The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mark II is an updated version of the company’s more video-focused Micro Four Thirds camera; the GH5. It offers greater capabilities over the original model and will eventually be sold alongside a high-end GH6 model, the development of which was announced at the same time.
The GH5 II gets an updated ‘Venus’ processing engine from the full-frame S1H, allowing it to capture 4K 10-bit images at 50 or 60 frames per second and promising improved autofocus. It retains the same sensor as before, but now with an anti-reflective coating to better control flare.
UHD or DCI 4K 10-bit 4:2:0 capture at up to 60p with no crop
UHD or DCI 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 capture at up to 30p with no crop
Image stabilization rated at up to 6.5 stops
V-Log L included as standard
3.0″ 1.84M-dot rear touchscreen
3.68M-dot EVF, with 0.76x magnification and up to 120Hz refresh
Live streaming options via Wi-Fi or smartphone (Full HD)
Anamorphic capture and support tools
Improved AF with face/eye/body detection
USB-C socket with PD-compatible power and charging
As in previous cases, Panasonic is using the ‘Mark II’ nomenclature to indicate that this is an updated version of the GH5, not a completely new camera in the same range. The company believes that not everyone will need the additional capabilities of the more expensive GH6 and that an updated GH5 will still make sense for some users.
Using a more powerful processor allows the GH5 II to offer the same face/eye / body and animal recognition AF capabilities as the latest Panasonic cameras. But, in addition to more sophisticated recognition algorithms, the camera can also read its sensor faster, which means that it can run its AF system at 48 frames per second when recording 24p images. This means that the AF system receives more frequent updates from the scene, something its depth-from-blur system benefits from significantly.
Enhanced video capabilities
The new processor also expands the video modes that the GH5 II can offer, opening up the option to record 4: 2: 0 4K 50 / 60p 10-bit footage (the original GH5 could only capture 60p footage with 8-inch accuracy). bits), which makes it much more useful for firing registers. Higher frame rate 10-bit footage is recorded using the H.265 codec.
Panasonic GH5 II’s video modes (MOV format)
Bit depth/chroma sampling
C4K (4096 x 2160) UHD (3840 x 2160) ‘4K’ Anamorphic* (3328 x 2496)
59.94* / 50
H.265 Long GOP
29.97 / 25 / 24 / 23.98
H.264 Long GOP
59.94 / 50
29.97 / 25 / 24 / 23.98
‘6K’ Anamorphic (4992 x 3744)
29.97 / 25 / 24 / 23.98
H.265 Long GOP
59.94 / 50 / 29.97 / 25 / 24 / 23.98
H.264 Long GOP
* ‘4K’ Anamorphic mode not available at 59.94p Hybrid Log-Gamma is available in all 10-bit modes (marked in green)
In addition to faster frame rate 10-bit capture, the GH5 II also gets All-I capture for 29.97p and 23.98p, previously only possible for 24.00p. Anamorphic ‘4K’ footage, shot with the entire sensor region, is now available up to 50p.
In addition to the expanded video specification, the GH5 II also gets the video tools that Panasonic has developed for its latest models, including a red frame around the screen during recording, a wider selection of aspect ratio guides, and the ability to record videos in portrait orientation.
The Luminance Spot Meter is the smaller square on the display and lets you assess the exposure of the element underneath it.
The GH5 II also gets the S1H’s luminance point meter, which gives you an exposure rating in% IRE for a small, selectable region in the scene, or a rating relative to mid-gray (42 IRE) at stops, if you’re in V -Registration mode L.
The GH5 II includes more advanced live streaming options, allowing live streaming over the web, either via Wi-Fi or, following a future firmware update, via a USB connection to a phone smartphone or a wired LAN connection.
The camera can stream over Wi-Fi via a smartphone using the Lumix Sync app. Alternatively, you can use the Lumix Network Settings software for Mac or Windows to write the streaming settings to an SD card, which then allows the camera to connect and stream directly over a Wi-Fi network without going through a PC or smartphone, up to 1080 / 60p.
