The Panasonic Pro Trio: A Buying Guide

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Diversification and specialization has been a major trend in photography equipment in the past few years. Panasonic has gotten its own super trio of cameras for Micro Four Thirds, helping nearly anyone find a model that works best for their specific needs and shooting situation. This includes the all-around GH5, the video-focused GH5S, and the photo-focused G9. We are going to help you figure out which model is best for you.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera
Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera
Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Comparisons

The cameras can seem quite similar at first glance. The GH5 and GH5S are almost the same on the outside, for example. And even then, many of their specs match. Check out this quick rundown of the major differences between the three models.

Comparison

Camera

GH5S

GH5

G9

Sensor

10.3MP Multi-Aspect MOS

20.3MP MOS

20.3MP MOS

Video

DCI/UHD 4K60

UHD 4K60

UHD 4K60

Stabilization

None

In-Body (5 Stops)

In-Body (6.5 Stops)

Viewfinder

0.76x 3.68m-dot

0.76x 3.68m-dot

0.83x 3.68m-dot

Screen

3.2" Touchscreen

3.2" Touchscreen

3.0" Touchscreen

Continuous with AF

8 fps

9 fps

20 fps

In the simplest terms, the GH5S is best for those who want to capture the best video they can; the G9 is targeted at photographers looking for improved speed and ergonomics; and the GH5 splits the difference.

Video

I’ll begin with video, since this is one of the most significant differences between the three models, and Panasonic’s calling card. If video is your only concern, I’m going to make it easy for you and recommend the GH5S.

Here’s why. The GH5S offers the most options and best quality, all because of the new 10.28MP Multi-Aspect Live MOS sensor. Most significantly, this sensor offers Dual Native ISO—two sensitivity settings (one high and one low) will maximize dynamic range and improve image quality. With the GH5S, these are ISO 400 and 2500, and the lower-resolution sensor results in major improvements in low-light shooting, making it much more viable. Being multi-aspect provides another unique advantage: your field of view won’t change when you switch to different shooting modes.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5S Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

Just being better because of a different sensor isn’t even the only significant difference regarding the GH5S’s video specs. A subtlety is that you can access DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) when working at frame rates up to 60p. The GH5 and G9 are limited to UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) when working at up to 60p and, while we are on the topic of high frame rates, the GH5S has some improvements in the VFR mode with Full HD at up to 240 fps, as opposed to 180 fps on the GH5.

High-end video applications will find the GH5S to be the most suitable, due to some added functions, including timecode sync via the flash sync terminal. Standard on the GH5S is the V-LogL gamma profile for flat, high dynamic range capture and HLG for instant HDR workflows. The GH5 has V-LogL available as an optional purchase. One area in which the GH5 does win is in anamorphic capture, because it can pull from a 6K image area due to the sensor’s higher resolution. Also, the GH5 has the built-in image stabilization that the GH5S removes, supposedly in favor of gimbals and stabilizer systems. This could be a major selling point for the GH5 over the GH5S.

The G9 wasn’t featured too heavily in this section, and that’s because it is designed for...

Photo

Interested in Panasonic for what it offers photographers? The G9 is your ideal pick. Panasonic has been huge in the video world, but mirrorless cameras are generally supposed to be stills-focused. GH-series models have been highly successful for having good stills and phenomenal video, so it only made sense to break out a new line to highlight the photographic capabilities of Micro Four Thirds.

Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

If you are looking for the killer feature that distinguishes it as a stills camera, that would be its 80MP High-Resolution mode. This is a unique feature in the G9 that neither GH-series body offers, and is clearly for capturing stills. Another key upgrade is the viewfinder, giving it a boost to 0.83x magnification for a larger and clearer view. Shooting video makes heavy use of the rear display, which explains the larger screen on the GH series, but handheld photography lives in the EVF. Other improvements include an upgraded stabilization system rated to 6.5 stops, continuous shooting with AF at up to 20 fps, and a top LCD for quickly checking settings.

Speed is a general benefit of the G9. It can hit 20 fps with continuous AF and up to 60 fps without. This blows away the maximum of 12 fps achieved by the GH5 and GH5S. It also claims autofocus improvements with a lock-on speed as fast as 0.04 seconds. All of this puts the G9 on the same level as many other pro-oriented mirrorless and DSLR cameras.

Interestingly, the GH5S can make a claim as the top stills camera to a very specific subset of people, due to its new sensor: that would be those who care about low-light performance and dynamic range. A lower 10.2MP resolution will result in cleaner images at higher ISOs. Also, the GH5S offers 14-bit raw capture. This means more data can be saved to the files, producing images with better color and a slightly wider dynamic range.

A Bit of Both

Constantly switching between shooting stills and recording video? To cut down on the number of cameras you have to operate or haul around, you will want to go with the standard GH5. This was the original flagship camera from Panasonic, and still rules as a hybrid option—brilliant video specs with DCI 4K24 and UHD 4K60, as well as 10-bit internal at standard frame rates, while still retaining the higher-res 20.3MP Live MOS sensor found in photo-centric Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the G9.

Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera

The GH5 even has a couple of advantages over its more dedicated siblings. Over the GH5S, the standard GH5 has in-body image stabilization good for 5 stops. Over the G9, the GH5 has better video specs with 400 Mb/s recording options internally and the ability to take V-LogL with an optional purchase. If you don’t think you need to go all the way to one side or the other, the GH5 is the perfect camera for you.

Also, unless you need to hit high frame rates with the DCI 4K setting, the GH5 will do very well in good lighting. If you don’t need the low-light potential and other advantages of the GH5S, it may be overkill and not worth the added cost.

Hopefully, this guides you to find the perfect Panasonic camera for your needs, whether that means the stills-focused G9, the video-centric GH5S, or the best of both worlds GH5. Any other questions? Have your own thoughts on the subject? Be sure to leave a comment below!

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