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Panasonic GH5 review: The ultimate hybrid video and stills camera

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1699
inc VAT

Packed with professional features, the Panasonic GH5 is the new standard bearer for indie filmmakers.


  • Outstanding video quality
  • Pro-level video features
  • Superb ergonomics for photos and video


  • New features will be beyond some users’ needs
  • Photo noise levels slightly higher than from direct competitors
  • More expensive than the GH4

Panasonic GH5 review: Video capture

The Panasonic GH5’s video mode is the star of the show and its 60fps 4K capture and 10-bit encoding set it apart from anything else at this price. Encoding at these settings is at 150Mbits/sec, which strikes a sensible balance of image information against file size. The 10-bit mode also uses 4:2:2 chroma subsampling, which means higher-resolution colour information compared to the usual 4:2:0. 10-bit and 4:2:2 are only available at 4K at 24/25/30fps and Cinema 4K at 24fps but that covers most people’s needs.

Panasonic also offers a colour profile called V-Log L, which records flat colours akin to shooting RAW photos. According to Panasonic it increases the dynamic range of footage from 10 to 12 stops. V-Log L is a $100 USD upgrade and I’d imagine that anyone who’s interested in 10-bit recording will consider it an essential purchase.

Software compatibility for 10-bit files is currently limited but I was able to work with them in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2017. Direct comparisons with 8-bit footage showed a subtle improvement after applying heavy colour correction to footage. Popular distribution platforms such as Blu-ray and YouTube all use 8-bit, 4:2:0 colour so the benefit will only be felt during the editing process, particularly for aggressive colour correction and green-screen masking. Owners will need to decide whether these benefits are worth the drawbacks in terms of software compatibility and processing overhead, but it’s great to have the option.

The V-Log L colour profile provided more obvious benefits, revealing extra details in highlights and shadows and reducing posterisation artefacts after colour correction. Significantly, it was much more effective than the Cinelike D profile that’s included as standard for the same purpose. The ability to use Look-up tables (LUTs) to apply colour profile presets gave an editing experience that was closer to working with RAW files than JPEGs. Premiere Pro CC slowed significantly when working with LUTs and 10-bit footage, though. Selecting V-LogL on the camera pushes the base ISO speed up from 200 to 400, and there’s a bit of noise visible in darker parts of the frame but it’s not too hard to hide this in the shadows with careful colour correction.

Panasonic GH5 bit depth - highlights

^ Comparing details of frames of an overexposed sky shot using Cinelike D and V-Log L colour profiles in both 8-bit and 10-bit. I’ve been able to recover the blue sky using Premiere Pro CC’s colour grading tools, but there’s blocky posterisation of colour in the Cinelike D footage at both 8- and 10-bit. Graded V-Log L footage gives significantly better results, although there’s still some posterisation in the 8-bit V-Log L footage. 10-bit V-Log L comes out on top. [click image to enlarge]

Panasonic GH5 bit depth - shadows

^ A shadier corner of the same scene, shot with darker exposure settings. The shadows are almost black in the Cinelike D footage. I’ve been able to recover some shadow detail using colour grading but there’s quite a bit of noise as a result. V-Log L makes it easier to recover shadow detail without excessive noise, and there’s slightly more detail in the grass at the bottom-left of the crop in the 10-bit version. [click image to enlarge]

^ Comparing 8-bit 4:2:0 and 10-bit 4:2:2 for chroma keying (using Premiere Pro CC’s Ultra Key effect). The higher-resolution colour information in 4:2:2 footage means the mask is sharper but the difference is pretty subtle

^ This animated GIF directly compares the 8-bit 4:2:0 and the 10-bit 4:2:2 results on a static subject. This is a 1:1-pixel crop of 4K output. Note that the GIF format limits this image to 256 colours. [click image to enlarge]

^ The same comparison, but this time with graded V-Log L footage: the difference is more pronounced. [click image to enlarge]

The GH4 used a 1:1 pixel crop for its 4K capture, which meant it just used an 8-megapixel area of its 16-megapixel sensor. The GH5 always uses the full width of its 20-megapixel sensor, so its 5,184 x 2,916 frames are resized to 3,840 x 2,160 for 4K output. That means a lot more work for the camera’s processor but details should be a little sharper as a result. It also means lenses have the same equivalent focal length regardless of which recording mode you’re in.

