With the launch of Panasonic’s new premium camera for videographers, which promises to ‘change the market’, the question on everyone’s lips will be ‘Is the Panasonic GH5 better than the GH4?’ In short, yes. There is quite a lot that’s new about the GH5, and in our Panasonic GH5 vs GH4 comparison we take you through the highlights to help you decide whether you should upgrade.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: which is better for video?
The Panasonic GH5. Simple as that! The Panasonic GH4 – which is still current and isn’t being replaced – offers Full HD video recording at a maximum of 96fps.
The Panasonic GH5 increases this dramatically, offering Full HD recording at a maximum of 180fps and, of course, the new standard, 4K video recording at a maximum of 60fps.
The GH5 also offers a choice between MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive and AVCHD formats at a variety of frame rates, and the system frequency can be set to 59.94Hz, 50.00Hz or 24.00Hz.
It’s possible to shoot 4096 x 2160 4K at 24p (or 3840 x 2160 4K at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p, 24p with no cropping), but the full functionality won’t be available when the camera goes on sale in March.
Depending on when you’re reading this (the time of writing is January 2017), the Panasonic GH5 will take a firmware update that’s slated for April 2017 to enable 4:2:2 10-bit Full HD (1080p) recording and a second update in the summer to enable 4K 4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra MP4/MOV (apart from at 60/50p) and Full HD 4:2:2 10-bit ALL-Intra recording.
The step-up from 8-bit to 10-bit recording vastly increases the range of colours that can be recorded. But more on that below…
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: 10-bit vs 8-bit colour
It’s easy to get lost in the wealth of video specs we see on specification sheets these days, but if there’s one key feature that makes the Panasonic GH5 better than the GH4 on paper it’s the GH5’s upgrade to 10-bit colour.
What this means in layman’s terms is lots more colours. Lots! Let’s put it this way: 1-bit allows for 8 total colours. And 4-bit colour accounts for 4,096 total colours.
With 8-bit colour the GH4 can capture 16,777,216 colours. The Panasonic GH5’s 10-bit colour accounts for 1,073,741,824 total colours. That’s lots!
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: unlimited 4K recording
Videographers will certainly like that the Panasonic GH5 offers unlimited 4K video recording. Most digital cameras that offer 4K video capability can only actually record at that resolution in bursts of up to 29minutes and 59 seconds.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: improved 4K Photo + 6K Photo modes
While the Panasonic GH4 introduced the company’s novel 4K Photo mode, which allowed users to shoot short bursts of 4K video at 30fps and extract 8-megapixel still images from the footage.
The Panasonic GH5 increases the frame rate in 4K Photo mode to 60fps.
The GH5 also introduces a new 6K Photo mode that shoots a short burst of 6K video at 30fps and allows you to extract 18-megapixel still frames from the footage.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: which sensor is bigger
The Lumix GH5 increases the resolution over its sibling. The GH5 employs a new Digital Live MOS 20.3-megapixel sensor with no anti-aliasing filter for capturing finer details.
The Panasonic GH4 uses a 16-megapixel Digital Live MOS sensor.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: sensitivity
In a Panasonic GH5 vs GH4 sensitivity comparison, the new Panasonic camera appears to offer better reach in low light. Its native ISO range runs from 200 to ISO 51,200 (expandable down to ISO 100).
The GH4 offers a native range of ISO 200 to 25,600 (extendable down to ISO 100).
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: which has the bigger LCD screen
Again, advantage Panasonic GH5. The GH4 offers a 3in 1040k-dot OLED, free-angle LCD touchscreen.
The Panasonic GH5 on the other hand offers a 3.2in, 1620k-dot RGBW LCD touchscreen, also with an articulated free-angle design.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: which has the better EVF?
The Panasonic GH5 also offers a brighter electronic viewfinder than the GH4. The GH5 boasts a 21mm 3680k-dot OLED with 0.76x magnification, compared to the GH4’s 21mm 2360k-dot OLED with 0.67x magnification.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: burst mode and image stabilisation
Both the Panasonic GH5 and GH4 allow 12fps burst shooting in the single autofocus mode, but in continuous autofocus the GH5 improves the burst rate to 9fps over the GH4’s 7fps.
What’s more, the Panasonic GH5 introduces new 5-Axis image stabilisation of up to 5 stops.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: body design
The Panasonic GH5 introduces dual SD card slots to the body design, which is quite crucial when you’re filming 4K video.
There’s also a very nice, new mini-joystick control on the Panasonic GH5 that allows you to move the AF point around the frame with ease.
Panasonic says the GH5 is also freeze-proof down to -10C, and can be used with Panasonic’s XLR mic adaptor, which the GH4 couldn’t.
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: user experience
Panasonic says it has improved the graphic user interface on the GH5 to make it more convenient for professional users. Among the improvements are an increased number of items on each page from 5 to 8 to improve visibility, plus Panasonic has re-designed the order and position of each menu item.
The Custom set-up menu can now be categorised, and quite conveniently Panasonic has added a ‘cause of gray out’ in a pop-up menu when a menu option isn’t able to be actioned.
Finally, frequently used items can be memorised in a My Menu (up to 23 items).
Panasonic GH5 vs GH4: which is better?
In these days of light refreshes (we’re looking at you, Nikon D5600), the Panasonic GH5 represents a clear, marked upgrade over the GH4.
If you are a professional or aspiring videographer, there are few options this powerful on the market today.
We’re still waiting to complete our full test, but in our view the Panasonic GH5 is not only better than the GH4, but looks to be better than anything else in its class.
And for that premium, there will always be a higher cost. But if quality is imperative, the GH5 is your camera.
We should note, that’s not to suggest that the GH4 isn’t worth your time. The Panasonic GH4 is still viable and so good that the GH5 isn’t replacing it. Panasonic is keeping the GH4 current. And you can expect its street price to fall in coming months.