Top 12 Firmware Wishes for the Panasonic GH5

The Panasonic GH5 is my dream camera. It's like having a pro level video camera in the palm of your hand. It's almost perfect, but there are just a few strange quirks about this camera that could and should be fixed by Panasonic in the next firmware update. 

1. AF Should Work Before Recording in Variable Frame Rate

I understand that the camera may not have enough power to record audio at 180 fps while recording but it certainly should be able to autofocus before pressing record.

2. Show the ISO Number Even When the Camera Is in Auto ISO

Can you imagine setting your camera to P mode or A mode and the camera hiding the shutter speed from you? Even if I'm not choosing a setting manually, I want to know what the camera is choosing for me. The ISO number should be on the screen at all times no matter what mode I am in. 

3. Custom Settings Should Be More Customizable

It's very frustrating for your cameras ISO, shutter speed, f-stop, and WB to change every time you turn a knob, change a battery, or turn the camera off. Give us a little more control over what changes and these custom settings will be far more usable. 

4. Allow the Back Rotator Knob to Be Used for ISO

This was accidently cut from the video, but this is a big one. It would be super helpful to be able to use the bottom rotator knob on the back of the camera to quickly change ISO. This would allow instant access to shutter speed, f-stop, and ISO without having to hunt for the ISO button. 

5. Record Audio in at Least Some Variable Frame Rates

While it may not be able to record audio while it's filming at 180 fps, we do know that the camera can record sound when it's recording 4K at 60 fps. If you go into VFR mode, though, even if your frame rate is lower than 60, the audio will stop recording. It would be extremely helpful to have that audio for at least some frame rates. 

6. 48 fps at 4K

If we can't have audio while shooting in VFR mode, at the very least, we need 48 fps native so that we can record audio while shooting 48 fps. This is a very popular frame rate for shooters who export in 24 fps but may want the option to slow the footage down 50 percent.

7. Lower Bitrates

I certainly appreciate the higher bitrates and the incredible video quality with the GH5, but sometimes, when I'm shooting for hours at a time, I'd prefer to have smaller file sizes. If you're shooting stationary subjects, sometimes, high bit rates really aren't as necessary, and lower bit rates are way easier on your computer. 

8. The Battery Grip Should Allow Hot Swapping of Batteries

This may be my biggest problem with the GH5 at this time. As it stands right now, if you pull the battery out of the grip (while another battery is in the camera) the camera will still shut off, and if you're recording, the entire clip will be corrupted. If the battery grip becomes loose (which it easily can) and the connection is lost for a split second, the camera will shut down and your footage will be lost. Every other battery grip we have ever used with this configuration allows hot swapping of batteries. Not only is this convenient, it's also a backup in case of power loss. If the battery in the grip dies before the camera thinks it will or if the grip becomes loose, the camera should be able to keep recording with the second internal battery. We lost a 1.5 hour clip last week, because Patrick pulled the grip battery out before it had switched over to the internal battery. 

9. Both Battery Levels Should Be on the Screen at All Times

Right now, to figure out how much of a charge the battery in the camera has or if there is a battery in the camera at all, you have to pull the battery out of the grip. When you do this, the camera will shut down and your settings will be lost. And of course, if you do this while you're recording, your file will be corrupted and the entire clip will be lost.

10. Anamorphic Desqueeze Please

I don't have any experience in this field, but I've been told that Panasonic is already working on this fix for a future firmware update. 

11. Fix the Stabilization "Sway"

The stabilization on the GH5 is incredible. We are hand-holding more than we ever have before and the footage looks like it's on a stabilizer or gimbal. If you walk forward, however, the footage "sways" from right to left. It's a small quirk that could probably be fixed with a software update. 

12. Improve Continuous AF

I've never used AF while recording. I've never trusted a camera enough to have control of focus while I'm actually recording, but some cameras today are actually good enough to rely on. The Canon 80D has unbelievable accuracy when it comes to AF and mini solo filmmakers do rely on this feature. If Panasonic could improve this on the GH5, it would open up this camera to an even larger market. 

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11 Comments

Simon Patterson's picture

A fascinating list! I know that some manufacturers (eg Fuji) do provide some improvements in firmware (as opposed to just bug fixes), but I wonder why Panasonic would add all these improvements in a free or low-cost firmware update.