In doing so, the RTMP / RTMPS standard is used, so the camera can stream directly to YouTube, Facebook, or any other service that supports this protocol. It also means that ongoing support does not depend on Panasonic’s own software. Unlike many camera apps like webcam, this approach also includes camera audio.
A previously announced firmware update will add support for wired connections to facilitate higher quality and more stable connections, including the ability to connect directly to a smartphone via USB (Android only, initially). The camera can also be directly connected to a PC via a wired LAN using RTP / RTSP protocols. Panasonic says this update should arrive in late 2021.
The GH5 II’s in-body stabilization system is rated to deliver up to 6.5EV of compensation when measured using the CIPA standard test. This is 1.5EV more than the original GH5. Panasonic says this figure holds for longer focal length lenses with Dual IS 2 syncing with the system in the body.
New color modes
Panasonic has added two new color modes to the GH5 II: L.ClassicNeo, a ‘nostalgic’ profile with subtle saturation and contrast, and L.Monochrome S, a subtle monochrome mode that Panasonic says should suit portraiture.
The GH5 II also gains Cinelike D2 and Cinelike V2, the updated low-contrast and out-of-the-box cinema-style color modes (the GH5 has the stock versions of both). However, what is noticeable is that these do not result in an increase in base ISO, as does the full-frame ‘S’ series Panasonics, suggesting that they are not the versions designed to fit a range of additional dynamics.
This would make sense, as the GH5 II’s smaller sensor wouldn’t work well if exposure were reduced that way. We compared the Cinelike D2 curve of the GH5 II to that of the original GH5 later in the review and found that it does not match the profile of the same name on the S1H.
Interestingly, the GH5 II doesn’t get the extended 13-stop version of V-Log L that we saw in the BGH1 box camera module.
Difference Panasonic cameras use different regions of the V-Log curve (red). The GH5 II uses the blue region, which sees it branded as V-Log L; matching the GH5 and 5S. But then it would still be cross-compatible if it used the larger region used by the BGH1.
The whole design (and some of the possible drawbacks) of the V-Log system is based on using different parts of the same Log curve, depending on how much usable dynamic range the camera can record. This means that you can use the same LUTs on multiple cameras, the main thing that changes is the point at which the highlights are clipped.
However, despite this cross-compatibility by design and the increased DR (i.e. lower noise) that the new processing allows on the GH5 II, it has been given the 12-step version of V-Log L, to ensure that the GH5 and GH5 II behave consistently if fired side by side.
No Raw video output
Another interesting omission is the decision not to include the Raw output of the GH5 II. Panasonic says that removing all the processing that usually goes into camera footage means you’d have to do a fair amount of work with Raw footage, just to bring it up to the same standard and that there would be little to gain even if it did.
There are many reasons to believe this to be true: even the 12-step version of V-Log L will encode most of the sensor’s DR (10-bit register encoding is much more efficient than 12-bit linear, so which is unlikely to result in any significant loss of tonal precision), so is it really worth the extra work, if you mostly just get the ability to make bigger corrections to white balance?
How it compares
Updates to the GH5 II push it back into the position of being probably the best-spec crop sensor still / video hybrid on the market. While its core specs don’t look radically different from the Fujifilm X-T4 (which also has stabilization and a fully articulated display), the distinctions start to reveal themselves when you look at the details of the support tools provided and the durability. of each one. you can expect the camera to shoot.
The camera that we cannot yet compare the GH5 II to is the upcoming GH6. Panasonic has made it clear that the top-end model will record 4K at up to 120p and 4: 2: 2 10-bit footage at up to 60p, with a 5.7K / 60p capture option, but we have no further details. , beyond the fact that it will cost around $ 2,500 at launch. This means that the GH5 II is repositioning itself as a more affordable option down the line.
