Is the Panasonic GH5 worth buying in 2020?
While we wait for the Panasonic GH6 to arrive many are wondering if the GH5 is still worth it in 2020?
Hi guys, my name is Shane and I am a video content creator and video producer from Australia. I have been producing videos with the GH5 for several years now through many of the firmware updates. This review will cover what you need to know about the GH5 from a user’s perspective. If you want only want technical specifications, that has been covered in detail by many others on YouTube so stick with me here if you want to know what I think of the GH5 in 2020.
The GH5 was released in march of 2017 and has become an industry standard for online content creators and video professionals. While the camera is now 3 years old it is still capable of things most newer cameras can only dream of even in 2020! There are rumors of the new Panasonic GH6 coming in mid-late 2020, but this is only speculation.
I love my GH5, so much so I purchased a second on in mid-2019. This might seem crazy to a lot of people who always think newer is better but the GH5 has continued to deliver the goods year after year.
Is the Panasonic GH5 the Perfect YouTube Camera?
The GH5 is not only perfect for the online content creator it is a very solid camera for professional projects. Over the last few years, I have produced almost 1000 videos with my Panasonic GH5. I have used my GH5’s to film web commercials for local businesses as well as training videos for Australia’s top bodybuilder. The results straight out of the camera are simply amazing.
After using the Panasonic GH5 for several years I think it is the best camera for anyone starting a YouTube channel.
After shooting and producing a few thousand videos with this camera across a number of YouTube channels and professional projects I am astounded how great this camera performs under almost any condition.
Does the GH5 have a few drawbacks? Well… Only two, but I’ll get to that a little bit later.
The Panasonic GH5’s positives far outweigh the negatives and here’s why I think The GH5 is still worth it in 2020.
Build Quality and Form Factor
In regards to the smaller form factor mirrorless cameras, I have personally tested the GH5 is by far my favorite. It is very comfortable in the hand and is built out of magnesium alloy body making it durable, rugged, and also weather-sealed.
The SD card slots and battery slots are easily accessed making a quick battery change a breeze. You can even change the battery while it’s on a tripod which is something my Panasonic G7 was unable to do while connected to my particular tripod mounts.
The Joystick and Buttons
The buttons and dials all feel like high-quality components that offer just the right amount of tension. The GH5’s joystick on the back is by far one of the best I have tried personally. It’s responsive and you will never accidentally move it unless you want to, even with your thumb on it.
I have been fortunate enough to travel with various cameras over the years for video projects overseas. The GH5 is so small and fairly light for its size making it a no-brainer to travel with. While I think the results of the S1H look great, I would not want to travel with it for my type of work. On my next trip away I will be taking both of my GH5 cameras and a couple of small prime lenses and it’ll be light yet powerful video rig!
The 4k video quality is stunning. I am still blown away by the results I get from this somewhat “old camera”. The picture quality is sharp and very detailed. I edit all of my footage on a 5k iMac and seeing the full resolution on a 4 or 5k screen looks very impressive.
Image quality will depend on your lighting and lens selection. For the best picture quality from my lens selection, I love the Panasonic 15mm f1.7 and the trusty and inexpensive 25mm 1.7. I highly recommend you choose a prime lens for video on a micro-four-thirds camera. Allowing more light in is a huge benefit. The picture and image quality alone is what makes the Panasonic Gh5 still worth it in 2020.
Another benefit to the GH5 is the low rolling shutter. Rolling shutter is most evident when the camera is panned left and right quickly. Compared with other options from Canon and Sony, the rolling shutter on the GH5 comes out on top.
You can also purchase the V-Log upgrade. I have never felt the need for Vlog in my type of shooting but for those that want a little more dynamic range, the option is there. The in-camera color profiles are awesome. I am a huge fan of Cine-V. This preset is used on the majority of my videos including well.. this one!
I wrote a full article explaining the built-in color profiles of the Panasonic Cameras which covers everything you need to know.
Unlimited Recording Time
It’s 2020 and why are most camera brands unable to shoot until your SD card fills up? Arguably one of my favorite features of the Panasonic GH5 is its ability to record until the battery runs out or the SD card fills up. Paired with a fast SDXC card you can also record one big file up to 96GB in size! This is really great thing for file management.
Why is this a good thing you might ask? Some cameras stop recording at 30 minutes which is even more debilitating to productivity. When I use the GH5 I let it record for the entirety of the video (which is what I am doing now) and in the end, I get one big file. Not having to worry about a recording limit or file splitting is amazing!
Most other Cameras can’t do what the GH5 does!
The sad reality is, not many cameras offer unlimited recording without overheating or cutting the files. In 2020, you would think this would be commonplace but it’s not. This is another feature that makes the GH5 totally worth it! You can also find unlimited recording time in the Panasonic G85/G95 but the GH5 has more to offer the budding filmmaker.
The IBIS which stands for in-body stabilization is second to none… The only other camera with a comparable stabilizer is the Panasonic S1H and that is almost 3 times the price.
Paired with a Panasonic lens that has optical stabilization, you can achieve a level of stabilization that is hard to match with any other camera system on the market.
IS lock is one of the best features I have ever seen on a camera. IS Lock works wonders for stationary shots. If you are doing any handheld work and want to hold the camera in any one spot the results are tripod-like stabilization.
PRO TIP – I have IS lock assigned to a function key so I can turn it on and off.
The GH5 uses the micro-four-thirds lens mount. While Panasonic has a huge selection of lenses available you also have the wider eco-system at your disposal. This means you can literally choose from any micro four-thirds lenses from Sigma, Olympus, Samyang, Mitachon, and many more.
