Equipment

The Six Major Differences Between the Panasonic GH5 and Panasonic GH5s

As we mentioned in our recent article showing off the Most Rented New Products of 2017, people love the Panasonic GH5; and our video techs love it too. With 4:2:2 10-bit in 4K, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better video camera in a smaller package. But this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, Panasonic surprised us all, with the announcement of the Panasonic GH5s, so let’s go through what this means.

Panasonic GH5s Comparisons

This announcement came as a surprise, as the Panasonic GH5 was just released back in March of last year, meaning the Panasonic GH5s is only ten months younger than its predecessor. Additionally, the announcement has convoluted the Panasonic product names, adding an ‘s’ to the product name instead of just extending it to be the GH6. But even with the similarities in the name, there are quite a few changes in this camera, so let’s walk through the significant differences between the two systems.

Sensor Changes

The biggest difference between the Panasonic GH5 and the Panasonic GH5s is the sensor changes. Where the Panasonic GH5 has a 20mp 4/3rds sensor, the GH5s has opted for a sensor with half the resolution at 10.2 megapixels. But much like the Sony a7s II system, the sensor is designed specifically with video in mind, really pushing the bounds of high ISO recording. Additionally, the sensor itself is larger than the lens coverage, meaning you can quickly change aspect ratios within the camera, without losing data. This added versatility has gotten quite a few video techs here in the office excited, and we’ll be able to provide some test footage to show it’s capabilities when the camera gets released in a few weeks.

Better Low Light Performance

As alluded to above, one of the most significant advantages with the new Panasonic GH5s is it’s low light capabilities. As our friends at Imaging Resource expressed in their review of the system, the new sensor design has given the Panasonic GH5s exceptional low light performance that challenges even the Sony a7s II, in a smaller sensor size. Not only is the ISO range extended from ISO 200 – 12,800 on the Panasonic GH5 to ISO 80 – 204,800, it’s able to do it with two different native ISOs, allowing for cleaner files.

 

That’s right; the Panasonic GH5s takes advantage of two native ISO values, both ISO 400 and ISO 2500. By increasing the voltage to the sensor, the Panasonic GH5s can increase the gain, allowing for cleaner shadows and better contrast at higher ISOs. In laymen terms, this means that you should be getting roughly the same noise at ISO 2500 that you would be getting at ISO 400.

Slow Motion Capabilities

Perhaps one of the biggest disappointments with the Panasonic GH5 was its lack of true slow motion capabilities. With 4K limited to 30fps and 1080p at 60fps (though with some 180fps potential), the GH5 has chosen the quality of footage over the potential speed. The Panasonic GH5s gives us the best of both worlds, extending the 4K shooting to 60fps (though at 8-bit 4:2:0), and up to 240fps at 1080p; allowing you to have a professional system that can also take advantage of slow-motion functionalities as needed.

14-bit RAW

Every announcement up until this point has been tailored to video shooters because let’s face it; the Panasonic GH5s is more of a video camera than a stills camera. But Panasonic also gave the nod to the photo shooters out there, with 14-bit RAW supported in in camera, making it the first micro four-thirds camera with this supported. At 14-bit, this extends the potential color output from 68 billion colors to 4,398 billion colors. This added bit depth allows for better gradients and color accuracy on the Panasonic GH5s over the Panasonic GH5.

In Body Camera Stabilization Removed

The biggest disappointment with this announcement is that Panasonic chose to remove the In Body Camera Stabilization from the Panasonic GH5s. As for an explanation as to why Panasonic still hasn’t made an official comment. One would presume that this is because the Panasonic GH5s seems to be raising the bar of the Panasonic GH5 into the even more pro market, where many people will already have stabilization in the form of a steady cam of gimbal system, like the FreeFly MoVI.

Timecode In/Out

Perhaps the feature that flew furthest under the radar was the use of Timecode in/out support, allowing better syncing through multiple cameras, making the editing process more manageable. While it seems like a simple featured, it will make multi-camera shooting easier, and many of our video techs are hoping that this feature makes its way into all video cameras. To our knowledge, this is the first video camera system to do this in the ‘small form factor’ range.

