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Panasonic Lumix GH5S Snap Verdict

Thanks to its comparatively low pixel count (10.2Mp) and modern sensor design, which includes Dual Native ISO Technology and a Multi-Aspect Ratio design, the Panasonic Lumix GH5S seems to be high-quality, video-centric mirrorless camera with good low-light capability. We’ve some testing to do yet, but the images and video that we’ve shot and seen to date look very promising.

For Panasonic GH5S

  • Impressive video specification
  • Timecode IN/OUT
  • V-Log L pre-installed

Against Panasonic GH5S

  • Smaller still images
  • Loss of in-camera stabilisation will be missed by some
  • Badly positioned Display button

What is the Panasonic Lumix GH5S?

The Panasonic Lumix GH5S is a 10.2Mp Micro Four Thirds compact system or mirrorless system camera that’s designed with videographers in mind. Although it has the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount, its sensor is a little larger than is found in most MFT cameras because it’s a Multi Aspect Ratio unit that enables the same diagonal angle of view to be recorded whatever the aspect ratio of the image or video.

While it is a step-up from the GH5 with regards to its video capability, it is designed as an alert native option rather than a replacement.

First Look Video

Features

While many videographers have hailed the Panasonic GH5 as the ultimate video camera, Panasonic is now calling it the ‘ultimate hybrid camera’ with the GH5S getting ‘ultimate video camera’ status.

Inside the GH5S is a new 10.2Mp High Sensitivity MOS sensor coupled with a Venus Engine. Together this combination enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 160-51200 with expansion settings of ISO 80, 102400 and 204800.

Panasonic GH5S

In a new move for a Panasonic G-series camera, each pixel on the GH5S sensor has two analogue circuits and this enables two base sensitivities (ISO 400 and ISO 2500). This Dual Native ISO Technology and the lower pixel count of the GH5S are designed to improve dynamic range and help keep noise in check even in very low light when sensitivity (ISO) is high.

As the GH5S’s sensor is a little larger than a standard Four Thirds type sensor and has a multi-aspect ratio design, it’s possible to maintain a constant diagonal field of view while video or image aspect ratio is changed from 4:3, 17:9, 16:9 and 3:2.

14-bit Raw files

While it’s primarily a video camera, the GH5S can shoot stills and can record 14-bit raw files for greater data capture and file flexibility.

Panasonic also claims that the combination of its DFD (Depth From Defocus) technology and fast signal processing enable focus acquisition in approximately 0.07 sec. In addition, it’s possible to shoot at up to 12fps in Autofocus Single (AFS) mode or 8fps in Autofocus Continuous (AFC) mode when shooting 12-bit raw files. Meanwhile when 14-bit raw files are being recorded it possible to shoot at up to 11fps in AFS mode and 7fps in AFC mode.

Although 6K Photo mode isn’t present, 4K Photo mode is on hand and enables 8Mp images to be captured at 60fps.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S: price, specs, release date confirmed

Video

Like the GH5, the GH5S can shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) footage. However, whereas the GH5 is limited to 24p at this resolution, the GH5S can shoot at 60p, 50p, 30p, 25p or 24p. Furthermore, if you opt for 30p, 25p or 24p, you can shoot that C4K footage in 4:2:2 10-bit for a greater range of colours and smoother tonal gradations.

If high bitrates are important, the GH5S can record 4:2:2 10-bit 400-Mbps All-Intra in 4K 30p, 25p or 24p and C4K 24p.

Panasonic GH5S Review: C4K/4K Recording Formats

While C4K and 4K footage can be recorded at up to 60fps, Full-HD (1920 x 1080) footage can be recorded at up to 240fps, giving 10x slow motion playback.

Panasonic added 6K or High-resolution Anamorphic mode to the GH5 with a firmware upgrade. The GH5S doesn’t have this at launch, we’ll have to see whether it will be added at later date, but it has 4K Anamorphic mode. This mode allows more of the sensor to be used with anamorphic lenses so that even though the footage is letterbox-shaped after ‘desqueezing’, it’s shot using a 4:3 section of the sensor.

Panasonic made V-Log L available as an optional, paid-for download for the GH5, with the GH5S it comes pre-installed. In addition, there’s Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) mode available in the Photo Style options for 4K HDR video compliance.

Further good news is that video recording is only limited by the battery life and memory card capacity.

On the subject of memory cards, the GH5S has two SD-card slots that are UHS-II compliant.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Camera

Timecode

The GH5S can be used as a Timecode generator to sync other cameras connected via cable (supplied in the box) that connects to the GH5S’s hot-shoe.

Timecode is widely used in video production where multi-camera systems are used to capture footage from a range of angles simultaneously. It ensures that the footage is synced from each camera so that it edits together without jumps in the action.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

Stabilisation

While in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) is widely seen as a benefit, there are situations when it’s the opposite for professional videographers and broadcasters. If you want to shoot inside a moving vehicle, for example, and have the camera clamped firmly to the structure, it’s nigh-on impossible to get stable footage of the interior if the sensor has the capacity to move.