Body and controls
The body of the GH5 II is essentially the same as that of the GH5S, which itself is very similar to previous GH models. There’s a big red [REC] button on the top of the camera, along with dedicated (but customizable) buttons for WB, ISO, Exposure Comp, and now Photo Style. There is an AF joystick on the back of the camera and an AF drive mode switch surrounds a well-placed AF-On button.
As usual, the body feels solid and is designed to be dust and moisture-resistant. Like the GH5S, the twin card slots on the side of the camera can now make full use of V90 UHS-II SD cards.
The GH5 II has a slightly smaller rear screen than its predecessor: it is a 3.0 “panel instead of 3.2”. It is still a 3: 2 aspect ratio and has a slightly higher resolution. However, the most significant difference is that it can be made brighter than the previous screen, making it easier to operate the camera outdoors.
There is a slight overlap between the screen joint and the headphone jack, so it is worth positioning the screen before plugging it in, especially if the connector for your chosen cans is of the larger type.
There is an equally subtle change in the viewer. It’s still a 3.68M-dot OLED screen and is mounted behind the same optics, so it still offers 0.76X magnification. However, the higher speed of the camera allows it to refresh up to 120Hz, for a smoother and more responsive view.
Menus and displays
The GH5 II gains the ARRI/Varicam style info display, as well as updated menus
The GH5 II gets the updated menu system introduced in the GH5S. It’s a series of well-organized tabs with icons to point you and remind you where to find the option you’re looking for. It also includes the ability to create a filtered list of video modes, to make it quicker to access the ones you plan to use and to reduce the risk of selecting one you didn’t have.
The GH5 II also features the ARRI-style information panel display, first introduced on the GH5S. These changes to the interface and menus make it much easier to use a GH5 II in conjunction with a GH5S or S1H.
The GH5 II uses a new and more powerful battery: the DMW-BLK22. It is now rated at 2200 mAh, providing 16 Wh of capacity. Despite the increased capacity, Panasonic cites essentially the same battery life figures of 410 shots per charge (based on CIPA) as the original GH5.
The camera comes with an external charger that accepts both the new BLK22 and the older BLF19 packs from the GH5 and those batteries will continue to work in the Mark II, but not for that long. Alternatively, the GH5 II can be charged or powered via its USB-C socket, if the power supply supports USB PD.
This section is based on our initial usage of the camera around its launch, and hence predates the rest of our testing and conclusions.
The GH5 II (left) is a refresh, rather than a radical reworking, of the GH5 (right)
How you react to the GH5 II probably depends on what you think ‘Mark II’ should indicate. If you’re expecting a full Canon-style camera rework, it might look a bit undercooked. But if you see it as a genuine mid-life update, with some spec improvements and enough processing power to make room for more firmware updates, then it looks pretty competent.
Its $ 300 price below the GH5’s original list price lends weight to the second interpretation. Yes, the selling price of the first-gen GH5 has dropped since its launch, but the decision to introduce a new version at that price means that it will sell for less than the original GH5 for most of its time on the market. Panasonic’s suggestion that the GH6 will launch at around $ 2,500 suggests that the GH5 II is destined to be the ‘affordable’ GH in a multi-camera range.
The GH5 II doesn’t represent some ambitious moon shot for Panasonic, but it’s more than a small step forward.
And this makes sense: the GH5 was the only mainstream still / video camera hybrid to offer 4K / 60p when it launched, whereas it is now a feature available on Fujifilm’s X-T4, Canon’s EOS R6, and various Sony’s. high-end. As such, the GH5 II is not as far ahead of the market as the original version was. In fact, even the addition of 10-bit 4K / 60p is not enough to make it unique.
However, what remains unusual is the level of support tools and features that are included. Few of the other cameras that can match the GH5 II’s video modes are as video-focused in their performance as the Panasonic. Dual Zebras and the Luminance Spot Meter make it easy to set the correct exposure. The option to set the shutter angle exposure time is still a valuable rarity in mass market cameras.
The ability to create a custom list of the modes you intend to use on a project, and control exposure in shutter angle (which you don’t need to adjust when switching from 24 to 60p capture), makes the GH5 II much quicker and easier to shoot.
