Panasonic's flagship camera isn't a one-trick pony, but it does have one main boast: 4K video brilliance.
Ever since the Lumix GH4 in 2014 - the first consumer camera capable of shooting Ultra HD video - Panasonic has been championing 4K recording. And with the GH5, it's trying to take things one step further.
The new top dog in the company’s Lumix G range, this is the first compact system camera that can record 4K footage at 60fps. Previous models from Panasonic, Sony, Samsung et al have topped out at 30fps, so the prospect of a smoother frame rate is an exciting one for would-be filmmakers.
That’s far from the only good thing the GH5 has going for it though. I spent a few days finding out if its myriad charms would win me over – and more importantly, if they can justify that princely price tag.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 design: built to last
It’s certainly built like a flagship camera. True, the overall “little DSLR” shape might be very much by the numbers, but there’s a reason so many cameras share it: it works.
There’s a large grip on the right to wrap your fingers around, and the majority of the body’s exterior is finished in a rubbery, textured plastic that aids traction. The GH5 tips the scales at 725g without a lens attached, so it’s not particularly lightweight, but the upside is solidity.
This thing is made to last, with weatherproof seals to prevent dust or rain damaging internal components and a magnesium alloy frame to protect against general rough treatment. The wide strap supplied in the box helps mitigate the camera’s weight somewhat; I spent a couple of hours wandering around and shooting with it hanging from my neck without too much discomfort.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 controls: buttons in all the right places
The GH5 is being pushed as a serious “prosumer” snapper for serious “prosumer” work (whatever that is), hence the sheer number of physical controls. A quick count reveals 15 buttons, six dials and one directional thumb stick on the camera’s body, most of which are placed within easy reach of your fingers or thumbs when holding it.
While I personally didn’t feel the need to make use of all these, there’s something reassuring about having them all (literally) to hand. Some of us photographers are happy letting the camera’s cyber-brain do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to settings, while others want maximum creative control, and want it without having to sift through pages of on-screen menus. If that's you, the GH5 won’t disappoint.
Its 3in tilt-and-swivel screen is touch sensitive too, so (depending on how you’ve set it up) you can use it as another way to tweak controls. Tapping, for instance, the ISO section on the display will bring up a screen where you can slide your finger left or right to adjust the sensitivity. This method might be a bit too “millennial” for everyone’s taste, but given the amount of physical buttons and dials, it’s totally optional. So, a plus point in my eyes.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 viewfinder: view to a thrill
Speaking of eyes, the GH5 has a treat for yours in the form of its gorgeous OLED electronic viewfinder. Large, flicker-free and detailed to a Retina display-like “can’t see the dots” degree, it’s one of the most natural-looking I’ve used, and really handy on the sunny days on which I was testing the camera.
There are some high-end touches on the connectivity front, too: a full-size HDMI output allowing you to easily hook the camera up to your TV or monitor, and a dual SD card setup. Not only does the latter double the GH5’s potential storage, but it means you can set two cards to record different file types: say, video on one and still photos on the other, or JPEGs on one and RAW files on the other.