With this in mind, and with a wide variety of cages, rigs and gimbals being available, the GH5S doesn’t have stabilisation built-in.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

Key Specifications

 GH5S
Date announced8th January 2018
Price at launch£2199.99/$ body only
SensorNew 10.2Mp High Sensitivity MOS with Multi-Aspect
Sensitivity (ISO)ISO 160-51200, Extended ISO 80/102400/204800, Dual Native ISO
Viewfinder3,680,000-dot OLED, 21mm, 0.76x (35mm equivalent)
Monitor3.2-inch 3:2 1,620,000-dot RGBW LCD, vari-angle, touch-screen
AF SpeedDFD, Approx 0.07sec
AF Sensitivity-5EV
Shutter Speed1/8000-60 sec, Bulb to 30min, X=1/250
Continuous Shooting14 bit: AFS 11fps, AFC 7fps. 12 bit: AFS 12fps, AFC 8fps
In-Body Stabilisation-
6K Photo/4K Photo4K Photo: 8Mp 60fps (H.264 recording)
ToughnessMagnesium alloy body, splash/dust/freezeproof -10C/14F
Video recording ratesC4K: 60p/50p (4:2:0 8bit), 30p/25p/24p (4:2:2 10 bit). 4K: 60p/50p (4:2:0 8bit), 30p/25p/24p (4:2:2 10bit)
Video variable frame rateC4K/4K: Max 60fps, FHD: Max 240fps
Video monitor output4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording (C4K/4K 60p/50p is output only), 4:2:0 8bit output & internal recording (C4K/4K 60p/50p)
V-LogLPre-installed
Anamorphic ModeAnamorphic 4K
SD Card Slot2x UHS-II U3
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth802.11a/n/ac (5GHz) / Bluetooth4.2 (Low Energy) 5GHz, Wi-Fi is not available in some countries
Input/Output terminalTime Code In/Out /Synchro Terminal, 3.5mm Mic Jack (Line Input), 3.5mm headphone jack, 2.5mm Remote socket, HDMI Type A Socket, USB3.1 Socket
Battery Life440 pictures (using LCD)
Dimensions (WxHxD)138.5 x 98.1 x 84.4mm (excluding protrusions)
Weight660g (including SD card, battery and body)
AccessoryBattery grip (BGGH5), Gun Mic (MS2), XLR mic adaptor (XLR!)

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

Key Video Specifications

 GH5S
4K video 4096 x216060p/50p/30p/25p/24p
4K video 3840 x 216060p/50p/30p/25p/24p
Multi aspectYes
Recording Time LimitUnlimited
4:2:2 10bit recording C4K30p/25p/24p
4:2:2 10bit recording 4K30p/25p/24p
4:2:2 10bit recording Full-HD60p/50p/30p/25p/24p
ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording 4K400Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)
ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording Full-HD200Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)
System frequency is selectable (59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz (24.00Hz))Yes
Anamorphic (4:3) recording: High-resolution anamorphic modeNo
Anamorphic (4:3) recording: 4K (H.264)60p/50p/30p/25p/24p
HDMI live output4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording
Variable Frame Rate (VFR): C4KUp to 60fps
VFR: 4KUp to 60fps
VFR: Full-HDUp to 240fps
Cinelike gammaYes
V-LogLPre-installed
Like709 gamma (ITU-R BT.709)Yes with knee control
Hybrid Log gammaYes
Luminance level adjustment64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10bit)
Wave form monitor / Vectorscope displayYes
Operation type (Shutter Duration/ISO, Angle/ISO, Shutter Duration/dB)Yes
Time code (rec run / free run)Yes
Time code In/Out terminalYes
SD Card slot2x with relay rec & copy rec: UHS-II U3 (Video grade 60)
3.5mm mic socketYes (support for LINE input)
3.5 headphone socketYes
HDMI output terminalType A
XLR audio inputDMW-XLR1 mic adaptor (optional)

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Build quality and handling

Although the GH5S has a couple of red accents like the G9 (under the drive mode dial and the ‘Rec’ button), it has the same body and control layout as the GH5.

This means that it has magnesium alloy sections and it’s dust-, splash- and freezeproof (down to -10C). However, Panasonic has increased the heat dispersion path to help deal with the extra heat energy that’s created when capturing high-resolution video.

Consequently, the GH5S has a mini-DSLR design with a good-sized grip and a healthy number of buttons and dials to give quick access to key features.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Camera

Like the G9 and GH5, the GH5S has a mini-joystick controller on the back of the camera for setting AF point when you’re looking in the viewfinder. I found this rather awkwardly positioned with the G9 and my thumb routinely falls on the AE/AF Lock button when I reach out to switch AF point.

With the GH5 I had more of an issue with the location of the Display (Disp) button which is near the thumb rest on the back of the camera. I sometimes pressed it accidentally with my thumb as I reached for other controls. Perhaps because I was conscious of having to reach over this, I had less of an issue with the location of the AF point controller.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Camera

Viewfinder

Panasonic has given the GH5S the same 3,680,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder as there GH5. As such it’s a high-quality device with eye-relief of 21mm and magnetisation of 0.76x in 35mm terms.

