Our review of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is one of the longest we’ve ever had to work on. The camera packs so many features for stills and video that it required more in depth testing than usual and more importantly, lots of real-world experience to really understand its full potential. Now we can finally share all our findings with you. Spoiler: we didn’t really find a weak spot!
Ethics statement: the Panasonic GH5 was loaned to us by Panasonic UK for a month to conduct our review. We were not asked to write anything about the camera, nor were we provided with any other compensation of any kind. Within the article, there are affiliate links. If you buy something after clicking the link, we will receive a small commission that helps support the site. Don’t worry – prices remain the same for you. To know more about our ethics, you can visit our full disclosure page. Thank you!
- Sensor: 20 MP 4/3 Live Mos
- Lens system: Micro Four Thirds
- Weatherproof: Complete (splash, dust and freeze proof -10°C)
- Internal Stabilisation: Yes (5-axis)
- Autofocus: contrast detection (DfD) with 225 areas
- Continuous shooting: 12fps (AF-S), 9fps (AF-C), 60fps and 30fps with 4K/6K Photo modes
- ISO Sensitivity: 200 – 25600 ISO (Pull 100)
- Shutter Speeds: 1/8000 to 60 seconds, 1/16000s with electronic shutter, Bulb up to 30min
- Viewfinder: 3,680K dots, approx. 100% FOV coverage and 1.52x (0.76x) magnification, 60fps
- Rear monitor: Multi-Angle 3.2″ touch sensitive LCD monitor (1,620K dots)
- Movie recording: 4K up to 60fps, C4K at 24fps, 4:2:2 10-bit up to 30fps, Full HD up to 180fps, 4K 4:3 anamorphic
- Built-in Flash: No
- Extra Features: WiFi, Bluetooth, Timelapse, Animation, 4K/6K Photo, Focus Bracketing, Post Focus, HDR, Multiple exposure, Live Composition
- Dimensions: 138.5 x 98.1 x 87.4mm
- Weight: 725g (including battery and memory card)
- Firmware version when tested: 1.1
Table of contents:
- 1:16 – What I like the most: design and functionality
- 4:42 – What I like: autofocus and speed (8:21 – AF for video)
- 11:16 – What I like: 6K Photo and other features
- 14:29 – Good improvement: image quality
- 16:28 – Good but not the best: image stabilisation
- 19:43 – Why the GH5 stands out: video capabilities
- 25:07 – Conclusion
Summary of our findings
- Design and ease of use: the best we’ve ever experienced on a mirrorless camera. The grip, the ergonomics, the buttons and dials, the ease of use when it comes to menu navigation, the high level of customisation, the larger touch screen and high resolution EVF are all aspects where the GH5 delivers a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Add to the list the fully weather sealed body, dual SD card slot, and excellent battery life and you have the most complete package you could possibly ask for. Yes, a few buttons could have been placed elsewhere (DISP especially) and a few functions are not straightforward at first but this is just nitpicking. The pleasure I got out of using this camera is unprecedented.
- Autofocus: Panasonic has stuck with contrast detection AF and the new DfD module is a relevant step forward. There are more AF points (225 vs 49) and the camera is faster and more precise – even in difficult situations – in comparison to the previous generation of Depth from Defocus. I put the GH5 through its paces with lots of fast subjects (MTB, motorbike race etc.) and it performed very well. The performance for video was another pleasant surprise. The only genre where the camera struggles is birds in flight. There you can see the limit of a contrast detection system versus PDAF.
- Continuous shooting speed and buffer: the GH5 can go as fast as 12fps with focus locked on the first frame or 9fps with continuous AF. At 9fps, you get live view with blackouts. The buffer is good but not the greatest I’ve experienced. The camera can shoot at full speed for 5s at 12fps and 10s at 9fps with RAW files. The duration goes up to 30s or more with JPGs only. Of course the writing speed is faster with UHS-II cards (available for both slots).
- Image quality: the new 20MP sensor delivers nice and sharp images and has better dynamic range than previous 16MP sensors. However the ISO performance hasn’t changed much just like with the E-M1 II and its predecessor. The JPG engine is excellent and there are several picture profiles and options to get the best results straight out of camera. Just don’t increase noise reduction too much at high ISOs.
- 6K Photo and the usual generosity when it comes to extra features: Unsurprisingly the camera is packed with lots of functionalities. The one I appreciated the most is 6K Photo. The GH5 uses the latest generation H.265 codec and you get an output of 18MP instead of 8MP. Yes, it still is JPG only but the advantage of shooting at 30fps with live view and no blackouts (the camera actually records a video) or recording 30 frames before hitting the shutter release button (pre-burst mode) does offer some advantages. If 8MP is enough, the speed goes up to 60fps. This special video mode also allows you to choose your focus point after taking the shot and stack images together (Post Focus). There is also Wifi and Bluetooth but most of the time you can’t use the latter without the former which is my only small complaint.
- Image Stabilisation: the hardware found in the GH5 is no different to the G85 or GX85 so this is the only area where you don’t see a relevant improvement in comparison to recent Lumix cameras. That being said, it works well and you can go as slow as 1s or 1/2s hand-held with 5-axis stabilisation or Dual IS (IBIS + OIS). For video it helps as there is no jittering anymore when using OIS lenses but there can be distortion when walking or doing complex movements. Electronic stabilisation is not advised with long focal lengths (past 200mm).
- Video capabilities: the main reason you’ll want to buy a GH5. The camera produces some of the best footage I’ve seen from a mirrorless camera. You get great colour rendition and excellent dynamic range even without using the V-Log profile. High ISOs are fine up to 3200 and you can improve the results with the right picture style and a little bit of noise reduction. It has a great selection of formats: 4K goes up to 60fps, Full HD up to 180fps. There’s no recording limit either. The higher 4:2:2 10-bit quality is welcome but you only see the difference by color grading so it’s really an asset for professional filmmakers.
The GH5 is a camera I really enjoyed using and reviewing. It’s one of the best, if not the best mirrorless when it comes to ease of use. The number of buttons, degree of customisation and overall straightforwardness of its operation are flawless.
The improvements concerning the performance are many in comparison to its predecessor: faster autofocus, 5-axis stabilisation, enhanced functionalities like 6K Photo and of course, great image quality in the video department.
The Panasonic GH5 is a very impressive hybrid solution if you are interested in high quality stills and superior video capabilities.
To be honest, I haven’t come across any serious flaws. The new 20MP sensor is a good improvement over the previous 16MP chip (better dynamic range), although it doesn’t represent a major update especially concerning the high ISO performance.
With all that said, at the end of my month of testing I tried to understand if it’s a camera I would buy personally and the answer is not that simple. If I were still working as a professional filmmaker, I would say yes. The GH5 might not have the same low light performance as the Sony A7s II but for everything else, it’s a stunning video camera to use with so many options including 4K up to 60fps, 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording and slow motion capabilities up to 180fps (1080p).
However if still shooting was my priority, I would probably choose its main rival in the micro four thirds realm – the OM-D E-M1 II – for two reasons: the Olympus has better image stabilisation and the phase detection autofocus is more reliable for difficult subjects like birds in flight. BIF is the only weak spot of the GH5 when it comes to AF.
It is also worth mentioning that the video capabilities of the GH5, while exceptional, are really designed for professionals. If you care about video but don’t need advanced settings and options or are simply on a budget, Panasonic itself has lots of less expensive options like the G85.
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