Panasonic's two-and-a-half-year-old GH4 has long been a darling of the low-budget filmmaking set. It delivers excellent quality video – better in most respects than what you can get from a DSLR – in a smaller, lighter form factor, with access to a huge range of lenses, and with longer recording times and video-friendly options like focus peaking and zebra striping built in.
And now, at this year's CES in Las Vegas, there's a new GH5 that looks ready to take things to the next level, with several features that will make it very appealing for pro-grade videographers.
For starters, it can shoot 4K video at 60 fps, which none of Sony's mirrorless cameras are capable of as yet. That's in 8-bit 4:2:0 color. If you want to increase color depth, it can do 10-bit 4:2:2 4K recording in 24 frames per second. If you're interested in slow motion, it'll do 1080p at an impressive 180 frames per second, which slows things down by 7.5 times compared to normal motion if you're outputting at a cinematic 24 fps.
Autofocus is upgraded, with motion detection and tracking to keep things sharp in burst photography as well as video, and the 20.3-megapixel micro 4/3rds sensor is stabilized in photo and video modes with a 5-axis dual stabilizer system. The electronic viewfinder should be a beauty, with 3,680k pixels - nearly 50 percent more resolution than the GH4, and it matches the resolution of the fold-out OLED screen.
In terms of photography, the GH5 offers a new photo burst mode that will be terrific for high-speed action. It effectively shoots high speed video and saves each frame as a high-resolution still – 18 megapixel 6K shots at 30 per second, or 4K shots at 60 per second. This'll take a lot of the skill and guesswork out of hitting the shutter at the perfect moment, but it'll burn through the GH5's dual SD cards quickly if you use this feature a lot.
For connectivity, the GH5 packs in low-energy Bluetooth 4.2 as well as 5GHz WiFi, for image transfer and remote camera control from a PC or smartphone.
The body uses a lightweight die-cast magnesium alloy frame, and looks roadworthy thanks to a rugged, splash-proof, dust-proof exterior that can handle temperatures as low as -10 degrees.
Compared to a DSLR, the GH5 looks like a much more portable, versatile video solution. This is an impressive upgrade that will solidify the Lumix brand's position and probably sell by the truckload, even if the body costs US$2000.