TL:DR version. This may not be the GH6 everyone was expecting but it’s one hell of a filmmaking camera.
It has landed, we can finally put the rumours to bed with today’s launch of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 ii. We’ve been lucky to get hands on ahead of the launch, so I can show you what this camera can actually do and can give you our first impressions of this micro four thirds filmmaking powerhouse.
From the off it’s worth addressing two things, yes Panasonic did let us borrow the GH5ii for this video, but they’re not reviewing or dictating the contents of it in any way. Secondly about the GH6, this camera has also been confirmed in the development pipeline, with a release date early next year. I’ll be putting out a seperate bit of content focussed purely on that so make sure you’re subscribed to get that when it drops. So, that begs the question, why the GH5ii and who’s it for? Well as we dig into this video, looking closer at its capabilities and showing the footage we can, it seems clear that this is a GH5 made ready for 2021. This is going to be aimed at new users, those content creators that want to jump into the Lumix Ecosystem but haven’t yet done so. This probably won’t be a camera for existing GH5 users, but saying that, the capabilities of this micro-four-thirds body are considerable and more than capable in it’s own right.
Form factor wise, this camera is on face value almost identical to it’s GH5 predecessor. Sharing that same easy to use, lightweight ergonomics that GH5 & micro four thirds users in general know and love. Lifting the hood slightly and we do see some noticeable and welcome upgrades. Firstly on the battery front, where the GH5ii is now utilising the same batteries as the Full Frame Lumix S5. These BLK22E’s offer the camera 2200mAh of capacity. Interestingly this isn’t the only feature the GH5ii shares with the Lumix S5, as this feature crossover is something of a significant theme here.
Moving over to the cards slots and we now see two UHS 2 compliant slots that will welcome cards up V90 speeds. This is significant as it hints at the bit rate and recording bit depth of this camera, which sees the ALL-I Codec recording at up to 400MB/s and I suppose that is a nice segway to looking at some test footage and digging into those video specs.
On face value not much has changed, we have the same 20.3 MP Live Mos Sensor and Micro Four Thirds Mounting. But I did promise that this was a camera built for 2021 and it lives up that billing. We have the 4K 60 as a headline figure, but we also have a slew of 4K and cinema 4k modes putting out an absolutely impeccable 10bit 4.2.2 image. You can then marry that colour and bit depth with the inclusion of V Log L, as standard and from launch, so no paid firmware upgrades here. That combination is one that I’ve really loved playing with, in the admittedly short window we had with the GH5ii. The image rendered is so good and so versatile that it’s actually hard to believe it’s so easy to achieve and from a camera this small. And I guess that’s the continued ethos of the GH5 that this shares, it’s super simple to use without compromising on the aesthetic qualities of the image.
Moving deeper into the video specs and features there’s a few other key updates that make this a great camera in it’s own right. First up is the much needed update to Auto-Focus system. In truth it was one of the main areas that really let down the GH5 and possibly a lot of Lumix cameras in general. The GH5ii borrows the snappy auto-focus system seen in the Lumix S5, which from our brief testing is quick and pretty reliable. For sure, serious filmmakers always scoff at auto-focus, but going back to that Ease of use ethos, it’s an incredibly important feature for content creators and thankfully is an area here that’s seen a huge improvement.
The In-Body-Image-Stabilisation system is now right up with some of the best I’ve ever used, with the Gh5ii offering 6.5 stops of IBIS. It actually reminds me of the Fuji X-T4 system which was mind-blowingly good. The part that really excites me here is that you get those 6.5 stops of IBIS from the body itself, regardless of what lens you are using. So, me being me I had to slap on a vintage Super-Takumar 35mm F/3.5 lens to see how good it actually is with non-oem glass and I think it may be my new favourite combo… ever!!
I’m not typically someone that jumps on specs alone or even is ever asking for the bleeding edge of camera tech in the camera bodies I shoot video with. That’s why I fell in love with S1 & S1H, the quality of the 4K modes is what excited me there and the GH5ii shares that asset. The quality of that 10 bit 4k 4.2.2. All-I codec, from a camera that’s so easy to use, is what really excites me about the GH5ii. I would happily pair this with any of our other, more serious cameras and in fact it would sit perfectly alongside our EVA1 and Lumix S1. And talking about the more serious filmmaking settings, we have the final feature that interests us. The GH5ii now allows for simultaneous internal and external recording. Allowing you to record that gorgeous 4.2.2 10 bit 4k footage out via the full size HDMi whilst capturing a 4.2.0 10bit internally as a redundancy.
Of course there’s far more that this camera has to offer different types of creators, it undoubtedly will be a more than capable photo companion. Also it’s the first Lumix camera to feature internal WiFi live streaming, allowing you to go live directly from the camera without being tethered to a computer at all. But for us, those things aren’t how we use these cameras. For us we want cameras that capture beautiful images for our video content and undoubtedly the GH5ii does that incredible well. For 1499 at launch this is camera that will definitely tempt me back into the Mico-Four-Thirds filmmaking world and offers so much for so little, it will be hard prospect to ignore.
For some more info on the Lumix GH5ii I’ll put some links below, whilst you’re down there rummaging around, make sure you’re subscribed to get our upcoming update on the GH6 and much, much more from this weird filmmaking world.
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