In practice, the boost to image quality is subtle, but direct comparisons with our studio scene taken with the GH4 revealed smoother fine details such as strands of hair. I also noticed that the subtle grain of noise in the GH4’s 4K output at ISO 200 had disappeared in the GH5.

Panasonic GH5 vs GH4

^ Comparing our studio scene with footage from the Panasonic GH4 and GH5 (both captured at 1/50sec, f/5.6, ISO 200, Standard colour profile). There’s less noise in the GH5’s output and fine details are a tad smoother

The faster processor allows 1080p capture at frame rates up to 180fps, delivering 7.5x slow motion at 24fps playback. Disappointingly, the anti-aliasing algorithm is lower quality for slow-motion 1080p capture compared with normal-speed capture, leading to slightly blocky details. It’s an issue that’s shared with the GH4 but I’d hoped the GH5’s faster processor would have resolved it. After all, it’s applying higher quality anti-aliasing for 4K at 60fps, which has an even higher pixel throughput. Still, this probably won’t upset many people.

Panasonic GH5 slow motion frames

^ Details from 1080p footage captured at 25fps and 180fps (the latter for slow-motion playback). The 25fps image is slightly sharper, most notably on the dial on the robot

^ It’s not particularly noticeable in real-world footage, though

^ 4K 50p footage from the GH5: what’s not to like?

Other video-related niceties include the introduction of in-camera wave and vector scopes. It’s now possible to set the shutter speed and aperture manually (to control motion blur and depth of field respectively) but leave the ISO speed on Auto for automatic exposure control. There’s also the promise of All-Intra recording at 400Mbit/sec via a firmware update this summer. All-Intra encoding describes each frame from scratch rather than as an update to the previous frame, which produces enormous files but virtually eliminates compression artefacts, even in busy, fast-moving scenes.

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Panasonic GH5 specifications
Sensor resolution20 megapixels
Sensor size17.3x13mm (Micro Four Thirds)
Focal length multiplier2x
Optical stabilisationSensor shift and available in lenses
ViewfinderElectronic (3,680,000 dots)
Viewfinder magnification (35mm-equivalent), coverage0.76x, 100%
LCD screen3.2in (1,620,000 dots)
Orientation sensorYes
Photo file formatsJPEG, RAW (RW2)
Maximum photo resolution5,184×3,888
Photo aspect ratios4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
Video compression formatMP4 (AVC) at up to 150Mbit/s
Video resolutionsCinema 4K (4096×2160) at 24fps, 4K (3840×2160) at 24/25/30/50/60fps, 1080p at 24/25/30/50/60fps, 1080i at 25/30fps
Slow motion video modes4K at 2-60fps (playback at 24/25/30fps), 1080p at 2-180fps (playback at 24/25/30/50/60fps)
Maximum video clip length (at highest quality)Unlimited
Exposure modesProgram, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed range30 to 1/8,000 seconds (1/16,000s electronic shutter)
ISO speed range100 to 25600
Exposure compensationEV +/-5
White balanceAuto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Auto-focus modesMulti, flexible spot, face detect, tracking, pinpoint, custom multi
Metering modesMulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flash modesN/A
Drive modesSingle, continuous, self-timer, HDR, time lapse, stop motion animation, muiltiple exposure, 4K/6K photo, post focus with focus stacking
Kit lens
Kit lens model namen/a
Optical stabilisation
Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths)
Maximum aperture (wide-tele)
35mm-equivalent aperture
Manual focus
Closest macro focus (wide)
Closest macro focus (tele)
Lens mountMicro Four Thirds
Card slot2x SDXC
Memory suppliedNone
Battery typeLi-ion
ConnectivityUSB (Type C), HDMI, 3.5mm microphone and headphone, 2.5mm wired remote, PC sync
WirelessWi-Fi, Bluetooth v4.2
GPSVia smartphone app
HotshoePanasonic TTL
Body materialMagnesium alloy
AccessoriesUSB cable, neck strap
Weight (with kit lens)725g
Dimensions (HxWxD)98x146x88mm
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price including VAT£1,699
Part codeDC-GH5EB-K

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