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Live Action Lumix

Live Action Lumix

Wireless live streaming and a significant step up in video capture quality and handling will open new worlds for film makers and broadcasters using the new Lumix GH5M2, says Damien Demolder

Live Action Lumix

Following hot on the heels of the Lumix BGH1 firmware update that allows streaming via IP, Panasonic continues the livestream functionality theme with the new Lumix GH5M2. For those more concerned with recorded content the camera also brings 10bit capture to its 50/60p settings, built-in V-LogL, improved image stabilisation, better highlight retention via an improved dynamic range as well as numerous other changes that offer flexibility and options to the videographer’s life. Many of these changes have been made possible by a new much more powerful Venus engine processor in the camera that allows intensive tasks to be handled in less time.

Live Action Lumix

Here I’m going to explain the changes in a bit more detail and show how they further enhance one of the most popular mirrorless video cameras - the Lumix GH5.

Live stream without wires

Live stream without wires

We’ve been able to livestream with Lumix cameras for some time, but only from somewhere we can connect to a computer via a cable. Cabled connections are fine for streaming from indoor events, from the studio or from home, but the new wireless streaming feature of the GH5M2 allows streaming via your phone’s data or Wi-Fi connection, or via a local Wi-Fi network. The camera pairs with your phone and can stream directly through the phone’s connection while the Lumix Sync app connects to whichever streaming service you use.

Live stream without wires

Almost as important as actually offering this feature is the fact it is remarkably easy to set-up, particularly if you are already familiar with streaming through Facebook or YouTube. A new interface on the Lumix Sync app allows the user to input the URL of the streaming service they use with the stream key, and then send this information to the camera via the usual Wi-Fi connection. Then you select the resolution and data rate you want to use - then you’re ready to go.

Live stream without wires

Facebook and YouTube protocols are already in the app, but users can also use RTMPS/RTMP to connect to other broadcast and networked services, as well as connect through local Wi-Fi networks instead of using mobile data.
Streaming resolution comes in 1920x1080 and 1280x720 options, and we can use 50/60p and 25/30p frame rates. Data rates can be adjusted to suit your network strength from 3Mbps up to 16Mbps (8Mbps in RTMPS), and all streaming is performed in H.264.
Of course, streaming with wires is still possible using the HDMI port for capture cards, and the USB port for Lumix Tether. Panasonic says too that a future firmware update for the Lumix GH5M2 will allow it to tether via USB to your phone for a more stable streaming connection.

8bit becomes 10bit

8bit becomes 10bit

This might seem a minor update to the original GH5 but the ability to record in high-resolution, at high frame rates and in 10bit, directly to the memory card opens doors for better quality and more flexibility for film makers. In the GH5 and GH5s users wanting to record to the card have to make the decision between recording footage they can slow down in post or recording using the dynamic range that comes with 10bit capture. Now though, in the GH5M2 C4K and 4K resolutions support 10bit footage at 50/60p. This allows smoother action when the footage is played back in real-time as well as the chance to create up to 2x slow-motion while reaping the benefits that 10bit offers over 8bit.
It is worth noting too that we can now record C4K/4K 50/60p 10bit simultaneously to the memory card while steaming the same quality out via HDMI to an external recorder. And there’s no limit on recording time in any of the resolution settings.

8bit becomes 10bit

Unless ‘Pixel-to-Pixel’ mode is selected by the user, all resolution and frame-rate options are recorded using the whole sensor area with no cropping needed. This means the effect of the focal length in use will always be retained.

8bit becomes 10bit

As the list of video recording options is really quite extensive the menu system allows us to filter by our requirements. We can select the frame rate, resolution, codec, VFR and/or whether we want to shoot Hybrid Log Gamma. As we enter our requirements the total list of ‘results’ is narrowed down, so that when we hit the DISP button all those available to us are shown. This makes selecting your settings very much quicker.

Anamorphic revolution

Anamorphic revolution

These image quality improvements also translate into the Lumix GH5M2’s Anamorphic Mode, with a nice step up from 8bit to 10bit in the 50/60p 4K options. We keep the 6K anamorphic settings from the Lumix GH5, but now the Lumix GH5M2 takes on the display features of the S series and the BGH1 to allow users to select the specific squeeze factor of the lens in use. The GH5 and GH5s set the desqueeze display by default to compensate for a 2x anamorphic lens, but the GH5M2 offers users the choice of 1.3x, 1.33x, 1.5x, 1.8x and 2x desqueeze settings. The image stabilisation system has also been updated to include the same options.

Anamorphic revolution

Good news comes in the form of an expanded Variable Frame Rate function that now includes anamorphic shooting, and which allows up to 2x slow motion in 4K 24/25p and 1.7x in 29.97p.
As before, for best resolution anamorphic footage is best recorded to the memory card as HDMI output for anamorphic shooting is limited to 2880x2160 pixels.

