Why I'm Considering Selling My Nikon Gear and Moving to Panasonic

I'm not the type of person that likes switching brands. I've been with Nikon from day one, but my needs are changing, and Panasonic seems to have made my dream camera. I know this may sound crazy, but I may soon be selling the majority of my Nikon gear and buying six Panasonic GH5 cameras

 

Let me first start by saying that if I was still shooting weddings regularly, I wouldn't even consider switching. I love the image quality and ergonomics of the Nikon line for shooting stills. The problem is that I am shooting mostly video these days. Yes, Nikon DSLRs can shoot video, and we've made it work for us for seven years now, but there are a few issues most DSLRs have that make them pretty inconvenient to shoot video with.

Many times I've considered upgrading our video gear to something like a Canon C300 or a Sony F7, but the idea of lugging around a giant camera was never exciting to me; especially when we usually travel with six cameras. Plus, I like having a video camera and a still camera in one body. I love the idea of having one camera that can do everything, and although I haven't tested one yet, I'm hoping the GH5 is that camera. 

In this post, I'm going to quickly touch on a few of the features that are getting me excited enough to make the switch. Keep in mind that many of these features have been available in "professional" video cameras for years, but never have they been available in such a small package; and we have shot 100% of our videos on Nikon DSLRs, so to us these will be massive upgrades. 

 

Better Video Quality

This is probably what most people are excited about, but the video quality is actually the least important feature to me. I know that what we do most of the time doesn't require insane bit rates or flat color profiles – and most of our stuff is wildly compressed and will be viewed on Youtube – but these stats are still important. This camera can shoot 4k 30fps 10-bit 4:2:2 at 100 Mbps. In the past, 10-bit video recording has been a feature of high-end, extremely expensive cameras. Not any more. 

 

Better Slow Motion

Frame rate is far more important to me than bit depth, and the GH5 can shoot at 4k at 60fps or 1080p at 180 fps. This camera will be fantastic for slow-mo shooting. 

 

Better Stabilization

Most of the lenses we use on our Nikon bodies have internal stabilization. This feature does a great job of smoothing out footage, especially when the cameras are handheld. The GH5 has in-body five-axis stabilization that can be combined with a stabilized lens to produce five stops of stabilization. This means that if you can safely take a picture at 1/60th of a second without stabilization, with this feature engaged you can take the same image at 1/2 of a second without blur. That's insane. Still photographers will certainly love this feature, but I have no interest in using it to take pictures. I want this kind of stabilization so that I can leave my tripod at home when I'm shooting videos. 

 

Better Sound

Nikon DSLRs are notorious for recording poor sound via the audio input jack. We use Sennheiser lav mics plugged directly into the side of our D750s. Although the sound is acceptable, it's missing the highs and lows found when using the same mic with and external recorder. From what I've read, the audio input on Panasonic cameras is superior to Nikon's; plus you will be able to buy the DMW-XLR1 to add two powered XLR inputs to the GH5. 

 

Simplified Time-Lapses

We shoot time-lapses at lot, and they can be extremely hard on both your camera and your hard drive while being time consuming to build and render. Panasonic cameras (even their cheaper models) have made the process of shooting time-lapses a breeze. Simply choose your camera settings, choose the amount of images you want to take, and click "Go." Because these cameras are mirrorless, they will silently shoot images without wearing down the mechanical shutter found in DSLRs. When you're done, the camera will give you the option to build a 4k time-lapse video on the spot from the images taken. We no longer import thousands of pictures onto our computer; we only transfer over finished 4k time-lapses. 

 

A Smaller Camera System

The main reason why I haven't upgraded our cameras to "professional" models was simply because they were too big. If I was shooting a job with one camera, I probably wouldn't care about the size, but when we are traveling and shooting with up to six cameras at once, the last thing I want to deal with is more size and weight. 

The GH5 is significantly smaller than a Nikon DSLR, and because it's a micro four thirds camera, the lenses will be significantly smaller as well. 

 

Unlimited Shooting Times

This is this most important feature to me and, if you shoot video, probably will be for you as well. 

If you don't shoot video, you may not know that most DSLRs limit the length of video clips to 20 minutes. It's pretty amazing that we have been able to film many of our tutorials (some being over 20 hours in length) by stopping and starting the cameras every 20 minutes. It's annoying, but it's all we have ever known. In fact, our first Nikon cameras could only shoot a maximum of five minutes.

I've been waiting patiently for seven years to use a video camera that can continue to record until the battery dies or the card fills up. The GH5 will be the first video camera I will have ever used that has this feature.

 

We Still Need To Test This Camera

Keep in mind I haven't tested this camera yet. Once we get our hands on a unit, we could find that the GH5 may not actually be the perfect video camera. I'm nervous that it will not perform well in low light. Maybe the battery life will be worse than what I am accustomed to. Perhaps I will miss the super shallow depth of field my full-frame cameras can produce. I'm also going to assume that as a still camera, it's not going to be able to compete with my Nikon cameras, meaning that I will have to keep at least some of my Nikon gear to shoot stills. This isn't ideal, but if the GH5 is as good as I hope it will be, I'll be happy to deal with both systems. 

