REVIEW: Our first hands-on look at the Panasonic Lumix GH5S

8 January 2018 | Category: Motion

REVIEW: Our first hands-on look at the Panasonic Lumix GH5S

While the GH5 is widely seen as a video camera, Panasonic has always been keen to underline its all-round credentials, citing it as a stills AND video camera. Now Panasonic has underlined its hybrid status with the announcement of the GH5S, a model it is referring to as ‘the ultimate video camera’. As its name suggests, the GH5S is very similar to the GH5 with an identical control arrangement save for the video start/stop button on the top-plate being completely red with ‘Rec’ picked-out in white.

Panasonic GH5S review

The biggest hardware difference between the GH5S and the GH5 is the sensor. The GH5S has a new 10.2Mp High Sensitivity Multi-Aspect Ratio MOS chip. That lower pixel count enables the photo receptors (AKA pixels) to be made larger so they capture more light and footage has less noise. In addition, twin circuitry on the sensor means that the GH5S has two base sensitivity settings of ISO 400 and 2500, which also helps keep noise in check. As a consequence, the GH5S has a native sensitivity range of ISO 160-51,200 with expansion settings of ISO 80, 102,400 and 204,800. This compares to ISO 200-25,600 with an expansion setting of ISO 100 with the GH5.

As it’s a Multi-Aspect Ratio sensor, the chip is actually a little larger than the standard Four Thirds type and the same diagonal angle of view is maintained whether you’re shooting in 4:3, 17:9, 16:9 or 3:2 aspect ratio.

Another significant addition to the GH5S’s feature set is Timecode IN/OUT which means the camera can be used as a Timecode generator for other cameras to make editing multi-camera footage easier.

Further good news is that the GH5S is capable of recording Cinema 4K (4096x2160) footage at 60p/50p/30p/25p/24p (the GH5 only does so at 24p) and at 30p/25p/24p when shooting 4:2:2 10bit C4K (recording externally or internally).

Panasonic GH5S review

Panasonic GH5S review

Slow motions lovers will also appreciate the GH5S’s ability to shoot Full-HD footage at 240fps (the GH5 maxes out at 180fps).

Build and Handling

As mentioned earlier, the GH5S has a lot in common with the GH5 but Panasonic has added a couple of red accents that were seen on the G9. This means that the GH5S has the same solid feel as the GH5 and magnesium alloy die-cast front and rear frames. It’s also splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof down to -10 degrees.

Panasonic GH5S review

Also like the GH5, there’s a 3,680,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) built-in with 21mm eye relief and magnification of 0.76x (35mm equivalent). This provides an excellent view of the scene even in very low light conditions. There’s also the same 3.2-inch 3:2 1,620,000-dot RGBW LCD touch-screen mounted on a vari-angle hinge. Again, this provides a clear view and it’s very responsive to touch.

Panasonic GH5S review

All the controls are in the same location as on the GH5 and are within easy reach - you just need to be a little careful not to accidentally press the Disp. button, which sits near the thumb rest on the back of the camera.

Performance

According to Panasonic, the GH5S’s AF system is sensitive down to -5EV and it certainly seems to cope very well with low light, getting subjects in focus quickly and smoothly. The footage we’ve seen from the GH5S looks very impressive with colours being reproduced well and noise being controlled exceptionally even at high sensitivity settings. It’s worth bearing in mind here that Panasonic will ship the GH5S with V-Log L installed, which means that the camera is capable of recording very flat-looking footage that’s perfect for grading. Thankfully V-Log Assist mode is on hand to give you guidance about what you are shooting.

In a significant departure from the the GH5, Panasonic hasn’t given the GH5S in-body stabilisation, which some people may not like, but puts you more in control of the footage that you’re shooting. These days there’s a wide variety of cages, rigs and gimbals available to help with getting stable footage wherever you’re shooting.

Verdict

It’s very early days with the GH5S, but in the light of our experience with the GH5, we’re very excited about it. The GH5 is a great hybrid camera but the GH5S looks like a superb video camera. The two cameras should complement each other well and anyone who already has a GH5 should look at the GH5S if they are interested in building a multi-cam system.

The new Panasonic GH5S will be available for hire, HERE