2008 doesn’t seem so long ago, but it was a different world when Panasonic released its very first Micro Four Thirds camera. The original iPhone was just a year old, and most DSLRs didn’t shoot video. These then-new “mirrorless” cameras aimed to make it easier to do so: By eliminating the mirror box that drives the optical viewfinder system inside a DSLR, Panasonic created a new camera system better suited for video.
In less than a decade, Panasonic’s high-end mirrorless cams have become massively popular for independent and documentary filmmaking. They record video at high bitrates, offer video-centric controls and menus, and have XLR and 3G-SDI modules designed for professional production. They may look like still cameras, but they’re movie-making machines at heart.
The Lumix GH5 is Panasonic’s latest flagship model, and it took three years for them to build it. It’s designed to meet the demands of a 4K HDR world, and it’s the first camera in the GH universe to offer a 20-megapixel sensor. There’s no optical low-pass filter, which means its images should look that much sharper, and Panasonic says the camera’s new Venus Engine 10 processor is able to eliminate the “rolling shutter effect” inherent in most CMOS cameras.
The camera also supports the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) standard for recording HDR video, and it’ll record HLG video in-camera—a first, according to Panasonic. It also records 4K footage at up to 60 frames per second, and if you absolutely require things like professional color correction and green-screen shots, its 4:2:2 10-bit recording in 4K at 30fps will be a major hook.
Along with all those new skills, Panasonic says the GH5 shuttles data from its sensor nearly twice as fast as the GH4 did, and it should also be a great weapon for super-slow-motion video. At 1080p, it can capture video at up to 180fps. The camera will also get new capabilities over time, as a firmware update in April will add 4:2:2 10-bit recording in HD mode and kick up the bitrate to 400Mbps for 4K 30fps video. Out of the box, the GH5 will capture video at 150Mbps.
While video is the big draw, Panasonic also beefed up the GH5’s still-shooting capabilities. Its autofocus speed is an astonishing 0.05 seconds, and it can capture nine stills per second with its AF system adjusting for every shot. Your shots should stay perfectly steady, thanks to a five-axis gyro-controlled stabilization system. The number of focus points has increased nearly fivefold, from 49 to 225. And like Panasonic’s recent cameras, the GH5 offers a Lytro-like “Post Focus” mode for still images and a focus-stacking burst mode.
The whole dang package is ruggedized, too. A weather-sealed magnesium-alloy body is built to withstand temperatures down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s splash- and dust-resistant too, making it good for shooting at the beach, but not in the surf.
Perhaps most importantly, the GH5 actually has a price and a release date. It’s coming in late March, and the body costs $2,000. Lenses are extra, but you’ll be able to use the hundreds of Micro Four Thirds lenses on the market.
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