To learn more about the GH5 you can read more specs here.

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107 Comments

John Skinner's picture

So basically, you're looking to stop image making, and concentrate of making video content.

Well -- there we have it then....

This story might as well just be titled "I'm going to selling my Car, because of the new GH5..." see my car cant take photos but it does have wheels and drive me places, but i dont drive but i do take photos.. and cameras have sensors and things... and well a car gets you places....

Come over to the other side, Lee 🍹🎉😀

You'll find the Panasonic ergonomics are so much better... Rivaling Pentax's.
Main negatives you probably know about are due to the smaller sensor... Less DR... Only OK noise up to ISO1250... Hard to get narrow DOF which doesn't matter much for video.
That said, I still want to upgrade my GH4 just for IS (not sure if the GH5's works in video) and hopefully their electronic shutter works fires the hotshoe so you can use it with studio flash (the GH4 needs mechanical shutter to trigger flashes)

I personally wouldn't want to carry around a camera the same size as my 5D with only a 4:3's sensor.

Luca Rubino's picture

Same size?

Spy Black's picture

Hopefully that's not the stock lens for the GH4, because together it looks like they're heavier than that Canon next to it. :-)

gabe s's picture

Numbers always look good on paper....

Lee Morris's picture

You're right and I will give a detailed review when I finally get to test it out.

gabe s's picture

Can't wait. I am looking at getting into video, and am weighing options.

I am looking forward to your review!

Simon Patterson's picture

The GH5 does look incredible. I wonder how Panasonic have managed planned obsolescence. In other words, what tech is missing from this camera that can easily be put into a GH6 in a couple of years?

Spy Black's picture

I've never undestood why people feel they need to dump one system for another, especially if they're already paid for. There's no reason why you can't have two or more systems. I have also looked at the GH5, and may consider it for video, however I see no point why I would need to dump my Nikon gear. I'm actually already invested a bit in M4/3, in the form of a GM5, 12-32 and 45-150 lenses. I also have some Nikon 1 gear. All this stuff works for me hand in hand

Lee Morris's picture

I don't like having to buy the same lenses and accessories over and over again for every platform. It's awesome knowing can pick up 1 camera and 1 lens for any type of job.

er, as long as it's a video job then ? :)

Eduardo Francés's picture

You are only limiting yourself that way, having both offers you the maximum versatility, no need to be on one team or the other if you can actually have both.

That's the camp I'm in. Nikon for stills Sony for video.

Having two systems is double the work, two sets of batteries and chargers etc plus the backups for potential failure. It's pretty clear actually.

Spy Black's picture

And? What if you have two cameras of the same make? You still have two sets of batteries and chargers. It's gear. Whatever it needs.

Patrick Hall's picture

I think he means two different sets. When we bought our first Nikon camera with the new EN-EL15 battery (D7000 maybe?), we sold off every other camera that used the EN-EL3e battery because it was a pain having two different sets of batteries and chargers. Yes, that meant replacing our D700 full frame cameras with DX D7000 cameras.

If you need say 4 batteries for back up, you don't want 4 of this type and 4 of this other type if you could have 4-6 of one type altogether.

Spy Black's picture

True, but then you have cameras, audio recorders, lights, external data recorders, etc. All of them need their own battery types. You're already there.

Lee Morris's picture

Honestly the only 2 batteries we use are Nikon el15s and standard aa

Patrick Hall's picture

The goal is to get away from half the stuff you just mentioned. We do not use audio recorders, battery powered lights, or external data recorders.

Spy Black's picture

You know, I can understand data recorders and even lights, but not having audio backup sounds rather brave on your part. :-)

Patrick Hall's picture

We double mic people and record into multiple cameras. Audio is backed up in the files themselves. You can put dual memory cards in most cameras too for backed up data.

Spy Black's picture

I guess it depends on what and how you shoot. I shot an event where I had 4 cameras, but besides various performances, there were speakers whose voices were going through a PA. I would not trust the sound quality from the position of the cameras, although I used them for other purposes. I had a direct feed from the PA going into a recorder.

What Patrick said. I'm guessing from your posts you don't work professionally.

Spy Black's picture

So you have the same batteries for your audio recorder(s) as your camera(s)? Got battery power lights? Do they run off the same batteries as well? Do you have external data recorders? What kind of batteries do they run off of?

A production needs whatever it needs, and that's pretty much all there is to it.

Patrick Hall's picture

Any accessories we have run on AA batteries with the exception of my headphones and Profoto remotes which use AAA. Both batteries charge on the same charger though

Patrick Hall's picture

Spy Black has been one of the longest readers we have had on FS and his comment count is half of mine. He won't ever upload a portfolio so no one knows what type of work he produces....

Eduardo Francés's picture

The problem is that many think they are married to their gear and/or brand.

This way of thinking only hinders them in the long run, because they end up having to let go something that they need or things that may, in fact, help them work better/faster.

I use mirrorless for location portrait work and DSLRs for studio and I couldn't be happier, both from different brands.