Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II for Photographers – Review and Sample Images

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II for Photographers - Review and Sample Images

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 II is a 20.3MP, mirrorless Micro Four Thirds “hybrid” camera with live streaming, and is touted as a solid upgrade to the iconic GH5 that was introduced in 2017. There are all kinds of new bells and whistles on this upgrade in terms of cinematography and live streaming capabilities, with the GH6 coming out soon, is it worth upgrading for people who already own the GH5?

I’ll be looking at it strictly as a still photographer, so take a look at Johnnie’s review and mini-documentary highlighting the new cinematography upgrades.

The physical characteristics of the GH5 II are almost the same as the GH5, but now the Record button is bright red and there is a bright red highlight on the Mode dial. The body is composed of a magnesium alloy – very light, easy to handle and fully weather-sealed. Dust and splash resistant, it can handle temperatures down to -10C / 14F.

Panasonic GH5 II
Top of camera / buttons. Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

There are four buttons on the top of the camera above the Record button, four buttons on the back above and below the dial, as well as buttons next to the eyepiece on the left. It feels like a lot to navigate quickly on a camera body that’s this small.

Panasonic GH5 II
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

Panasonic improved the menu to streamline with the menus in its other Lumix cameras, i.e. the same menu structure. The menu is extensive and you can customize and save your profiles.

Panasonic GH5 II
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson
Panasonic GH5 II
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

It’s easy to get around through the touch screen and I like using the Quick Menu as well – the button is easy to locate, logical and simple to navigate. The only downside for me? I had to stop shooting to work with it – if I have to take my eye away from my subject, I’ve lost my photo.

Some specs

Although there aren’t a lot of changes to the original GH5 that pertain to still photography, the upgrades should offer better handling and image quality. Let’s take a look at the camera’s still photography features along with the upgrades:

  • 20.3MP Live MOS Sensor (no optical low-pass filter)
  • Micro Four Thirds mount
  • AR (anti-reflective) sensor coating that reduces ghosting and lens flair hitting the sensor
  • ISO range from ISO200-25600 (expands to ISO100-25600)
  • Latest Panasonic Venus Image processing engine
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization with improved Dual IS 2 support (originally 5 – now up to 6.5 stops)
  • 6K and 4K modes for still photos
  • 14-bit RAW output
  • 9 fps with continuous autofocus, 12 fps with AF-S
  • Newer, higher capacity 2200mAh battery (the same as their S5 model), USP-D compatible and can be charged with an AC or USB.
  • Improved brightness on the LCD free-angle flip screen (150% brighter according to Panasonic’s specs)
  • Improved color gradation and skin tones
  • 25% improvement in dynamic range
  • Auto-focus is the same as the S5, with improvements that include highly accurate animal, body and head tracking
  • Double UHS-II SD Memory Card slot
  • Autofocus point joystick
  • New photo profiles include classic neo, monochrome and two cine-like styles
Panasonic GH5 II
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

The flip screen is smaller on the GH5 II (3 inches from 3.2 inches), but the resolution is higher at 1.84m dots. Panasonic claims it’s 150% brighter than the screen on the GH5.

Initial impression of the Panasonic GH5 II

When I look at all the specs, there is no doubt that the GH5 II is a very powerful video camera with professional features geared heavily towards video shooters. Plus, with the new live-streaming feature you can connect to the WiFi on your smart phone or a router.

I would look at this camera very seriously if I was a vlogger, content provider, or if I worked in any environment where I could put the live-streaming capability to good use: weddings, sports and concerts, travel videos directly to YouTube or Facebook, and the list goes on. And although the GH6 is coming out soon, I expect it to be clearly more expensive. So for those who do video and content, and who want to switch back and forth from video to live streaming to grabbing a photo without changing cameras, there is a spot for this upgrade.

Taking it out for a stroll

My first trip out with the camera was to the Pride Parade in the City.

Image credit: Alexandra Thompson
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

The light was harsh, from bright sun to deep shade, and I could not see well either on the back screen or through the EV so I set the camera on face detection and continuous AF and trusted that the AF was doing its job. In only one shot was the person closer to the camera out of focus, so not bad.

It tracks faces and movement easily. It can’t, however, read my mind, and in general, I missed quite a few shots of people who were not the camera’s choice as the main subject. I realized pretty quickly that in order to get what I wanted in a group shot, I would have to turn the tracking off. If I didn’t, the time it took to adjust for one photo and then re-adjust for the next was enough for me to lose the shot all together.

Image credit: Alexandra Thompson
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

Gradations of color were lovely, and the photos were surprisingly sharp for hand-held. The stabilization was spot on. Focus with the touch screen was fast as was the joystick, but I lost spontaneous photos of people when I used the touch screen to focus.

What about low light?

Back home again, I tried the camera out in a few low-light situations. It seemed I could get better photos if there was a range of light the camera could work with. I had problems with the higher ISOs. Photos with one type of flat light came out slightly blurry, but shooting through the glass doors with that dynamic range turned out very well.

Image credit: Alexandra Thompson
Image credit: Alexandra Thompson

Dynamic range and detail

If I wasn’t concentrating on speed (meaning “people”) both the dynamic range and amount of detail was outstanding. Once I got the camera set up, it was just a matter of point and shoot with a small amount of exposure compensation. I can imagine this being a very good camera for traveling, out in nature, or doing City walks. Here are some sample photos.

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