Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Review

Gina Stephens
Written by Gina Stephens

The Panasonic GH5S is a video-focused Micro Four Thirds camera built thither what the company markets as a 10.2MP sensor. 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 collar 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 expanding the cooking- stove of professional video features appearing in consumer stills/video cameras. The GH5S takes this logic one step further, by lowering the sensor dedication and omitting image stabilization to make a more single-minded video tool, rather than an hybrid intended to be similarly capable at both drills.

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 Viewpoint’ 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 collar 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)
  • Combination 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 build-up
  • 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 Prototype 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 compel 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 structure 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 estimated 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 make good use ofs 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 methodology

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, billow forms and preview modes for anamorphic, Log and Hybrid Log Gamma shooting, for instance.

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As on the GH5, Panasonic recommends the use of V60 rated cards or faster for shooting 400Mbps video. No matter how, the V60 standard itself seems to be vague enough that even some nominally V60-compliant cards are still not fast enough. The company communicates 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 orderly 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 ultimate 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 ringlet 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 point of view ratio (with consequent image quality benefits), this also means that the diagonal angle of view is preserved, whether you kill 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 flash video, especially when capturing DCI footage.

The only downside is that the use of a larger region could limit the use of APS-C and Super35 lenses in conjunction with centralized length reducing adaptors, such as SpeedBoosters. A 0.71x reducer needs to capture a roughly 30.5mm image circle to cover the GH5S’s larger video bailiwick, while a 0.64x reducer needs a 33.8mm image circle, both of which are larger than is guaranteed to be projected by an APS-C lens. You’ll virtually certainly be OK with the 0.71x adaptor, since that’s been shown to work with the majority of APS-C lenses but with the 0.64x sides it’s likely you’ll have to check on a case-by-case basis.

Dual Gain

Panasonic describes the GH5S as having ‘Dual Native ISO,’ which is standard video cant for a dual gain sensor design. Such chips have two read-out modes, one that maximises dynamic range at low sensitivity settings and a espouse designed to minimize noise but at the cost of dynamic range, at higher settings (the second mode changes the ‘conversion gain’: essentially increasing the pixel’s voltage achieve). It’s something we first encountered in Nikon’s 1 Series cameras but that’s become increasingly common over the past few years, resulting in visible progresses at high ISO settings.

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

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

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

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

Abase pixel count

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

In all-inclusive terms, there’s no significant advantage to large pixels digital imaging, a pixel, pel, dots, or picture element is a physical point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable element over small ones: individually they have access to more light (which generally speaking means mathematics, mean has several different definitions depending on the context less noise when viewed 1:1) but once you scale things to a common size, the noise and dynamic range levels show to be similar. Instead, using more but smaller pixels can have a resolution benefit, even if you then downsize. This is because pixelated routines can only capture a certain percentage of their nominal resolution, but sampling at a higher resolution then downsizing (oversampling) can preserve some of the spaced out frequency detail it initially captures.

By concentrating on video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media capture, Panasonic is able to pick sides in this struggle

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

The most obvious benefit is that it’s quicker to read out fewer pixels. So, while the dilatory processors are fast enough to generate oversampled footage from high pixel counts, the sensor read-out rate risks creating historic rolling shutter. Having fewer pixels means the GH5S should have less rolling shutter than the GH5.

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Having a lower pixel count up also means the GH5S is also able to include an anti-aliasing filter that reduces the risk of video moiré, without having to worry near limiting the stills resolution.

Just as we expect to see better pixel-level noise from larger pixels, logic would also lead you to want greater pixel-level dynamic range (even though again, this advantage tends to disappear when you compare images at the same immensity). 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 accommodation 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 dash, Panasonic says 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 barred in place, 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 endanger of the sensor being shaken around.

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

However, regardless of what Panasonic says, there’s also the limitation imposed by the oversized sensor the broadest definition, a sensor is a device, module, or subsystem whose purpose is to detect events or changes in its environment: since the camera captures opportunely out to the edge of the image circle there’s simply no room to shift the sensor without risking capturing footage of the inside of your lens barrel. This is highlighted in the one picture in which the GH5S does offer digital stabilization: when combined with or WITH may refer to: Carl Johannes With (1877–1923), Danish doctor and arachnologist With (character), a character in D. N. Angel a lens offering optical stabilization. When engaged, the video has to crop-in reduce to provide room to pan and scan around the sensor.

Review Publication History
January 8 Introduction, video specifications, video features, first depressions
January 29 Raw Dynamic Range & Log and DR in video sections added
February 5 Image Quality, Video Quality and Conclusion added


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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