Panasonic GH5+Olympus 12-100mm f4. A seriously good match.

Preliminary analysis from use tests indicates that the Olympus 10-100mm f4.0 lens is an excellent lens. When coupled with the GH5 camera from Panasonic I was able to get highly detailed images up to the resolution limits of the sensor. The combination is a heavy package that is not much different from the mass of a typical full frame DSLR with a (shorter zoom range) 24-70mm lens. It should be noted that our reasons for the acquisition of this equipment were strictly for the image performance in video from the combination of the specific camera and lens and were in no way motivated by a need or desire to obtain a "low mass" or "low weight" system.

The images shown here were taken early this morning and are all handheld and taken at the maximum aperture of the lens, or one stop down from maximum aperture. I shot the images as raw files and converted them to Jpegs with Adobe Lightroom. The default sharpening in Lightroom seems a tad high but is easily corrected by reducing the slider setting from +25 to +12. 

As I shot the photographs I used white balance settings which were a match for each scene. If I shot objects in full sun I set the WB to the pictogram of the sun. If I shot in open shade I shot using the WB as indicated by the icon of shade falling from a wall. I used aperture priority but used the 100% zebra setting to protect highlights. If the zebras showed in a light area or a white area with detail I used the exposure compensation control to lower the exposure until the zebras disappeared. I was careful though to ignore zebras nested in specular highlight areas. 

My overall impression of the lens is that it is very sharp and capable of convincing sharpness across the frame. The zoom ring turns in the opposite direction from what I expected it would but I'm reasonable sure I will get used to it in short order. Since the zoom ring is mechanical the direction of rotation cannot be reversed via software. The lens has a push-pull clutch which engages or disengages a true, mechanical manual focus setting. The allows for hard stops at the close focus distance as well as the infinity setting. It offers repeatable settings which makes manual focusing with this lens usable for video work. 

The camera and lens are both heavier and larger than most of the lenses designed for micro four thirds. With that being said the fact that both are bigger and heavier means, at least to me, that they are well matched, ergonomically, and feel very good in my hands. The lens makes the combination a bit front heavy but that's to be expected from a very high quality lens with such a long range of focal lengths. 

I have no idea if the camera's I.S. and the lens I.S. work in tandem but the results with I.S. engaged in both are very satisfactory. I was able to shoot down to 1/8th of a second with good results, even at the longer end of the lens.

As my own testing continues I look forward to setting up typical video interview situations and testing how well the lens renders skin tones. When I finish with that I'll share the results here. 

My last note is just an observation about exposure. I'm very pleased to find that the Panasonic GH5 does a very, very good job at setting exposure automatically. While I made "course corrections" from time to time with the exposure compensation control these we're always in situations that are widely known to fool most camera meters. I would trust the exposure control of the camera for just about any situation that falls into the realm of normal scene tonal structure. 

The combination of lens and camera cost approximately $3300 and provide exceptional value for anyone transitioning from shooting only stills to shooting a combination of stills and videos. A full frame, state of the art camera such as the Sony A7Rii will easily outperform the GH5 for still photography where sheer resolution and dynamic range are concerned. The GH5 will outperform the A7Rii in video, both in overall handling and also the quality of the video captured. While the Sony has advantages in still photography meant to be printed large the Panasonic has an equal advantage with its 10 bit video files. It also provides a more able combination of features for video with niceties such as a full sized HDMI connector, much longer battery life and a much bigger selection of file types/codecs. 

A well equipped visual content creation business would benefit from having both choices in their inventory to deliver optimum results across a wide use spectrum.

Additional blog note: The camera and lens were both purchased from a local retailer. 
I paid the prevailing retail price for both and received no special consideration or discount for 
my purchases other than a free, promotional water bottle. 

The water bottle is good and we'll have one of our "no nonsense" reviews of it up as soon as we put it through it's paces in its hydration implementation configuration. 

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  1. Cameras and camera systems come and go, but a great water bottle can stick with you for a lifetime. I hope your new one is one of the greats!

  2. Kirk
    Nice comparison between the Panasonic + Olympus lens and the Sony 7r II for stills. How about a comparison with the step son Sony 7 II and the 4:3 combination.

  3. Kirk,
    Your next test should be to get a micro 43rds to Nex adapter! Yes they exist. So you can test that manual focus lens on your Sony gear wide open (no aperture control) and see how much of the frame is covered.
    Might be a fun test, or just pointless.
    Keep shooting and have fun.

  4. I believe for both Olympus and Panasonic the camera will only use both lens and sensor shift image stabilization in conjunction if you use the same lens and camera manufacturer combination. I.e. the 12-100mm's lens stabilization will only be used in conjunction with the E-m1 mark II's sensor shift stabilization. Similarly, the Panasonic recent OIS-II stabilized lenses will work in conjunction with the Panasonic sensor shift stabilization incorporating their DFD technology.

    In the case of using Olympus lenses on a Panasonic body or a Panasonic lens on an Olympus body, the camera chooses which stabilization to use. My G85 doesn't have an option which stabilization system to use, so I assume it shuts off the lens based stabilization, and uses only the sensor shift stabilization. Olympus bodies since the E-m5 mark I have had an option so that you could choose whether to use the lens stabilization (typically in Panasonic lenses until recently) or the sensor shift stabilization method.

    The L-fn button on the 12-100mm lens can only be used on Olympus bodies.

    As you note, Olympus lenses and Panasonic lenses rotate in different directions for the focus and zoom rings. Such is life.

  5. Kirk, I will send a more thoughtful comment later when I get in front of a computer. But be sure to try the variable frame rate setting at 120 fps conformed to 23.98 fps. It gives a stunning 5x slow motion video. I am currently visiting family at Horseshoe Bay, TX and this setting on my GH5 with the Oly 75mm f1.8 prime is a stellar combination for water skiing and wakeboarding videos on lake LBJ. With the GH5 IBIS and the slow motion fps, the videos are crisp, clear, and smooth as silk (despite boat motion). At f2.0 with a 0.6 ND filter the blue and golden hours result in stunning subject separation and ambient lighting. I wish I could share the videos with you somehow. Between the IBIS, the variable fps slow motion options, the improvements to the Panasonic jpg engine and video codecs, the 20 MP sensor with 60 fps and no crop in 4k, and the 3 position focus transition feature, the GH5 is a fantastic piece of machinery for motion and still imaging and will likely be the first m4/3 camera body I plan to keep for multiple years (most of the rest have cycled out of my kit with 6 to 12 months as new models were launched). Enjoy your new tool!


  6. And is the GH5 plus Olympus 12-100 actually worth the price premium over the Sony RX10ii that until recently you were perfectly happy to use for still and video work?

  7. I'm not sure I understand the question. Is it not okay to move up to a camera with a higher bit depth, deeper color specs and more video tools? Was I "perfectly happy" to use the RX10ii for all my videos or would a reading of the blog posts show that we used the 4K video in the A7rii for most primary interview work in Toronto? or that we used the Panasonic fz2500 for all the A camera work in the recent Zach videos? or that the RX10iii was used more frequently than the ii? What exactly was the point of your comment? Do we now live an existence where creative people must choose only one tool and use it forever in some kind of misguided loyalty to some unspoken tradition? And, yes, the GH5 is a better video camera. As to the lens, I could not figure out how to wrench the lens off the RX10iii and use it on the new camera. Happily the 12-100mm was available and I could afford to purchase it. Can I have permission to use the Sonys as B cameras or has the world entered some "all or nothing" paradigm?????


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