Panasonic GH5s Study - Hands on Impressions!

Sorry to be a bit top heavy on the GH5s, but you know, it's a subject of great interest and apparently controversy that's taken over the filmmaking communities on the World Wide Web.

Still, it's a camera I've been keeping my eye on, and many others have kept an interest into Panasonic's new mirror-less camera 'king'

So, without further ado, here we go:

Panasonic gh5s camera

I travelled down to Wex photographic in in London for a workshop with Jim Marks and Carol Hartfree, the Panasonic warriors touring with the camera (amongst, many others - but not today).

The Panasonic GH5s is near enough identical to the GH5 - the size shape and form factor all remain the same - the only difference is that 10.2mp sensor inside that offers better colour reproduction & sensetivity in those higher ISO's.

Jim Marks, the Panasonic ambassador who's been using this - for months - puts it very simply,

'Think of the pixels like buckets collecting light. On the old sensor, we had 20 odd megapixels worth of buckets collecting light. On this one we now have less buckets, but they're bigger, allowing the camera to collect more light'

I've tried explaining this to so many people and never put it as simply as that, so thanks Jim - i'll have that from you.

Jim did a large demo of the slow motion capabilities, and had shown off a lot of his own content on a large 4k HDR Panasonic screen - the content looked gorgeous - that crop at 240 can be pretty frustrating, but the other shooters who have had hands on with this camera before hand had pretty much all agreed that 200 was the sweet spot - it was still slower than the GH5 & it didn't have that crop. It also didn't strangle the data rate too much - so everything looked a little more crisp.

Panasonic guru Jim Marks demoing the Panasonic GH5s

Jim Marks, explaining the several thousand shooting modes of the GH5s*

With the hands on, I did what anyone else would do, close down the aperture, boost the shutter speed and see what kind of noise I'd see at the higher ISO levels.

12,800 was pretty much the limit without seeing noise.


This is a four thirds sensor we're talking about here - and we're seeing 100% usable shots at 12,800. A few tech tests shown to me by store personal saw the image retain highlight data and hold strong colour accuracy when pushing the image. It's really impressive; and there' so many tests available to see on YouTube / Vimeo from other users that show that this camera, against all odds - is somewhat low-light heavyweight.

Other additions are 14-bit RAW stills, albeit in a 10.2mp package - a downsize in resolution, but an increase in data - good for your social media types who post often to their platforms.

A somewhat downside to the GH5s is the lack of IBIS (In-body-image-stabilisation). Which has been the subject of much controversy on the web. Some say the inclusion of IBIS is paramount to the camera, and Panasonic have ruined it.

There's arguments on both sides to this story.

IBIS is great, no doubt about it. I can handhold my Olympus 40-150mm pro lens at 150mm (300mm equiv.) - and it really hold up against stabilised lenses - for photos (especially sports photography) - this feature comes into it's own, and I've captured a lot of great shots without the need to worry about my cold, shaky hands.

But, and this is a big but, there are occasions where IBIS has been counter-intuitive for production. For shows like The Grand Tour & Top Gear - the drivers race usually very quick cars around a city or circuit - exteriors are fine, but interiors need to keep a mounted camera inside the cabin. The problem with IBIS in this situation, is that it's still a floating sensor, and with it turned off, the footage from a GH5 has been unusable, because it still messes all about the sensor. I know this may seem like a very niche market - I can't imagine this situation happens often with the target audience of the GH5 - but the lack of IBIS in the GH5s means that these production crews can now look at getting a 10bit 4:2:2 camera on a dashboard without a worry. And with a greater sensitivity.

It's nothing I think 80% of shooters would be concerned about, I'm just saying that there's a reason behind everything, and perhaps this was more of a higher-end market demand?

Would I buy one?

Panasonic GH5s camera

Jim very nicely let me used his 35mm Veydra Cine Primes for a couple of these shots - I've always wanted to see some in the flesh and I wasn't disappointed, they feel and look incredible, so thanks for that too Jim!

I love my GH5. Do I wish it would do better in low-light? Of course, but I can get lenses and lights to sort me out for the majority of my shoots.

If I was lin the market for a new video camera, this would be one of my first choices, however, I'm not looking at this camera and thinking I'm missing out too much or I'm feeling 'cheated' by buying the GH5 early.

They're the same family of cameras, similar to Sony's A7, A7r & A7s. They all have advantages and disadvantages with each system but they're built around one body.

If I needed more low light, then yes, i'd 100% consider getting one, but for now, as an owner of a GH5 - renting is the safer, and much cheaper option.

Happy Shooting!

Panasonic GH5 with Veydra Mini Prime 35mm Lens

Bonus picture! - GH5 with Veydra Mini-Prime!

*may be a dramatisation

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