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Date: 25/09/2016 | By: Mathieu

Panasonic Lumix GH5: thoughts, speculation and Tokyo 2020


Panasonic Lumix GH5: thoughts, speculation and Tokyo 2020

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 mark II and the Fujifilm GFX might have stolen the show at Photokina 2016, but the announced development of the Panasonic GH5 is no less exciting. Granted, we do not know much about the camera right now, as Panasonic has been very careful to unveil just a couple of specifications to build excitement, but what we’ve seen looks promising.

A hands-on with the camera was impossible because it was kept inside a glass box the entire time. Even journalists couldn’t have a private view. Still, the camera deserves a dedicated article with some impressions and thoughts for what will come in 2017 and 2020. Why 2020, you might ask? Well, let’s find out!

Panasonic GH5: What we know and what we can guess

panasonic lumix gh5 6K

The Panasonic GH5 will be able to record in 4K up to 60fps, which is double the speed of the current GH4 and most recent Lumix cameras (30fps). It will also have a 4K mode at 30fps with 10bit and 4:2:2 of colour sampling. Panasonic didn’t give any more specifications about the latter but my hope is that they took the time to quote it because it’s internal recording. If it was external via HDMI or the YAGHE unit, it would be no different to the GH4’s capabilities.

For the camera to be able to record internally at 10bit 4:2:2 is a big step forward for videographers. It means you will get better compression and more colour information straight out of the camera without the need to invest in an external recorder. It would also mean more quality for the 4K Photo mode: the 8MP JPG you would extract from a 4:2:2 10 bit signal (instead of 4:2:0 8bit) would have better quality.

panasonic gh5 6K

Then we have an announced 6K mode at 30fps with the possibility to extract an 18MP still image. This feels like an upgrade of the 4K Photo mode that will remain available but at 60fps. What remains unclear is if the camera will record 6K in normal movie mode. The 6K Photo mode, like the 4K Photo mode, will be a video capability so I don’t see why the camera wouldn’t be able to offer complete 6K video.

Now that we’ve dug into the few specifications that were officially declared, let’s make some safe (more or less) assumptions. First 6K at 30fps and 4K at 60fps means a huge improvement in speed and data processing. The GH5 will definitely have a new processing engine and it will be the most powerful ever seen on a Lumix camera. This could lead to better specifcationss in other departments like:

  • a fast frame rate in Full HD for better slow motion (I would hope for something even faster than 120fps)
  • faster continuous shooting speed
  • improved DfD AF with better tracking of fast moving subjects
  • less rolling shutter thanks to a faster sensor readout

To record 4:2:2 10-bit video will require SD cards with more space. It is likely we will also see a dual SD card slot with UHS-II compatibility.

panasonic gh5 6K

I can guess that 5-axis sensor stabilisation will be present since Panasonic is including this technology on its most recent cameras. I expect an updated V-log profile and all the other video specifications seen on the GH4 and GH4R.


There was no mention of the sensor or resolution. Considering that 6K needs at least 18MP, it would be safe to assume the camera will have a 20MP sensor similar to the one found on the GX8 (perhaps a new version with improvements in dynamic range and ISO). And maybe the camera will be able to record 6K without any crop and with full pixel readout?

panasonic gh5 6K

The mock-up shown at Photokina suggests an updated design that looks like a mix between the G85 and the GH4. The fake pentaprism and the top plate seem more rounded while the grip looks more similar to that of the GH4.

panasonic gh5 6K

On the rear, we spotted an AF joystick during the presentation and we found confirmation on the mock-up on display. That would be a great addition indeed as I love the one on the X-Pro2/X-T2.

panasonic gh5 6K

A second version of the camera without any white markings was also displayed with a battery grip (probably a new version in comparison to the one designed for the GH4) and a new XLR audio module.

panasonic lumix gh5 6K

2017 and 2020

The GH5 should be ready by the first half of 2017. During the press conference, Panasonic made it clear that they are aiming for 8K. This isn’t a surprise as many brands are working on 8K cameras including Sony and Canon.

They quoted Tokyo 2020 (the next Olympic games) which could be the year we will see a GH6 hitting the market. The sports event will be very important for Japan and I am sure most camera companies will take advantage of it to release their most important products. It also make sense if we look at the recent chronology:

  • 2014: GH4 with 4K
  • 2017: GH5 with 6K
  • 2020: GH6 with 8K.

panasonic gh5 6K

8K will mean extracting a 33MP JPG file. If Panasonic also manages to make it a robust codec to enhance the quality of what will probably be called 8K Photo, it could be the definitive fusion of video and photo.

