Build and Handling
The Panasonic Lumix Gh5, like a lot of other cameras, is made with magnesium alloy, a material known for its high structural integrity while being lightweight. In addition to the hermetically-sealed build, the construction material enables operability in different weather conditions. Also, you don’t have to be scared of overheating from lengthy use as this camera is optimized for heat dissipation with the increase in its sensor-to-body ratio compared to the Lumix GH4.
The Lumix GH5 looks like the GH4, which is not surprising since it is the predecessor. However, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is notably larger, a welcomed change that has significantly helped with the handling. Notable changes from the GH4 to the GH5 include the absence of a flash (there is a hot shoe for external flash), the relocation of the record button to the top, and an increase in the viewfinder and screen’s size and resolution. In addition to the bigger screen size, the screen can be tilted and swiveled to ease operation.
While I don’t really agree with some of the physical changes like the removal of the flashlight, and the increase in size (especially if you are used to the GH4’s size), and because I find the camera top a bit crowded, I appreciate that there are more special function buttons for quick settings instead of going through the touchscreen. For example, the three standout buttons with different finishes that have been dedicated to White Balance, ISO, and Exposure Compensation.
These dedicated buttons eventually make video recording easier. Another special mention is the addition of a joypad primarily meant for toggling the focus, a feature absent from the GH4.
This camera has two memory card slots with UHS-II support for dual recording, an HDMI Type-A port for outputting to an external monitor, and a USB-C port for fast data transfer. As for wireless connectivity, the Lumix GH5 has a Bluetooth and Wi-fi option for easy connectivity with your other devices like a laptop or speakers. And as for power, it uses a DMW-BLF19 lithium-ion battery, the same as Lumix GH4.
Also read: Best Video Camera for Beginners
Specifications of Panasonic Lumix GH5
Sensor Size: 17.3 X 13mm (Micro Four Thirds)
Sensor Type: CMOS
Processor: Venus Engine 10
Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds
Maximum Resolution: 5184 X 3888
Effective Pixels: 20.3 Megapixels
Color Space and Color Filter Array: sRGB, Adobe RGB, and Primary color filter
ISO: 100 – 25,600
White Balance Presets: 5
Image Stabilization: 5-axis, supports Dual IS 2
Uncompressed format: RAW
Aspect Ratio: 1:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9
File Format: JPEG, RAW
Optics and Focus
Autofocus: Contrast Detector, Multi-area, Center, Selective single-point, Tracking, Single, Continuous, Touch, Face Detection, and Live view.
AF assist lamp: Yes
Digital Zoom: Yes (2x,4x)
Manual Focus: Yes
Autofocus Points: 225
Autofocus Sensitivity: -4 to +18 EV
Lens mount: Micro Four thirds
Crop Factor (Focal length multiplier): 2x
Resolutions: 4096 x 2160 (24p), 3840 x 2160 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p).
Format: MPEG-4, AVCHD, H.264
Audio recording: AAC audio, 2-channel AC-3 audio
Minimum Shutter Speed: 60 seconds
Maximum Shutter Speed: 1/16000 second
Shutter Type: Mechanical Focal Plane Shutter, Electronic Shutter
Exposure modes: Auto, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Built-in flash: No
External Flash: Yes (hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash Modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced on, forced on with red-eye reduction, Slow sync, Slow sync with red-eye reduction, Forced off.
Flash X sync speed: 1/250 sec
Continuous drive: 12.0 fps at 20.3 MP, 30fps at 18MP, and 60fps at 8MP
Self-timer: Yes (2 to 10 secs with three shots)
Exposure Compensation: +5 or -5 at ⅓ EV steps
Storage: Dual slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
Video I/O: 1 HDMI Output
Audio I/O: One ⅛ inch 3.5mm TRS Headphone output, one ⅛ inch 3.5mm TRS stereo microphone input
Other I/O: One USB Type-C (USB 3.2, 3.1 Gen 1) for Data Input, output, and charging. One 2.5mm Sub-mini Control input.
