Pitting the GH5 vs the GH5S

The GH5 and the GH5S are both Panasonic’s micro four third mount mirrorless camera systems. The GH5S being the latest and the updated version of the GH5. It takes the already beautiful weather sealed body and its unquestionably long list of features to a different level of synergy of beauty and purpose. The GH5S is now upgraded and improved to be a better video shooter than its predecessor.

Very quickly let us answer the one question that might be twirling in your mind – I already have the GH5, should I update to the new GH5S?

Before we answer that question let’s take a quick look at the main differences between the GH5S and the GH5.

Major Differences Between the GH5 and the GH5S

  • A 2-megapixel sensor on the GH5S compared to 20.2 megapixels on the GH5
  • Multi-aspect ratio sensor
  • Dual native ISO on the GH5S
  • No internal stabilization on the GH5S (but works with stabilized lenses)
  • Vlog-L comes ready on the GH5S
  • DCI 4K internal at 60p
  • Full one EV (-5EV vs -4EV) lower low light capability (you need a f/2 lens to achieve this though)
  • The display comes with LUT correction (you can see what the video will appear like once graded)
  • External mic input with Phantom Power as well as Line-level options
  • Updated 120 fps viewfinder
  • 14-bit RAW
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As you can see, the GH5 is geared more towards the dedicated video shooter, than the still shooter. Of course, it can shoot stills fine. If all you will ever do with your stills is share them online, or make the occasional 5 x 7” print, then you should be ok with a 10.2 megapixel resolution. For professional high-resolution prints, or for enlargements (canvas prints etc.) the sensor, however, will lack the necessary resolution.

So, to answer the question, if you already have the GH5, and you are looking for a purely still shooter, you shouldn’t be looking at the GH5S. The GH5S is not an upgraded version of the GH5. It is a different camera altogether.

On the other hand, if it is a video camera on a budget that you seek, then by all means take a look at the specs of the GH5S. There are a very few cameras at this price point that gives so much in terms of video features. There is one strong competitor. The Sony a7S II. We will come to that later in this article.

Suitability as a Video Camera

Just in case if you are looking to buy a new camera for film-making, and the reason why you are here, the GH5S is packed with features which makes it the better of the two cameras.

The camera retains the internal 10-bit 4:2:2 4K video capability of the GH5. It can also simultaneously output a 4:2:2 10-bit output to an external recorder whilst you are recording at 30p. Plus, unlike the GH5 where you had to pay extra for the Vlog-L, on the GH5S it is preconfigured.

The GH5S can shoot DCI 4K at 60p. The Sony a7S II, the real competitor to the GH5S in this segment, can shoot 4K at 30p only. Additionally, it can shoot full HD at a maximum of 120 fps only while the GH5S can shoot at a maximum frame rate of 240p. Slow motion effects are, as such, more beautiful with the Panasonic.

The GH5S, additionally, comes with the waveform and vectorscope display. You also get a configurable focus peaking option which can be programmed to highlight high or the low intensity. You can also choose a preferred color for highlighting the edges.

Additionally, you also have zebra function which, again, is programmable and can be set in increments of 5%, from 50% all the way to 105%. There is also a Focus Transition feature that has been retained from the GH5. This allows the camera to rack focus between up to three focusing points during the shoot.

This technique/feature will, however, work only when the objects/subjects at the three predetermined focusing points are not moving about (i.e., stationary). For moving subjects, you would need to work with normal touch to focus or manual focusing, whichever works for you.

Additionally, the GH5S is the more likely candidate to be used in a multi-camera setup because it is capable of syncing using its flash sync socket as the T/C in/out connector. Inside the box, you will find a flash sync to BNC adapter cable. This cable allows you to get the camera working in a multi-camera setup in a much easier way.

Sensor

Between the DC-GH5 and the DC-GH5S the sensor resolution of the GH5S has reduced significantly. While the sensor on the GH5 was a 20.3 megapixel one the one on the GH5S has a resolution of only 10.82.

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But where the GH5S makes more splash is that it has a multi-aspect ratio sensor. In other words the actual sensor size is bigger when compared with the image circle of any lens that is compatible with it. This allows the sensor to take advantage of any lens and its natural angle of view even though the shooting aspect ratio may change from 4:3 to 16:9 or even 17:9 or anything else.

The reduced resolution also has other advantages. You are likely going to face a lot less issues of rolling shutter. This is something higher resolution cameras tend to suffer from. Also, the lower resolution means faster readouts and less issues of heating up which happens when the image processor has to read and process a large number of data very quickly.

