, the characteristic of every single pixel is analyzed to detect whether the pixel is located at a flat, detail or edge part of the picture. Optimum processing according to the characteristic of each pixel is then applied. This results in high-precision yet natural images with stunning detail suppressing false colours at its edges.
Also, Three Dimensional Colour Control detects not only hue and saturation, but also brightness, and applies optimum control according to the value of each factor. This achieves rich colour reproduction from shadows to highlights of the image. The conventional Multi Process NR (Noise Reduction) is upgraded to High Precision Multi Process NR. It boasts 4x the noise identification accuracy compared to the previous engine and preserves details even after the noise reduction process. As a result, photos can be clearly shot even at high sensitivity ISO values of up to 25,600.
There’s more, as might be guessed:
The GH5 also incorporates the 5-axis Dual I.S. (Image Stabilizer) 2, which suppresses blurring in more powerful and advanced ways for both photo and video recording, including 4K video. Combining an O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer, 2-axis) and B.I.S. (Body Image Stabilizer, 5-axis), it compensates for larger movements which were conventionally uncontrollable. The high-precision gyro sensor controls both the O.I.S. and B.I.S. compensation by studying the focal length and shooting conditions, making it possible to use a maximum 5-stop slower shutter speed.
Panasonic touts the GH5 as a lean, mean, video machine:
Signal readout speed has been accelerated by a maximum 1.7x in the new Digital Live MOS Sensor, and the new Venus Engine processes signals at a maximum 1.3x higher speed. This, says the company, realizes 4K 60p/50p ultra high-definition, smooth, video recording for the first time in a DSLM camera. It is also capable of internal 4:2:2 / 10-bit video recording, which is the colour subsampling commonly used for film production, for even more faithful colour reproduction.
The high-sensitivity MOS Sensor and Venus Engine effectively suppress rolling shutter distortion and realize high-speed readout of full digital signals. This ensures an outstandingly high image quality for every single frame. In addition, the focal length in video recording is kept the same as that in photo shooting (no cropping).
Users can freely choose between MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD formats at a variety of frame rates, and there is no recording time limit for both FHD and 4K video. Professional users working globally can set the system frequency to 59.94Hz, 50.00Hz or 24.00Hz.
While ‘Cinelike D’ and ‘Cinelike V’, which have similar gamma setting characteristics for film production, are available in Photo Style for video recording, the GH5 also provides ‘Like 709’ for compatibility with HDTV. A paid software upgrade to support V-LogL video recording is also available.
In response to requests from professional users, the camera comes with a Waveform Monitor and Vector Scope. It also embeds SMPTE-compliant Time Code either in Rec Run or Free Run count-up methods, which makes it easy to synchronize multiple video footage or sound sources in the post production workflow. Luminance levels can be selected between 64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10-bit). Synchro Scan mode suppresses flicker and Color Bars (SMPTE / EBU / ARIB Standard) are also available.
The GH5 comes with a newly improved Depth from Defocus and Contrast AF technology, which not only calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness levels, but also analyzes the form, size and even motion of the subject comprehensively. Thanks to the new Venus Engine, the time for measuring the distance to the subject is 6x faster, while factoring the distance into in-plane or in-depth is 2x faster.
The speed of sensor drive during auto focusing in photo shooting mode has been increased to 480 fps, which is 2x faster than that of the GH4. Consequently, the GH5 realizes ultra-high-speed AF of approximately 0.05 sec and 12 (AFS) / 9 (AFC) fps high-speed burst shooting using a mechanical shutter in full resolution. By analyzing every single frame precisely, it achieves a maximum 200 percent higher precision frame detection with minimum motion detection error for higher tracking tolerance against moving subjects.
For even more precise focusing, the number of focus areas has been increased from 49 to 225. Users can create a group of focus areas depending on the composition and can control it easily with a new joystick located on the thumb position, without taking your eyes off the subject. This is possible even when using the LVF or releasing the finger off the shutter button.
If focus is not exactly as the user intended when the shutter is pressed, the GH5’s Post Focus function enables users to select the specific focus point even after shooting. In addition, the camera also features a Focus Stacking function. Taking a single macro photo with specific areas in focus, for example, can sometimes be difficult; Focus Stacking enables users to take multiple images of the same frame with different focus points. You can then combine them into one image with the defocus as you like.
The 6K Photo function makes it possible to capture at 30 fps by extracting the frame with the best timing out of the 6K burst file (in 3:2 or 4:3 aspect) to save as an approximately 18-megapixel equivalent high resolution photo. 4K Photo has also been upgraded enabling 60 fps high speed capture in approximately 8-megapixel equivalent resolution. In 6K/4K Photo, three exclusive modes are available to choose from depending on the situation; 6K/4K Burst, 6K/4K Burst (Start/Stop) and 6K/4K Pre-burst.
By compensating the signal information between the frames, the Venus Engine makes it possible to apply Post Recording Refinement over the pictures to correct distortion and reduce noise when playing back or cutting images out of the 6K/4K burst file. As a result, the picture quality of 6K/4K Photo shot at high shutter speed in high sensitivity or those shot in panning are dramatically improved.
The GH5’s main structure is magnesium alloy, a full die-cast front/rear frame. Secure construction and the sealing of every joint, dial, and button makes the camera not only splash/dust-proof, but also freeze-proof down to -10 Celsius.
The camera is equipped with two SD Memory Card slots compatible with high-speed, high capacity UHS-IIs. Users can flexibly choose the recording method either in Relay Rec, Backup Rec or Allocation Rec.
The GH5 has a large LVF (Live View Finder) with a magnification ratio of approximately 1.52x / 0.76x (35 mm camera equivalent). The high-precision, high-speed, OLED, 3.2-inch, free-angle, rear screen display features 100 percent field of view.
And, oh yes, the shutter unit is durable for approximately 200,000 releases.
The GH5 integrates Bluetooth 4.2 and Wi-Fi 5GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) connectivity.
There’s an optional battery grip, to extend shooting time.
The optionally available microphone adaptor is a plug-in type adaptor for XLR microphone to record high quality stereo sound.
To save power, the camera automatically enters sleep mode after detecting the eye is off the LVF sensor.
Various shutter systems are available with the GH5: A mechanical shutter with maximum 1/8000 sec, an electronic-first curtain shutter with maximum 1/2000 sec which can be used with flash while suppressing the shutter shock, and an electronic shutter without shutter shock with maximum 1/6000 sec.
Firmware updates will add: Full HD 4:2:2 10bit video recording capability (scheduled for April); 400Mbps 4:2:2 10bit All-Intra video recording in 4K 30p/25p/24p; Full HD, high resolution video recording in Anamorphic mode; Hybrid Log Gamma in Photo Style mode which enables 4K HDR video recording and USB tethering (all scheduled for second half of 2017).
The Lumix GH5 will be available (body only) in late March.