The Panasonic GH5 in Review – Everything We Know Right Now

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First: In April, 2015, I announced that I had spoken to a Panasonic rep who told me the GH5 would be announced and released at Photokina 2016. So it turns out, they did announce it at Photokina, but because of manufacturing delays, the camera won’t be released until 2017.

This post will be updated whenever there is new info, and the address will stay the same, so feel free to bookmark it for easy reference.

The Video is Still 4K, but it’s 60fps/50fps

While there were rumors of 6K video coming to the GH5 (see a few points below), it’s actually still limited to 4K – if you can really consider 4K limited in any way.

There are 2 main differences between the GH5 and the GH4 when it comes to video:

  1. The biggest news is that you can record 4K video in 60fps (or 50fps). This is the next logical jump from the GH4’s 30fps, and will help out a lot of people who were using the GH4 in 1080p mode so they could capture smoother video.
  2. The GH5 does 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally. The GH4 only recorded in 8-bit internally, and you had to use an external recorder like the Atomos Shogun to capture 10-bit footage. Note: 10-bit internal won’t work in 4K 60fps mode, but will in all other modes.

The 60fps is more of a headline feature, but lots of pros are also excited about capturing in 10-bit without needing to buy an external recorder. For those who don’t know, 10-bit means you capture a much, much larger range of color values, so your videos won’t have color banding, and will look more lifelike, etc.

It Uses a New 20MP Sensor

There were very mixed opinions before the announcement of whether the GH5 would use a new 20MP sensor or an improved 16MP sensor. This announcement put the speculation to rest.

Panasonic of course haven’t announced what sensor will be in the GH5, but it seems likely that it’ll be the SONY IMX269 used in the Panasonic GX8, the Olympus PEN-F and the new Xiamio YI M1 (see our rundown of this remarkable camera here). This is a great sensor, and also rumored to make an appearance in the upcoming Olympus EM1 Mark II.

There’s a 6K Photo Mode That is Confusing People

Panasonic have been very cagey about what information they’ve given out on the GH5, and they used some odd wording when announcing the 6K Photo mode. In fact, on the morning on the announcement, Engadget was confused enough that they posted that the GH5 would have 6K video, and this, along with the weird wording, spread to a lot of other outlets.

We now know that the 6K is in fact just a photo feature, involving a burst, so you’ll probably be able to take 2 or 3 seconds of 6K photos at once (probably jpegs), like the current 4K Photo mode in recent Panasonic Lumix cameras.

Panasonic haven’t given any specs on how 6K works, and it’s likely that they haven’t finalized details. The Olympus EM1 Mark II has absolutely incredible specs when it comes to shooting bursts of high-res photos, so it’s entirely possible that Panasonic will beef up the processor inside the GH5 and 6K mode might be just as impressive as the EM1 MII (which can shoot 18 frames/second in RAW with autofocus and an absolutely insane 60fps in RAW if you use the electronic shutter with focus and exposure locked.)

The GH5 Body Looks Very Similar to The GH4

No surprise here. Panasonic haven’t officially said, but it seems very likely that all accessories, batteries, grips, etc. from the GH4 will work on the GH5. (Side note: I personally sure hope this is true, because I have spent way, way too much money on GH4 batteries for some reason.)

There’s an Optional Audio Unit That is Hotshoe-Mounted

I haven’t seen any hard info on this, but some Photokina visitors photographed this unit, which looks like a very thorough, compact all-in-one audio solution for the GH5.

gh5-audio-device

It will be very interesting to see how they price it. When the GH4 was released, they also released the YAGH audio-video interface, which was a huge flop, one of the biggest failures I remember seeing.

From what I’ve gathered, the YAGH’s failure was due to the high price, and the limited utility for a lot of GH4 users. The actual units were apparently fine, functional devices, but not enough people needed one badly enough to pay the huge price.

So I don’t know the exact details of this new unit, but to me, it looks like Panasonic have basically stripped out the advanced video features from the YAGH (which are no longer needed), and made a smaller, hopefully self-powered, unit with XLR jacks, level controls, and other audio features.

If this unit is priced reasonably, I think it could be attractive to people who never even considered the YAGH (like me!). If they haven’t learned from the lessons of the YAGH however, this could potentially be something only a few people grab.

