Panasonic GH5: Tried and Tested


Tim Bearder TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online

My journey as a filmmaker began with a select number of enthusiastic BBC reporters picked out and trained in the concept of Personal Digital Production by the American Video Journalist Michael Rosenblum.

Back in the early naughties he was pioneering the concept of one person journalist shoot editors. A complete news reporting package with small personal issue kits that could be stashed in a backpack. I loved the ethos. Small-form cameras, allowed you to get in amongst the action, capturing the real story without the paraphernalia of Hollywood changing the dynamic of the situation. People behaved normally and you could tell a story exactly as you saw fit without it being reinterpreted by the camera operator you were working with at the time.

I got some great stories and took it as far as I could, but making them broadcast quality was always a challenge. I got some things aired I’d shot on a Canon 60d but back then everything coming from a DSLR was fatally flawed in some critical way.

The Panasonic GH5 finally realises the ambition my colleagues and I all had all those years ago when we set out to do high quality news television with the most portable and discreet equipment on the market.

It is an incredible camera. It’s small, rugged, packed with functions and you really don’t need much else to make it work straight out of the box, but you must buy a few choice additions…

The first extra piece of kit you have to have is the XLR mic adaptor. There is no way I’d have dumped my Canon C series cameras for this without it. The essential little unit clips neatly onto the hotshoe on top of the camera and puts you immediately on par with the bigger cameras. Use it in conjunction with the Sennheiser AVX system and you’re really singing – literally if you want to be. The tiny adjustable mic receivers plug directly into the XLR audio inputs. They switch on and off automatically with the camera. So it is instantly ready to record when you flick it on and will save battery power when the camera is turned off. It works like a dream and does almost nothing to that all important miniature form factor I so desperately crave.

On the battle bus with Tim Farron during the 2017 election I was able to Mic him up before we jumped off on each visit. The discreet lapel mic would track him, while I’d carry a wireless handheld mic in my pocket to vox unsuspecting punters. The set up worked a dream and gave me complete flexibility despite the crowded, rushed and complex visits he was doing.

The first snag you should be aware of is that the Panasonic’s XLR Audio unit deactivates the internal mic on the camera. I’d love to have the ability to flick the body mic onto one of the audio channels just because it’s reassuring to have a scratch track, especially when the only other mic you have is a lapel. Obviously you can put a stick mic on the hot shoe that Panasonic have conveniently placed on top of the XLR box but that does start to ruin that all important form factor – I am all about keeping it small!

I’ve talked about the audio first because it’s something that rightly concerns DSLR users. Hopefully you’ll be reassured now that you can get quality results without much additional equipment or modification but, what has the actual camera got to offer, you’re probably asking? Well the first thing I’d say here is it’s amazing in-camera stabilization.

It has 5-Axis in body stabilisation and if you team it up with a Lumix lens with O.I.S. you have a further level of stabilisation that makes it a dream to use when you can’t take a tripod. And remember, it’s small so you don’t need to be an athlete to carry this smoothly for hours at a time. Sure if you are walking upstairs it’s not going to compete with a Ronin style stabilizer but when I compare it to footage I do with colleagues on shoots where they are using a Canon – even a Canon with IS lenses, the GH5 is by far and away the better camera. When Panasonic first released it there was a weird sideways rock that was introduced by the stabilization but happily that seems to have been eliminated by the September 2017 Software update. If you’re a run and gun shooter it’s just incredibly smooth and a top reason to invest.

Even with the fabulous Olympus lenses I use it is a smooth operator thanks to the in body stabilisation.

The third reason you must have this camera is the quality of the image - 4k 422/10bit - all internal at 400Mbps! I’ve talked a lot about this camera being a versatile gritty little tool to get into every nook and cranny, but if you want it to play with the big boys on a documentary, studio commercial or music video, this tiny little camera is packing some serious stats. Go the whole hog and buy the Log upgrade and a few of the super fast SD cards and you’re away. Most of the time in news I am not using anything close to what it’s capable of but if I’m doing an interview that I know I’ll want to reframe – it’s all there, 4K at an incredible bitrate.

It’s the simplicity of this camera that I love. It uses SD Cards and my MacBook Pro (until I’m forced to upgrade) has a slot for that. The new Mac Pro even has an SD card reader built in from what I can see from the tantalizing screen shots online. It all just fits and works in a seamless, inexpensive and efficient work flow that is accessible to everyone.

And finally the price. Camera body, lens and XLR unit plus a couple of fast cards and you’re probably going to get change from £3,000, which is less that the body of a Sony a7R III and this really matters if you’re an independent filmmaker. It gives you the confidence to take your kit to the ends of the earth knowing that if the worst should happen, you haven’t just dropped your livelihood down a gorge. And if you are just starting out in this game, you can buy something that will get you broadcast results without mortgaging your house. Annoying for all those long-in-the-tooth professionals that relied on price to keep the new talent out of the game.

There are no in built ND filters, you’ll have to get a variable filter for the front of your lens. The low light is undeniably disappointing – sure, I love everything else this camera has combined with the low light capabilities of the full frame Sony’s or the new Canon C200 but I’ve been in some dingy places and it’s held up. The autofocus was massively derided when it first came out but again the September update greatly improved that. If you keep your eye on it, touching the screen to set the focus points feels so futuristic it’s like you’re on an away team from the Starship Enterprise. Sadly the Face Recognition autofocus for Vloggers is still pretty poor. If you cast your eyes down it loses its way and you run into problems but I find the point recognition works well.

