If it seems like no time since Panasonic announced the GH5 then you’d be right, in fact, it only went on sale at the end of March 2017. That’s less than a year ago and it was followed a major firmware update in September 2017. And now there’s the GH5S.
But why is there another GH series camera, was there something fundamentally wrong with the GH5?
Well no, far from it. The GH5 has built on the reputation of the GH4 as a solid hybrid stills and video camera. It has a steadily increasing popularity for both enthusiast and professional photographers.
But as you can tell from the name, the GH5S isn’t an entirely new camera, nor is it an upgrade in the traditional sense – although it does cost more.
Panasonic is not the first camera manufacturer to release an S version, or even two different versions, of the same model.
At the dawn of pro-level digital SLRs, Canon released the 1D and then the high-resolution 1Ds and this dual release lasted for some years. More recently Sony has had the Alpha 7, 7R and 7S-series, with the 7S being the video version. Here Panasonic follows suit with the GH5S aimed at videographers.
The GH series has always appealed to photographers who shoot video, but the sway to video is even more apparent on this latest model.
Specifications primed for video
Starting at the top of the specifications list, the GH5S sees a considerable drop in sensor resolution, from 20.3 million pixels on the GH5’s sensor down to 10.2 million pixels.
This drop in resolution might seem strange, but this is exactly what Sony did with the Alpha 7S. The A7S and its successor the A7S II have 12 million pixel sensors which is far lower than the rest of the A7 series cameras.
The quality from the 7S and successive releases since confirms that the lower pixel count offers a sweet spot for video quality.
Does having more pixels on a sensor mean better image quality? It has been a long-running argument, but then the consensus is that a balance needs to be struck between resolution and pixel size.
I’ll not go into that in detail here, but in brief, the larger the pixel, the more light information captured, and the better the lowlight performance. You do of course lose some of the finer image detail that you’d expect with more pixels and higher resolution, but when you draft in the moving image and the illusion of persistence of vision then that loss of clarity becomes less of an issue.
The change in the sensor from the GH5 to GH5S means that although the basics of the camera are very similar, the video and stills output from the two models is very different.
The GH5S, like the GH5 is a hybrid camera in as far as it shoots stills and video but Panasonic has designed the GH5S to be more video-centric.
Low light sensitivity and Dual native ISO
Stills will be captured by the GH5S at half the resolution of the GH5 due to the drop in pixel count, but this drop should improve video performance and low light ability.
Underlining the low light improvement, the GH5S offers a Dual Native sensitivity range.
This technology is complex, but once the light is captured by the sensor’s pixels, it is then processed by two analogue circuits to a digital signal, rather than one circuit as with the GH5.
These circuits deal separately with the low ISO and noise before the data is fed through the gain amplifier. This results in high sensitivity noise being reduced.
This gives the GH5S a dual native ISO of 400 and 2500.
The standard sensitivity range of the GH5S is ISO 160 to 51,200 while the extension settings stretch from ISO 80 to 102,400 and 204,800. That compares with the GH5 which ranges from ISO 200-25800 with an extension setting of ISO 80.
Consequently, the new sensor should enable better low light performance.
As the low light capability of the GH5S will see it being used in gloomier conditions that the GH5, Panasonic has the new camera an AF system that is 1-stop more sensitive. Hence teh GH5S’s AF system is sensitive down to -5EV whereas the GH5’s is sensitive down to -4EV.
Cinema 4K at 60p and Full HD at 240p
Lowlight performance is a key feature for many videographers, but when it comes to specifications for me, it’s always the output resolutions and framerates that really counts.
The GH5 already offers an impressive range, with Cinema 4K at 24fps (frames per second). This is extended to 60/50p at 8bit and 30/25/24p at 10bit with the GH5S.
4K capture remains the same as the GH5 at 60/50p at 8bit and 30/25/24p at 10bit.
The new maximum frame rates for Cinema 4K is 60p, 4K is again 60p, and 1080p leaps to 240p compared with 180p on the GH5. That’s exciting news for slow motion lovers!
V-Log L installed as standard
The new features will undoubtedly please many pro videographers. One significant addition is the inclusion of V-Log L pre-installed.
While V-Log L is available for the GH5, it requires a paid for a firmware update which sets you back $99.
This image mode is favoured by pro videographers as it enables the capture of a more extensive dynamic range. Up from 10 stops to 12.
Initially, looking at the footage, you’ll be hit by how flat and washed out video looks, but a lot like raw files with stills, the output from this mode is designed to be enhanced during grading, ensuring that the footage captured contains the maximum information available for the scene.
V-Log L is an essential for all creative videographers who are used to grading their footage in post-production. It’s also crucial if you’re mixing footage shot from different cameras as it acts as a base profile. V-LogL View Assist is on hand to act as a guide when you’re shooting if you find the very flat footage hard to assess.
Panasonic V-LogL (DMW-SFU1) was developed to give a similar characteristic to Cineon which was released by Kodak in the early 90’s.
Syncing kit with Timecode IN/OUT
One camera is never enough, and multi-camera support is essential whether you’re combining the GH5S with another GH5S or a different camcorder. Panasonic has already included V-Log L as standard and to ensure that it’s not just the colours that match, the GH5S also features Timecode IN/OUT so all devices can be easily synced.
With the GH5S, the flash sync terminal can be used for Timecode syncing, and a coaxial cable for a BNC terminal will be included in the box. Once connected, the Timecode generator can then be used with further GH5S cameras or professional camcorders.
While it may surprise some, many pro videographers will be pleased to see that the GH5S doesn’t have built-in image stabilisation. Although this can be useful, it can at the same time be the complete and utter hindrance. In some instances, you need the sensor to be rock-solid.