The GH5 II is one of the less expensive cameras that offers the option of an XLR audio input module or control whether the camera restricts its recording to ‘safe transmission’ values or offers two levels of input gain for external microphones: its Video prowess runs deeper than a simple consideration of frame rate and bit depth.
In some respects, its closest rival is its full-frame cousin, the Lumix DC-S5. It doesn’t offer the GH5 II’s full range of video tools, nor its full-width oversampled 60p capture, but it still packs a lot of similar insights for a fairly similar amount of money, in low light and shallow depth. Field capabilities are hard to match for the GH5 II.
There aren’t many other sub-$2000 cameras that will shoot high-quality 10-bit 4K with the option of XLR audio inputs.
Then of course there is the autofocus. Chris and Jordan’s testing shows that it does well in 60p mode, but that 24p still lags behind the best of the competition, limiting the types of shots the GH5 II can accommodate.
But while the GH5 II doesn’t push the market forward like its predecessor did, it still appears to offer a high-quality, compact, stabilized video platform at a competitive price.
[You can see if this initial impression was modified by our experiences and later tests, in the rest of the review]
The video quality, in terms of sampling, at least matches that of the GH5. The focus of this test shot is not as precise, but the levels of detail and aliasing patterns are extremely similar. Like the original GH5, the Mark II captures data using its horizontal pixels and then reduces the resolution of this data from 5.2K to 3840 or 4096, depending on whether you are recording UHD or DCI 4K. In the process, it appears to be applying a low-pass filter, which removes high-frequency patterns that it cannot accurately represent.
As a result, the footage doesn’t always look as sharp as its peers, but it should be less susceptible to aliasing, which would be difficult to remove, where it occurs. As before, this is a very sensible, high-quality result. Notably, the quality of 60p footage is very similar to that of 24p capture (with a hint of more noise as a result of the faster shutter speed needed, which means less light was captured, per frame).
DR and Cinelike differences
One of the differences between the original GH5 and version II is the move from offering the semi-flat color profile ‘Cinelike D’ to ‘Cinelike D2’. In the company’s S1H, Cinelike D2’s share resulted in a 1EV increase in the minimum ISO and as a result, more than a 1EV increase in capturing highlights. The D2 profile was also much more linear than before.
There is no corresponding change in exposure intent in GH5 II; there is no change in the minimum ISO, so there is no way for it to incorporate an additional stop or more highlights.
GH5 Cinelike D F2.8 ISO 200 GH5 II Cinelike D2 F2.8 ISO 200
By photographing the old and new profile side by side, we see that Panasonic has managed to find room for an additional 1/3 EV of reflections, now giving 4.0EV above mid-gray, instead of 3.7EV. That’s not compatible with the 5.0EV we saw on the S1H, but like that camera, we see that the D2 profile is quite a bit more linear, with less drop-off in slightly brighter highlights and shadows, which should help give a little more gradability when working with files.
We shot a target with fast strobe light, which was blinking at a known speed, and then measured how many light / dark cycles of that strobe were captured in each frame. Interestingly, shot in 10-bit mode, both 24p and 60p UHD video gave the same rolling shutter numbers.
UHD Rolling Shutter
DCI Rolling Shutter
Why do I say curiously? Because 10-bit 60p footage is recorded at 4: 2: 0 color resolution levels, while 24p footage retains 4: 2: 2 resolution. The matching rolling shutter speeds suggest that the sensor is operating in the same reading mode (which should mean consistent levels of detail and dynamic range), it’s just that the camera has to reduce the resolution of the color detail in 60p mode, which suggests there is a processor or pipeline limiting the amount of data you can handle and write to your cards.
In fact, all four modes measure as if they are using the same reading mode – all four are made from the full width of the sensor, meaning the ‘widest’ DCI footage is taken from a lower part of the sensor. Therefore, when reading at the same speed, the camera takes less time to read the shorter sensor strip.
