GH5S First Thoughts

Categories: Miscellaneous 11 Comments

The king pin of low light filming to date has been the Sony A7s Mk11, thats why Panasonic are so desperate to knock them off their perch hence the GH5S.

Note. The GH5S no longer allows you to shoot 6K anamorphic but you can still shoot anamorphic.

An Australian company called DigiDirect did some impressive low light testing with the GH5S and the Sony A7s Mk11.

At 12800 ISO the GH5S out performs the Sony which is a first but when you take onboard the GH5S is 10bit, 422 while the Sony is 8bit 420 thats why the colour of the box in the shot is so different and more natural in my opinion, you are starting off with a punchier shot.

So why half the resolution i.e. 10.2MP compared to the 20MP GH5, remember 4K video only needs 8.3MP so having a 10.2MP sensor is no big deal apart for photographic work but we already know the GH5s is not a photographic camera.

You can also now set the audio to line input as well as mic input direct from the 3.5″ mini jack on the side of the camera.

One myth that grew along side the GH5S was its ability to shoot 10bit 422 footage in 4K 50p, unfortunately that was just a rumour as its still 8bit 420 filming 4K 50p but 10bit at 25p but so is the GH5.

You are getting 240fps slow motion thats an extra 60fps on top of the GH5.

With an additional cable via BNC to flash you can now use timecode in and out of the GH5S a very exciting professional feature used in higher end video productions.

I love the red REC button, really looks classy. Will I be getting a GH5S to add to my three GH5’s you bet. I decided to trim my budget, rejecting the Panasonic EVA-1 and bought GH5’s instead a great move for my present production needs.

One colleague of mine is now reflecting if he wants to buy the EVA-1 or a GH5S as he needs three of them so its £19,000 EVA-1 with no VF versus £6,600 GH5S (for 3 cameras).

Will the GH5S affect the EVA-1, only if price is a consideration, but its interesting this has been produced with the EVA-1 in mind, touting it as a camera with similar specs for higher end work, interesting though it does have the dual ISO setting the same as the EVA-1.

Sensor-shift IS systems operate by ‘floating’ the sensor using a series of electromagnets. Even when they’re ‘off’ they’re not locked in place, they’re simply set so that the electromagnets aren’t attempting to correct for movement. This has the side-effect that, which mounted on a professional stabilization rig, there’s a risk of the sensor being shaken around.

For high-end video work, Panasonic says its users would prefer to use dedicated gimbals and dollies, rather than internal stabilization, and that means physically locking the sensor in place to avoid unwanted interactions between these systems and a floating sensor.

However, regardless of what Panasonic says, there’s also the limitation imposed by the oversized sensor: since the camera captures right out to the edge of the image circle there’s simply no room to shift the sensor without risking capturing footage of the inside of your lens barrel. This is highlighted in the one situation in which the GH5S does offer digital stabilization: when combined with a lens offering optical stabilization. When engaged, the video has to crop-in slightly to provide room to pan and scan around the sensor.

The lads at WEX have done a great job explaining the new features of the GH5S…

For all your video production needs in Scotland, get in touch with Small Video Productions

11 comments on this post

  1. John Rose says:

    One thing I noticed in the specifications is that the in built stabilisation has been removed. Is this really the case or is it just a typing error, as surely this feature has to be one of the camera’s key feature.

    HDW : Internal IS has been removed from the GH5S but as I mainly use a tripod for my work this won’t be a problem to me.

  2. David Heath says:

    You quote them saying “….when you take onboard the GH5S is 10bit, 422 while the Sony is 8bit 420 thats why the colour of the box in the shot is so different and more natural in my opinion….”

    That is nonsense, and IMO technically discredits anything else they may say.

    Why? The higher sampling depth (10 v 8 bits) will give more gradations – just over 1000 – but the human eye can’t distinguish between anything like this many. (No simple answer but “around 100” per channel is a good ball park value. So very, very approx. about 100^3 values altogether.)

    As for chroma sampling, then again 4:2:2 will give better chroma resolution in the vertical direction than 4:2:0 – but I really don’t think anyone is likely to see the difference on straightforward real world pictures without a HUGE amount of pixel peeping! Even with very high quality monitoring.

    Point is that neither bit depth nor sub-sampling will make ANY difference to making a colour in an image look “more natural” on straightforward viewing.

    What such as 4:2:2 and 10 bit may aid is post production processes – let you tweak the image more without it falling apart. What they won’t do is make “the colours look more natural”.

    As a quick experiment I took the ISO12800 image above into Photoshop, and tweaked the right hand side (the Sony A7 side). It only took 30 seconds to make the two halves look very, very similar with a bit of correction. (And that “only” working on an 8 bit image! 🙂 ) I’ll be happy to send you the resulting image if you send me an email address, or give the (3) tweak values I used.

    It may well be that due to white balance, camera setup or various other factors that in this case the native GH5 image looks more “natural” than the native A7 – but it’s nothing to do with bitdepth or subsampling. Believing the latter is a good example of confirmation bias – knowing a fact, and using an experience to reinforce a prejudice.

    HDW : I can see a vast improvement in my 10bit 422 footage over my 8bit 420 footage.

  3. David Heath says:

    In this context it’s worth posting a link to an online test for checking how many different shades of colour can be seen – https://www.xrite.com/hue-test

    Even for someone with normal colour vision it’s rare to get 100%. And when one analyses the shades that seem barely indistinguishable to the eye, then in terms of R,G,B values it’s amazing just how different the values can be. (Well more than 1 bit in an 8 bit system!)