Dual Native ISO

While the smaller sensor will impact the amount of detail that the new camera can reproduce, low light performance is going to be significantly improved. Speaking of which the new camera has two native ISO. The lower threshold is ISO 400 and the higher ISO threshold is 2500. The advantage of that being better low light performance once the higher native ISO threshold is reached. Tests with the GH5S show that performance difference between ISO 1600 and ISO 6400 is very little.

Now a word about the best low light camera in the business. Sony’s a7S II is one of the best cameras in the business (if not the best) for low light shooting. Plus, it is a full frame system. So, if low light performance is your main objective, then you definitely need the advantage of a larger sensor. You need to check out the Sony a7S II before taking a decision.

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Dynamic Range

Speaking of ISO and low light shooting one aspect that every photographer is worried about is the dynamic range of the photos shot at higher ISO. The GH5S’s dynamic range is good at the native ISO levels. Thanks to the dual native ISO settings.

Image Stabilization

Another important point of difference between the GH5 and the GH5S is that the new camera does not have built-in image stabilization. The stabilization on the GH5 is pretty darn good. The GH5S is geared towards the serious cinematographer or folks who shoot videos for a living. These are the people who normally use professional quality rigs and other stabilization tools with their cameras. They don’t care about inbuilt (body-based) image stabilization.

Having said that, there are other options in the market that you could look at if you are a professional and looking for a small sized video camera. We reviewed the Sony a7S II briefly on our website earlier. It has to be the strongest challenger to the GH5S in terms of stabilized 4K footages.

Finally, if you are only going to shoot home videos and probably never going to use a body-worn stabilization rig or such other stuff that the pros normally use, then having image stabilization makes a lot of sense. That way you have stabilized videos straight out of the camera.

Viewfinder

The GH5S has the better viewfinder of the two. The new camera has a 120 fps refresh rate.

Cropping

Both the sensors are of the same size, but between the GH5 and the GH5S, the former makes a tighter crop of a scene.

Depth of Field Comparison with the Sony a7S II

We directly compare the GH5S (and for that matter the GH5) with the Sony a7S II in the area of depth of field. Sometimes professional cinematographers prefer the shallow depth of field look. That said, it is a look that is not always recommended nor desired. At times you want to put your subject right at the center of what is a fairly large depth of field.

The GH5S (and the GH5) has an advantage in that regard, straight out of block. This is because it has a smaller sensor which gives it a larger depth of field for the same lens and camera settings. To match the same depth of field you have to stop down the a7S II, and in the process give away the advantage of a larger sensor – its ability to collect a large amount of light.

Video Shooting

The GH5S and the older GH5 are definitely tagged as cameras that can shoot both videos and stills. But while the older GH5 is the better still camera the newer GH5S is the better movie camera between the two. To reiterate these are two different cameras.

Anamorphic Shooting

In terms of anamorphic shooting the GH5S retains the same features as on the GH5. The multi-aspect ratio sensor is just perfect for shooting wide anamorphic videos provided you pair the camera with an anamorphic lens. However, as the resolution on the GH5S is lower than the GH5, the former cannot replicate the same 6K anamorphic results possible with the latter.

To be honest, if you are an everyday photographer/videographer, you will probably never ever use the anamorphic features of the camera. This is only applicable to videographers who are looking for professional results in a budget of around 2000 dollar. In that sense, the GH5S is probably one of the two options that you should look at.

High-Speed Video Shooting

Between the GH5 and the GH5S, the latter is the better camera for shooting at high speed (and play them back in slow speed). It can shoot full HD at a maximum of 240 fps. The GH5, on the other hand, can shoot at a maximum of 180 fps. That said, at anything above 200 fps the GH5S would crop the sensor.

V-LogL

One stand out feature of the GH5S is that V-LogL comes in as a standard in the camera. You don’t need to purchase and pay anything extra for that. The Sony a7S II that we keep referring to comes with S-Log3 Gamma.

Conclusion

The GH5S is definitely worth a look for anyone looking for a budget camera for video work. Between the Sony a7S II and the Panasonic GH5S, the latter is the preferred camera in terms of features loaded in lieu of the asking price. That said it loses out to its closest rival when it comes to low light shooting and shallow depth of field. The GH5S does not have stabilization built-in but then serious videographers don’t really care for built-in stabilization.


Note: Last Amazon.com Price Update: 2019-03-20 | Refer to our Affiliate Disclosure and Disclaimer.

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