Granted, for now most of this information is pure speculation. Things could change, so first we have to see what the GH5 will look like when the final specifications are released. But I do have the feeling that the next three years will be very exciting indeed!

Are you excited about the arrival of the GH5? Share your thoughts below!

Check-out our Photokina 2016 coverage here!

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Mathieu

    I think they are being very cautious about what to say and what not to say since it is still under development. The whole 6K / 6K Photo capabilities is still unclear.

  • T N Args

    I have a question about 6K Photo. The press release makes it sound like the user can extract *an image* i.e. one image, in 6K from the video. To quote, “…which lets the user cut a still image out of ultra-high-quality approx.18-megapixel video…”

    I mean, perhaps I am being cautious, but they could have said something much more encouraging like “lets the user extract 30 fps bursts of 18 MP still images”, but they didn’t. You would think a marketing press release would say it if it could.

  • T N Args

    To be fair, it was Panasonic themselves who initially stated, in the early days of the GH4, that the heat generated in 4K video was going to be an issue that they would need to overcome if they were to go with IBIS.

    You seem to be unaware of this in your post above, which honestly reads like a rant criticizing (bordering on mocking) each and every person who has picked up this Panasonic comment and quoted it very fairly.

    Now, a couple of years on, it is obvious that Panasonic (and others) have gotten over this limitation for 4K video. Great. BUT, OTOH, the GH5 still looks like it is raising the bar for video data rates, and no doubt more data DOES mean more heat. So there is every chance that the GH5, being leading-edge for video data rates, will again be tricky to get IBIS while dealing with the heat.

    Fingers crossed. But the discussion is entirely valid and based on Panasonic’s own comments.

  • Gov

    Indeed the strength of mFTs over most of the competition is a relentless development of a system rather than just bodies. Great.

  • Mathieu

    Thanks 😉

  • efilho

    I am commenting about the amateur use on such events: although the m4/3 is way more comfortable and satisfying to use than a FF, when you arrive home Lightroom shows which picture you’ll frame A3 or just post on the web… :)

    Great site and videos, BTW: I’m a fan…

  • Mathieu

    It’s not just a question of quality but also the pro support you get from the brands at these events. Plus many photographers work with agencies that have lots of Canon or Nikon gear and it will take a while before they start switching to another system, if they will ever do such a thing.

  • Mathieu

    I couldn’t agree more!

  • Mathieu

    The GH5 seem to be more video oriented like the whole GH series but Panasonic didn’t unveil any specs about the still part. I am sure they will bring good improvements there as well. The new E-M1 II could make a difference with the autofocus though, being phase detection and a new system specifically designed for the new camera.

  • Mathieu

    No info about slow motion but I hope it will get an upgrade too (200fps would be nice!).

  • Mathieu

    I suppose this can be a very good explanation. Once we get all the final specs we will have a clearer idea.

  • Mathieu

    Your first comment is now showing, sorry for that.

  • Gov

    Eh..I replied that I cannot see how a 6000 * 3000 crop can be a cut out of a 3:2 or 4:3 as Panasonic stated with a 20 Mp sensor. Why is that reply gone?? Seems a serious question, saw a similar argument on dpreview about it..?

  • Gov

    I can’t see 6K ot of 20 MP sensor with 4:3 ratio….It is 6000*3000…2:1…Let’s say 5760 * 32xx to make 16:9. How are yo going to extra that from a 20 MP sensor? 4:3 (if it is MAR) means yo are going to get a 5400 * 4100 = 22 Mp ( or so) MP. Not 20 MP. Not that it is a huge difference. I did not they extract it from a 4:3 or 3:2 file..If that is the case, the sensor needs to 27 MP. And I believe that that is what was stated..So 20Mp..unless we get a very peculiar view on 6K seems out of the question


    I made a whole series of articles about the GH5 with all we know so far and what we can speculate over it, trying to eliminate the noises coming from speculations without any base. Like people that overlook how all recent Panasonic cameras have IBIS and insist in an overheating issue that Panasonic never had.