Sensor improvements

Sensor improvements

A new sensor has been developed for the Lumix GH5M2 that has exactly the same pixel-count as that used in the original GH5. Alongside the new Venus engine the camera can achieve higher read-out speeds which result in a reduction in rolling shutter for videographers, and for stills photographers using electronic shutter modes. The sensor also has a new anti-reflective coating that provides twin benefits – it reduces flare and increases the contrast range of the camera. The reduction in flare should mean there’ll be fewer internal reflections when the camera is aimed at a bright light source, and also that we should expect highlight detail to be protected from burning out. Panasonic says the sensor delivers 25% more dynamic range than the sensor in the original GH5.
Detail gathering is also helped by the fact this sensor does not have a low pass filter, so it will be much better at defining textures and produce a sharper looking image. The new sensor’s reduced image noise will also help the rendering of finely detailed scenes.

Better IS

Better IS

Panasonic says that the in-camera image stabilisation system of the GH5M2 now offers 6.5EV of stabilisation. This not only means longer shutter speeds for stills photographers, but also smoother footage for videographers. The stabilisation improvement comes via an improved algorithm that was developed for the Lumix S1H.
Although the GM5M2 will now produce even more stabilised video while mounted on a gimbal, the new system also means we’ll need a gimbal less often and will be able to work handheld on more occasions.

New menu system

New menu system

The Lumix GH5M2 is the second Lumix G series camera to adopt the new style menu that was introduced in the Lumix S series. With two lines of tabs down the screen this newer design allows faster and clearer navigation, particularly in cameras that have masses of features and functions to choose from. The menu can be navigated via the camera’s buttons and dials of course, but using the touch screen is infinitely more convenient and offers a much shorter route to almost everything.

New menu system

Fortunately for existing Lumix G series users looking to move to the new camera, this menu maintains the same basis and ethos as that in the other G series models, so switching from one system to the other is quite painless. Those moving to the Lumix GH5M2 will feel right at home very quickly.

Photo Styles and V-LogL

While V-LogL is an optional extra on most of the Lumix G cameras that can use it, the Lumix GH5M2 comes with it already installed. This will allow videographers to make the most of the sensor’s dynamic range straight out of the box. The camera can also accept uploaded LUTs to make viewing V-LogL footage easier, and to help users match their intended look with what they see on the camera’s screen or their HDMI monitor.

Photo Styles and V-LogL

Four additional new Photo Styles are also part of the shooting options in the Lumix GH5M2. The new camera gets Cinelike D2 and V2 instead of the earlier versions of Cinelike D and V, as well as the new black and white options L.Monochrome S and L.Classic Neo. All of these Photo Styles work across stills and video, including anamorphic video.
We can also now add and remove Photo Styles from the menu display to make scrolling through them much quicker. If there are styles you never use they can be taken out of the options display. We also now have better controls for creating our own custom Photo Styles.

Power options

Power options

Users now won’t be short of ways in which they can power their camera, as the Lumix GH5M2 offers a number of new options. The camera adopts the new 2200mAh DMW-BLK22 battery first seen in the Lumix S5, but it also can be powered using the existing 1860mAh DMW-BLF19E used by the original Lumix GH cameras and the G9. In fact, the two battery types are fully interchangeable between the existing G series cameras and the new GH5M2 even though the older battery doesn’t work in the Lumix S5 due to the shape of the battery compartment.

Power options

The Lumix GH5M2 also now allows not only USB charging but also for the camera to be powered via USB while it is in use. This is a very useful option for those on long shoots, or when working away, as the camera can be powered by an external battery pack if needed.
Owners of the existing DMW-BGGH5 battery grip for the GH5 will be pleased to know that it is fully compatible with the new camera.

New LCD panel

New LCD panel

A brighter rear screen has been fitted to the camera to make daylight viewing and framing much easier. The screen is 50% brighter than that on the original GH5, and Panasonic has taken the opportunity to improve its colour reproduction and accuracy.
The resolution of the screen is also slightly improved, from the 1620k dots of the original version to 1840k dots in this new model.

Physical changes

Physical changes

The body of the Lumix GH5M2 is almost exactly the same as that of the original camera, but with a few minor changes. The most visual change is the dramatically red record button on the top plate that falls into line with a style started in the GH5s. Next to the red button, where the Fn1 button used to be, we now have a direct access point for the Photo Styles.

Physical changes

On the rear, what was by default the AF/AE Lock button in the centre of the focus control switch is now an AF On button, and the Q Menu and AF Area select buttons above the rear wheel have switched places.

Physical changes

Of course, as much as Panasonic’s engineers have altered these control points on the camera, users are free to switch any of these buttons to whatever they want them to do via the custom function menu – or just a long press on the button you want to change.

Physical changes

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