Doing a Panasonic GH5 review was not my priority when it first came out in the market.
Because I believed the Panasonic GH5 specs were definitely outstanding for video but for photography I was not that sure.
I have been running this travel photography website for over 2 years now and, honestly, I have been focusing mostly on making photos, reviewing gear, documenting with my images a country or a city.
I have seen video as a big effort, especially considering I am running the website mostly on my own.
When the Panasonic GH5 specs were announced most of the attention was, rightly so, on the video capability. But what about the about the photography side of it?
Than last month two things happened.
I attended a photography show in Melbourne and Panasonic was there with the GH5. I could play with it, make some videos, do some photography and talk face to face with the Panasonic guys.
I realized that actually the GH5 was a great camera, even if only for photography.
The second thing was that my long awaited 5 weeks trip to 5 countries in Europe and Middle East finally happened and I was ready to leave.
So I talked with Panasonic and I got the GH5 on loan with the new Leica 8-18mm and the Leica 12-60mm, all I needed for my 5 weeks.
Having the Panasonic GH5 on a long trip has been probably the best test scenarios I have ever had for a review.
Top Panasonic GH5 specs in a nutshell
If you have just few spare minutes then these are the essential points about this camera. But, if you are thinking to buy it then keep reading for a more detailed review of the Pnasonic Lumix GH5 specifications that I love, few photos and some surprises.
- The GH5 has the last generation Panasonic sensor which honestly makes some of the best, noise free, photos I have ever experienced in a MFT camera.
- The Electronic View Finder is on pair with some of the high end DSLR in the market. As good, if not better, than my Nikon D610’s optical view finder (you may read more here about the differences between an EVF and an OVF)
- The back LCD is just outstanding, in any weather conditions, even with the sun straight on it. It is perfect for photography and video. I just love to take photos from unusual positions without taking yoga lessons
- Working with the camera, and I did it in any condition for 5 weeks, is a pleasure. I could easily shoot single hand. Great ergononomics
- The camera is slightly bigger than the usual MFT and it looks more like a DSLR. I understand that design is very subjective however I prefer more the retro style.
- The dynamic range is quite incredible. I could take out amazing details from the shadows and the highlights in post-production
- The GH5 has five axis stabilisation which means I could shoot easily hand-held at 1/10sec (with a focal length up to 25-30mm) and 1/20sec to 1/30sec otherwise
- The performance with high ISO has been significantly improved when compared to the GH4 or the GX8
- My exposure to movies or video production is limited however I felt that with this camera I could actually starting making videos more seriously LOL
- I will talk more about this. I just want to say that I am absolutely in love for the rack focus transition. I felt really like on a movie set
- Separated photo and video environment. This is a big plus if you shoot photos and videos at the same time while travelling
- The display button on the back of the GH5, top-right, is in an unhappy position in my opinion. My thumb was seldom pushing it by mistake (I have a small hand)
- Two slots for SD memory cards. Great, can I say essential, for backup purpose.
Can I say that the GH5 is not the most beautiful camera in the market?
I believe so.
But I believe also that this is not the aim of this camera. The Panasonic GH5 has to be practical more than catching the eye. In some respects it actually works better when travelling as the less attention a camera attracts the better.
The Panasonic GH5 is however ergonomically perfect for both photography and videography. I could grab it in a solid way even for photos made at ground level as well as up over my head.
This is absolutely important as the more stability you have with your camera handheld the higher value you can set for you shutter speed which in result means no need of high ISO. I was personally making photos at 1/10s with confidence to have a sharp image
Weight and weather proof
The weight of the GH5 is 725gr. Let’s remember this is not just a camera, this is also a professional video camera that is usually used for low budget movies.
Also during the Panasonic GH5 review I have visited dusty locations and I have shot in rainy conditions without any worry being the camera weather-proof. This is a great benefit when travelling.
Two memory slots
Useful for back up or just greater memory capacity. This is a feature which is typically available for high ends cameras and I think the GH5 is definitely one of them.
Body stabilisation through 5 axis
One of critics I sometime read on the Micro Fourth Third cameras is that they do not perform great in low light and high levels of ISO. I have to say in this respect that the GH5 has been the best performer of all the MFT I have used so far.