 

So did we miss anything? The Panasonic GH5s appears to be a pretty nice little upgrade for those who need the expanded ISO, and looking for something to compete with the Sony a7sII in low light conditions. The Panasonic GH5s is expected to start shipping next week, and you can currently put in a preorder for when it becomes available.

 

Author: Zach Sutton

I’m Zach and I’m the editor and a frequent writer here at Lensrentals.com. I’m also an editorial and portrait photographer in Los Angeles, CA, and offer educational workshops on photography and lighting all over North America.

Posted in Equipment
  • Ph?m Anh

    I’m unsure if the camera sensor is designed like that or not (would check later) but having 2 ADC got the benefit that you have a better SNR at the start before you process in anyway.

  • Brandon Dube

    The question was more why there would be an opamp or differential amplifier for a digital signal, when a processor can do it better for cheaper. I do not believe the camera would put an ADC before an amp.

  • Ph?m Anh

    Because an amp would also amplify the electronic noise of the component. Meanwhile 2 analog converters should have the same (or close to that) noise level but, the one designated at 2500 have more signal output, hence better SNR

  • Philipp Kämpfer

    Yeah…that was the first thought that came to my mind as well. Seems to be the most logical explanation…

  • Couldn’t the deletion of the IBIS have to do with the more capable sensor in the GH5s, that can work at higher voltages as well?!
    That would increase the heat produced by the sensor, thus the air need to be able to cool the sensor better than is needed in the GH5. Also the slow-motion modes would also produce much more, heat, would they not?!

  • Brandon Dube

    Why would they put an amp on a digital signal line?

  • Brian Siano

    Small error: the GH5 _could_ shoot 4k at 60 fps. ( I rented one from Lensrentals fir this very feature.)

    Another difference: the GH5s does not have the 6K anamorphic mode of the GH5.

  • Mike

    Its actually has to do with the Multi Aspect sensor. Its physically bigger than a standard M43 sensor. This means its using the full available image circle projected by the lens. Because of that, if the sensor moved for IBIS, it would move out of the image circle causing vignetting and shading.

  • John Longenecker

    I read somewhere they had to heat sink the sensor. Too much mass to shift.

  • Ryan Hill

    We’ll have to wait until we have some to test with to be 100% sure, but on paper you should be able to use one set to out as a generator for the other set to in.

  • Carleton Foxx

    So with timecode in and out, does that mean if I have a pair of GH5s cameras, I can run a sync cable between them? That would be a gift from the gods. Or does it mean I need to also rent a timecode generator to plug them both into?
    Thanks for all your amazing stories.

  • Yes, it is two analog converters that sit in front of the gain amplifier, but from my understanding what what I’ve read, the difference between the two is a difference in voltage output.

  • Mike

    So its about being designed for the camera as a standalone. Once you mount the camera to say, a car, the camera now becomes part of the car while the sensor still floats free. When the car hits a bump, the inertia is transferred to the camera, overpowering the magnetic field holding the sensor in place. That jolt is more than would be experienced or factored in with every day use. Its the same principal with a hand held stabilizer, though to a lesser degree. Shock is transfered which overcomes the magnetic field. It can only be made so powerful before it interferes internally or power draw becomes too much.

  • DrJon

    That seems a little silly as how does it work if it isn’t strong enough to compensate for movement?

  • Douglas Morse
  • Mike

    But with the GH5, its a magnetic system. There is no physical “lock” possible. When the aystem is off, its just applying equal magnetic force in all directions to hold the sensor in place. This is why it can be knocked out of place. Magnets are only so powerful…

  • Mike

    The dual Native ISO system isnt a voltage change as described above, Its 2 physical analog converters per pixel. one deaignated at 400 ISO, and one at 2500. Its the same implementation as the Varicam and EVA-1.

  • DrJon

    Apparently the removal of IBIS on the “s” was as the floating sensor can move around as a gimbal moves the camera, harming the stabilisation, but seems weak as surely they could have used the IBIS to hold the sensor in position? BTW upgraded my GH4 (and GH3) to a GH5 yesterday as IBIS is a huge plus for me (plus a deal to die for).

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