    I will put the links here, maybe you find it interesting and we can discuss further about it.
    Overheating and IBIS:
    Codecs and AF Improvements:
    Photo 6K and GH5’s sensor:
    Slow Motion and ProRes:

  • efilho

    I went to the Rio2016 Olympics with both my Nikon D750 and my Panasonic GX-85 cameras. The pictures I took, although very acceptable to me, showed clearly which equipment was used in terms of image quality. During the games, I ended using the m4/3 camera only when needing reach, usually 600mm-FF-equivalent with a compact size: I could not use anything above the Nikkor 70-200 due to “professional equipment restrictions to the general public”. It is a long way to go until someone will prefer a m4/3 in lieu of a FF for photographing such beautiful events, IMHO…

  • John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmid

    I feel the same way. I’ve been with Panny since the GH1, but I only ever shoot stills.

    If the GH5 doesn’t offer better stills quality, I’m leaving for either Oly or Nikon.

  • danieljcox

    The GH5 should be a superb upgrade. With the announcement of the new Olympus, the ongoing lens development between both Panasonic, Olympus and others and the desire by just about everybody I’ve met to downsize from the dinosaur size and weight of their traditional DSLR’s, MFT is becoming a serious contender. Very exciting times indeed.

  • Emmanuel Peña

    What about slow motion? GH4 can record @ 96fps.

  • LouisBb

    Thanks for your thoughts. I am only interested in m43rds for still photography but I have always shot with Panasonic bodies because of the ‘PanaLeica’ lenses. That said it seems to me the newly announced Olympus EM1-MkII may be a better evolution for stills photographers than the GH5. Or perhaps what will fill the gap is an unpdated GX8, e.g. GX9. I hope so, or I will be very tempted to jump camp to Olympus.

  • Mathieu

    I am curious to find out more about them. I hope the price won’t be too high.

  • Peter Spruijt

    Sorry I had not yet read the other article….interesting lenses by the way……

  • Peter Spruijt

    A nice camera I expect, but didn’t you notice the 12-60/2.8-4 Leica lens?

  • soundimageplus

    It has to be the way things are heading. Interestingly Andreas Kaufmann of Leica (very much connected with Panasonic) is also seeing photography’s future as tied up with movie making. And it makes sense. IS just gets better and better and video is constantly upping its resolution, so stills from footage is the obvious way to go. All those ‘decisive moments’.

    However, it does seem that the GH5 is far from finished and ready to go and showing a prototype seems to a kind of placeholder. And though it probably will be a great camera (when it finally emerges) there is the spectre of smartphones moving two steps forward to mirrorless cameras one. The new iPhone has 4K video, two cameras / lenses and IS already. Add in the economics of the camera industry that seem to be heading for slowed down product cycles and expectation that the shrinking marketplace will continue it’s contraction and I just wonder how many people will want a ‘proper’ camera in 2020.

    Things always move slower than expected so enough people probably will want such a thing and at least m4/3 is moving in the right direction, with that concentration on smartphone / compact camera upgraders turning out to be the dead end many of us thought it was going to be. Olympus and Panasonic are obviously targeting a much more ambitious marketplace which is encouraging and they will, I’m sure, make a lot more inroads into the DSLR market in the next few years. At least amongst ‘serious’ photographers away from the hard core CaNikon pros who seem to show no signs of giving up their big and heavy camera / lens combinations. Though God only knows why they persevere with those while ‘citizen journalism’ puts the news guys out of work.

    Panasonic are genuine innovators with the right kind of combination of tech. and awareness of photographic history that means they are exactly the right kind of partner for Leica. The new lenses are testament to that. For me they are a far better bet than Sony (very quiet lately) who always strike me as being on the verge of looking for an excuse to get out of the camera business. Cameras like the GH5 will I suspect be Panasonic’s salvation, while Sony’s small camera / lousy battery life / big heavy expensive lenses / overheating video output will eventually lead to them being unable to compete. More pixels, that nobody wants, not being the answer to the camera industries decline. I would be very surprised if in a few years time they are still making cameras and will concentrate on sensor manufacture instead. Just my personal opinion, but watch this space!!

  • Paul Stuart

    very excited will be good to compare against the Olympus omd em1 mk2 all though the specs are starting to look similar , I feel Panasonic have an advantage over Olympus with more lenses that are capable of dual is as Olympus only has 2 and both expensive ,so this may become a deciding point although I am not sure about the auto focusing this maybe Panasonic Achilles heel in 4k as my gh4 was prone to go hunting for no reason in c-af and s-af ,maybe Olympus will have an edge with pdaf/cdaf over dfd .Although expect with every new Panasonic camera dfd will be improving .

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