The Panasonic GH5 has a 5-axis body stabilisation, a fantastic feature to have. Let me explain you why.
In my workshops I usually suggest to use a minimum shutter speed equal to the inverse of the used focal length. For example, when shooting at 50mm then the shutter speed should be at least 1/50sec to have sharp photos.
With the 5-axis body stabilisation I had sharp images at 1/6sec. In low light I would go to 1/10sec with absolute confidence.
It opens up a new word of photography without the need of a tripod, especially in the local markets where usually the environment is pretty dark.
If you plan to make videos, this is an amazing spec to keep in mind
Fantastic View Finder
The Live View Finder of the GH5 is just spectacular with a super high resolution 3,680k-dot and a 0.76x magnification.
What does all this mean?
The 0.76x magnification is like the Optical View Finder of a DSLR. The view finder was always criticised on the mirrorless, not anymore I believe.
Moreover, you can see the photo preview straight on the view finder without having to go on the back LCD. So much easier, especially if shooting under the sun.
I do not want to mention the readable information on this LVF, honestly I like it more than my OVF on the DSLR
Panasonic GH5 Dynamic range
I personally like to work on the shadows and highlights in post, sometime to the extreme values.
I like to have lots of details out from my photo ultimately making it more interesting.
Sometime this is not possible, especially with small sensors, as you introduce noise in the photo. I had absolutely no problems with the GH5, I had really awesome results.
In October 2017 Panasonic has introduced a new software for HDR video. I am really looking forward to have the GH5 back for few videos and see how is going to perform there.
Fast auto focus
I love landscape photography and it’s a great part of my portfolio. However in my trips I enjoy even more shooting moments of life, people in the streets, markets, local sports events or just local kids playing in the backyard.
Having a fast focus helps a ton otherwise I may miss the moment.
Now a fact: the Lumix GH5 focus engine is really fast. I had never an issue in the 5 weeks trip.
Panasonic has implemented in the GH5 a technology called DFD (Depth From Defocus), originally introduced in the GH4 model and now improved even further.
I really suggest to read this article to see how it works, with great success I may add.
Separated photography and video environments
I can’t remember how many cameras, and different brands, I have used this year, however all of them have the same issue.
I make photos in manual mode with some Aperture and Shutter Speed settings. I see an opportunity of making a small video and I change the settings for video, which is normal.
Once I go back to photography mode I loose my original setting (the ones I had before making the video) and I have to re-do the job. Just annoying.
This does not happen with the GH5. Once back in photography mode my original setting comes back with it. So basically the camera stores two sets of settings, for photography and for video.
Rack focus transition
One of the things I have never liked on a camera, when making video, was to change the focus point through a scene. If shooting on my own it is always a struggle and I end up moving the camera and making all sort of mistakes.
The GH5 has introduced a new feature called focus transition which allow users to set focus points with ease.
You can set up to 3 focus positions, the transition speed and you can easily move across these points while filming, even hand-held
Check this video for a quick example and this page for the simple set of instructions.
My final thoughts
Usually my workhorse is a Nikon D610, a full frame camera I love, except the weight (and few other things). I traveled for an extensive time also with a Sony A7RII, another fantastic full frame camera, small one too, however the lenses are bigger and heavier than usual (somewhere you need to give up if you like full frame).
I have used in the past MFT cameras and I was super happy for the weight however I reached the limit in few cases, mostly in low light.
It is not the case of the GH5. This is a camera I would happily use for my work because it’s small, light, performing like some full frame cameras and with amazing, if not unique, video features.
I am making more videos in my trips and the GH5 would make perfect sense.
Few friends told me that it’s not cheap, and if you plan to use the GH5 uniquely as a camera for photography, probably it is true and I would not suggest it.
But if you are looking for a great camera with the idea to develop your video skills and products then I would not hesitate to buy it as the price is extremely competitive for what you get.
Ethics statement: The Panasonic Lumix GH5 was loaned to us by Panasonic Australia. We were not asked to write about it and, most important, we were not provided any sort of compensation. All the opinions are mine, based on many years of travel photography. In the post there are affiliate links. If you buy through these link, we will receive a tiny commission at no extra cost to you. This is how we run this website and you can support it. Thank you!