Review PANASONIC GH5s
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S is not the successor of the GH5, but a special version of it. The “regular” GH5 is one of the best hybrid cameras on the market. You can both take great photos and videos with it. The GH5S is even more focused on the enthusiastic videographers among us. And thanks to its larger pixels, it delivers even better image quality in low light .
Video beAst: Panasonic Lumix GH5S
The GH series from Panasonic shows you how to build an excellent hybrid camera. First of all, it is of course mirrorless, so you can use the viewfinder for both photography and video. In addition, a good hybrid camera has image stabilization and good autofocus that is suitable for photography and video and a sensor with which you can take beautiful photos and shoot sharp videos. And to top it off, the camera not only gives you a good interface for photography, but also advanced video features such as log profiles, focus peaking, zebras and, as a cherry on top, a wave-form display. That is exactly what the 5th generation of the GH series has. And more. The competition, however, has not been idle, and it is mainly Sony, with the A7 series, that has lit a fire under Panasonic's butt. In the area of specifications and capabilities, the GH5 is still unsurpassed, but the larger sensor of the Sonys meant that the GH5 in low light still lagged a bit behind the Sony A7 cameras. Panasonic's answer is the GH5S. This is a camera with a sensor that is slightly larger than the Micro Four Thirds format, so that you can use the maximum surface area with every image ratio, 4:3 to 16:9. Furthermore, the number of pixels has been reduced. As a result, the size of the pixels could increase so that they can each capture more light. This should improve the image quality in low light.
Panasonic cameras only use contrast detection for autofocus and not phase detection.
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Panasonic GH5S versus GH5
The Panasonic GH5S comes alongside the GH5 and is a model that is mainly aimed at videographers. You can clearly see that when you compare the differences. The sensor effectively has 10.2 megapixels. That is much less than the more than 20 that the GH5 has. But it is just the right number for filming in 4K without having to calculate anything on the pixels. Every pixel in the image is therefore exactly one pixel in the output. The GH5S has no image stabilization. According to Panasonic, that's because this is better for the target group, videographers. They often use a tripod or other stabilization systems. Widescreen video in the DCI format is also available in 60 (59.94), 30 (29.97) and 25 frames per second, where the GH5 only has 24 frames per second. The GH5S already has Vlog-L as standard, where this is an upgrade option for the GH5, and there is a Timecode in/out option. For photographers, it is interesting that RAWS can now be shot in 14 bits and that you can shoot photos in Vlog-L, for example, so that you can easily add them later in a movie.
A notable difference between the Panasonic GH5s and the Panasonic GH5 is the lack of in-camera image stabilization on the GH5s. This may have to do with the properties of the new sensor of the GH5s. The larger sensor and associated shutter take up more space, while the body has not grown. Possibly there was no room for stabilization or Panasonic considered the costs of developing a larger stabilization system too high for this one model. Panasonic itself prefers to emphasize the fact that the lack of stabilization fits better with the target group: The GH5s is more than the GH5 aimed at professional videographers, who often use a tripod, gimbal or drone. And then the lack of stabilization is not a problem or - in the case of a gimbal - is even an advantage. On a gimbal, you turn the stabilization off to prevent one system from influencing the other. But even with the stabilization off, there is, according to Panasonic, the chance that the sensor can move a bit. And that can be detrimental to a perfect video recording. Those who mainly buy the camera for photography, however, will be better off with the regular GH5, if only due to the lack of image stabilization.
Panasonic GH5S versus Sony A7S II AND A7R III
The only other cameras that offer (nearly) as many video options as the GH5/GH5S are the Sony A7 models. The A7R III is an excellent hybrid camera with which you can film well in both 4K and full HD, but which, thanks to its 42-megapixel sensor, can deliver a much higher image quality when it comes to photography. In terms of video, the Sony lacks the advanced capabilities of the Panasonic and the ability to film internally in 10 bit 4:2:2. On the other hand, the autofocus is just a fraction better in tracking faces and eyes than Panasonic. The Sony A7R III is a lot more expensive than the GH5S. It is more obvious to compare the GH5S with the A7S II from Sony. The A7S II is closer in price to the GH5S and has fewer pixels than its stablemates, just like the GH5S. The Sony A7S II has only 12 megapixels. They are, though, on a sensor that is about 3.5 times bigger than that of the GH5S. If you shoot with very little light with both cameras, the Sony beats the Panasonic with ease. For filming, that is a bit different, because the Sony can only film in 8 bits and only has 4:2:2 if you send the signal via HDMI to an external recorder. The bitrate for the Panasonic is much higher. Depending on the amount of details in the subject, this may work in favor of the Panasonic. The more detailed the subject and the more things move in the picture, the more difficult it is for the Sony to display everything perfectly in low light. In those circumstances, the difference between the two cameras is much smaller. You can also look at it in another way. The GH5S has twice the depth of field at the same aperture. If you want little depth of field, you can fully exploit the extra sensitivity of the A7S II. But if you want a bit more depth of field, then you will have to stop down the Sony because of its bigger sensor. In other words, if you get a subject well in frame with the GH5S at f/2.8, then you need f/5.6 on the Sony. And at the same shutter time, since you're filming, that means that you also have to go up two stops in the ISO values for the same exposure. And then you give up all the quality benefits of the bigger sensor, and then some.