The Panasonic GH5 Review – The Wedding Photographer’s Workhorse Camera
This is a real world review of the Panasonic GH5 from the perspective of a professional wedding photographer. I was very fortunate when Lumix Canada sent me the GH5 on loan for the 2017 wedding season. When it comes to wedding photography, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 is a workhorse and makes everything about my job enjoyable.
The key to successful wedding photography is not only to create beautiful images, but to do so while blending in with your clients and their guests as much as you can. One of the main reasons I photograph with Lumix cameras and lenses is the ability to work at an efficient and speedy pace while staying discrete and unobtrusive.
One of the most important features built into the GH5 is the ability to shoot in complete silence. The silent shutter is so important for the intimate moments during a wedding like the bridal party getting ready; the bride and groom’s first look, or a quiet church ceremony where photography access is limited. I would also like to mention the new mechanical shutter, which is in fact is also very quiet.
The GH5’s ergonomics are fantastic, and I have to say: it’s the perfect camera design. The GH5’s buttons and controls are very well laid out and there are plenty of physical buttons on the surface of the body. You also get several customizable function button options on the touchscreen menus. I rarely have to dig through the menus to change any settings during weddings, which really saves time and gives me confidence knowing exactly where to find everything I need. The new Autofocus Joystick on the back of the GH5 is a great addition. I tend to use the ‘focus and recompose’ technique when I shoot, but with the GH5 I forced myself to use the Joystick to move my focus point around, which turned out to be one of my favorite new features! It really helps reduce camera movement and shake, which results in sharper images and higher accuracy for getting shots in focus when photographing a moving subject. The newly designed handgrip is fantastic, and the added ‘finger-groove’ really helps your fingers grip the camera when holding it with one hand. I also found the GH5 grip very comfortable for shooting full day weddings even when using heavier lenses like the Lumix 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron or the 35-100mm f2.8.
The weather sealing on the GH5 proved impenetrable. I put this camera through its paces shooting many wedding ceremonies under Niagara Falls onboard the Hornblower Niagara Cruises ships (formerly Maid of the Mist). These conditions left everything, including the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 and the Lumix 8-18mm f2.8-4, soaked. But after close inspection the GH5 never let any moisture through. When it comes to harsh weather conditions, I have complete confidence in the Lumix GH5 and the Lumix weather sealed lenses.
Other improvements include the new dual memory card slots, the incredible electronic viewfinder, and a new 20 megapixel CMOS sensor. The GH5 now has a very effective 5 Axis In Body Stabilization System, and shutter speeds up to 1/16000 of a second. With these upgrades, the Lumix GH series has never been more appealing to the professional photographer.
The dual memory card slots was a feature I always wanted Lumix to implement on their high-end models and it comes very welcomed on the GH5! As a wedding photographer it gives me the confidence knowing that if one card fails I have the backup card to protect my clients’ sensitive information.
The Electronic Viewfinder on the GH5 is a 3.68 million dot OLED with a magnification of 0.76x, which gives you a massive window to view the world with. The EVF is extremely sharp and vibrant, and I never noticed any lag in performance when the lights came down in a wedding reception.
The GH5’s image quality has greatly increased, going from a 16 to 20 mega pixel sensor. I found the RAW files up to 1600 ISO are super clean and under extreme low light conditions I was able to push the GH5 to 6400 ISO and get very usable images. I also found the GH5’s high ISO image noise has a very organic look compared to previous models. The dynamic range of the GH5 is fantastic, and the GH5’s RAW files are able to recover the shadow areas with lots of detail and minimal noise.
Some of the lenses I felt worked best for the GH5 were the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8, the Lumix 42.5mm f1.2 Nocticron, and the 8-18mm f2.8-4. I will be honest though, I had the Nocticron attached to the GH5 more than any other lens at weddings, I love the extreme shallow depth of field and critically sharp images at f1.2. For portraits, the face detection mode worked flawlessly with all the lenses.
The Dual IS technology works by combining the 5 axis IBIS in the GH5 with the Optical Image Stabilizers in the Lumix lenses, which gives you up to 5 stops of compensation. I could take handheld shots of wedding guests that were tack sharp at 1/60 of a second with the GH5 and Nocticron combination.
Some other notable features are the 6K photo mode, which is great for nature photography and pictures of my dogs running full speed. The 6K photo mode works by taking 30 frames per second at 6K resolution, this allows you to pull 18 megapixel jpegs from those frames! The video features are stunning with such clean and crisp results, and the Post Focus mode with in-body image stacking processing is great for getting everything in focus for macro shots.
To wrap things up, the GH5 is an incredible tool for a wedding photographer. With the ability to shoot silent, up to 12 frames per second in full raw, all weather sealed, Dual IS, in a small package, with a massive line-up of pro lenses to choose from, you are hard pressed to find a more feature rich, reliable professional photography camera on the market.