At Photokina 2016, Panasonic announced the development of its new flagship Micro Four Thirds camera, the Lumix GH5. This preview sums up what we know about this promising compact system camera so far.
Based on the prototype/mockup shown at Photokina, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 looks a lot like the current GH4 model. The camera’s external dimensions appear to be very similar, which may mean that you will be able to use your existing accessories with the GH5, once it hits the shelves in early 2017 – although this has yet to be confirmed. There are a few subtle changes though. The focus-assist/self-timer lamp has moved up a little to be in line with the ‘GH5’ inscription, the handgrip appears to have been slightly redesigned, and the shutter release is now sitting in a more centred position at the top of the grip. The top-mounted controls are almost identical to those of the Lumix GH4, but the Fn1 button has been repositioned to make room for the Movie record button, which now sits right behind the exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity control buttons. The white balance button, power switch, mode dial and drive mode dial all appear to have remained in the same spots where they were on the GH4. The placement of the mockup within the showcase did not allow us to see whether any major changes have been made to the arrangement of the rear-mounted controls and the LCD screen, but we can confirm that the Panasonic GH5 will continue to have two – front and rear – control dials.
Being a Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic GH5 will of course come equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The exact specifications are unknown, but given that Panasonic says the camera will offer an 18-megapixel ‘6K Photo’ mode – more on that in a minute – it is safe to assume that the full resolution of the sensor will be in that ballpark. This means a slight but probably noticeable increase over the GH4’s 16-megapixel imager.
Where the Panasonic GH4 offered Cinema 4K recording at 24fps and UHD at 25/30fps, the Lumix GH5 is upping the ante by boasting 4K movie capture at up to 50/60fps, enabling users to shoot slow-motion video in 4K resolution. Not content with increasing the maximum frame rate, Panasonic is adding the ability to record 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally. This is big news as the current GH4 can only capture 10-bit 4:2:2 footage on external recorders, with the internal recording being limited to 8 bits. The now-familar ‘4K Photo’ mode is also present and correct – meaning you can extract approximately 8-megapixel stills from a 60fps burst.
6K Photo Mode
Talking about the development of the GH5 at Photokina, Panasonic revealed it will have a ‘6K Photo’ mode, which means the ability to extract 18-megapixel stills from a 30fps burst, with an aspect ratio of either 3:2 or 4:3. (We must say that while the term ‘6K’ is rather loosely defined, applying it to an 18-megapixel image seems a bit of a stretch, as the longer dimension of an 18-megapixel photo is quite a bit less than 6,000 pixels – but there you go.)
As we said, we expect that you will be able to use most of your GH4 accessories with the new GH5. In terms of new stuff, Panasonic were showing off a sophisticated-looking, hotshoe-mounted audio rig alongside the camera, which might be a lower-priced alternative to the existing (but rather pricey) DMW-YAGH professional audio video interface.
The Panasonic GH5 will be released in the first half of 2017. Pricing has yet to be confirmed.