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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Date announced||8th January 2018|
|Price at launch||£2199.99/$ body only|
|Sensor||New 10.2Mp High Sensitivity MOS with Multi-Aspect|
|Sensitivity (ISO)||ISO 160-51200, Extended ISO 80/102400/204800, Dual Native ISO|
|Viewfinder||3,680,000-dot OLED, 21mm, 0.76x (35mm equivalent)|
|Monitor||3.2-inch 3:2 1,620,000-dot RGBW LCD, vari-angle, touch-screen|
|AF Speed||DFD, Approx 0.07sec|
|Shutter Speed||1/8000-60 sec, Bulb to 30min, X=1/250|
|Continuous Shooting||14 bit: AFS 11fps, AFC 7fps. 12 bit: AFS 12fps, AFC 8fps|
|6K Photo/4K Photo||4K Photo: 8Mp 60fps (H.264 recording)|
|Toughness||Magnesium alloy body, splash/dust/freezeproof -10C/14F|
|Video recording rates||C4K: 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 rate||C4K/4K: Max 60fps, FHD: Max 240fps|
|Video monitor output||4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording (C4K/4K 60p/50p is output only), 4:2:0 8bit output & internal recording (C4K/4K 60p/50p)|
|Anamorphic Mode||Anamorphic 4K|
|SD Card Slot||2x UHS-II U3|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||802.11a/n/ac (5GHz) / Bluetooth4.2 (Low Energy) 5GHz, Wi-Fi is not available in some countries|
|Input/Output terminal||Time 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 Life||440 pictures (using LCD)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||138.5 x 98.1 x 84.4mm (excluding protrusions)|
|Weight||660g (including SD card, battery and body)|
|Accessory||Battery grip (BGGH5), Gun Mic (MS2), XLR mic adaptor (XLR!)|
Key Video Specifications
|4K video 4096 x2160||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|4K video 3840 x 2160||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|Recording Time Limit||Unlimited|
|4:2:2 10bit recording C4K||30p/25p/24p|
|4:2:2 10bit recording 4K||30p/25p/24p|
|4:2:2 10bit recording Full-HD||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording 4K||400Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)|
|ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording Full-HD||200Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)|
|System frequency is selectable (59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz (24.00Hz))||Yes|
|Anamorphic (4:3) recording: High-resolution anamorphic mode||No|
|Anamorphic (4:3) recording: 4K (H.264)||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|HDMI live output||4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording|
|Variable Frame Rate (VFR): C4K||Up to 60fps|
|VFR: 4K||Up to 60fps|
|VFR: Full-HD||Up to 240fps|
|Like709 gamma (ITU-R BT.709)||Yes with knee control|
|Hybrid Log gamma||Yes|
|Luminance level adjustment||64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10bit)|
|Wave form monitor / Vectorscope display||Yes|
|Operation type (Shutter Duration/ISO, Angle/ISO, Shutter Duration/dB)||Yes|
|Time code (rec run / free run)||Yes|
|Time code In/Out terminal||Yes|
|SD Card slot||2x with relay rec & copy rec: UHS-II U3 (Video grade 60)|
|3.5mm mic socket||Yes (support for LINE input)|
|3.5 headphone socket||Yes|
|HDMI output terminal||Type A|
|XLR audio input||DMW-XLR1 mic adaptor (optional)|
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.
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 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.
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 GH5S Menu Screens
The low-light footage shot at ISO 6,400 has 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.
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.
Here’s a small selection of the images we have shot so far with the Panasonic GH5S.
Panasonic GH5S Sample Images
Follow the link to browse and download sample images
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:
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.
The GH5S 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.
Should I buy the Panasonic Lumix GH5S?
The GH5S is 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.