Joshua Donnelly ventured down to Queenstown for the launch of Panasonic’s Lumix GH5, and brings you his thoughts after taking this latest offering for a test run
I sometimes switch off when reading camera reviews that go way over my head, analyzing pixels in a language that I can’t understand. I like to know what a camera feels like and how it operates in a clear and understandable way. Thanks to Panasonic, that is exactly what I got to find out with the launch of their new flagship camera, the Lumix GH5, in Queenstown recently.
Panasonic’s target market with this camera is videographers and hybrid videographers who take a combination of stills and video footage. However, this camera should definitely be considered by anyone wanting to ditch their heavy DSLR system for something that still feels like a decent-sized camera but weighs less, is less intimidating, and produces exceptional-quality images.
The main features of the GH5 are:
- Micro Four Thirds live MOS sensor — 20.3MP
- 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen
- 6K Photo still-image extraction
- Five-stop, five-axis, dual IS 2 stabilization.
Build and handling
I have used many cameras in my brief photographic career, and the GH5 is definitely right up there among them in terms of handling. What I liked is that it is not too small or too big; it is just perfect for someone with big fingers like myself. It is larger than some of its competitors, but while some camera companies have got it wrong in terms of small bodies and big lenses in the mirrorless market, Panasonic has got it right with its Lumix range of lenses.
The frame of the camera is constructed using lightweight, durable magnesium alloy, and all of its dials and buttons are sealed to make it both splashproof and dustproof. It also features a joystick control, and one feature that I absolutely loved was the ability to use touchscreen controls, which contributes to the overall operating ease of the camera.
Focusing is a breeze with a 225-area autofocus system, customized autofocus settings, and motion tracking. Panasonic now even claims to have the world’s fastest autofocus, at 0.05 seconds. I was given the opportunity to photograph some local mountain bikers performing jumps, and I was just blown away by how sharp some of my photos turned out. Mind you, the camera’s impressive 12-frames-per-second (fps) burst shooting certainly helped as well.
The camera certainly performed well in the different situations that I got to test it in. From a stills perspective, some may see the smaller GH5’s Micro Four Thirds system as a handicap compared with the larger APS-C that other similar cameras use or full-frame cameras that are similarly priced to the GH5.
However, the absence of an optical low-pass filter sees the GH5 deliver excellent details at lower sensitivities, and it is indeed a match for its APS rivals that boast a similar range of pixels. The results at ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 were more than fine but did have noticeable noise. But, you could still use the images, especially after tweaking in Adobe Lightroom.
The GH5’s battery life is better than that of other mirrorless cameras currently on the market, with an impressive 410-shot battery life.
One of the most impressive features of the GH5 is its ability to extract 18-megapixel still images from its 6K Photo mode, which means it can extract an image from ultra-high-quality video footage at 30fps — very impressive stuff.
The GH5 allows you to shoot 4K video at 60p. Results are recorded with no cropping, which allows you to keep using the same focal length from your stills shoot for your high-quality video shooting. Panasonic showed us a short film that it had made, showcasing the Queenstown area, and the quality was first-class. Panasonic is also committed to improving the video function of the camera with future firmware updates.
If you are a videographer, this is a camera for you. However, if you are still a DSLR photographer and want to ease your way into the mirrorless system, you could also consider this camera. It is easy to use, delivers great results, and the Lumix range of lenses is top-notch and won’t weigh down your camera bag. In fact, during the trial weekend, I mainly used a 12–60mm Leica 2.8 Lumix lens and thought it was outstanding. Panasonic is definitely making a mark in the photographic industry, and I would encourage readers to consider either the GH5 or other Lumix cameras when buying their next model.