Is the Panasonic GH5 10-Bits a Game Changer Over the 8-Bit Sony a6500?

I’ve always been skeptical about the 10-bit mode on the GH5. Panasonic designed an incredible camera, but squeezing high color depth footage in a highly-compressed h.264 codec seems contradictory. Dave Dugdale from Learning Video did a quick comparison between the 10-bit mode of the GH5 and the Sony a6500 8-bit video.

In theory, 10-bit recording should give much better results over 8-bit capture. Panasonic declares that “The LUMIX GH5 brings game changing internal 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video recording. For example, 10 bits will render all the subtleties of graduated skies and sunsets without the banding so prone to 8 bits.”

Dugdale wanted to check that statement. “I own a lot of Sony cameras and I wanted to see if I was missing out on 10-bit since Sony does not offer this at the GH5 price range,” he said. “I used the a6500 because of its smaller sensor compared to my other a7 cameras.”

Of course this quick review does not pretend to be perfect but the results are not so groundbreaking for the GH5. Personally, I prefer to select the higher frame rate over the extra color depth. I mostly record in 4K/60fps 8-bit instead of 4K/30fps 10-bit. The extra color information doesn't hurt and many people like it for log curve, but 10-bit capture should come with a proper codec such as ProRes stored with high bitrate instead of the 150 Mbps IPB/Intraframe offered on the GH5. Unfortunately, the 400 Mbps options don't show much difference either. The motion cadence of the image may look better but the less effective All-I/Interframe compression method limits the quality gain. It only helps for easier editing thanks to the less computer intensive requirement of the Interframe compression.

Do you use the GH5? What is your experience with the 10-bit video on this camera?

[via Learning Video]

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3 Comments

Spy Black's picture

Odd that Panasonic would limit 10-bit like that, but perhaps they're being a little "Canony" by steering you to higher end gear like the EVA1? Possibly, but I think if enough people bitch they may make the higher bitrate option available, assuming the hardware can handle it and it can be written out to the SD card.

Is the HDMI port 10-bit uncompressed? If so at least you have that as an option to feed out to an external recorder. A bit clumsier of course.

There's also the forthcoming variant GH5s, perhaps better codecs may be included with that variant.

Dr. Dominik Muench's picture

I bought one as a run and gun/ travel/ b camera and its a fantastic little piece of equipment. the real let down is the low light. apart from that, the video quality is wonderful. Isn't the codec ALL intra and not .h264 though ?

Anthony Cayetano's picture

In most low light situations, given a better bitrate and sensor, 10 bit can recover quite a decent amount AFTER post-NR is applied. From there, am not quite sure if there is a real-word situation in my wedding videography that 10-bits truly shine.