All in all there are many reasons I’d like to get a C200 but it wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t easily sling that in a small bag and get completely immersed in the action I was there to film, travel over the Dolomites on foot for days on end or hang off boats in Lyme Bay with the same ease, confidence and peace of mind.

The only thing that stops me recommending you run out and buy the GH5 today is the rumour of the GH5s that is supposedly on its way soon. Watch this space because if this is good just imagine what that will be like!


Tags: iss129 | panasonic | gh5 | dslr | senheirser avx | c200 | Tim Bearder
Contributing Author Tim Bearder

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
Article Copyright tv-bay limited. All trademarks recognised.
Reproduction of the content strictly prohibited without written consent.

Related Interviews
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5 at BVE 2017

    Panasonic Lumix GH5 at BVE 2017

  • Panasonic show VariCam at IBC 2014

    Panasonic show VariCam at IBC 2014

  • Panasonic at BVE 2012

    Panasonic at BVE 2012

  • Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

    Holdan and Panasonic at BVE North 2011

  • Panasonic at IBC2011

    Panasonic at IBC2011

  • KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

    KitPlus filming rig used at BVE 2017

  • Belfast TOUR

    Belfast TOUR

  • Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

    Den Lennie considers what kit and cameras to buy for 2015

  • KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

    KITPLUS rig setup at IBC 2014

  • Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

    Polecam talk accessories on BroadcastShow LIVE 2013

  • Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

    Holdan on BroadcastShow Tour May 2013

  • Atomos Shogun Inferno at BVE 2017

    Atomos Shogun Inferno at BVE 2017

  • Autocue DSLR Prompter using iPad at IBC 2013

    Autocue DSLR Prompter using iPad at IBC 2013

  • Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

    Sennheiser HandMic digital and MKE 440 at IBC 2016

  • Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

    Air Alloy Tripod System from Miller Fluid Heads at IBC 2014

  • Philip Bloom on Tour in Belfast

    Philip Bloom on Tour in Belfast

  • Canon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Canon on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • Pinknoise at BVE North 2012

    Pinknoise at BVE North 2012

  • Hireacamera at ProVideo2011

    Hireacamera at ProVideo2011

  • Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

    Audio Developments at ProVideo2011

  • Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

    Jonathan Harrison at BVE North 2011

  • Sachtler at IBC2011

    Sachtler at IBC2011

  • Litepanels at IBC2011

    Litepanels at IBC2011

  • Petrol at IBC2011

    Petrol at IBC2011

  • Root6 at IBC2011

    Root6 at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • Den Lennie talks to Nigel Wilkes from Panasonic and Duncan Payne from WTS live at IBC 2013

    Den Lennie talks to Nigel Wilkes from Panasonic and Duncan Payne from WTS live at IBC 2013


Articles
AI in Media and Entertainment
David Candler Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term appearing everywhere these days. What is happening in media and entertainment (M&E) that makes the industry ripe for AI? In other words, why does the M&E industry need AI?
Tags: iss134 | AI | wazee | David Candler
Contributing Author David Candler Click to read or download PDF
An Obituary to Timecode
Bruce Devlin - new A stoic and persistent character that stubbornly refused to change with the times, Timecode has finally passed on, but no-one has noticed. A long-lasting industry veteran, Timecode was brought into this world at an uncertain date in the late 1960s due to the needs of analogue tape workflows and the demand for synchronisation between audio and video devices. A joint activity between SMPTE and the EBU led to the work on Time and Control codes starting its journey to standardisation in the early 1970s.
Tags: iss134 | timecode | smpte | ebu | edit | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read
Giving Welsh sport a global audience
Adam Amor From the Ospreys Rugby Union team, to the Football Association of Wales, as well as national cycling, swimming and boxing coverage, Port Talbot based Buffoon Film and Media has been heavily involved in putting Welsh sports on the world stage.
Tags: iss134 | blackmagic | atem | buffoon | micro studio camera | Adam Amor
Contributing Author Adam Amor Click to read or download PDF
Keeping it remotely real
Reuben Such Everyone wants to do more with less. Always have, although it could be argued that doing more with more is something to aspire to, not many have that luxury. So let’s stick with the prevailing winds of doing more with less, and not just doing more, but doing it remotely, particularly in terms of production. Remote production, in particular, is getting a lot of attention in the field these days, but not so much in terms of the remote operation of fixed studios.
Tags: iss134 | remote control | IPE | IDS | Reuben Such
Contributing Author Reuben Such Click to read or download PDF
Accelerated Workflows with eGPU
Mike Griggs From the UK’s National Trust to magazine publishers to manufacturers, digital content creator Mike Griggs has a wide and varied portfolio of clients for whom he creates 3D art, motion graphics and multimedia exhibits. A typical day might involve sampling birdsong near Virginia Woolf’s country estate or creating 3D animations for VR. To keep on top of these demands, Griggs wanted to take the full power of the GPU computing revolution on the road.
Tags: iss134 | sonnet | egpu | amd | post production | editing | Mike Griggs
Contributing Author Mike Griggs Click to read or download PDF