The Panasonic GH5S is lightweight and easy to handle Image: Suchayan Mandal
Panasonic has introduced the all-new GH5S in its Lumix range, focussing on professionals, particularly videographers. The mirrorless camera was unveiled at this year's CES and is a revamp of last year's GH5.
The GH5S packs a multi-aspect sensor which lets users shoot with different aspect ratios while keeping the full breadth of the image intact, negating the need for cropping images during post-processing. The 10.2MP sensor in the GH5S may have half the pixel count of its predecessor GH5's 20.3 MP Micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, but it's bigger in size. The bigger pixel size lets in more light, improving ISO performance.
To recall, Panasonic used similar sensors in the GH1 and GH2 it released a few years back.
The USP of the camera, however, is its video section and the camera performs admirably well. Priced at Rs 1,89,000 for the body alone, the GH5S is a direct competitor to the Sony A7S II mirrorless camera in the Indian market.
The Lumix GH5S is a mirrorless camera
Look and feel
The GH5S, like most Panasonic offerings, is a lot more compact and lighter than Canon or Nikon's offerings in the similar range. It weighs just 660 grams, much lighter than most of its mirrorless rivals.
It didn’t feel too heavy even after snapping a Leica 42.5 mm lens with it. The plastic body gets strategic rubber cladding, which makes handling easy. While the camera looks compact, users with bigger hands won’t find it difficult, thanks to the rubber grip.
The armour frame is made of a magnesium alloy, making the camera really durable.
The GH5S sensor showcases brilliant low light performance, thanks to the larger pixels. The Night Mode lets you shoot dark scenes with ease.
The camera also excels in shooting fast-moving action thanks to DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology. It instantly calculates the distance to the subject by evaluating two images with different sharpness levels and achieves ultra high-speed AF and 8fps burst shooting with AFC.
For slow motion videos, the variable frame rate can go up to 240 frames per second (fps) in FullHD. The speed can be adjusted to 10x slower.
The image was taken at ISO 3200
The GH5S boasts Dual Native ISO — a technology that seamlessly bridges two separate native ISO circuits. So what is it exactly? Dual Native ISO minimises noise generation by choosing the optimal circuit.It allows a maximum ISO of 51,200.
The GH5S's control scheme is similar to the GH5
Panasonic seems to have prioritised practicality over looks in its design. If you are acquainted with Lumix GH5, its predecessor, you will feel at home with the controls. The White Balance, ISO and Exposure Compensation buttons are easy to access. There are two dimples on the ISO button to help you locate them easily while trying to change the settings blind.
But the command dial in the rear that serves as the four-way button feels a little too plastic for such a premium camera. The autofocus point selector is controlled by a joystick — which could have been better implemented.
The large sensor helps in the low-light performance
Panasonic emphasised the fact that GH5S is best suited for videography and it's spot on. The camera performance is stellar in daylight. You won’t really notice any chromatic aberrations or barrel distortions while shooting with the GH5S.
White balance and colour tone on the GH5S is very neutral and photos come out to be quite natural with adequate warmth. The 3.68-million-dot electronic viewfinder is stunning.
The 20X Focus Magnification of the camera lets you check how well the focus on your subject is by enlarging it in the preview. It's possibly one of the niftiest features of the GH5S.
The GH5S battery gives around 450 shots on a single charge. If you are going for a full-day shoot, it may be a good idea carrying a spare battery.
The camera also comes with a dual memory card slot. Both slots are compatible with high-speed, high-capacity UHS-II Video Speed Class 60 cards for high bitrate video recording.
The absence of built-in image stabilisation is a major disappointment and you will need to rely on the stabilisation of the lens. Considering most professional videographers rely on tripods and gimbals, it may be not a big issue.
To buy or not to buy?
First thing first, this camera isn’t meant for everyone. With such premium features and price point, this camera is specialised for people who are serious about the art. The GH5S is a video camera first and then a still camera. So, if you are a wedding videographer or a vlogger, this camera will certainly up your game. But if you are looking for a mirrorless experience and money isn’t a factor, there are other options out there.