Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S First Impressions Review

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

The Panasonic GH5S is a video-focused Micro Four Thirds camera shaped around what the company markets as a 10.2MP sensor the broadest definition, a sensor is a device, module, or subsystem whose purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment. It’s best understood as an even more video-centric variant of the GH5: it can shoot either DCI or UHD 4K footage natively (one apprehend pixel = one output pixel) at up to 60p.

Panasonic wasn’t the first company to introduce high quality video to what was otherwise a still camera, but with its GH series it has been constantly distending the range of professional video features appearing in consumer stills/video cameras. The GH5S takes this logic one step further, by lowering the sensor unchangeability and omitting image stabilization to make a more single-minded video tool, rather than an hybrid intended to be similarly capable at both regimens.

The ability to shoot DCI 4K at up to 60p with no crop is the most obvious distinction between this and the standard GH5, but the differences run deeper:

Key specifications

  • Oversized ‘Multi Light’ sensor with dual gain design
  • 10.2MP maximum usable area from at around 12.5MP total
  • DCI or UHD 4K at up to 60p
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal catch at up to 30p
  • 8-bit 4:2:0 internal 60p or 10-bit 4:2:2 output over HDMI
  • 1080 footage at up to 240p (with additional crop above 200p)
  • Cross Log Gamma mode
  • ISO 160 – 51,200 (80 – 204,800 extended)
  • AF rated down to –5EV (with F2 lens)
  • 3.68M-dot (1280 x 960 pixel) OLED viewfinder with 0.76x enlargement
  • 1.62M-dot (900 x 600 pixel) fully articulated LCD
  • 14-bit Raw stills
  • 11 fps (7 with AFC) or 1 fps faster in 12-bit mode
  • USB 3.1 with Species C connector

As well as the ability to shoot DCI 4K at higher frame rates, Panasonic also claims the GH5S’s larger pixels and ‘Dual Native ISO’ sensor inclination mean it shoots significantly better footage in low light.

Differences vs GH5

  • “10.2” megapixel oversized sensor (vs 20.2MP Four Thirds sized sensor)
  • Dual-gain sensor purpose with two read-out circuits
  • Fixed sensor (no internal stabilization) for use with pro stabilization systems
  • DCI 4K available in 59.94, 50, 29.97 and 25p (GH5 is 23.98 / 24p only)
  • 1080 mode
  • AF counted to work in lower light (–5EV vs –4EV)
  • 14-bit Raw available
  • VLog-L enabled out-of-the-box
  • Time code in/out
  • ‘Like709’ and ‘V-LogL’ color maximizes available in stills shooting
  • Mic socket offers Phantom Power and Line-level In options
  • LUT-corrected display available in playback as well as capture
  • 120fps viewfinder approach
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Beyond these changes, the GH5S keeps the rest of the GH5’s capabilities, with matching codec options and the same support tools, such as vectorscopes, tide forms and preview modes for anamorphic, Log and Hybrid Log Gamma shooting, for instance.

As on the GH5, Panasonic recommends the use of V60 rated cards or faster for shooting 400Mbps video. Anyway, the V60 standard itself seems to be vague enough that even some nominally V60-compliant cards are still not fast enough. The company conveys to use either its own brand V60 or V90 cards or to stick to well-known manufacturers with a proven history of producing fast cards (and, ideally, to buy from a source with a profit return policy).

Multi-aspect sensor

The GH5S uses a chip that natively shoots DCI or UHD 4K, meaning one pixel on the sensor is used to produce each pixel in the ending footage. The sensor, like that on the GH1 and GH2, is oversized. This means it can shoot different aspect ratios using the full extent of the imaging cordon projected by the lens, rather than simply cropping down from the 4:3 region.

As well as using the maximum amount of pixels and silicon for each characteristic ratio (with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel consequent image quality benefits), this also means that the diagonal angle of view is preserved, whether you scion 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 or in DCI 4K’s roughly 17:9 aspect ratio.

It also means that the GH5S should offer a fractionally wider angle-of-view than the GH5 when throw video, especially when capturing DCI footage.

