Earlier in the year, Panasonic released the long awaited GH5. It’s a camera that has continued to blow me away as an example of what small DSLR-style cinema cameras can achieve. Since the launch there have been some features that have been asked for over and over again.
Many of the ambassadors, myself included have pushed this feedback to the engineers where possible. Just over a week and a half ago, I got an early look at the latest firmware for the GH5. It’s been under embargo until now but hopefully I can give you a little insight into the new features, bug fixes and advances that are coming towards the end of the next month.
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One of the most requested features of the GH5 was for simple crop marks to allow shooters to visualise shooting in cinema aspect ratios. The good news is that this has now been included along with a 1:1 guideline (great if you’re shooting video content for instagram etc). The included crop guides are 1:1, 16:9, 2.35:1 and 2.39:1
Another big complaint from GH5 users was the location of the DISP button. I think I might be one of the only people not to have a problem, but many people complained that they would accidentally trigger the button when shooting. Unfortunately, the position of the DISP button is not something that can be changed with firmware. Instead, the engineers have implemented a DISP lock, allowing you to lock off functionality and therefore prevent accidental presses. This option is also available for the cursor, joystick + touchscreen too.
When the GH5 was released, it was mentioned that the camera would see a new, open-gate high-resolution anamorphic mode. This functionality would make the GH5 one of highest resolution cameras for shooting 2x anamorphic available on the market, even competing with and beating many high-end cinema cameras.
The good news for anamorphic shooters is that the engineers in Japan haven’t just settled on 6K anamorphic, instead, they’re gone above and beyond to add functionality that will make the GH5 an incredible camera for anamorphic shooting.
Alongside the 200mbps 4,992 x 3,744 ‘6K’ high resolution mode in 24/25/30p, they’ve also added 400mbps All-Intra 3,328 x 2,496 4K anamorphic modes in 4:2:2 10-bit 24/25/30p.
But the shock for me when checking through the firmware was the addition of anamorphic de-squeeze, making composition when shooting anamorphic much simpler. It also negates the need for an external monitor, so if you’re shooting with a small anamorphic, you can now keep the whole set up much lighter for hand held work.
Video guides also work in anamorphic mode, which means you can visualise 2.39:1 crops if you’re shooting 2.66:1 footage.
Finally the engineers also added a new IBIS mode specifically for using 1.3x and 2x anamorphic lenses, again making this system a real viable option for handheld shooting when paired with a small anamorphic adapter.
All-I + HEVC
As also promised in the firmware schedule, firmware V2 will include All-intra 400mbps 4:2:2 10-bit at 4K 24 and UHD 24/25/30p, along with 200mbps All-intra 4:2:2 10-bit FHD 24/25/30/50/60p. All-I modes will be great for speeding up editing performance and improved quality when shooting motion.
Note that you’ll need to get your hands on some V60 or higher memory cards for the All-I 400mbps shooting (which is no small outlay with current pricing).
A surprise in the firmware was the inclusion of a LongGOP HEVC 4:2:0 10bit 72mbps mode in UHD 24/25/30p, which in theory should give similar quality (if not higher) than the standard 150mbps at a lower bit rate (great for saving card space on the road). More testing needed to check quality differences on that though.
HDR is a bit of a buzzword in the filmmaking and AV communities right now. It’s not something I’ve spent too much time exploring but I’m hoping to get to grips with it in the coming months. V2.0 firmware comes with a Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) picture style, a format that has been proposed by broadcasters such as the BBC. The theory behind HDR is that it can display a wider brightness, or dynamic range, allowing the viewer to see more detail in the brighter and darker areas of an image.
HLG is available in all of the frame rates and codec options including the High-res anamorphic mode and can be shot ready for playback on HLG supporting TVs using the new MP4 HEVC format. HLG can also be output at 4K 50/60p 10bit 4:2:2 over HDMI for recording externally.
The GH5 also comes with a HLG view assist function for aiding viewing on the LCD/EVF or on an external SDR monitor. This function displays the HLG footage as Rec709 and has two modes, one which favours the brighter areas such as the sky, and one which favours the mid-tones making it easier to nail exposure but which may display the highlights as being blown out.
Another improvement is the AF, especially in video. I haven’t had time to do any extensive testing but tracking AF seems to be improved on quick glance. Keep an eye on my twitter for some tests in the coming days.
Along with tracking AF in video, autofocus of low contrast subjects in photo has been improved along with some usability tweaks such as locking the AF tracking start point in advance, allowing the AF area to be moved whilst recording in 6K/4K photo and finally allowing the AF area to be moved to the other edge when it reaches the opposing edge.
Users of the Panasonic image app will be glad to hear that theres now a bluetooth remote shutter mode allowing you to fire the shutter, lock the shutter (for bulb and burst) and to start/stop video. This mode won’t allow for live view but it will allow for long term use of the app as a remote with a much reduced drain on the battery.
The final big announcement with firmware V2.0 is the implementation of LUMIX tether for both photo, 6k/4k photo and video shooting via USB3.1. I only got access to LUMIX tether yesterday afternoon so more testing will be needed to determine how exactly it works, but it has huge potential for studio/controlled scenario work.
Bug fixes/Minor Tweaks
Last but not least, the engineers announced a raft of small fixes and tweaks. These are outlined below:
- IBIS Video Lock Mode – Improved IS performance when the viewing angle is fixed
- Bug fix where 2-axis WB compensation would reset when kelvin level was changed
- Timelapse mode now shows time to finish when shooting
- Fn button can now be used for rating in playback mode
- Constant preview, 4K/6K bulk save, Min shutter speed for ISO, RAW processing, REC/Playback switch, destination card slot and mic level adjust can now be assigned to FN. The mic level adjust will be very useful!
- Image quality improvement in Extended ISO, i.Dynamic and Highlight/Shadow settings.
- Crop Marks for 1:1, 16:9, 2.35:1 and 2.39:1
- DISP button lock
- 6K/4K 4:3 Anamorphic
- Anamorphic Desqueeze
- Anamorphic I.S for 1.3/2x
- 400mbps All-I 4K/UHD and 200mbps All-I FHD
- 72mbps LongGOP 10bit 4:2:0 HEVC
- HLG HDR + HLG View Assist
- HLG in 50/60p 10bit 4:2:2 over HDMI
- Improved AF
- Bluetooth Remote through app
- LUMIX Tether software for photo + video
- IBIS Lock mode for video
- Bug fixes
If you’re a GH5 user, you should be very excited to get your hands on the new firmware. It’s safe to say that with this new firmware the GH5 is the most advanced DSLR-style video camera on the market. The beauty of having all of this in such a small body is that it only helps to feed your creativity, and I’ve even started to experiment in new areas such as anamorphic shooting and hope to explore HDR in the not to distant future.
If you have any questions regarding the firmware, please feel free to drop a comment below or reach out on twitter and I’ll be more than happy to explain the implementation of these features in more detail!