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Panasonic Lumix GH5S Expert Review

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Expert Review - Read our full review of the new Panasonic Lumix GH5S, the Micro Four Thirds camera designed for low-light video and stills.

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Panasonic Lumix GH5S in Mirrorless Cameras



Panasonic Lumix GH5S (4)

The Panasonic Lumix GH5S is designed to be the best low-light video/photography camera available. Building on the Panasonic Lumix GH5, the GH5S has a new 10mp sensor, plus additional technologies to give impressive low-light performance. Panasonic says that this will equal the quality of a full-frame sensor camera.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Features

Panasonic Lumix GH5S (12)

The sensor is a new 10.28 megapixel (11.93mp total) multi-aspect ratio sensor, which has 1.96x bigger pixels than the 20 megapixel GH5. Panasonic say the GH5 is the “ultimate hybrid camera” for both stills and video, and that the G9 is the “ultimate photography camera.” Panasonic has now released the new GH5S as the “ultimate video camera”.

The 10mp multi-aspect ratio sensor shoots at:

  • 4:3 – 3680x2760
  • 3:2 – 3840x2560
  • 16:9 – 4016x2256
  • 1:1 – 2752x2752

The sensor is larger than the standard Micro Four Thirds sensors, so can shoot a wider view than normal, with 3:2 and 16:9 options giving the most pixels horizontally, and the 4:3 (and 1:1) option giving the most pixels vertically. You can see how much more you can capture in the example below:

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Multi Aspect Ratio Sensor
Panasonic Lumix GH5S Multi Aspect Ratio Sensor

Dual Native ISO: The sensor features two analogue amplifying circuits, with a low ISO circuit, and a low noise circuit for each pixel, meaning the camera has two “base ISO*” speeds of ISO400, as well as ISO2500. So that when using higher ISO speeds, the camera can use the low noise circuit for reduced noise in images. This technology is normally only seen on Panasonic's high-end video cameras, such as the Panasonic Varicam 35 4K, which retails for around £20K including VAT, or the Panasonic AU-EVA1 5.7K, which is around £6000 inc VAT. The VariCam 35 was described as "perhaps the best low-light cinema camera in existence" by nofilmschool.com. *The base ISO speed is the camera sensors natural ISO speed, from this gain is added to produce other ISO speeds.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Dual Native ISO
Panasonic Lumix GH5S Dual Native ISO - Image courtesy Panasonic

ISO160 to ISO51200 is available – which is the highest any Micro Four Thirds camera has ever offered. This can be extended down to ISO80, and up to ISO204800. In a nutshell, the Dual Native ISO is designed to give higher ISO sensitivity, with lower noise at higher ISO speeds, thanks to a higher signal to noise (S/N) ratio. This will also give higher quality video in low-light.

The design of the GH5S camera is almost identical to the GH5, with the same dimensions and measurements. There are a few key differences, including a red ring around the drive mode dial, a new larger, red “REC” button for video recording, and the front GH5S logo, with red ‘S’. The flash sync socket can now be used for Timecode synchronisation.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S (13)

Just like the GH5, the GH5S features the same 3.2inch vari-angle touch-screen with 1620K dots, and a 3.68m dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), with 0.76x magnification.

The camera does not feature in-camera sensor-based image stabilisation, which is available on the GH5. So if you want to use image stabilisation, then you'll need to use a Micro Four Thirds lens with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS).

The Auto Focus (AF) system can now be customised based on your intended use, with 4 custom AF modes available, and 225 focus points. The camera is able to focus in low-light conditions, down to -5EV, an improvement over the GH5. The menu system has a customisable My Menu section so that you can add your favourite settings for quicker access.

Wi-Fi is built-in, letting you remotely control the camera with your smartphone or tablet. You can set up automatic cloud backup, transfer photos, and you can do a number of things using Bluetooth. Low-power Bluetooth (v4.2), allows auto transfer, location logging, auto clock set, remote wakeup, and you can also switch the camera on/off with Bluetooth. You can backup the camera settings to your smartphone, and then apply them to another camera. Lumix Tether lets you control the camera from your computer, over USB.

