Panasonic’s top-end GH line of Micro Four Thirds cameras has long been the choice of professional videographers. Their compact design, interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lens system, and class-leading video features have made the series a solid option for projects ranging from wedding videography to independent documentary to Hollywood feature.
The latest model, the GH5, was first previewed under glass in the fall at the German Photokina exhibition. Panasonic is using CES to officially launch it. There are some serious upgrades from the previous GH4 model, including a new 20.3MP image sensor with no optical low-pass filter (OLPF), quicker autofocus for both stills and video, and a tougher body with dual UHS-II U3 SD memory card slots.
The GH5 captures video at up to 4K quality at standard frame rates up to 60fps. If you opt for 1080p capture, you can push the frame rate all the way up to 180fps for slow-motion capture. Footage is sampled at 4:2:0 with 8 bits of color depth when shooting at 4K60, while you get higher quality 4:2:2 10-bit footage at 4K30 and 4K24.
The entire width of the frame is utilized for 4K capture, which isn’t the case with every camera. Video is compressed at 150Mbps quality when shooting in 4K and at 100Mbps for 1080p. Additionally, rolling shutter has been reduced, thanks to an image processor that is nearly twice as fast as that of the GH4.
The GH5 isn’t entirely about video, although that is certainly its focus. It captures 20MP stills in Raw or JPG format at up to 12fps with fixed focus and 9fps with continuous focus. The image sensor is stabilized using a 5-axis system, which works in conjunction with lenses to deliver 5-stop shake reduction with Micro Four Thirds lenses up to 140mm in focal length.
There’s a 100-shot Raw buffer, so you can capture large chunks of action when shooting in continuous mode. A large EVF is there for eye-level shooting, and the GH5 also sports a 3.2-inch vari-angle touch-screen LCD with a 1.6MP resolution, including a group of white pixels to add brightness and reduce glare on sunny days.
The body is constructed from magnesium alloy and is fully sealed against dust and moisture. The GH5 does omit an in-body flash, a feature included with the GH4, in order to improve its ruggedness.
Panasonic’s 4K photo mode is included. It captures JPG stills at 8MP resolution at up to 60fps in the aspect ratio of your choice, albeit with locked focus. If you need more resolution you can opt for 6K photo mode, which drops the capture rate to 30fps, but grabs JPGs in 18MP resolution.
Wireless transfer of images and video is included as well. The GH5 sports dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth for easy pairing with your phone. It also includes physical ports—a USB-C 3.1 connector and a full-size HDMI output. An add-on adapter to use XLR microphones is an optional accessory, but you can connect a standard 3.5mm microphone directly to the body.
The GH5 is going to ship in March and will sell for $1,999.99 as a body only. Some of its more advanced features, including 10-bit capture, are going to be made available via firmware update in April. Others including 400Mbps compression and full-frame 6K video capture, will follow in a firmware update slated for release in the summer months.
Panasonic is also updating its entry-level Micro Four Thirds camera at CES. The new model, the GX850, takes the place of both the tiny GM and compact GF series. It sports a 16MP sensor with no OLPF, 5.8fps shooting (5fps with continuous focus), a 3-inch 1,040k-dot tilting display, 4K video capture, and Wi-Fi. It is priced at $599.99 as a kit with the 12-32mm zoom. It’s set to ship in early February.
The company is updating its FZ70 ultra-zoom bridge camera. The new model, the Lumix DMC-FZ80, keeps the same 60x (20-1,200mm equivalent) zoom lens, but adds the bells and whistles that were missing on the previous iteration. These include 4K video capture and 4K photo capture at up to 30fps, faster DFD focus technology, and 10fps image capture—a rate that drops to 5fps with continuous focus enabled. The body has a crisp 1,170k-dot EVF, as well as a 3-inch, 1,040k-dot touch-screen LCD. Its image sensor sports 18MP of resolution and can be set from ISO 80 through 3200. The FZ80 is priced at just $399.99 and will ship in March.
Finally, Panasonic is updating a few of its Micro Four Thirds lenses in 2017. It promises to deliver improved versions of the 12-35mm ($999.99), 35-100mm ($1,099.99), 45-200mm ($449.99), and 100-300mm ($649.99) zooms, with the two variable aperture telezooms hitting stores in February and the f/2.8 zooms following in March.
They’ll be joined by an all-new zoom, the premium Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH. / Power O.I.S., which is set to ship in March. The company is also developing an 8-18mm ultra-wide zoom and 50-200mm telezoom, but details on those are sparse at this time.
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