Note: footage to come soon!
This project was designed to test the endurance abilities of the talent, and the vehicle which he was driving, and as a result it would also test the robustness of the equipment I chose to use. Kit needed to be able to shoot for long days in scolding heat and freezing cold conditions. It would need to be able to deal with sunshine and rainfall and work easily in all conditions.
I've shot in every file format this thing has to offer, and my first observation was that the 8 bit footage is garbage, I'm not sure il ever use that again! when shooting in 10bit the image is lush, very useable and malleable in post and just a joy to look at, but in 8 bit…eugh! It makes the 4k slow motion a bit of a dud for me, and generally speaking I've been shooting my slow mo in 1080 instead so I can get that nice 10 bit colour out of it. Currently it shoots 100mbs, which is frankly monstrous, the results are again very much worth the file sizes, but jeez those file sizes are big!!! I was racking away more GB’s with this thing than the RED on our shoot was! they need to sort out the compression on that to make it more manageable, because at the moment the sizes are just mad. However, image quality is king and this thing delivers…Just not in 8 bit.
Im angry Panasonic...
What really pisses me off is when manufactures make a camera, and then tell you that they have embedded lovely features BUT you are going to have to pay extra for them. And thats just what panasonic did. its marketed as a pro filmmakers B cam as far as I can tell, and yet the LOG profile is a paid upgrade. I don't care about having to pay extra for that function, but it should be installed as standard. Nothing annoys me more than having to make another purchase, wait for it to arrive in the post and then install it to be able to have what I bought in the first place, and why, why oh why panasonic did you make it an upgrade which requires you to post something to us?! What century are you operating in?! I uploaded 20gb of video last night, is it bigger than that. NO, NO its NOT! Mad bunch of idiotic unproductive lunatics… In case you cant tell. This annoyed me.
im still playing around with the colour profiles on the GH5 for stills but over all I have been impressed, the reality is when you are shooting RAW you can make the images look stunning in Lightroom or photoshop if you have shot them with the right settings, but, when I compared side by side exposures from my GH5 and the 5D MIII with the exact same settings, the 5D blew the GH5 away, I'm sure there is some technical reason for this, probably to do with the micro 4/3rds sensor, but the bottom line is that for stills the GH5 does not live up to the competition, and if I were to be shooting stills as my primary medium, then I would not own this camera. But its not my primary medium!
On this shoot I took three Panasonic lenses with me, the 14-45mm Lumix lens, the 25mm Leica prime f1.2, and the Lumix 12-35mm F2.8. I didn't change lenses once in the entire shoot. I filmed the whole thing on the 12-35mm, and it blew my socks off. The focal length was perfect, the stabilisation was out of this world, how a lens can produce such rock solid stabilisation is beyond me. Its witchcraft it really is! The one that I took with me was not weather proof, and that meant that I gave that lens a real beating. After the first two weeks in the hot dusty conditions on the desert the lens was starting to grind, the camera didn't have any challenges whatsoever, but this lens was really starting to struggle (apologies to the wonderful people at Hire A Camera who I rented the lens from...ahem). Focus was getting sluggish and the gears inside it were creaking. Next time il be sure to take the weather sealed lenses as well, as clearly the standard version just isn't up to the task.
The screen is OK, its not the sharpest monitor and keeping focus with it can be a challenge, before I hit the record button it zooms in when I'm getting my focus and then its pin sharp, but checking and changing during shots (which I do constantly) is very challenging with this screen. I hate having to bulk up a camera with attachments but a bigger better monitor would be a must have for all future work with this camera.
Menu systems are good, easy to understand, touch screen works well enough although I found myself mostly just using the camera wheels, but I'm sure that will change with time. All the ports are in logical places and even on my first outing with it I didn't find myself getting lost in the menu systems, very functional and logical.
Functionality - time lapse, slow mo etc
The time lapse function is all built into the camera, and I used it constantly, this should surely be a standard with all cameras by now. My other shooter was using a 5D for stills on this shoot and he would be trailing round a remote with him and gaffe taping it down whenever we did hyper lapses, eventually we just used the GH5, we mounted the camera inside the car for some hyper lapses and it would not have been possible with anything other than this camera, even the swivel on the screen was essential.
slow motion is excellent, I've only really used in in 1080 as in 4K it drops to 8bit colour, which is not an option in my books, the difference between 8 bit and 10 bit is noticeable even to an untrained eye.
The auto focus is useless, I switched it on once or twice and would see the focus constantly flickering in and out, rendering the footage unusable. There are very few cameras that do auto focus well, and I'm from a background where auto focus is essentially a sign of weakness, but it would be great for this to be an option in the future, sort it out Panasonic!
Dual slot recording was super useful and really sped up my backing up process as I could set the stills to one SD card and the video files to the other. Excellent and well thought through system.
the touch screen is about as good as it gets, I've shot with a lot of different cameras over the years and when they have touch screens I tend to stay well away, but with this camera I found myself using it frequently, I'm not sure how it will weather as a system, and if eventually it will start to fail me, but so far so good.
robust nature, specific to this project
At 0430am on our sixth day in the freezing desert I powered up my GH5 and my Sony FS5, the FS5 creaked and I could literally hear the gears inside it whirring, it was to say the least, highly disconcerting, from that point on I had to keep the camera wrapped up and warm over night otherwise it struggled to power on in the morning, and would need a good 30 minutes of warm up time before I could fire it up. The GH5 was flawless, it never failed to boot up, I got it completely soaked, not just splashed but practically submerged in crocodile infested waters, I filled the thing with dust, shot for 24 hours straight with it and only switched it off to change batteries and it just kept going. Nothing can beat this camera, I put it into the toughest conditions and it sailed through. If you need a tough camera that can perform in extreme environments then this is the one.
battery life on this beast is impressive, on one battery I would get 2-3 hours of continuous shooting, and when I flicked off the wifi and enabled sleep mode on the camera I would find myself shooting all day with the same battery, sleep mode on a camera is genius, its the sort of thing that just makes sense, but thats the way with much of this camera and the power is no different. Il be investing in a battery grip so I can do some 24 hours time lapses, and also some continuous shooting over a 50 hour period, but for general shooting I see no need, the battery life exceeded all other mirrorless cameras I've worked with.
If your doing what I do, and need the gear to survive brutal conditions but still deliver image quality and versatility of image then this camera is just what you need. The picture quality is beautiful, and I'm finding myself choosing shots on the GH5 over my Sony FS5, its not just a Bcam, the image out of it is too good for that, id happily use this as an A cam if it was rigged up properly, and I'm strongly considering switching over my FS5 to a panasonic A cam after using the GH5. power, stabilisation, time lapse, slow mo, all these things are excellent, but lots of other cameras do those things well also, for me it was the robustness of the camera, its ability to be a ‘go anywhere’ camera was what drew me to it in the first place and its why I still love it today.