These rolling shutter speeds of under 15ms are very good and should mean that the camera only exhibits rolling shutter/jelly effects in response to very fast movement. Consistency of details, disaster recovery, and rolling shutter speed mean you can switch from capture from 24 or 30p to 60p without worrying about interleaving the two types of footage.
The GH5 II promises more stabilization in the body, and this can be supported by the addition of electronic IS (which imposes a slight clipping). It can also work in conjunction with the IS lens to increase the amount of vibration correction available. There’s also a ‘Boost IS’ option for when you’re trying to pretend to be a tripod – this asks the camera to apply its maximum correction without constantly checking whether the movement you’re experiencing is intentional or not.
The results are impressive, with Dual IS (lens + body) and Boost mode combining to deliver levels of stability close to the tripod if you struggle to stay still. With the boost mode turned off, the EIS on the body more smooths out vibration very well, but it also does a great job of interpreting intentional movement – there’s no obvious grip and release from the camera initially attempting to correct panning in our footage from proof.
The GH5 II gets the latest version of Panasonic’s depth blur algorithms, and its sensor should read fast enough to allow you to update your understanding of the scene more frequently while recording video. The results are a definite improvement over the previous camera, but, particularly when shooting at 24p (which gives the camera-less frequent updates), the performance is not 100% reliable.
The other major addition to the GH5 II, beyond the ability to capture 4K / 60p in 10-bit, is its ability to live stream its output. Many manufacturers have added the ability to use their cameras as webcams during the Covid19 pandemic, but Panasonic has gone one step further.
You can save your Wi-Fi network details to an SD card using the ‘LUMIX Network Setting Software’ application for Mac or PC, and have the camera connect directly. Alternatively, you can pair the camera with a smartphone using the LUMIX Sync app and stream using your LTE or 5G connection. Finally, Panasonic says that it will add the ability to connect the camera to a smartphone via a USB cable and, again, take advantage of its network data. There are also several USB to computer options, but these do not include sound.
The direct streaming options use the RTMP / RTMPS protocols, which should mean they work without the need for proprietary software, so you don’t have to worry about the longevity of the media. In principle, the camera can offer up to 1080/60 streams.
Full HD (1920 x 1080)
HD (1280 x 720)
However, in our experience, we found that the system was not always reliable. With a strong Wi-Fi or improved cellular signal (like those found inside office buildings), connections via smartphone were strong and transmission was generally working well. However, in the field using a full-strength 4G LTE connection with few trees or buildings obstructing us, we struggle to get a steady 3 to 4-minute live stream with no interruptions, even at the lowest bit rates available.
Our test scene is designed to simulate a variety of textures, colors, and types of details that you will encounter in the real world. It also has two lighting modes to see the effect of different lighting conditions.
At the basic ISO, there is no noticeable difference between the GH5 II and the original version. There is a slight improvement in apparent sharpness, but this is likely due to the use of a more expensive lens when testing the newer model. As with the original GH5, there are hints of more, which makes sense given the absence of an anti-aliasing low-pass filter.
At very high ISOs, there appears to be a slight ISO advantage on the newer camera, but it is not enough to make a visible difference at lower ISOs. However, the JPEG engine seems to have been tweaked a bit to maintain a bit more detail in low light.
There is not enough difference in color response for us to conclude if this has been adjusted, although there is a hint of the duller Caucasian skin tones shown by the GH5S, but this could just be because our test image has come out a little darker. . In general, then, you are not likely to notice much of a difference in your daily intakes.
Our exposure latitude test, which delves into deep shadows in files, does not show a huge difference in noise levels between the old and new cameras. Our ISO Invariance test doesn’t show much of a difference between shooting base ISO and using a higher ISO setting, suggesting that the camera is adding very little noise. This gives the option, when shooting high-contrast scenes, to keep shutter speed and aperture, but lower ISO to retain more highlight information, without much noise penalty from selectively brightening the Raw file.
