I am currently testing the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II mirrorless camera for Digimanie.cz magazine. The camera was provided with three interesting lenses: Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 OIS, Leica 10-25mm F1.7, and Leica 25-50mm F1.7.
The camera is quite big and heavy for a Micro Four Thirds camera. I would like a deeper grip but the handling is great overall. The thing is that the camera supports almost endless options to customize the buttons and in some cases, you may even have a specific value assigned to the button (not only the menu for colour profiles but even one specific colour profile may be assigned to a button – great for activating V-Log).
There are some improvements in comparison with GH5. For example, the EVF supports not only 60Hz frequency but there is a new 120Hz option as well. Because of that, the EVF delay was lowered from 0.055 seconds to 0.035 seconds. The EVF image is nice and detailed. The LCD screen is a little bit smaller (3.0″ instead of 3.2″), but it is still very nice and fully adjustable. No surprise that it is touch-sensitive too. It is great for shooting a video and vlogging.
GH5 II is also suitable for vlogging as it provides 3.5mm jacks for headphones and external microphone. I have to say that even the internal microphone is quite good. You may compare them in the video below.
The camera does provide Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB-C connection and they can be used in various situations when streaming. You may use BT to connect to the camera from a mobile app and very easily activate streaming to YouTube or Facebook. There is also an option to insert RTMPS address for other streaming services. The camera can connect to your Wi-Fi and stream wirelessly. If you are lucky (I was successful only few times), you may even connect to the hotspot of your smartphone and use its LTE or 5G data connection when you are outside. The USB-C/RJ-45 connection through an adapter is another option but I have not tested it.
Panasonic’s software can also save data about your RTMPS connection to a memory card, which can be inserted into the camera and imported. In such a case, you may start to stream through your camera (no app needed) but the second activation of the stream at streaming site may be needed (Facebook).
The big topic around every Panasonic camera is its DFD system for focusing. It is contrast-based but it tries to mimic the phase-detection system. It was improved again and even though it could have been a little bit more consistent, the performance is acceptable. The problem can be in locking the object sometimes (AF point is quite large for some objects) but then it usually works well and I was sometimes surprised what this contrast-based system was able to keep in focus. I have also tested that in various conditions and you may see that in video (there are some others which I am preparing).
In video, the performance depends on three variables. Frame rate may influence it (24p is more sluggish than 60p), there are also settings for sensitivity and speed. Lower values will make AF sluggish and lazy, but higher values may make it even too aggressive and quick. It may happen that AF is faster than the object, it will wait for it or even return back. Therefore, I would recommend to keep it at default values or increase it only very slightly.
Video capabilities of GH5 II are great. It supports up to DCI 4K (4096×2160 pixels) at 60p in 10bit colours 4:2:0 and 200 Mbps. Using 30p, you may even use All-Intra with 400 Mbps and 4:2:2. 4:2:2 is available in other modes too if you use HDMI output. The camera even supports anamorphic video but I do not have such a lens. The 4K video is slightly oversampled, therefore, it is very detailed and you may even take 5K/30p video in 6K Photo mode (only one of the 6K Photo modes records an audio). Low-light quality is not great as GH5 II does not support dual native ISO like GH5S or full frame S1 and S5.
There is also slow-motion option which allows to take Full HD video up to 180p (or 4K/60p). You choose the recording frequency, the final frequency and you are free to go. Finally, GH5 II supports autofocus before taking a slow-motion video which is very useful. When recording, only manual focus is available, though. Also, there is no sound in slow-mo.
GH5 II supports 3D LUTs which can be imported and you may even let the camera show how the graded video would look like. In comparison with GH5, GH5 II has a native support for V-Log L which is included in price. No other purchases necessary.
Regarding the image quality, I would say it is acceptable. 4/3″ sensor is not very large so you have to count with higher noise above ISO 800. For me, ISO 3200 is acceptable in RAW but do not expect noise-free images and you will have to be careful with post-processing. The default denoising is too strong and I would recommend to lower that (there is a range of -5 to +5 in the settings of colour profile).
Nevertheless, there is one advantage. GH5 Mark II has a very powerful image stabilization. I have measured around 6 to 6.5-stops when non-stabilized lens was used and even around 7-stops when the lens with OIS was tested. Therefore, in the low-light scenes, where you do not need to freeze the movement and longer exposure times are fine, you may rely on stabilization system, lower the ISO a lot and you can even use smaller apertures when taking the images handheld. In general, dynamic range is fine. It keeps a lot of information in bright areas but there is a low reserve in shadows. Therefore, I would recommend to over-expose the images a little bit.
The battery life is reasonable thanks to a larger battery DMW-BLK22 (in comparison with GH5). I was able to achieve around 400 images and 25 minutes on a single charge. Beware of the fact that Wi-Fi consumes the battery like crazy. The camera can be charged and powered by USB-C connection.
Panasonic Lumix GH5 II is a great camera which is an ideal solution for video professionals and vloggers. It is not perfectly suitable for low-light because of small sensor, though. If you are more a photographer than a videographer, I would probably go for G9 or something cheaper but if the video capabilities are important and you do not want to spend 2000USD+ on a video camera, this is a camera for you.
The full review (in Czech) is available at https://www.digimanie.cz/recenze-panasonic-lumix-gh5-ii-nejen-pro-vloggery/9148 with stills in JPEG and RAW as well
Rating: 90 %