CES 2018: Panasonic brings lowlight and dual ISO to GH5S making it a cinema making machine

Today at CES 2018 in Las Vegas Panasonic introduced the new GH5S with improved video features and some for stills too. The GH5S sports a 10.2MP sensor that gathers two times more light than the original 20.3MP sensor in the GH5. The ISO levels jumped from 25,600 to 51,200. With this new sensitivity, the GH5S should be able to also shoot much cleaner images in the 1600 to 6400 ISO ranges that the GH5 struggles in.

GH5 S_Pre Front

This is good news for low light shooters. A first in a hybrid camera is the inclusion of Dual Native ISO as seen in the professional VariCam and EVA 1 cameras. Having the ability to change the native ISO gives you cleaner images in higher settings.

One bummer is no IBIS (in body image stabilization).

The Lumix GH5S also takes resolution and frame rates up a notch with a world-first 4K 60/50p recording in Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160).

Another first is the GH5S has timecode input. The GH5S uses the flash sync terminal of the camera to pass timecode. The GH5S comes with a special coaxial cable that plugs into the flash sync terminal. Having timecode input is a big deal for a stills camera let alone a video camera. Being able to sync cameras on set is very helpful in multi-camera setups.

GH5S Highlights

  • 10.2MP Sensor
  • Dual Native ISO 400-2500 ISO
  • Max 51,200 ISO Double of the GH5
  • Multi-aspect sensor 4:3, 17:9, 16:9, and 3:2
  • 14bit RAW stills
  • 4K 60/50p recording in Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160)
  • 240 frames per second in Full HD
  • V-Log Included
  • Timecode In/out
  • Live View Boost
  • Line level Audio available

The body is pretty much unchanged except for the red accent on the control dial. I do wish Panasonic would move the DISP button from the back but it can easily be turned off in the menu.

I know a lot has been said about poor autofocus in video mode with the GH5. The new GH5S shares the same 225 area autofocusing points, so improved AF performance probably won’t be seen however the AF will improve under lowlight conditions due to increased sensitivity of the sensor.

The Panasonic Lumix GH5S will be available from the end of January priced at  £2,199/$2,499 (body only). In comparison, the standard GH5 is $1,999 body only.

Here is a video shot with the GH5S and an Atomos Ninja Inferno. The lowlight does look much improved.

Lowlight tests by Neumannfilms

Short film shot with the GH5S

My thoughts

It’s great to see Panasonic get aggressive with the GH5S and recent Cinema Camera release. Very impressive indeed. Panasonic has taken the road paved by Sony and Canon of releasing a popular model in various models. Take the Sony a7s II and a7r III cameras. Very similar cameras tailored to specific strengths. The a7s camera revolutionized low light capabilities and the a7r III is a solid full frame camera with good autofocus in stills and video modes.

Canon went a little further in the 5D Mark III series, adding the 5DS & 5DS R to the original 5D III now superseded by the 5D Mark IV. A high-resolution model and a version without a low pass filter for sharper images.

Overall I think the GH5 S looks like a worthy upgrade if shooting in low light is important to you. The lower 10.2 Megapixel sensor doubles the capability to gather light. I personally don’t shoot over 1600 ISO very often but if 1600 ISO is twice as clean then 3200 ISO, it will be very useable. It’s always nice to have headroom.

As for the Dual Native ISO, it offers a range from 400 to 2500 ISO. If you need to shoot in low light the best choice would be to set the dual ISO to 2500. For normal shooting ISO 400 is best. On the pro side haveing Timecode input will make the GH5S an easy to add in camera for multi-camera setups. So much easier to edit with synced timecode.

The addition of 4K 60/50p recording in Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) is impressive. Who would have thought the small and mighty GH5 could pull this off.

As more information on the new Panasonic GH5S is released I’ll update this post. It’s an exciting new model that I’m looking forward to trying out. What do you think? Are you interested in the new GH5S? Will you upgrade? Let’s talk in the comments section below.


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