A few thoughts on the Panasonic GH5 announcement.

Will this camera be the nail in the coffin for traditional, flapping mirrored DSLRs? Well, maybe not this camera alone but a combination of cameras like this and the Olympus EM1.2, along with better and better cellphone cameras. Why? Because cameras like the GH5 offer a much, much better value proposition at a competitive price.

What!? Well, we can start with professional video capabilities. The GH5 blows away anything consumer Nikon and Canon cameras bring to the table, along with usability features to make shooting video comfortable and convenient.  Seems that Panasonic followed a trend pioneered by Samsung in that they are speeding up image processing with faster, state of the art microprocessors that make tossing around the imaging information quicker and more detailed. It's almost like Panasonic dropped a 500 HP, turbo-charged motor into a Civic body (with better suspension) while companies like Canon and Nikon (especially) are dropping Fiat motors into one ton pick-up trucks.

With their latest product introduction Panasonic's new camera goes toe-to-toe with Nikon's D500 in terms of focusing speed, lock-on and frame rates but doesn't then drop the ball by making the 4K video lame and under spec'd. They do it all with good battery life and a convenient size and weight.

If you look back at all the good photography and video work people have done with the GH4 and then look at the specs for the new GH5 you'll see that it's the current, ultimate hybrid imaging camera of the moment.

There's a lot to like about the GH5. It's a robust camera body combined with video features that few cameras at any budget can match. I'm looking forward to the first firmware update which is rumored to allow 4K imaging at 60 fps in 10 bit, 4:2:2.

Will I run from Sony to embrace the Panasonic wundercam? Naw. Not till I've watched my friends work with the ones they are sure to buy. Truth is that I'm enamored of the Sonys because I now feel that I totally understand them. How to use them. How to process the files and what to feed the imaging chain in order to get the results I crave. Part of my investment is my investment in the learning curve of mastery. That has to be a consideration now in any upgrade.

But that doesn't obviate or negate my contention that faster processors, mirrorless designs, and EVFs are fast eroding the market for traditional cameras in the hands and minds of enthusiast and pros. Kodak showed us that having huge, dominant marketshare is not defense against a sudden disruption in the marketplace. 2010 represented the bleeding edge for the trend of moving to mirrorless but we are quickly coming to the fat spot in the curve. Hold on to your hats because we're about to accelerate the transition.

Could this be the year that both Nikon and Canon capitulate and start killing their own products in order to make their transition to products that people will really want?

The GH5 is a well thought out camera. It's not a consumer photography camera. It's a professional visual content creator camera that is first a competent video camera and secondly a competent still camera. It will sell because thats where the market is moving.


Butch said...

I understand. On the other hand, my Canon 6D gets me world-class customer support, where Panasonic's is nonexistent. With Canon unlike Sony, I get a ton of lenses, some excellent and reasonably priced (17-40 oo-la-la). If I had the budget, yeah, Sony full-frame all the way (70-200/4 oo-la-la). How are the GH5's focus tracking and IQ for shooting in the dark? - the 6D is pretty good in that regard. Really, for now, Canon 6D has the paisan full-frame market sewed up (check Flickr). I would LOVE eye-recognition and an EVF with that video focus-highlighting thingy - and the light weight (6D weighs a ton). Nikon? Eff 'em if they can't take a joke - the D7000's back-focusing problems drove me nuts, and the little CX-sensored V1 was close to worthless for shooting people around in the dark. The point of this ramble is that, all things weighed and filtered, I've found a remarkably great camera for my needs and within my budget barely. I'm not arguing with you, Kirk; I agree with what you've said, just expressing a different angle on the camera market.

Anders said...

You clearly know a lot about video and video production, so I'm sure that you are right about Canon and Nikon etc. are behind regarding video. Personally I don't think that most people are very interested in video except maybe for short clips from a holiday, birthday etc.

On the other hand, no amateur (in the best sense) would go for a GH5 if they just wanted to shoot great images and that is due to the high price for the camera that is close to being ridiculus for a 4/3 sensor camera. Especially when you for instance can get an entry model D3400 that delivers better image quality for stills for around 1/5'th of the price.

I travel to different places in the world and it is the same pattern everywhere. Most people using "real" cameras, that be younger or older, typically use APS-C DSLRs, quite few people use ML and of course a lot of people use cell phone cameras. The explanation is simple, you get the best price/performance ratio and people couldn't care less about the technical implementation of the camera internals (flapping mirror etc.).

Wally said...

I have a GX7 for casual use and wanted to comment on the Panny touch screen and interface. I score the user experience with touchscreen at 92%. A Grade of A;could it be better? Sure then again you draw 18's in Blackjack you win a lot.

Kirk Tuck said...

Butch, the problem is with the NEED for world class customer support. But I agree that Canon is doing a much better job than Nikon.

Ah, Anders, we only care about the part of the market that we inhabit; the enthusiasts market. The higher end. I don't care about the part of the market that's only about taking family pix at Disney World.

Peter said...

On my travels I still see quite a few low end DSLRs (often carried by the Mom) with probably one kit zoom. I don't think the average owner knows or cares whether the noise at high ISO is better or worse than mirrorless. My guess is that this camera segment will be the next to fall to the iPhone juggernaut as the built-in cameras get better and better, with portrait modes and such. The enthusiast who owns (and tries to carry) six lenses is taking a keen look at what the mirrorless world can offer. It's partly weight, and it's partly that this is where the interesting innovation that drives GAS, is taking place.

I'm sure the GH5 will do well, but my money is going to the OMD 1 mark ii, as I'm only interested in stills.