Panasonic has released the Panasonic GH5 MKII, but what’s different from the original GH5 and should you pick one up?
The Panasonic GH5 was announced back in January 2017 and since then has become one of the most popular micro four-thirds cameras of all time. Physically, as you would expect, the GH5 MKII is pretty much the same as the original GH5, with a few small differences such as SD card slots updated to take V90 SD cards over the original’s V60, and a more capacious battery (around 340 mAh extra to be precise).
The GH5 II features the same 20.3MP MOS sensor as the GH5 but it has an improved AR coating that should increase the dynamic range by roughly 1/3rd of a stop. The stabilisation has also been improved to 6.5 stops when using the GH5 MKII with a compatible lens. There is also now an option to tweak the image stabilisation depending on what anamorphic squeeze you are using.
The GH5 II comes with V-Log L pre-installed which saves you from having to pay for the £100 upgrade from Panasonic that you had to with the GH5. It also has CineLike D2 & V2 as well as two other colour profiles, L. Classic Neo & L.Monochrome S.
Panasonic has also introduced a large range of new recording formats that aren’t available on the original unit. This consists of DCI 4K 422 10-bit which is now available in 29.97, 25, 24 & 23.98p, whereas the GH5 could only do 24 & 23.98p. Both DCI 4K & 4K UHD 4:2:0 10-bit are now available at 50 & 59.94p which were not available in the GH5.
A range of anamorphic modes has also been added. These are a set of 10-bit 4K anamorphic modes which could be handy for those wanting to experiment with Anamorphic but don’t want to deal with the H.265 Long-GOP 6K files in post and just want to shoot in a solid H.264 ALL-I format. As with the other formats, the camera can shoot, you can choose to either crop into the resolution you are using of the sensor or use the full sensor downsampled.
The GH5 II can output the same formats as the GH5 but also record 4:2:0 10-bit internally at the same time, which could be handy if you are running a Ninja V with the GH5 and want to record a backup to the internal media.
Panasonic has put a big focus on the MKII’s new networking abilities. You will have several ways of doing this: via the HDMI which will require some kind of interface between the camera and your computer; directly to the computer using a USB-C cable; using Panasonic’s Lumix Tether or Webcam software (limited to Full HD 30p), and then lastly direct streaming which is new to the GH5 II.
This will allow you to stream audio and video directly from the camera a few different ways. All you would need to do is connect the camera to your smartphone or to existing infrastructure. On the phone side, you can connect to the LUMIX Sync app, which will allow you to stream directly to whatever platform you need.
For connecting to routers you will need to use the LUMIX Live piece of software to copy the stream details to an SD card and then connect to the router.
There will also be a new piece of firmware coming in 2021 that will allow USB tethering, which will be good for a more reliable connection with a smartphone, and wired IP Streaming which again will be a solid reliable option when using a PC to stream. While streaming you can still monitor out via the HDMI but not record internally. So if you are wanting to capture a copy of your stream, you could use a Ninja V or other external monitor recorder to do so while streaming.
The GH5 MKII features the same AF improvements that the S5 brought to Panasonic’s lineup. So this means the addition of head and body tracking, as well as animal recognition. We shot some quick tests and it’s definitely better than the GH5 at release, but it’s still not at the level of Canon’s latest version of DAF or Sony’s offerings in their systems. I hope with the GH6 Panasonic can implement a system with both contrast and phase-detection points. However, as with the rest of their mirrorless lineup, the GH5 MKII features a stellar range of manual focus assists for people who do want manual focus.
Indeed, Panasonic has added a large range of video shooting assist functions to the GH5 so let’s quickly run through them.
Frame indicator is essentially a red border that surrounds the frame on the back of the camera LCD when you’re recording. This makes it much easier for you to see if you are rolling or not. There is also an option for a blue frame that does the same thing
Frame Marker lets you toggle between a range of different frame guides from 2.39:1 all the way to 9:16. You can choose the colour of the border and the opacity of the outside of the frame. This will be great if you are planning on delivering a different format but want to frame accordingly. With this in mind, Panasonic has also added Vertical Position Information, this means you can toggle in the menu whether you want the camera to detect when it is in a vertical shooting position and automatically rotate the clip you are recording. This will be great if you are shooting videos for social platforms like TikTok or Instagram like this to maximise the sensor’s resolution and want to save some time correcting their orientation in post.
Next is filtering, which was first added with the S1H due to the crazy amount of formats that that camera features. This allows you to narrow down your formats by using a few different parameters. You can also create a list of your most-used formats so you don’t have to scroll through the big list every time you want to switch formats.
It also features a luminance spot meter, zebras, and an adjustable waveform & vectorscope. Panasonic has also added the control panel which again was introduced with the S1H. This is a nice way of controlling and monitoring the camera and will be great for people using an external monitor or the viewfinder to monitor your image.
Panasonic has also added the ability to adjust the way compatible lenses behave when manual focusing. This is similar to the S series of cameras and allows you to change the lens between linear and non-linear and allows you to set the exact distance of the rotation of your lens. This will be great if you are mainly manual focusing!
The price is right?
When it comes to pricing, Panasonic will be selling three versions of the GH5 MKII. Body only, a bundle with the Lumix 12-60 and a bundle with the Leica 12-60.
Body only the GH5 MKII is £1499 including VAT. This makes it £200 more expensive than the GH5 MKI with the V-Log L upgrade. So, if you have your heart set on a GH5, is it worth the extra £200? Well, it has lots of extra features that the MKI does not and it does bring a whole load of live streaming abilities to the table; the fact you can connect the camera to a phone and then stream directly to a platform of your choice is pretty handy.
However, if you are serious about shooting video solely, there may be better options on the market, even from the same company. Panasonic’s S5 or GH5S could be better options for some. Both are roughly £250 more expensive, but they both feature better sensors than the GH5, so overall image quality will be noticeably improved — especially with the S5 which is a fantastic full-frame camera at this price point. They both won’t feature some of the formats or extra tricks that the GH5 II can do and the S5 will be bigger and heavier with more expensive lenses, but overall image quality improvements could be more important for you.
Of course, there is the GH6 waiting in the wings and due for release later this year (2021). It will feature a new sensor and engine and have the ability to capture DCI 4K 422 10-bit up to 60p for an unlimited time, 4K 120 in its high frame rate mode, and 5.7K 10-bit up to 60p. It will also be priced at around the $2500 price point. More info will have to wait until later this year, but it certainly doesn’t help make the choice any easier for those whose budgets might stretch upwards that bit further.
We made a video which goes into more detail, which you can watch here.
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