A Few Thoughts About the Soon to be Released Panasonic GH5. Maybe we should all rush out and get one....

I have some experience with Panasonic GH cameras having, at one time owned two or three of the GH4's and various other G cameras. Two of my favorite lenses from the system were the 12-35mm and the 35-100mm f2.8s. Really nice stuff. I had good success shooting a large video project with the GH4 but at some point I sold them all because, while they were very good video cameras there were better conventional photography cameras on the market and most of my focus at the time was still photography, not video production.

I've been quite happy for the last year with my decision to settle on Sony cameras and now, along comes Panasonic to upset the apple cart and to fire up the somewhat irrational desire to make yet another (probably) ill-considered equipment overhaul. To squander a bunch of cash. To follow the siren call of the spec sheet; down the next rabbit hole.

Since few of us (and NOT me) have shot with the GH5 camera we're still getting all excited about the features and specifications alone. We haven't had an honest and detailed review yet about the actual image quality and performance of the new camera by any except the usual review suspects --- who like pretty much every camera they've ever touched.

My first reaction is that if you are a still photographer
currently shooting with a system that gives you great results it's probably a non-starter to expect this camera to exceed by any real margin the kinds of results you are getting right now. If I shot nothing but stills I wouldn't give this camera a second look. I'm sure the image quality is superb for the format. I'm equally sure that the 20+ megapixels packed onto the sensor are great ones and have been massaged to give the best possible performance. But at the end of the day you are still looking at a still frame that must compete with still frames from cameras that have format advantages (for most people).

If my studio was hit by a malicious meteor and all of my gear was wiped out., and assuming Studio Dog and I survived, we'd head off to Precision Camera and shop for new stuff. A complete wipe out is a good excuse to try new stuff. Would I go back to Sony or would I venture into Fuji, or maybe Panasonic?

Given my current interest in video and filmmaking I'd really have to give it a lot of thought. The people at Panasonic produced, in the GH5, a very stunning, and well thought out video production tool. One not hobbled by corporate desire to hobble the "consumer" product to protect their "professional" dedicated video  line. This will be the only affordable video camera with 10 bit 4:2:2 4K video currently available. Sony, Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Fuji are unable (currently) to match it. Even when writing to external recorders.

Panasonic gets video brownie points from me for providing dual SD card slots as well as a full size HDMI socket. They get points for unlimited video record time. They get the "gold" award for keeping their camera from overheating while recording in all conditions.

But as a replacement for my current still imaging cameras? Maybe not.

The minute I trade or sell off my current Sony gear to get the new "wonder" camera of the year one of my clients will call and schedule another photo shoot that requires enormous, 42 megapixel files (my fault for introducing them to the good stuff....). The minute the cash leaves my account, and I take possession of the new GH5 Sony will come along and leapfrog over it with a "new and improved" model that equals the video performance and features while providing a higher resolution sensor, at which point I'll mourn for the lenses I just traded away.

There's always a second option but it's fraught with peril as well. I could keep the mountain of Sony stuff I've accumulated and add a GH5 body and some sort of all terrain lens, like the 12-60mm Leica model. But then I am right back to memorizing two competing menu systems and I'll have unleashed the virulent monkey that sits on my left shoulder and yammers away; trying to convince me to dip my toes further back into the micro four thirds lens jungle.

Better to just say that I'm happy for now and have no pressing project that demands the GH5's special skills. Let's see how it pans out in the hands or real working professionals before I go chomping at the bit...

You always think you want the 72 ounce steak before you try to finish it.


  1. GAS is no respecter of persons. . .

  2. No temptation from me looking at the GH5, far too complex for the point I am at. I am still working on eeking the best quality consistently from the EM5.2... But then I popped into Ming Thien's blog the other evening and saw a video he was shooting in conjunction with Hassleblad. Imagery was lovely and the video looked superb.

    I was thinking, must be an A7s2 or similar with a little dissappointment. Video finished and I read his article. Turned out the whole thing was shot on 2 EM1.2s.

    So I haven't made any major camera purchases for a little bit, and probably still wont, but as it stands, that one video sealed the deal for me on staying on with Olympus. One major reason, and one you bring up, is the menu systems. There are enough settings to remember to change without trying to trip oneself up.

    You should have a quick peek over at his blog and see the video. Impressive stuff (at least to my untrained eye).

  3. Huh. And here I thought the FZ2500 was a (relatively) inexpensive wedge entry point leading to Panasonic once again. A way to sample some of the changes and build the rationalizations needed to justify a GH5. After all, you've been very good for a very long time. And what the hell, you could always sell it. I mean really, what's the big deal? You wouldn't even have to admit you bought it by writing about it. But, then, think of the missed page views. I don't know....

  4. yeah, right (you'll cave)
    San Antonio

  5. You never know, the Big Texan (not speaking of you Kirk) might try a Panasonic GH5.

  6. Sony isn't standing still after this shot across the bow. Other than the big boys, Alexa and Red, it's a Sony and Panasonic video world and it would be easy to justify choosing either one over the other. Except that you already invested into one, and one that offers multiple sensor formats as well. Let's face it, not everyone suffers from GAS. There are those out there following their photographic passion with old film cameras and first generation digital. So what's going on with us? Do we tire that easily of what we work with? Perhaps see what Sony's next generation looks like, which will also provide time to discover the glitches in the GH5 (you know there are always glitches in a new camera.) I'm sure you can rationalize any decision you make. ��

  7. Good post with some very rational thought at the end about switching systems and inevitable leap frogging that will happen. Even though I and still happy with my 3 cameras (having left m4/3 and Fuji) which are all sub-APS C for the first time, I do look at the GH and others and wonder.

    For now, I'm sitting still with the RX10 MII, the RX100 and the Typ 109. 2 of them handle 4k very well (or very well with the RX10 MII), they are capable still cameras and all very portable and self-contained. The RX10 MII continues to impress me. Plus, they are all fun to shoot with! :-).

  8. I drove through Texas once. It's the only place I've ever seen a 72 ounce steak!

    I currently use Nikon FX and Olympus M4/3 gear, but I find I'm drawn to the Fuji stuff these days. So far I've been able to resist. Have to say, at $2K the new M4/3 bodies don't really interest me.

  9. I actually see you picking up the rumored A7siii that is due out this summer. I think that will happen before you get the GH5. Unless you kept any M43rds lenses, which I doubt.

  10. David, Or....I could use my RX10iii with an Atomos Inferno...


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