Key Features

  • 10.2 megapixel Micro Four Thirds
  • Multi-aspect sensor
  • 3680K dot 0.76x OLED LVF, 21mm eyepoint, eye sensor, 120fps refresh
  • 3.2inch vari-angle touch-screen, 1.6m dot resolution, Live View Boost
  • 200K shutter rating
  • Dual Native ISO
  • ISO160 to ISO51200 (Native)
  • ISO80 to ISO2048000 (Extended)
  • DFD (Depth-from-defocus), -5EV focus
  • 14-bit RAW (Stills)
  • 12fps continuous shooting (12-bit, 11fps 14-bit)
  • 4K Photo (30 / 60fps)
  • Dual UHS-II (V90) SD Card slots
  • Bluetooth / Wi-Fi
  • Weather-sealed magnesium alloy body
  • USB-C Charging (USB 3.1)

Video Features

  • 4K CINE at 60/50p (no cropping, up to 400Mbps)
  • 4:2:2 10-bit (30/25/24p) Internal recording
  • 4:2:2 8-bit (60/50p)
  • FullHD up to 240fps (improved over the GH5, with 180fps)
  • Variable Frame Rate (C4K/4K up to 60fps, FullHD up to 240fps)
  • Microphone socket can be used as line in
  • Unlimited Video recording
  • Timecode In/Out Terminal
  • HDMI A
  • Vlog 2 included
  • Anamorphic 4K

 

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Handling

Panasonic Lumix GH5S (9)

Build quality is excellent, with a tough magnesium alloy body that is weather sealed. The top buttons are cleverly designed, with the WB button raised, the ISO button has two raised dots, and the exposure compensation button is lower. The video record button is now a glossy red colour, with "REC" written in the middle. The handgrip gives excellent grip, and it is quite large. 

Like the GH5, there are numerous customisable function buttons on the camera, 6 physical buttons in total, far more than most cameras provide. This gives you good control over customisation, so you can set up the camera as you'd like it. 5 additional function buttons are available using the touch-screen. You can also customise the 4-way controller and the joystick on the back, giving you another 9.

The layout of controls and buttons is well thought out, with the front top and rear command dials falling neatly to hand. You can also reach the majority of controls and buttons on the back with your right-hand thumb. There are just a few controls on the left-hand side of the camera, including the drive mode dial on top, and the playback and LVF (Live ViewFinder / Electronic ViewFinder) buttons.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S (1)

The Menu system features clear colour coding for each section, and when options are greyed out, the camera will tell you why. There is a My Menu section where you can put up to 23 of your most commonly used settings. The autofocus system gives you a range of different AF scenarios, with settings for AF sensitivity, AF area switching sensitivity and moving object prediction.

The electronic viewfinder offers an impressively high resolution at 3.68million dots (only the Leica SL is higher at 4.4m) and offers 0.76x magnification. The eyecup surround is large, and eye-detection means the camera automatically switches between the EVF and screen. If you want a larger viewfinder, then the Panasonic Lumix G9 offers 0.83x magnification, with the same 3.68million dot resolution.

The touch-screen on the back is a 3.2inch screen with 1.6m dots, and this matches other premium ILC cameras (such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV). The screen and EVF colour reproduction match each other, which is what you expect from a camera at this price point. The rear screen can be viewed in bright sunlight, and the ability to alter the angle and position also helps here.

There are 225 focus points, and the camera can focus down to -5EV (an improvement over the GH5, which can focus down to -4EV). You can use the touch-screen to set the focus position, and this can be set to anywhere on the screen, even into the far corners. The magnified view for manual focusing has been improved, with the camera letting you use up to 20x magnification.