People Are Reacting Mostly Positively to the Announcement

I’ve read just about every post, every comment, and watched every Youtube video discussing the GH5, and overall, nobody has any real, legitimate problems with it. Most negative comments are related to Panasonic announcing only some details and specs.

We’ll Probably Have to Wait Until 2017 for the Official Full Specs

It’s widely known that the camera was supposed to be released right around now, but was delayed due to the Kumamoto earthquakes that hit Japan in April, 2016. The quakes damaged SONY’s sensor factory, and since Panasonic (as well as Olympus and others) use SONY sensors, this caused obvious problems.

Now that the camera’s release has had to be delayed, Panasonic have obviously decided to keep details scarce until everything is a bit closer to the final release date. This actually seems like a good sign that they’re continuing to work on the GH5, and improve its specs, while waiting to begin manufacturing them on a large scale.

At Photokina 2016, Panasonic only announced the broad strokes of the features we can expect, and I would speculate that they wanted to keep an eye on what Olympus was going to do with the EM1 Mark II, and possibly alter the GH5’s specifications to match or exceed whatever Olympus announced.

If that is the case, Panasonic certainly have a lot on their plate, because the EM1 MII is, at least as far as specifications are concerned, a fantastic camera. It has a lot of features that were expected, like 4K (with bitrates up to 237 Mbps), but also some surprised, like the incredibly fast speeds for shooting stills, as detailed above. If Panasonic can match all of that, the GH5 will be an absolute high point for mirrorless cameras.

At Least One Other Big Question Remains: Will the GH5 Have IBIS?

This is the question everyone is asking. People who have used IBIS love IBIS, and everybody got pretty worried when Panasonic didn’t say a single thing about it when pre-announcing the GH5.

At first, I thought that they probably just made an oversight, because all the recent Panasonics have IBIS, including the GX85 and the just-announced G85 (which is essentially a GH4 with some tiny changes, a lower price, and added IBIS). The more I thought about it, however, the more I considered the possibility that they’re still unsure whether they can get IBIS working in the GH5. Perhaps there may be overheating issues with the camera due to the higher specs, and they may need to use some extra room in the camera to dissipate heat, which might not leave room for IBIS.

I’m not a sensor expert, so I won’t speculate, but one thing is for sure: Almost everyone is very interested in the GH5 getting IBIS, and if it doesn’t, a lot of people will be opting for the G85 and just dealing with not getting 10-bit video or 60fps in 4K.

Price and Exact Release Date Remain Mysteries

Panasonic have only said that the camera will be available for pre-order in “early 2017” and will ship some time after that. My experience with this sort of thing is that when they say “early 2017” they do not mean January 1st, they mean something like a couple of months in.

Personally, I was waiting to hear the Olympus and Panasonic announcements at Photokina very closely, because I wanted a camera with IBIS (my M43 at the moment is the GH4, without this), and when both companies announced that their flagships would ship at an undetermined date (the EM1-MarkII is in 2016 sometime at least), I went ahead and ordered the Panasonic GX85 in the meantime, and I will re-evaluate when the GH5 finally comes out.

A lot of people who don’t own the GH4 have said they’ll be ordering the G85, which will be released in late October, so if you’re interested, you may consider pre-ordering on Amazon now to guarantee you get one – you can always cancel later if you change your mind. The G85 is, in many ways, a small step up from the GH4, especially where IBIS is concerned, but it may not be a big enough step to bother with if you already own the GH4. Also, importantly to some people is that the GH4 does have some features the G85 doesn’t, such as a headphone jack and slightly faster burst shooting rates.

This post will be updated anytime there is new information available – feel free to bookmark it for easy reference.

5 COMMENTS

    • Funny timing on this – I was just looking at the EM1 MKII today, at a trade show. Unfortunately, it was inside a display case and untouchable, but it looked very nice. I was able to play with a current EM1 a bit, which I have to admit I haven’t done before, and the ergonomics were amazing. If that camera had 4K, I’d buy one almost immediately, so I’m excited for the Mark II. The only thing I did notice was that the Mark 2 is bigger than the current version – maybe not by a ton, but I’d like to hold it and see how it handles first.

      It’s rare that I pick up a camera and really care about how it feels, but the EM1 was an exception because of how comfortable and nice it felt. Really pumped to try the Mark 2 soon!

    • Oh Edvard, one other thing worth noting, is that the GH5 will probably have image stabilization (I have to update this post with some news on this), so your Olympus glass will probably work well on it!

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