Will Fstoppers Upgrade to the GH5S?

The rumors were true and today Panasonic announced the new GH5S, the "updated" version of the GH5. It's certainly better in some ways, but not all. 

We use the GH5 for almost all of our videos projects these days. It's basically a professional video camera crammed into an incredibly small mirrorless camera body. Perhaps the two greatest weaknesses of the GH5 are the poor autofocus (while recording) and relatively poor ISO performance compared to cameras like the Sony a7S II. The GH5S was supposed to have a new sensor that would improve ISO performance, and we all secretly hoped it would also fix the unusable autofocus. Sadly, the GH5S has not improved autofocus and it also hasn't made significant improvements to image quality either. It's also removed one of the most impressive features of the GH5, the internal sensor stabilization. 

I always enjoyed using stabilized lenses while filming video because it allowed me to shoot handheld more often, especially when I was standing very still. Lens stabilization in conjunction with the GH5's internal stabilization and its digital stabilization has completely changed the way we shoot. Now, shooting handheld looks great, even while walking. Before I knew how good this feature could be, I didn't realize how much I would want or need it, but now, I don't want to live without it. The GH5S is geared towards more "professional" videographers who would prefer to stabilize their cameras with other, expensive equipment, and by doing so can get better, more predictable results. But for the average GH5 user, this is a bit of a letdown. 

The GH5S finally comes with V-Log built in, a feature that costs $100 for the GH5, and something that we still haven't tested on our cameras. If you're looking for the highest quality footage, you'll likely want to shoot in V-Log (an ultra flat color profile) and then heavily edit the "look" of your footage in post. We personally have not purchased this profile because one, we don't want to have to buy it for all five of our cameras, and two, the projects we shoot are usually extremely long and we don't want to complicate projects and Premiere files with complex grading. Obviously, if you're shooting a feature or a commercial, you'd want to spend the extra time to polish your work, but our 20-plus hour photography tutorials don't need to be flawless works of art. 

The GH5S has a few other features that may be exciting to some filmmakers but will probably never be used by us. To me, it feels like the GH5 is still the best choice for the average shooter, while the GH5S would be the best choice as a backup or B camera to something far more substantial and professional. The truth is, we should all be happy. Panasonic has done a great job of releasing a new product with specialized features that many filmmakers will absolutely love, while at the same time not cannibalizing the GH5. When these rumors began, I was worried we would have to sell all of our GH5 cameras to upgrade to the GH5S but now, I think we might just buy one GH5S to supplement our other GH5 cameras.

Lee Morris's picture

Lee Morris is a professional photographer based in Charleston SC, and is the co-owner of Fstoppers.com

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It sounds like, in the fine tradition established by Apple, S-branded updates to electronic devices continue to underwhelm.

I think the GH5s is a great B cam for the EVA1 with a similar VariCam log profile (tweaked to handle the lower DR though). I see it more as an "EVA1 light" than a GH5 alternative.

Every time I read about the GH5 I hear the issues that people have with the auto-focus. Who use auto-focus unless you are a novice. Why would you even want to use auto-focus on any camera. I love the Panasonic Lumix line. I have my GH3, GH4 and about to get this GH5S.

Depends on what you're doing. If you're making a serious film production, it's a different beast. But you seem oblivious to run and gun shooters who make the best use of technology like this. So when it fails as it does on the GH5/s then it's a big deal.

I can put the 5d mark 4 on a tripod, leave it filming and I don't have to worry about someone taking a step forward or back and going in and out. And know on a glidecam that it's staying focused on the subject makes it easier for run and gun. So it's nice to have. I think it's more that it was a feature they used to sell the camera and it's bad so it takes away from it.

Not everybody is filming commercial grade stuff. Vloggers for instance are heavily reliant on face detect with AF and if an expensive camera like the GH5 can't perform that function properly then questions need to be asked.

Well, I'm an amateur and most of my videos have people in it and it would be down right impossible to shoot and focus. So I want autofocus.

Aside from film shooters, who doesn't use auto focus?

I almost always use autofocus, but do know some photographers who like manual

I manual focus a lot. With film, yes, but I also adapt vintage lenses to Mirrorless.

That’s why I always listen to your gear advice Lee, you’re practical.

Well I’m glad to hear this. Usually we get yelled at for not being “professionals”

That’s right, I forgot. Part of being a professional is crippling debt :)

Great review thanks for sharing guys

I still think it stinks to have to pay for software features. The game industry has been doing that too. You buy a game which is just playable but if you want to compete with other players, you have to buy content.

You could think of it like that or you could think of it as saving $100 for a feature you won’t use.

But I hope it doesn’t become a consistent thing with camera manufacturers.

The risk you run is that you buy a camera with basic functionality and you have to pay for every new feature. Software costs money to develop but once developped and paid for, it is practically 100% for the manufacturer. This will lead the way for manufacturers forcing you to pay for firmware updates.