As many photographers take the leap from stills to video, Panasonic has included a true “Multi-Aspect Ratio” function. This is again down to the new sensor and it provides sufficient
margin to get the same angle of view in 4:3, 17:9, 16:9 and 3:2 aspect ratio.
Panasonic GH5S vs GH5 Video Specifications
|4K video 4096 x2160||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p||24p|
|4K video 3840 x 2160||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|Recording Time Limit||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|4:2:2 10bit recording C4K||30p/25p/24p||24p|
|4:2:2 10bit recording 4K||30p/25p/24p||30p/25p/24p|
|4:2:2 10bit recording Full-HD||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording 4K||400Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)||400Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)|
|ALL-Intra high bitrate video recording Full-HD||200Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)||200Mbps (4:2:2 10bit)|
|System frequency is selectable (59.94Hz (23.98Hz) / 50.00Hz (24.00Hz))||Yes||Yes|
|Anamorphic (4:3) recording: High-resolution anamorphic mode||No||30p/25p/24p|
|Anamorphic (4:3) recording: 4K (H.264)||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p||60p/50p/30p/25p/24p|
|HDMI live output||4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording||4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording|
|Variable Frame Rate (VFR): C4K||Up to 60fps||No|
|VFR: 4K||Up to 60fps||Up to 60fps|
|VFR: Full-HD||Up to 240fps||Up to 180fps|
|Like709 gamma (ITU-R BT.709)||Yes with knee control||Yes with knee control|
|Hybrid Log gamma||Yes||Yes|
|Luminance level adjustment||64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10bit)||64-1023 / 64-940 / 0-1023 (10bit)|
|Wave form monitor / Vectorscope display||Yes||Yes|
|Operation type (Shutter Duration/ISO, Angle/ISO, Shutter Duration/dB)||Yes||Yes|
|Time code (rec run / free run)||Yes||Yes|
|Time code In/Out terminal||Yes||No|
|SD Card slot||2x with relay rec & copy rec: UHS-II U3 (Video grade 60)||2x with relay rec & copy rec: UHS-II U3 (Video grade 60)|
|3.5mm mic socket||Yes (support for LINE input)||Yes|
|3.5 headphone socket||Yes||Yes|
|HDMI output terminal||Type A||Type A|
|XLR audio input||DMW-XLR1 mic adaptor (optional)||DMW-XLR1 mic adaptor (optional)|
Choice for videographers
The GH series has made its mark in the video world with its compact form, expandability and feature set.
Although its popularity has without doubt been growing, it has nevertheless been caught between the world of stills and video.
The separation created by the S version shows Panasonic’s continued commitment to video and imaging, and although we’ve only just touched on the features of the new camera, it looks set to make an impact.
In my mind, there is no battle between the GH5 and GH5S, they share a name, but essentially each has a different defined path.
If the GH5S is for video then you might think that the GH5 should, therefore, be for stills; but it’s not, that’s where the G9 comes into the game.
The GH5 is a hybrid, and as with the Auto industry at the moment, this mix of formats seems to be where trends and favour lie for 2018.
It’s good to have a choice, but sooner or later you’re going to have to make a decision, and when that time comes it won’t be the GH5 it will be the G9 for stills and GH5S for video.
Panasonic GH5S vs GH5 Specifications
|Date announced||8th January 2018||4th Jan 2017|
|Price at launch||£2199.99/$ body only||£1,699 body only, £1,899 with 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, £2,199 with Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4 lens|
|Sensor||New 10.2Mp High Sensitivity MOS with Multi-Aspect||20.3Mp MOS without optical low-pass filter|
|Sensitivity (ISO)||ISO 160-51200, Extended ISO 80/102400/204800, Dual Native ISO||ISO 200-25600, Extended ISO 100|
|Viewfinder||3,680,000-dot OLED, 21mm, 0.76x (35mm equivalent)||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||3.2-inch 3:2 1,620,000-dot RGBW LCD, vari-angle, touch-screen|
|AF Speed||DFD, Approx 0.07sec||Advanced DFD, Approx 0.05sec|
|Shutter Speed||1/8000-60 sec, Bulb to 30min, X=1/250||1/8000-60 sec, Electronic first curtain shutter 1/2000-60 sec, Bulb to 30min, X=1/250|
|Continuous Shooting||14 bit: AFS 11fps, AFC 7fps. 12 bit: AFS 12fps, AFC 8fps||14 bit: -. 12 bit: AFS 12fps, AFC 9fps|
|In-Body Stabilisation||-||5-axis / 5 stops|
|6K Photo/4K Photo||4K Photo: 8Mp 60fps (H.264 recording)||6K Photo 18Mp 30fps (HEVC recording), 4K Photo: 8Mp 60fps (H.264 recording)|
|Toughness||Magnesium alloy body, splash/dust/freezeproof -10C/14F||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)||C4K: 24p (4:2:2 10bit), 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||4K: Max 60fps, FHD: Max 180fps|
|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)||4:2:2 10bit output & internal recording (4K 60p/50p is output only), 4:2:0 8bit output & internal recording (4K 60p/50p)|
|Anamorphic Mode||Anamorphic 4K||High-resolution Anamorphic (ver. 2.0), Anamorphic 4K|
|SD Card Slot||2x UHS-II U3||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||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||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)||410 pictures (using LCD)|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||138.5 x 98.1 x 84.4mm (excluding protrusions)||138.5 x 98.1 x 84.4mm (excluding protrusions)|
|Weight||660g (including SD card, battery and body)||725g (including SD card, battery and body)|
|Accessory||Battery grip (BGGH5), Gun Mic (MS2), XLR mic adaptor (XLR!)||Battery grip (BGGH5), Gun Mic (MS2), XLR mic adaptor (XLR!)|