It's annoyances such as these that are often part of camera manufacturers' deliberate "planned obsolescence" strategies. They're all good reasons to upgrade to the GH6 when it comes out in future, when these issues are magically fixed (and other, new annoyances are introduced in readiness to entice users to upgrade to the future GH7).

Patrick Hall's picture

The thing is, most of these requests aren't good features to promote when selling a camera. The GH6 will not advertise that the batteries are hot swapable or the Auto ISO now tells you the ISO value it is using. I think it's reasonable for Panasonic to try to implement these features into a firmware upgrade now and leave the GH6 talking points to "more megapixels" "better lowlight" "the best stabilization yet" or "now shoots 6k".

In a very competitive market place, I think if Panasonic listened to their customers and offered up a firmware update like Fuji does, they would receive so much praise from the community which would win some small margin of users to the GH system. We shall see though

Simon Patterson's picture

I hope you're right, and I think what you say makes sense. I hope (for Panasonic users' sake) that they do see things that way, rather than holding on to those upgrades just to put them in to the GH6 and rely on guys like the FStoppers team to talk up those features in the GH6.

And I agree, they're generally not things a manufacturer would put in their front line advertising for a new camera, but they are things that influential users such as yourself and Lee Morris comment on in their previews and reviews when the new model comes out. The "Hooray, this new camera can hot swap batteries" type comment is a big boost for manufacturers when reviewers include them about a new model.

Simon Patterson's picture

It sounds like the GH5 would be the perfect camera for you, if these issues were fixed. The last thing any manufacturer wants is to make the perfect camera. If they did, people wouldn't buy any more cameras!

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Can we see the slo-mo footage of you throwing Patrick under the bus? "Lee, nooooooooooo." Just messing with you.

I have a shorter "would be perfect" list for the Fuji X-T2. One of the biggest ones was having an AF point small enough to focus on the eye only and not the eyelash. They fixed it in the first firmware update, which made me feel like they reserve things for firmware updates just so they can get lauded for improving their cameras. They also added the ability to embed copyright info with the first firmware update. I don't know how such things aren't included at release, other than as a planned "improvement" strategy. I suspect that's the case with some of the things on your wish list.

Some of these things are such blatant deficiencies/defects, it's hard to believe they were an oversight. I wish they wouldn't play such games. Still, it's better than with DSLRs where what you bought is essentially all you'll ever have.

Patrick Hall's picture

After using the Fuji system a bit last month, my biggest wish list is that they allow you to completely change your camera settings using the digital rotator dials. If you have one of their digital aperture lenses (the ones without the fstop collar), I don't think you can change the shutter speed more than a stop or two in either direction. I personally do not like using the old school retro shutter speed knob on the top of the camera and much prefer the wheel on my thumb and forefinger.

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

The manual dials are what attracted me to the camera, but it's definitely not for everyone. My biggest complaint about the camera is how little they let you customize it. 90% of the menu system is unavailable to add to My Menu, the Q Menu, or to a custom function button. It's a real pain having to remember the entire menu tree location for things that should be assignable to My Menu, etc.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Quick question: what SD cards have you been using with it? Any need to go up to the more expensive UHS-ii cards when shooting 4K 100 mb/s? I know 400 mb/s is coming with a firmware update, but I don't see myself needing it.

We haven't had any issues with any of our older slower cards. Remember 100mbps is only 12MB/second and most "slow" cards have a minimum write speed above that.

Aneesh Kothari's picture

Yup, that makes sense. Thanks for the info! Glad to hear I won't need to shell out a few hundred bucks more on SD cards

Dear Lee,
your Point 6 is no issue: Set
Creative Film - Synchro-Scan - On
and choose 1/48 shutter speed. There you go.

One more point from me: It would be nice, to have gridlines matching with the golden section for each aspect ratio. Actual ist only possible to move one horizontal and one vertical line. This does match for the left or the right in portrait and landscape but not for left and right the side. It should be possible to give one more option, "golden section" wich automatically alter with the aspect ratio.

The existing four grid option shows 1/3 2/3 and not the golden Ratio.