What we like
What we don’t
Probably the best video feature set of any hybrid camera
Excellent 4K footage, now with the ability to shoot 10-bit Log or HLG at 60p
Image stabilization works very for static or moving video, as well as stills
Excellent stills image quality
Very good autofocus in stills mode
Well-built body with excellent ergonomics
USB charging is convenient
Cinelike D2 profile is handy
DFD autofocus system is improved but still weakest at 4K/24: a critical mode for this camera
Currently available live streaming options aren’t reliable, requiring very robust Wi-Fi or cellular connections, even at low bitrates.
The GH5 II is the first time that a GH model has not represented a major advancement for video in stills/video ILC, but that responsibility falls on the promised GH6. The role of the GH5 II is to provide an updated version of the GH5 at a competitive price, and it does this extremely well.
10-bit capture, which adds significant flexibility for color grading (especially from Log) has become more common since the launch of the original GH5, but the option to shoot 4K / 60p in 10-bit remains comparatively rare. What’s also rare is a camera with such a comprehensive set of video support tools, be it the provision of waveforms, spot luminance metering, or the ability to connect an accessory to use XLR microphones.
Autofocus is still the GH5 II’s biggest weakness – it does a great job shooting still images, but you can’t help but show some wobble and refocus in your video footage, especially when shooting at 24p. It works well in a wider range of circumstances than the original GH5, at launch, but is not reliable enough for run-and-shoot work where you only get one ‘shot’.
We also found that the currently available live streaming options are unreliable. And while the Wi-Fi and cellular networks we were using may have contributed to this, it adds too much uncertainty for the feature to be really useful. We hope the promised USB connection option makes things better.
However, overall, the GH5 II is a very capable machine. It’s a solid still camera in its own right, with attractive JPEGs and a good degree of flexibility for Raw files, and autofocus performance is very good. But the GH5 II is at its strongest as a camcorder, where it makes it relatively easy to shoot good quality footage, whether you’re shooting HLG for direct playback on an HDR TV, Cinelike D2 with the intention of making small adjustments. , Log captures for more extensive sorting work, or raw output to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the sensor.
There is no camera that provides such a wide range of tools to help you capture high-quality images for a price close to its price. Only the lack of truly reliable autofocus on video keeps it from being the default recommendation for budget video shooters, and that’s what makes it miss out on a gold award.
The GH5 II gets some improvements over the original Panasonic GH5, but it has been released at a price consistent with the asking price of the first GH5, making the Mark II the obvious choice between the two.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is the only other similarly priced camera capable of capturing 4K / 60p. The X-T4 has an advantage in terms of still image quality, thanks to its larger sensor, and its autofocus on video can be more stable if it works for your subject. However, the Fujifilm can only record for a limited period of time, its image stabilization is much less polished than Panasonic’s, and it cannot match the GH5 II’s range of tools to help optimize video exposure. If video is what interests you most, the GH5 II is the sensible choice.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S is perhaps the only other credible rival to the GH5 II, with its slightly larger and more modern BSI sensor. However, the GH5S lacks image stabilization and its native 4K footage capture means that its output is not as detailed as that of the GH5 II, in well-lit situations. It also presents the same risk of AF wobble when shooting video, so there’s nothing to be gained in that regard.
There are full-frame cameras that offer 4K capture for a bit more money than the GH5 II, but few of them can capture 10-bit images or shoot at 60fps. Panasonic’s own Lumix DC-S5 is probably closer, but its larger sensor exhibits more blinds and needs to be cropped to APS-C for its 60p mode. Also, remember that you will likely lose much of any image quality benefit if you need to close the aperture for extra depth of field, so the GH5 II is still a good choice.
The score is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here for the meaning of these numbers.
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Movie / video mode
The GH5 II adds fewer feature enhancements to one of the strongest stills/video cameras on the market. Autofocus is improved but is still a weak point for 24p video capture, taking the gloss of what’s otherwise a superlative video camera. Excellent image stabilization and a broad range of video support tools still make it one of the strongest options for 4K shooting under $3000.