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Gadgets & Gizmos: Caper Capture

Even with a few flaws, Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a more than worthy successor to the now legendary GH4

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It was an Idea ahead of its time. Back in 2014 when the mirrorless Lumix GH4 launched, it was the first consumer camera capable of shooting Ultra HD or 4K video, but there really weren’t any displays to see video footage that sharp. Cut to 2017 — today, 4K TVs, projectors and monitors are far more readily available and the competition has since caught up with the GH4. Panasonic’s response has been to come out guns-a-blazing with the Lumix GH5, and upped the ante it has!

It’s headlining feature is the ability to record 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (fps), a skill that is unparalleled in the world of consumer cameras — well, with the exception of a Canon camera that’s thrice the GH5’s already princely price! To put this in perspective, most content we consume on TV and films is anywhere between 24 to 30 frames per second which means this camera can capture slow-motion twice as slow without a drop in quality. The 4K video footage from the GH5 is downright gorgeous, particularly if the lighting is good — ­ rich detail, accurate colours and smoother panning (sweeping movement) without the usual jerkiness or judder.

You can choose good old 30/24 fps if you want, or drop resolution to full HD 1080p and go all the way to 180 frames per second. I’m not even counting its pro-grade features, from 4K in broadcast-standard 4:2:2 10-bit format to support for high-end XLR microphones, which should appeal to anyone picking this up for serious video work.

With such a strong emphasis on its video skills, it’s easy to assume still images were relegated in this release, but that’s simply not the case. The GH5’s 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor takes images that are lavishly rich in detail, which gives you plenty of scope for cropping without any loss of detail. In low light though, the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor just isn’t as adept as some of the bigger full-frame sensors out there, but a clever combination of 5-axis in-body image stabilisation and capable four-figure ISO sensitivities means that the GH5 holds its own in less than ideal conditions. I quite liked its 4K and 6K photo modes — record fast-moving scenes in these modes at 60fps or 30fps, and you can extract 8- or 18-megapixel images stills from that footage later. Very impressive.

For its not insignificant asking price, you’re getting a camera that’s built to last, right from its weatherproof seals to avoid rain or dust damage to the magnesium alloy frame to handle somewhat rough treatment. The sheer number of physical controls may daunt or endear, depending on how comfortable you are around complex cameras, but there’s a 3-in tilt-and-swivel touch screen to tweak controls as well. Elswehere, there’s an excellent electronic viewfinder, full-size HDMI video output and dual-SD memory card slots.

In my mind, there’s no doubt the GH5 is a more than worthy successor to the now-legendary GH4, even with its few flaws — the occasionally fiddly autofocus and low-light performance both of which leave scope for improvement. The impressive array of video talents fully justifies its price for ambitious amateurs and pros alike, but for many it probably offers a lot beyond what’s needed…at which point the price point becomes rather high.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tushar Kanwar

The author is Technology Columnist and Program Manager in Bengaluru, India

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