As someone who has spent a lot of time looking at and shooting with all kinds of cameras, there is almost nothing better than getting to try out the new ones. Here's a little back story of why I wanted to review the Panasonic GH5 II. Not too long ago we were on location and my “gimbal guy” Chris loads up his original Panasonic LUMIX GH5 and comes back with just lights out footage—really great stuff. So, I said to myself, why should he get all the fun? I also really wanted to know if the LUMIX GH5 II had the potential to become one of my next full time "go to” cameras. Read on to find out!
I know some of you really get into “what's’ in the box” but unpacking the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II was about as straight forward as possible. The box contained the GH5 II body, a Leica 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 lens which was beautiful of course, (I’ll admit I have a thing for lenses), a bracket for cable control, 7v battery, charger, and cable. There was also a quick start guide and a great little book of instructions. Yes, I still read the instructions, just like you do right?
The GH5 II weighed in at approximately 1.6 lbs with a single SD card and battery. The camera was easy to handle—and lasted the whole day on our scheduled shoot. But it wasn’t lightweight, if that makes any sense. The GH5 II body was solid and well made. I might even describe it as rugged.
The GH5 II has a magnesium alloy full die-cast front/rear frame. Secure construction and a seal for every joint, dial, and button that made splash and dust resistant, and also freeze resistant down to -10 degrees Celsius (14 Degree F). We had a good real life test when we did run into some unexpected crummy weather. We live in New England, just proving the LUMIX GH5 II could work well in less than ideal conditions. It was also good that it was equipped with a double SD Memory Card slot. I always tend to run out my takes and running out both cards as well. Which is another thing for you to consider if it is to be one of your everyday cameras. Gotta love a backup plan, right?
LUMIX GH5 II New Features
One of the fun things about any camera review is finding out what is new, improved, and exciting. The LUMIX GH5 II is loaded with a lot of great new features and upgrades. I am particularly excited because VLogL is preinstalled, so I don’t have to look around for yet another plugin. This makes it easy to match the color tone with the footage recorded in V-Log and V-LogL of Panasonic and LUMIX line-up. Cinelike D2 and V2, MonochromeS, and L.ClassicNeo have also been added to Photo Style. For variable frame rate recording, C4K/4K 60fps, Anamorphic 50fps and FHD180fps are available with autofocus function prior to the recording starts.
The GH5 II is capable of wireless live streaming using the LUMIX Sync smartphone app supported by USB PD outdoors or indoors. With a future firmware update, it will support wired IP streaming. Video can be delivered either as-is, or as log recording for post-production. This expansion to add live streaming to the features of the GH5 II is a fantastic addition at this price point, and honestly any price point. Adding live streaming brings the LUMIX GH5 II to the next level of versatility.
How Does the LUMIX GH5 II Shoot?
The GH5 II has about every feature somebody would want in a pro camera but the one thing I always ask first is how about the video? Don’t get me wrong, I am as geeky about specs as the next shooter. But honestly, at the end for the most part the clients I shoot for? The client only cares about what the footage looks like. Our shoot was all over the place from sunny exteriors to dimly lit dark hallways. The GH5 II was up to the challenge both from recording for lots of challenging/contrasty exposures. For a more in-depth look, check out my LUMIX Ambassador story.
LUMIX Tech Specs
I was impressed with the LUMIX GH5 II tech specs. Featuring a 20.3MP Digital Live MOS sensor with a newly developed AR Coating, the GH5 II has an evolved Venus Engine Imaging Processor. These updates suppress ghosting and flare in backlit scenes, offer a 25% increase in dynamic range, and improve color gradation and reproduction. Multipixel Luminance Generation technology maximizes sharpness and reproduces brightly illuminated scenes. It offers three-dimensional color control and precise noise reduction techniques for shooting at sensitivities up to ISO 25600. It also enables shooting speeds up to 12 fps with AF-S or manual focus modes.
The mechanical focal plane shutter enables a fast maximum shutter speed of 1/8000 sec, as well as a top flash sync speed of 1/250 sec. An electronic shutter function also has a top shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec to better enable working in bright conditions and with wider aperture settings.
In the past I never was one to jump on the Autofocus bandwagon. But there have been so many improvements, I know I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about it.
The GH5 II incorporates advanced deep learning technology to detect specific subjects (humans and fast-moving animals). Improved tracking performance quickly recognizes the face and eyes of moving subjects and the human body from a background of moving subjects. This contrast-detection type focus method carries over both in still and video recording modes, as well as subject-tracking applications where color, size, and motion vectors are used to lock-onto the moving subjects.
The Dual I.S. 2 system combines the camera's sensor-shift image stabilization technology with lens-based image stabilization to compensate for a broad range of movement types and renders sharper, clearer imagery. Dual I.S. 2 requires the use of compatible Lumix lenses featuring O.I.S., and this updated stabilization system enables the GH5 II to compensate for 6.5 stops of correction.
Users can also use standard microphones and headphones via the 3.5mm input and output jacks. Examples of this are an optional XLR Microphone Adapter (DMW-XLR1) that provides XLR inputs and physical controls through a hot shoe connection. For me, the personal audio preference has always been the XLR route, so the adapter would be a must add.
In my opinion, for the money, the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II could easily fill multiple roles and do it well. It could work out as your “B” camera on bigger shoots where mobility and speed are important to you. It could also end up being your “A” camera when you don’t need a VariCam, need to live stream, or need to work with a more modest budget. Either way the bottom line is that the GH5 II would make for an excellent addition, and you should definitely create a place in your inventory and on your next shoot for it.
One More Thing
I forgot one important thing! How many of you get to the end of your shooting day and then realize way too late that you don’t have any good production stills? That’s me! If you aren’t taking production stills for your website you should be, and the LUMIX GH5 II will be the perfect camera to do that.
Mark Foley, Technology Editor
Mark J. Foley, MBA BA is an award-winning producer and director and the Technology Editor for ProductionHUB.com. He is on a mission to provide the best in new equipment reviews, along with exclusive analysis and interviews with the best, the brightest and most creative minds in the entertainment and production business. Have a suggestion for a review? Email Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.