I found it gives a clear view and thanks to its 120fps refresh rate its possible to keep up with fast-moving subjects as they progress across the image frame.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

Screen and Interface

Like the GH5, the GH5S has a 3.2-inch vari-angle RGBW LCD touch-screen. Again this provides a good view and it’s very responsive to touch.

As you’d expect, the GH5S has an extensive menu system with lots of stills and video options available. It’s good to see that there’s a My Menu option to which you can assign the features you used most frequently.

Panasonic has also given the GH5S three graphic user interfaces, one for stills photographer another for filmmakers and another for video creators. I need to look at these in more detail to draw out the differences and see how they help in practice.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Screen

Panasonic GH5S Menu Screens

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[nextpage title=”Performance” ]

Performance

Although we’ve been able to shoot a little with the GH5S (and we’ve just received a sample), it’s very early days in our testing process. However, at the press briefing, Panasonic showed off a series of images and videos that demonstrated the new camera’s capabilities. Obviously, any manufacturer is going to show their camera in a good light, but the results from the GH5S did seem to compare very well with those from the Sony A7S II.

The low-light footage shot at ISO 6,400 that I saw seemed to have noticeably less chroma noise than that from the Sony camera.

Meanwhile stills captured by the GH5S at the same sensitivity value and low light appeared to have better rendering of detail than in comparable images from the Fuji X-T2.

While 10.2Mp images can’t be printed at huge sizes, at 300ppi they measure 31.2 x 23.4cm or 12.3 x 9.2inches, a little more than A4 size. That’s big enough for most wedding albums.

The images are also not going to have the same level of fine detail as a low-ISO image from a 42Mp camera like the Sony A7R III, but the images I shot with the GH5S look very good. The low sensitivity (ISO) jpegs have a good level of detail that looks natural.

At ISO 12,800 the jpeg images have just a hint of noise at 100% on-screen in even toned-areas and there’s no smudging of out-of-focus details. Step-up to ISO 51,200 and there’s noise visible at normal viewing sizes, but it’s not objectionable. Meanwhile, the results at ISO 3,200 and 6,400 are impressive.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

Autofocus

According to Panasonic, the GH5S has an autofocus response time of 0.07sec, making a little slower than the GH5 (0.05sec), which is itself a bit slower than the Panasonic G9.

However, it is more sensitive than the GH5’s AF system, operating down to -5EV rather than -4EV. Although I can’t verify this claim, I was very impressed with how well the GH5S coped with the very low light conditions at the press briefing. It managed to get subjects sharp very quickly with little sign of hunting.

Panasonic Lumix GH5S Review: Menu Screen

The GH5S has the same AFC Customisation options as the GH5 and G9

Sample Images

Here’s a small selection of the images we have shot so far with the Panasonic GH5S.

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 160

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 400

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 1,600

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 3,200

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 6,400

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 12,800

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 25,600

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image

Panasonic GH5S Sample Image: ISO 51,200

Panasonic GH5S Sample Images

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Follow the link to browse and download sample images

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[nextpage title=”Video” ]

Sample Video

We have a review sample of the GH5S and will embed videos here for you to take a look at. 

This sample footage has been shot with the Panasonic GH5S with the 25mm DG Summilux 1:1.4 mounted.

Full HD Standard Colour Mode:

Full HD Vivid Colour Mode:

Full HD Mono mode:

Full HD Natural Mode

Full HD L Mono Mode:

Cinema4K V-Log L Mode

4K V-Log L Mode:

Full-HD V-Log L Mode:

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[nextpage title=”Verdict” ]

Verdict

There was a lot of excitement about the GH5 as it delivers much of what professional videographers expect from much more expensive and larger video cameras. There’s bound to be some disappointment that Panasonic has introduced another model that appears to trump the GH5’s video capabilities so quickly, but I suspect that this may not come from high-end or pro users.

We’ve still to test the GH5S in-depth but it appears to offer improved low-light capability and greater flexibility at the highest video resolution. It also promises to deliver high-quality footage thanks to its 4:2:2 10-bit 400-Mbps All-Intra recording.

It will be very interesting to see what happens to GH5 sales after the GH5S goes on sale this month. The GH5 was seen by many as ‘the’ video camera but that place has been taken by the GH5S. Meanwhile, if you’re interested is stills, the Panasonic Lumix G9 is the model to go for. The GH5 is supposed to sit between the two but it means that there are some compromises. Ultimately many photographers are likely to side one way or the other.

Panasonic GH5S

Should I buy the Panasonic Lumix GH5S?

With the caveat that we’ve yet to actually test the GH5S in earnest, it looks like an excellent choice for serious video shooters. It’s a complex camera with lots of features and options to chose from, so it’s not the best choice for someone who is starting out in video, but if you’re looking to step-up your movie-making game, it could be just the ticket.

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Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Panasonic GH5S