Wireless: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi
LCD: Fully articulated
Screen size: 3.2 inches
Screen dots: 1,620,000
Touch Screen: Yes
Live view: Yes
Viewfinder type: Electronic
Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
Viewfinder magnification: 0.76x
Viewfinder resolution: 3,680,000
Environmentally sealed: Yes
Battery: Battery Pack (DMW-BLF19 lithium-ion battery and charger)
Battery Life: 410 shots
Dimension (WxHxD): 139mm x 98mm x 87mm
Construction material: Magnesium Alloy
Performance of Panasonic Lumix GH5
This segment is probably the most important part of this Panasonic Lumix GH5 review, and with good reason. For ease, I will be breaking this segment down into smaller ones to explain better how this camera performs.
The autofocus is one of the selling points of this camera. The 225-AF system covers a good part of the image frame. In addition to the 225 AF system, this camera has a custom mode that enables users to select the AF area group. You can revert to the AF options mentioned earlier in the “camera specification” segment.
You have the option of customizing four different profiles for quick AF settings. Interestingly, the GH5 has a motion tracking feature to help users achieve easier subject focus. I find this highly helpful as it reduces the time for achieving focus, especially with fast subjects during video shoots. The downside to the motion tracking AF is that it tracks the face only and quickly changes focus to other subjects once the subject’s face is out of the frame. Recent cameras from Canon have a better motion tracking feature.
The focusing speed on this camera has improved from 0.07s on the Lumix GH4 to 0.05s on the Lumix GH5. The focus system also works well in different lighting scenarios. From my experience using this camera in low light while covering an indoor event, I could still notice its efficiency at an EV of -4.
Exposure Compensation, White Balance, and Dynamic Range
To compensate for exposure, this camera uses a 1,728-zone metering system, which I have to say is quite effective. It was only on rare occasions that I had to manipulate the exposure settings.
The white balance (WB) proves to be as efficient as the exposure metering system. The preset WB modes markedly make achieving a natural look easier. The complaint I have with the WB is the time taken before full adjustment to the scene, especially when the change in lighting is sudden.
The dynamic range on this camera particularly impressed me, considering the small size of the sensor, as larger sensor sizes generally tend to have better dynamic range, everything else being equal. Even at mid to high ISOs, this camera manages to capture good images without leaving a lot of noise in the background.
The Lumix GH5 records high-quality 4K videos unlike some other digital cameras in the same price range, which use upgraded 4K and not native. This camera captures some of the clearest 4K formats out there which makes your job when doing video editing much more efficient. You can record MOV, MPEG-4, and MP4 videos. And they come out in 10-bit 4:2:2 and 8-bit 4:2:0 image clarity for DCI 4K, UHD 4K, and FHD resolutions.
Then, this camera records at high frame rates, enough to get a decent slow motion scene. For the 4K, the max frame rate is 60fps, while you can get up to 180fps for the FHD. The best video outputs on these cameras come out in large files. Thankfully, you can record on two SD cards simultaneously, while you can also output to an external monitor through HDMI.
If you decide not to record 4K resolution videos, you can record lower resolutions. The increased frame rates make for poorer image quality but better slow-motion videos. This is a significant advantage the GH5 has over Fujifilm’s X-T3. The Lumix GH5 can run at 180fps which is more than what the X-T3 offers, 120fps.
The ISO settings for the video mode are 100 – 12800. It is not quite as large as the range for the picture mode, and it is small compared to the Fujifilm X-T3’s ISO range which maxes out at 51200 from 100.
There is more flexibility with ISO for the picture mode as you have a range from 100 to 25,600. While this camera is quite good for recording videos, the sensor size is a disadvantage when taking pictures. The reason for this is that larger sensors produce better pictures simply because of their ability to hold more pixels, and hence, better resolution.