Another advantage to this system is you can find lenses and options at many different price points so if the price is a consideration you’ll be able to find something to get you started.
My personal favorite lenses are the Panasonic Leica 15mm f/1.7, (link to B&H) the 25mm f/1.7, and the 12-60 kit lens. Don’t let the kit lens fool you, it’s actually pretty great!
The GH5 feels fantastic in the hand. It is still to this day, my favorite camera in terms of feel. While the GH5 is small and compact, it never feels crowded or cramped. With the addition of the micro four-thirds being physically smaller than the full-frame lenses, the overall compact size and weight of the GH5 is a winner.
The battery life on the GH5 is outstanding. You can get a few good hours of video recording time in 4k 25 or 4k 30. I have noticed that battery life is reduced slightly in 4k 60 but it’s not a huge deal. With the addition of the Panasonic battery grip or a third party one like I use (links below). You can make two genuine batteries last all day.
If you plan on using the GH5 in a studio situation there are many third party AC dummy batteries online. If I can find the exact one I use I will leave links in the description below.
Audio Quality is More Important thank you think!
While the video quality is very important, audio quality is also as important. Have you ever tried to watch a video with horrible audio? It’s hard to watch right!? I am a huge audio nerd and I love the quality I get from the GH5. The built-in preamps are some of the best on the market allowing my wireless microphone systems to sound great in-camera.
Internal and External Preamps
In addition to the built-in preamps, the GH5 also has an optional Audio Adapter called the DMW-XLR1. This allows even higher audio quality to be captured thanks to the two professional audio XLR inputs. The DMW-XLR1 works with dynamic microphones and phantom-powered microphones. I have even used them directly on a podcast I shot recently with Rode Procaster microphones. These microphones are very low gain and sometimes require a cloud lifter for optimal audio. The DMW comes complete with a 20+dB boost to raise the gain in tricky low-gain situations.
Getting the background is quite easy to achieve with the right lens. With that in mind, it will be even easier with a full-frame sensor camera. When I shoot with my 25mm f/1.7 or 15mm f/1.7 there’s enough background blur to satisfy me without going too “Tony Northrup”. (Just kidding love your videos Tony)
Additional things I really love about the GH5
If you are an online content creator there’s nothing worse than shooting a video that is out of focus only to re-shoot it. The GH5 has a full-sized HDMI connection allowing you to use preference monitor of any size.
Personally, I use a Phillips 28.5” 1080p monitor and it’s been a lifesaver for locking in focus and making sure you can see all of the on-screen display easily.
If you don’t have access to an external monitor you can just use the Panasonic app for mobile devices and tablets. This allows you to monitor and control your camera with very low latency. The app is one of the top reasons you will love this if you’re an Apple iPad or iPhone user. I haven’t tested the app on Android, but the iPhone app works a treat!
More Great Features
Another feature that makes the GH5 a total productivity beast is the function buttons and custom mode presets. The function buttons can be set to control almost anything on the camera. This allows you to use the camera as you want to as opposed to how Panasonic sees fit. This option makes choosing your favorite settings and changes quick and simple with a touch of the button.
Custom Custom Custom!
The custom mode dial allows you to set several custom video settings. You can literally save each preset how you want and change the mode dial accordingly. For my GH5, I have 4k 25p, 4k 50p, 1080p, and a custom variable slow motion frame rate set to C3. Being able to switch between these custom settings saves the menu diving. The menu options and assignable keys still make the GH5 worth it in 2020! It’s funny how so many newer cameras can’t compete with the GH5 in this manner.
So what are the Negatives of the Panasonic GH5?
Without question, the #1 thing that people complain about with any Panasonic camera is the auto-focus. Since the 2.6 firmware, the autofocus is mostly good…. Mostly! It really depends on which lenses you use with it as to how it performs with autofocus. My favorite mode is still “One area mode”. I never use face tracking but one area autofocus works great with how I use it. I made an autofocus tutorial video while back (links in the cards) and it’s still the same way I do it today.
Long story, short. The autofocus is improved but it will never be as good as Sony at this stage. The Depth from Defocus is great for photos, but it’s honestly not the best choice for video.
The Colour Science
Colour science is something that is totally subjective. Either you’ll like the “green tint” out of the camera or you won’t. To fix the green tint I go to my custom white balance settings and drop the green closer to magenta. This fixes any off the green tint and makes the color much more balanced to my eye.
You can, just, of course, adjust the color setting in Final Cut or whichever video editing program you use. All I do generally is just drop the green 1-2% and it’s sorted if you don’t want to adjust it in-camera for whatever reason.
The out of camera image is sharp… like really sharp. There’s no high pass filter in the camera which means moire can be a huge problem *(as you’ve seen on some of my horrible shirt choices in the past). If you lower the sharpening in-camera, this is not as much of a problem.
Low Light Capability
If you are looking for a low-light beast of a camera get the GH5S or the S1, S1R, or S1H – or any full-frame Sony camera. One downside of the GH5 is the low light capability compared with the full-frame cameras. With this in mind, this has never posed a problem for me either at home with studio lights our out and about with natural light or regular lighting. Depending on which lens you use will depend on the amount of noise you will get. For best results get a prime lens rated at 1.7 or below.
Get the Best Price on the Panasonic GH5
Just to let you know. I have purchased all the camera equipment you have seen on my website and also on my YouTube channel. I did not get any special deals from Panasonic or any retailer. If you find this video helpful and want to check them out I will leave affiliate links in the description below. They help support the channel at no extra cost to you.