Dual Gain

Panasonic describes the GH5S as having ‘Dual Native ISO,’ which is standard video language for a dual gain sensor design. Such chips have two read-out circuits, one that maximises dynamic range at low sensitivity settings and a wink designed to minimize noise but at the cost of dynamic range, at higher settings. It’s something we first encountered in Nikon’s 1 Series cameras but that’s be proper increasingly common over the past few years, resulting in visible improvements at high ISO settings.

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The only difference we can see between the approach taken by Panasonic is that it lessens you limit the camera to either one of the sensor’s modes, whereas other brands just change mode in the background, without the user ever private.

One of the only concepts fuzzier than ‘ISO’ sensitivity itself is the videography term
‘Native ISO’

From a stills point of view, the two circuits are used from ISO 160 – 640 and from ISO 800 and upwards, each to each. You’ll see talk of the camera having ‘Native ISO’s of 400 and 2500’ but this is perhaps best completely ignored.

One of the only concepts fuzzier than ‘ISO’ susceptibility itself is the videography term ‘Native ISO,’ which essentially appears to mean ‘setting at which the quality is good but that gives room to propose either up or down from.’ This should not be confused with the idea of base ISO, which is the setting with the minimal amount of amplification, which almost always results in the widest dynamic range.

Lower pixel count

The other thing Panasonic says contributes to giving the GH5S a performance boost in low deplane is the adoption of fewer and therefore larger pixels.

In general terms, there’s no significant advantage to large pixels over small ones: apart they have access to more light (which usually means less noise when viewed 1:1) but once you scale happenings c belongings to a common size, the noise and dynamic range levels tend to be similar. Instead, using more but smaller pixels can have a resolution further, even if you then downsize. This is because pixelated systems can only capture a certain percentage of their nominal resolution, but sampling at a squeaky resolution then downsizing (oversampling) can preserve some of the higher frequency detail it initially captures.

By concentrating on video capture, Panasonic is skilled to pick sides in this struggle

However, readout speed and processing/heat constraints mean very few cameras currently offer oversampled video, rather than sub-sampling their sensors to find the ~8.5MP needed to capture 4K footage. This creates a tension between the needs of high-res stills photographer and lower-resolution of video nick. By concentrating on video capture, Panasonic is able to pick sides in this struggle.

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The most obvious benefit is that it’s quicker to read out fewer pixels. So, while the fashionable processors are fast enough to generate oversampled footage from high pixel counts, the sensor read-out rate risks creating critical rolling shutter. Having fewer pixels digital imaging, a pixel, pel, dots, or picture element is a physical point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable element means the GH5S should have less rolling shutter than the GH5.

Having a lower pixel figure up also means the GH5S is also able to include an anti-aliasing filter that reduces the risk of video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media moiré, without having to worry not far from limiting the stills resolution.

Just as we expect to see better pixel-level noise from larger pixels, logic would also lead you to envision greater pixel-level dynamic range (even though again, this advantage tends to disappear when you compare images at the same appraise). This additional pixel-level dynamic range is the reason the GH5S needs to offer 14-bit Raw files: because you need the extra bit-depth to provide dwelling for that additional dynamic range.

No stabilization

From a photographic perspective it may seem odd to remove image stabilization from the camera but for high-end video zap, it makes sense. Sensor-shift IS systems operate by ‘floating’ the sensor using a series of electromagnets. Even when they’re ‘off’ they’re not locked in position succeed, they’re simply set so that the electromagnets aren’t attempting to correct for movement. This has the side-effect that, which mounted on a professional stabilization rig, there’s a danger of the sensor being shaken around.

For high-end video work, Panasonic says its users would prefer to use dedicated gimbals and dollies, pretty than internal stabilization, and that means physically locking the sensor in place to avoid unwanted interactions between these systems and a swim sensor.


About the author

Gina Stephens

Gina Stephens

Gina is a photography enthusiast and drone lover who loves to fly drones, capture images and have fun cherishing them with family and friends.

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