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Panasonic GH5 marks the successor to the previously released GH4, promising upgraded features to deliver an even more powerhouse of the video-centric camera. However, should existing GH4 users upgrade to the new body? Are they worthwhile to justify the additional cost associated with getting the latest body? And what about non-Panasonic users. Which camera is the best of the two? Let’s find out.
Size & Dimensions
In this category, the successor proves to be larger in every dimension. When compared, it measures 140mm x 99mm x 88mm versus the predecessors 133mm x 94mm x 84mm. Not only that, but it’s also considerably heavier as well. It weighs 645g, while the predecessor weighs only 480g, that’s almost a 25% increase. The caveat, however, is this increase in size allows it to feature a significantly better grip that’s more pronounced, making it more comfortable during prolonged use. However, which is better for you in this particular category will ultimately come down to personal taste.
Physical Controls & Ergonomics
In physical controls, both cameras are virtually identical minus a few changes. The main difference is the successor features AF joystick, which provides immediate access to autofocus point selection and assists in the menu navigation. Outside of this, only the record button has moved to the top of the camera.
Both cameras have fully articulating touchscreen LCDs. However, the successor brings significant improvements to the quality of both the electronic viewfinder and rear LCD. Both have increased in resolution over the predecessor. In this case, a whopping 55% increase in both. The successor now features a viewfinder with 3.68 million dots, up from 2.36 million dots. While the rear screen is now larger at 3.2″ instead of 3.0″ and now has a resolution of 1.62 million dots instead of 1.03 million dots. These improvements in resolution deliver a camera that provides substantially better quality when resolving fine details, primarily when manually focusing. The increase in screen size also combines to make the rear screen easier to view during harsh sunlight conditions and helps with complex menu navigation.
The successor features a larger 20.3-megapixel Live MOS sensor, marking a significant increase from the 16.1-megapixel sensor found in the predecessor. The successor also lacks an Anti-Aliasing filter, allowing it to deliver even sharper images at a slightly greater risk of moiré. The combination of increased resolution plus to removal of an AA filter, create an undoubted strength for the newer camera.
The successor features 1080p full HD slow-motion recording up to 180 frames per second, significantly expanding from the 96 frames per second maximum of the predecessor. It also renders this super slow motion capture all in-camera, completely removing the need to perform the slow down in post. The successor also now shoots 4K video up to 60 frames per second, instead of just 30 frames per second. Both cameras do, however, feature unlimited recording time — an enormous advantage for users seriously about film making or content creation. Additionally, the successor also lacks any additional crop factor when shooting in 4K resolution. Overall, this area is another strength of the newer camera.
The autofocusing system in the successor has improved significantly. It now features a 225 AF point system compared to the 49 point system of the predecessor, a 4.5x improvement. Sure, on paper, this sounds like an incredible feat. However, Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus technology tends to focus wobble during filming before acquiring critical focus, and both cameras are equally disconcerting. For still shooting, on the other hand, the successor does reign as king.
With the addition of so many new features, the battery performance of the successor diminishes down to 410 shots per charge compared to 530. Thankfully, the successor features a power saver LVF mode, which extends its battery life to upwards of 1,000 shots. Incredibly helpful.
User Interface & Menus
The user interface and menus have improved on the successor. It now offers better menu categorization, further differentiating the menus and submenus to make it easier to find specific settings.
The successor now features dual SD card slots, both of which are UHS-II compatible. This is a significant improvement over the predecessor, which only had a single UHS-I SD card slot. It allows for ample customization in their functionality, either redundancy recording for backups as well as shooting specific media to each card individually.
The successor is now fully weather-sealed to make it freeze and dustproof, a lacking feature on the predecessor.
The successor now features a full-sized HDMI port instead of a mini HDMI port.
The successor now features a USB-C port, allowing it to support the faster data transfer speeds available with this newer format.
By far, the most significant addition on the successor, however, is the addition of in-camera image stabilization. This system also pairs with compatible Panasonic lenses to form dual IS 2, which creates a system rated for 5 total stops of stabilization.
Both cameras have 4K photo modes, which allows users to pull still images from the recorded video. However, the increase in sensor size enables the successor to now deliver 6K photo instead, which provides high-resolution images when shot in this particular mode.
The successor now features Bluetooth connectivity, which provides a more consistent connection to a smartphone device for file transferring.
Both cameras include internal timelapse modes, which deliver both stills and an in-camera rendered movie as well.
Both cameras have headphone and microphone inputs.
One substantial difference between both cameras is the lack of a built-in pop-up flash in the successor. If you’re looking for a camera with this particular feature, this could be a dealbreaker for upgrading to the newer camera.
So Which is Best?
Yes, which is best. Tough choice in this situation. From what you’ve gathered, the GH5 on paper has improved in virtually every comparable area over its predecessor. However, this question ultimately comes down to your specific needs. Much of its features expand to make it a more competitive option to more expensive and pro-level video equipment. If you’re a beginning not planning on shooting video or an aspiring filmmaker, much of its features will be of no use to you. It makes a better option for the multimedia shooter, who’s serious about filmmaking or wants to learn. So if you don’t find that mold, the GH4 is best for the price. It offers much of the features provided by the later flagship, at a significantly lower starting price. Despite the competition at this price, the performance it produces and the mere fact it still delivers broadcast capable footage, with adequate stills capabilities mixed in. It’s a no-brainer.