Panasonic’s GH3 was a game changer in DSLR videography, providing bit rates that cameras $10,000 above were doing in a small and convenient micro four thirds (M43) body short of a zero from the $10,000 price tag.
Whilst I was doing full-time multimedia work at The Brunei Times, which by the way, was one of the best life experiences ever, I immediately bought myself a GH3 for video work. To give perspective, I was using a full-frame Canon 6D before jumping over to the Panasonic. Sure, there were some drawbacks, especially in artistic shots which you can only achieve on a full frame, but that’s just one thing versus the numerous pros that the Panny gives.
First, there was the price; a m43 system will cost much less than Canon’s full-frame lenses. Then there’s the weight; I didn’t feel heavy running around with it, even when shooting hand held (which I seldom did). Then there’s the integrated audio jack, bit rate, and different fps modes you can shoot in.
Of course, the Panasonic GH3 still lacks focus peaking, which was quite upsetting, but it had almost all the base covered.
Two iterations later, Panasonic is now on the GH5, which was announced, but will not be released until 2017. It features the ability to record 4K in 60p and 50p with a 4:2:2 10-bit 4K video. It will also support a 6K photo feature, where you can extract 18-megapixel still images from a video shot. This is extremely valuable, and was previously only available on a ridiculously expensive Canon.
This is a big deal, because for people like me, who actually need stills and video, it extended the time I needed with my subject for another good 10 minutes (say for 60 minutes worth of shooting). And there are times, where the subject isn’t exactly stationary, and you can’t ask for the situation to stand still in time so you can take a picture. So whilst shooting video, you can already set up for your stills to happen, and extract it later.
As for the 4K in 60p and 50p, this is another big deal — it allows you to do slow-mo without losing any quality. Not something that many will appreciate, but professionals will not bother doing slow-mo if the cameras can’t do it at the same picture quality.
And there’s the 4:2:2 10-bits video, which lets videographers capture billions instead of millions of colours, which gives you more room for playing with colours or adjusting colour temperature in post.
The GH5 will feature Panasonic’s new 18-megapixel sensor, which supports up to eight frames per second in burst mode for stills.
Another important feature is the XLR support, which is a Lumix extension that takes over the hot shoe of the camera, with two inputs and all the audio settings you may need. For a one-man shooter, this is definitely the ideal camera to go for.
Besides the GH5, the surprise release is Panasonic’s Lumix DMC G-85, also an DSLR bodied m43, which also has 4K video capture, and a 5-axis image stabilisation.
This comes with a 16-megapixel sensor; it is weathered sealed and has a new electromagnetic shutter to combat shutter shock.
So the G85 has a price of just US$899 for the body, or US$999 ($1,357) for the 12-600mm kit lens.
This rugged bodied camera has 4K photo and video, and for videographers, 24p and 30p, there’s also an HDMI out and a 3.5mm jack for external headphones.
The G85 has a ton of useful video features, such as focus peaking, zebras, and a mic level adjustment which filters wind.
It is missing a headphone jack though, which I did enjoy on my GH3. Videographers will know there’s nothing worse than sound levels going too high and it breaks, or when it’s too low, and you hear a hissing sound when you try to boost the audio to hear better.
Whilst the competition is stiff in the m43 market, for videographers, the choice will be pretty clear.
If you want to spend less than $1,500, the G85 seems t tick majority of the boxes, whilst the GH5 will be the if-money-isn’t-an-issue option.