    Try it in Photoshop. I’ve just formed a block of colour (roughly magenta) where the R value is 159. I’ve then formed another block with R 155. Side by side I can see a difference – separated, it’s a struggle. But that’s equivalent to quantizing on a 6 bit scale!!

    Do the same with changing 159 to 158 – one bit on a an 8 bit scale – and I simply can’t see the difference, even on adjacent blocks. The picker tool tells me there IS a difference – but it’s not visible to the naked eye. So how on earth will coding to 10bit make any colour “so different and more natural….”??!

    Or…. one thought strikes me. I’ve been assuming we’re talking about “normal” (ready to view) images. But are you talking about V-log? In my Photoshop experiment then I can make the sectors visible with (very) heavy colour tweaking, which is comparable to what must be done to V-log to make it “normally” viewable. But it’s arguable that for log footage even 10 bits isn’t enough and it really needs 12……

  4. David Heath says:

    In more general terms, it seems that there is some brilliant technology in the GH5S (and most comparable cameras today, compared to only a few years ago, it has to be said).

    But simply compared only to the GH5, then it’s blindingly obvious it’s optimised for video and not stills. So why oh why put it into a body that is optimised (ergonomically) for stills? Why?

    Similarly, it has both a fold out screen and an EVF – good. So why did they make the EVA (which is ergonomically optimised for video) without an EVF? It’s crazy. If the GH5 can have both (at a fraction of the price) then why not the EVA?

    It seems as if Panasonic are fully capable of the difficult engineering, up there with the best in terms of getting a good image etc……. but seem incapable of putting the bits together to make a sensible whole.

    Why can’t they put the innards of the GH5S (EVF included!!) into something like the form factor of the EVA (XLRs etc included!)? Or am I missing something?

    HDW : Panasonic can get away with the camera in the shape of the GH5S but can’t cross the line to produce an EVA-1 type camera because that would not be cricket.

  5. andy says:

    Have to agree with David
    Check out Dave Dugdale’s web site he did some serious pixel peeping of GH5 10bit 422 and Sony A7s11 8 bit 420
    footage.

  6. David Heath says:

    ????”HDW : Panasonic can get away with the camera in the shape of the GH5S but can’t cross the line to produce an EVA-1 type camera because that would not be cricket.”

    Sorry? I don’t understand? Since it’s Panasonic who make the EVA-1 in the first place, what makes you say they couldn’t produce that type of camera?

    HDW : Panasonic Pro are completely divided from Panasonic UK and I don’t think it would be good for any company to make two of a similar item. Yes the GH5S could be reboxed in an EVA body but I don’t see the point in that.

  7. David says:

    I’ll be waiting for the Sony A7S III.

    I have the Sony A7R III and it’s just amazing. An S version with video centered features could be beyond anything on the market.

    I certainly don’t think the GH5s is much to get excited about not least with it’s small sensor, auto focus issues and lack of a stabilised sensor. The latter has to be a retrograde step.

    Maybe Sony’s A7S III will disappoint but now is not the time to invest in another version of the GH5 unless you have to IMO.

  8. Ron Evans says:

    When I got my GH5 last year I wondered if with the 12-60 lens I got, it would be good enough for me to shoot in the theatre. It has been just fine and I no longer think of getting a Metabones and fast lenses. It is always on a tripod and was chosen purely to shoot UHD60p which none of the Sony’s below the FS7 currently are capable of doing hence my move from all Sony to my first Panasonic. For my use the GH5s offers no reason to change. If I had the choice now I would get the GH5s since I do not need stabilizer etc. Owning the GH5 buying a Ninja Inferno would be a better choice for me and give me instant 10bit 4:2:2 UHD 60P in ProRes or DnxHD also HLG at this rate that would be easier to edit.

    If you are desperate to shoot in the dark things you cannot see other than through the A7s then go for it. If you can see the scene then the GH5 will shoot it. The Gh5s will give you a little more to work with. If you want to shoot dark scenes UHD50/60P then Sony( other than FS7 and up in the range ) cannot do that and you are left with one of the Gh5’s as your only choice in this form factor price point. The Canon GX10, XF400/405 or Panasonic HC-X1/UX180 are your other choices at a little more money.

  9. David Heath says:

    >> “HDW : Panasonic Pro are completely divided from Panasonic UK and I don’t think it would be good for any company to make two of a similar item. “<> “HDW : Yes the GH5S could be reboxed in an EVA body but I don’t see the point in that.” <<

    Technically, the GH5S is first and foremost a video camera and it shouldn't be a case of it needing to be "reboxed" – the "box" should have been one most suited to video in the first place.

  10. David Heath says:

    >> “HDW : Panasonic Pro are completely divided from Panasonic UK and I don’t think it would be good for any company to make two of a similar item. “<<

    Not quite sure what happened with my previous post – a section didn't register – but in answer to your first point, then OK, I see what you mean, but really we're just talking about two divisions of the same company, aren't we?

    In which case, how Panasonic organises it's internal structure shouldn't be relevant to any customer. I'd expect any company to engineer the "best" (in all respects) it can for any price point – not compromise for internal departmental politics. Not deliberately hold back for internal reasons.

    I'm not suggesting they should "make two of a similar item" – rather that the GH5S is technically optimised for video – not stills – and the body should have been optimised similarly.

  11. Mike says:

    Can you confirm if it is poss to run the GH5S from an external battery pack. If so what connectors, I currently run a Sony with a dummy battery connected to an rav power brick and it lasts for hours.
    On the included battery roughly how long for continuous video shooting, it seems they only state how many photos it will take when it is supposed to be used for video. Many thanks
    Mike

    HDW : You are correct as this is a video tool why give the battery life in “PHOTOS”.

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