The formats available for shooting in the picture mode are JPEGS and RAW formats. In a continuous shooting (burst) mode, you can get up to 12fps for both formats. At the 12fps burst mode, this camera can take 194 JPEG shots, 75 RAW shots, and a combined 64 shots for JPEG and RAW format while the buffering time for each format is 18s, 37s, and 43s respectively.
Image Stabilization of Panasonic Lumix GH5
The Lumix DH5 uses an In-body image stabilization (IBIS) feature for stabilizing images during video shoots. It is a 5-axis Dual IS 2. This implies that this camera helps you with a multi-directional anti-vibration while it also has the capability of combining with a lens IS. You will appreciate it more if you are shooting handheld in low-light scenes, which usually require low shutter speeds.
If you wonder what the IS works like when this camera is mounted on a gimbal, well, you can either stick to the gimbal or use the camera’s native IS. However if you decide to use the two together, you will need to adjust the IS settings in the camera. In addition, you can get better steady images if you combine the Lumix GH5’ IS with a lens IS.
The most significant part of the audio is the sublime noise cancellation added to this camera’s audio feature. Low filter noises such as camera handling and operations are filtered out during playback. While the camera mic can’t be used for pro-grade recording, it offers basic sound capture.
This camera beats its closest competition, the Fujifilm X-T3, in video battery life. 55 minutes to the X-T3’s 44 minutes. However, comparing the battery’s capacity to the GH4 gives you lower battery life. Although, the lesser battery life can easily be attributed to the greater efficiency of the GH5 since both cameras use the same battery.
Image and Video Quality
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is one of the best MFT-sensor cameras around based on the quality of videos and pictures it produces. While some of the image quality is still down to the attached lens and its elements, this camera has the processing power and the sensor quality to produce quality images and video frames.
I have to mention that the GH5 uses a full-sensor oversampling to produce its images in both stills and videos. Compared to the Sony a6500 with a higher resolution sensor (24MP), it comes behind, but that is not really surprising. On the flip side, the Sony a6500 has more aliasing artifacts compared to the GH5.
As a result of the increased processing power from the Lumix GH4, there is an obvious increase in the image quality for both the videos and pictures. For example, the noise evident in the images produced by the GH4 is now significantly reduced, especially at both ends of the ISO range.
Regarding image quality in low-light scenarios, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 performs below average compared to the X-T3 although one can excuse the performance to the smaller sensor compared to the X-T3 (MFTs rarely outperform larger sensors in image quality, especially in low-light scenes). However, its low-light performance is uniform across the different picture resolutions and at different ISOs.
One of the artifacts common with CMOS cameras is the rolling shutter. This is important to image quality because it causes image distortion. While the rolling shutter artifact has not been eliminated from the Lumix GH5, it has been reduced to 15ms from 22ms with the GH4. If you are familiar with the GH4, you will be able to notice the difference in both image qualities.
On a final note, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 performs well in terms of image and video quality compared to some cameras with comparative advantages like sensor resolution and size.
A wide angle shot of a stream using the Lumix GH5
Focal Length: 20mm
Shutter Speed: 1/800 seconds
A standard shot of a river bank on the Lumix GH5
Focal Length: 31mm
Shutter Speed: 1/320 seconds
A closeup shot of a little girl using the Lumix GH5 with a telephoto lens
Focal Length: 93mm
Shutter Speed: 1/200 seconds
The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a top-tier video camera that takes good stills and better videos. From improved features and designated buttons to better camera handling, the GH5 has seen significant upgrades on the GH4, therefore making it a better video camera than its predecessor. On the other hand, the sensor size has proven to be a disadvantage in image quality in both videos and pictures compared to some other cameras with similar features.
All in all, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a good video camera for people looking to start from the basics and grow into professional videography. It gives a feel of how pro-grade cameras work, but comes at only a fraction of the cost. It offers great value for money with its sturdy design and quality specs.