Panasonic GH5 starts shipping in 3 days. How’s the 180fps slow-mo quality?

The first actually useful GH5 review I’ve read comes from Amadeusz at the excellent Polish website (Google Translated here)

He look at all aspects of the new camera in detail, including the quality of the promising 180fps slow-mo mode.

Do check out their review and videos above.

What’s interesting is that they discover the variable frame rates are implemented using two sensor readout modes.

The first will record at the highest quality between 62-125 fps. Then at 150-180 fps there’s a drop in quality but it’s still approximately as good as Sony’s slow-mo on the A6500 at 120fps.

So those interested in slow-mo may want to experiment in terms of picture quality at 120fps vs 150fps before deciding what to prioritise on a shoot.

Meanwhile, the rolling shutter scores at ‘leave the rest in a cloud of dust’. They rate the high-frame rate mode at 3.47ms for 150-180 fps 1080p, which is close to 2K on the Arri Alexa in terms of sensor speed. Quite astonishing. In 4K 24-30 fps it is the best performance yet seen for the price with a minimal rolling shutter distortion from a 13ms scan – that’s a sensor readout in 4K of over twice the speed of Sony’s 4K mirrorless cameras.

I had my own hands on the camera (for the first time) in Berlin last week at a store workshop. I’ll be leaving everything to my review when my pre-order ships with the rest of you (expected Wednesday 22nd), but can remark on a few things from the brief hands-on –

  1. Panasonic’s two people at the store were very knowledgable, very friendly and most importantly enthusiastic!!
  2. The H.265 codec and 5K recording has plenty of potential on the GH5. With the current firmware it is under-exploited. The ‘6K photo mode’ is locked to 30fps files in 4:3 or 3:2 ratio with no option to change this to 24fps 16:9 if you would like to record short 5K videos. Perhaps there are heat and power consumption issues to be managed but it would be nice to have a 5K video mode. Besides I don’t know why they call it “6K” Photo Mode when the maximum horizontal resolution is 5K. Weird marketing Panasonic!
  3. Ergonomics were “OK” (functional but a bit uninspired) and small quirks remain. Like the previous GH3 and GH4, the rear grip rubber doesn’t drop back around the dial to allow smooth travel of your finger or thumb over it during use
  4. There are no reports of overheating so far from anybody
  5. Don’t expect much in the way from AF in video mode. Dual Pixel AF it is not.
  6. The EVF was sharp, but nowhere near as good as the Leica SL for manual focus with the focus aids switched off
  7. I was very pleased to see HDR Gamma coming to the camera in a firmware update. Anyone who has a 4K HDR TV will know the difference this makes
  8. Panasonic didn’t have V-LOG (paid option) loaded onto the demo cameras, which was a bit of a strange oversight given there was a hands-on workshop after the store demo
  9. Cinema5D have taken their GH5 review offline due to negative comments from the community, which they completely deserved.
  10. Regarding shipping, it starts on the 21st or 22nd but it will be quite tricky to get hold of. Also this was my first opportunity to EVER try the camera despite the loyalty I have had for these cameras for 6 years! Pre-release invites? Nah!
  11. Two stores have helped me out despite huge pre-orders queues. Thanks to Foto-Meyer in Berlin and ProActive I should have at least one GH5 at EOSHD by Wednesday 22nd March next week and pre-orders should begin arriving with thousands more people the next day. Again on a personal note, getting a camera has been a real struggle and although I tried to find out, I still don’t know why EOSHD was not asked to come to the pre-release events for the GH5. It’s just bizarre and has really tarnished my relationship with them.

On average 2 million people tune into EOSHD during the year to get advice on cameras so it really is not a small amount of interest in video and filmmaking. I just want to do a good job and get the information out early.

Despite the marketing mishaps from Panasonic I think they have gone and done a good job of the hardware and it deserves to be a success.

The great thing about the Panasonic GH5 is it is half the price of what a full frame version would be and you can use Super 35mm lenses on it. When you want the full frame or Super 35mm look you can simply use a Metabones Speed Booster to achieve a 1.3x crop like the Canon 1D C. Very close to the full frame look.

The only chink in the GH5’s armour is something Panasonic can’t control. This is what Sony has up their sleeve in future, a camera which could spring up at any time from NAB 2017 onwards. If they ever improve the ergonomics and rolling shutter of the leading A7 camera for video, in addition to adding a 10bit 4:2:2 codec, anamorphic mode and higher bitrates, the full frame look with higher dynamic range will almost always be preferred by the majority to a 2x crop sensor. However I am pretty sure there’s a lot of Panasonic technology in the full frame Leica SL so if they ever want to step up to full frame at the usual $3500 prices they are quite capable of it and I’d love to see the price of Micro Four Thirds capped at $2000 if this happens so it remains accessible to up-and-coming filmmakers.