26 January 2018
The arrival of the Panasonic GH5S has left quite a few people scratching their heads wondering where it fits in with the GH5. We have both available for hire and here we explain the key differences, to help you decide which is the right model for you.
The most significant difference between the GH5S and the GH5 lies with their sensors; the GH5 has a Micro Four Thirds sensor with 20.3 million effective pixels, whereas the GH5S actually has a slightly larger sensor with 10.2 million pixels. Panasonic used a slightly larger sensor for the GH5S because it allows it to have the same diagonal angle of view whatever aspect ratio images or video are shot in. And the reduction in the pixel count allows the light receptors to be much larger than they are on the GH5 sensor. This means they create a stronger image signal and noise becomes less of an issue, even in low light.
Because the GH5S is able to produce a cleaner image signal, Panasonic has pushed its sensitivity beyond the ISO 100-25,600 expanded range of the GH5 to ISO 80-204,800, which means it has much greater capacity for low-light shooting. In addition, the GH5S has Dual Native ISO Technology, which basically means that there are two analogue circuits for processing the signal instead of one. One circuit is set to ISO 400 while the other is set to ISO 2500 and this approach again brings rewards in terms of low light image quality. Naturally a camera that's capable of recording high quality footage in low light needs a sensitive AF system and the GH5S claims to operate at -5EV, one stop lower than the GH5.
While the GH5 can shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) video at 24fps, the GH5S can muster it at 30/25/24p in 10-bit or 60/50p in 8-bit. Meanwhile, if you're happy to drop to Full-HD (1920 x 1080), it's possible to shoot at up to 240p with the GH5S, it's 'only' 180p with the GH5. Unlike the GH5, the GH5S has Panasonic's V-Log L mode pre-installed, which means anyone using one can record flat footage with wide dynamic range. Another bonus for videographers that the GH5S brings is that it has Time Code In/Out. This means that it can be used as a Time Code generator for syncing other cameras in multi-cam set-ups. That's very helpful when it comes to editing the footage.
For some this is quite a controversial difference between the GH5s and GH5. Unlike the GH5, the GH5S does not have an image stabilisation system built-in. The benefit of this is that it enables the camera to be bolted to moving structures and the sensor will move with the object, it won't float around trying to correct the movement. If you want stabilised footage from the GH5S, there's a multitude of rigs and gimbals available.
We're used to thinking of the GH5 as a videographer's camera, but while it's a very capable video camera, its pixel count makes it something of an all-rounder. Panasonic is now calling the GH5 a hybrid camera while the GH5S is targeted at serious videographers. You can see Panasonic's inspiring introductory video below: