Panasonic GH5 II, a mirrorless camera built for filmmaking

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Updated March 2022

Panasonic GH5 camera body
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Panasonic’s $1500 (body only) GH5 II offers a great range of pro filmmaking features. With powerful in-body image stabilisation, it’s a good choice for news shooters, documentary filmmakers and events.

The GH5 is weather-sealed, frostproof (to -10C), and can shoot 4K and HD in a range of broadcast quality formats without needing an external recorder. It has a very high resolution electronic viewfinder and a multi-angle touchscreen.

It’s a solid, well-made workhorse with good controls and clear menus. The IS lock feature is remarkable: for static shots, it’s like filming on a tripod.

Key features

Broadcast quality

The GH5 II can shoot 4K, in 10 bit, 4:2:2 at up to 30p internally. That means it records more information than the usual consumer 8 bit, 4:2:0 format,  so your footage will stand up better to colour correction, grading and effects. It can record in UHD and the professional DCI format.

Slow motion

The GH5 II can record 60p (2x) 4K slow motion, at 4:2:0 10 bit internally. In 1080p HD it can shoot at up to 180p (that’s 6x slow motion, or 7.2x for PAL users).

Stabilisation

It has five-axis in-body image stabilisation for easy handholding.  IS Lock lets you get very steady static shots without using a tripod.

Focus

There’s advanced autofocus, with touchscreen focusing and programmable rack focus.

Screen and viewfinder

The viewfinder is very sharp. That makes eye-level shooting a good option, even for stills.  Screen resolution and brightness have been improved over the previous model.

Dynamic range

You can shoot V-log with a 12 stop dynamic range. (Dynamic range means how well the camera deals with contrast). V-log is a flat picture style which compresses highlights and shadows, and is designed to be corrected or graded afterwards. You can also preview how the footage will look once LUT correction is applied.

Audio

It has microphone and headphone sockets, and two built-in microphones (one of which is for noise cancelling).

An optional $400 audio module adds two pro XLR microphone inputs and physical dials and switches for changing audio settings and levels.

Other features

  • It can display pro waveform and vectorscope monitors
  • There are two SD card slots and no recording limit
  • It’s a world camera: it can shoot NTSC or PAL formats.
  • It’s fully compatible with the  DJI Ronin-SC handheld stabiliser, allowing you to pull focus and set quick autofocus from the stabiliser handle.

Limitations

The MFT (micro four thirds) sensor is smaller than Canon’s APS-C and the full frame format used on some Canon and Sony cameras. That means you can’t get quite as creative with shallow depth of field, unless you add an expensive Metabones Speedbooster adapter to fit lenses designed for larger sensors. But for documentary and events shooters, more depth of field may be a bonus as it means fewer focus errors.

Low-light performance isn’t as good as some competitors that use larger APS-C or ‘full-frame’ sensors.

Should you buy it? 

For documentaries, news and events, the combination of broadcast quality 4K, easy handholding, interchangeable lenses and pro audio looks unbeatable at this price.

For better low-light performance and video features (but no image stabilisation) at a significantly higher price, you could get the Panasonic GH5S.

The BlackMagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K has many pro video features at a lower price, but it’s less convenient and robust.

Filmmakers who want a ‘cinematic’ look might find the small sensor limiting. If you don’t need to shoot 4K, a used Canon C100 might be a better choice. If you don’t need the GH5’s pro features, the G85 has the same great image stabilisation (but not the IS lock) in a smaller body for less than half the price.

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