Wi-Fi Features - Using the Panasonic Image App on a smartphone: when you first connect, you can directly connect to the camera's Wi-Fi network, or you can use Bluetooth. Over Bluetooth, you can use your smartphone as a simple shutter remote release, taking photos or video. Remote operation (with live-view on your smartphone) requires a Wi-Fi connection to the camera, and the app will automatically switch from Bluetooth to Wi-Fi when needed. The app is easy to use once you've set up your initial connection, and remote shooting gives excellent control over the camera and settings.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S (11)

Battery life - The camera offers 440 shots when using the rear LCD, 410 shots when using the EVF, and up to 1300 shots when using the Power Save LVF mode. You can add a battery grip for additional battery life, however, the camera can't be powered by USB.



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Comments


banehawi Plus
14 1.9k 3952 Canada
8 Jan 2018 7:26PM
These are getting to look an awful lot like DSLR bodies. At 660G its only 100G lighter than a Canon 6D mk2 with its battery installed.

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Chris_L Plus
4 4.9k United Kingdom
8 Jan 2018 11:56PM
Criminal to take away the IBIS, the reason people buy the Sony A7S II instead of the A7S I is because of the IBIS (which can be turned off if you wish). Serious video makers have been buying Panasonic's GH4 and lately GH5 due to the gorgeous video at high bitrates, way ahead of Olympus and other MFT offerings and not far behind Sony's full frame beauts but the removal of IBIS is a backward step for the GH5 S
ChrisV 12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
9 Jan 2018 11:46AM
But turning off IBIS would not remove the heavy magnets in the body which apparently can interfere with a gimble mechanism. Presumably a fixed sensor is also inherently more stable. There's also the fact that Panasonic have gone for a vari-aspect sensor which uses some of the 'overlap' employed by the IBIS mechanism, giving a slightly oversized imaging area [in comparison to most current MfT cameras] resulting in a wider FoV.

Whether or not this is the right fit for their target audience remains to be seen, but this appears aimed very squarely at pro or very serious amateur video shooters. One would assume they've done their market research with this.
Chris_L Plus
4 4.9k United Kingdom
9 Jan 2018 12:39PM
Magnets won't interfere with your gimbal so long as you calibrate your gimbal after you mount your camera - which is what people do anyway when changing bodies and lenses. Talked about this in the past with Yanher Lin from Pilotfly. Some people fine tune the balance of their gimbals with strategically placed magnetic weights
ChrisV 12 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2018 2:37PM
It is strange that they've removed the IBIS then - the multi-aspect ratio of the sensor would mean there wasn't enough additional area for the IBIS motion, but I'd doubt that was enough by itself to decide to omit it. So what's the story? Is it possibly limited by the dual circuit ISO readout? Or is it simply a commercial decision to cut cost/act as a further differentiator from the GH5?

A bit of a puzzler.
petebfrance 6 2.8k United Kingdom
18 Jan 2018 4:44PM
It's probably a great camera, but two (negative) things stood out in this review:
1. Distortion on the ISO comparison shots - looked very pronounced at the top of the colour chart. What lens produced that?
2. The video wobbled from side-to side almost all the way through and that was really off-putting - the camera seemed to be doing a really good job otherwise. How was the camera held?
As I'm not in the market with this (too expensive and at the moment I don't shoot video) I shouldn't really comment, I guess, but it looked so obvious that I couldn't help noticing.......
joshwa Plus
8 861 United Kingdom
19 Jan 2018 7:54AM
Hi Pete,

1) The lens used was the Panasonic 12-35mm:
https://www.ephotozine.com/article/panasonic-lumix-g-x-vario-12-35mm-f-2-8-lens-review-19240

2) There are additional videos on the YouTube channel . The camera was not mounted on a tripod for the video above, so the camera moved whenever the ISO speed was changed. If there is time, then we'll re-shoot this.

Thanks
Josh
petebfrance 6 2.8k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2018 2:39PM
Thanks for the response, Josh
Tbh, afterwards I felt a bit guilty after posting thatSad

regards
Pete

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