The Panasonic GH5 shop.panasonic.com is a camera that’s new to me, although it’s been out for some time and recently been updated to the GH5s hGH5S.html it’s received a remarkable amount of publicity.

 

 Lumix GH5 review

 

What led me to the GH5 was the Canon XC10  cameras/xc10/  which I’ve had for a couple of years, I wanted to change the XC10 for something better and more cinematic. Every article, store or website I looked at had the Panasonic GH5 up there together with the Sony AS models; cameras/ilce-7s as the current cameras of choice.

The GH5 looks like and is a stills camera but the reason it’s being so highly rated is for it’s video capability and that’s what I’m primarily using it for; video.

Although it pretty much looks like a traditional DSLR it’s actually a mirrorless camera. I’m not overly keen on mirrorless cameras, or at least it’s the electronic viewfinder I don’t like; it’s such a false representation and unclear. It’s similar to looking through the viewfinder of an old video camera that shot VHS tapes! That may sound a little unfair so I think the electronic viewfinder just takes getting used to; as a photographer I still have to use the viewfinder to compose my images, using the viewing screen just seems so unnatural…..and unprofessional.

The reviews for the quality of the still images from the camera have been excellent but as I mentioned I bought to shoot video, so my review is based around this. I handled the camera for the first time a few weeks ago at proav.co.uk when I was looking at the Zhiyun Crane 2;  https://www.proav.co.uk/zhiyun-tech-crane-2-3-axis-gimbal-with-follow-focus       as Pro AV’s demo of the crane was set up with the GH5.
Although I actually went to look at the crane I was immediately impressed with the camera so I decided to buy one as the reviews were consistently good. It also looked to be a better fit on the crane than the Canon XC10 or a standard DSLR.

When shooting video my team and I use the Canon C100 Mark ll as our main camera and we also have a Ronin M gimble set up with the Canon XC10. The Ronin M allows us to shoot smooth dynamic video. I was never happy with the Cavon XC10 though, it’s a great camcorder but I prefer to shoot more cinematic style videos.

The Ronin M (if you’re familiar with it) is a great bit of kit but not the easiest to set up, so I decided to change it for something more manageable which is where the Zhiyun Crane 2 comes in.

When seeing the crane in use at the demo with the GH5 I knew then that the set up I had could be improved, so it was goodbye to the Ronin M and Canon XC10, they had to go and be replaced by the Zhiyun and GH5.

Not only is this new crane much easier to set up and use than the Ronin M but the GH5 is so compact and also easy to use.

The GH5 kit included a 16-60mm lens which would give me a wide view and work better on the crane, however although I knew the image quality of the camera was very good I needed to ensure two things on the camera would work well. Firstly the focussing system and would it keep things in focus whilst moving on the Zhiyun Crane?
At first I have to say I struggled as the focus kept shifting or the whole shot would simply be out of focus, but then I found a couple of excellent YouTube videos that explained a very detailed process of getting it all set, once I’d followed these instructions it seemed good to go and it worked exactly as I need it to.

The only problem with this is that I have no idea of all the settings I changed as it involved something like 8-10 different steps. There must be an easier way to set the camera for focussing.
However now that it's set up it keeps the whole image sharp regardless of where I point the camera when moving around on the crane, occasionally there is a slight focus delay but not enough to be an issue.

I’m not going to go explain the menu system as this review is purely based on how I find using the camera on actual jobs. The menu system like most modern cameras is so detailed I will probably never need to use most of the options. I will however learn it all in time. But for now I want to get it set up to shoot video and the priority options I need to get my head around are;

Focus setting

ISO

Image Quality

White Balance

Manual exposure

Sound settings

Film Rate (including slow motion settings)

Initialise/format memory cards

Settings for memory card recording (it takes two cards, so I want to set it up to record the same content on both cards)

All the other options in the menu system can be left to learn as and when I need them or have time.

So after a week of experimenting it was time to use the camera on two weddings I had coming up in two days, the Ronin M and Canon XC10 had gone, so it was new equipment to use on a couple of real weddings. A real test.

The camera was all set up for focus in the way I needed; in other words everything we would be shooting would remain in focus with the lens set to it’s widest view. 

The film rate was set to 50fps and this allowed us to shoot a cinematic film rate but also slow the footage down without any loss of quality of shake/juddering. The slow motion is absolutely stunning.

To retain some sort of consistency when using more than one camera on a job I thought I would use it in the same way as my main video camera, the Canon C100 Mark ll. The C100 works best with the ISO set to 850 so with the use of a built in Neutral Density filter the C100 is easy to use. However the G5 has no neutral density filter so it will be a case of adjusting the ISO more.
We put in a couple of 64gb cards which filled up at the first wedding before the evening reception, this may surprise you but be aware that you need large, very large SD cards for the GH5 as it shoots high file sizes.
For the second wedding two days later we decided to put in a couple of 128gb cards and we more or less filled those! Remember the two cards had exactly the same content as the camera was set to ‘back -up’ not ‘overflow’ (where the second cards starts recording as soon as the first card is full).

So the whole idea was to make sure we didn't make any errors by trying to be to clever with the GH5; use it to it's basic settings to start of with and record the right content on the day; we could be creative with the editing.

Mirrorless camera batteries tend to get used up incredibly quickly and when shooting video even more so as there's no option to use the viewfinder, naturally we were looking back at the clips more than usual at the first two weddings so I would says it's a must that you buy a spare battery when buying the camera.

So is there a downside to the GH5? Yes and no. There's definitely no downside to the quality of the video that's shot, the menu system is fairly easy and the camera feels and handles like a full DSLR. My only concern is how professional it actually looks. When you compare the GH5 to the Canon C100 they look worlds apart, the C100 is a camera that my clients would see me using and feel they are getting a high end service. The GH5 unfortunately doesn't compare, so my concern is would our clients think we're not providing a high end service? 

Having used the camera now for a couple of weeks the quality we are getting is fantastic, we need to do a more tests and compare the final quality of the final edited footage from both cameras. If the GH5 compares well to the C100 is it worth ditching the C100 and replacing it with another GH5? Yes is the answer to that, BUT, it's back to how professional it looks in front of a client. I'd be interested to know if anyone out there is being as 'snobby' as I am!