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Panasonic Lumix GH5 mirrorless materializes at CES 2017... and yowza!

Your GH4 just became expendable.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Panasonic teased the sucessor to fan favorite the Lumix GH4 at Photokina 2016, but now the GH5 is a real camera -- and a showstopper at that.

It's got a ton of new, useful capabilities, advanced video options, beefed up photo capabilities and enhancements to Panasonic's already fast and accurate autofocus system, in addition to bringing it up to date with the current generation of Panasonic features. In conjunction with relatively small Micro Four Thirds lenses, Panasonic packs a lot of pro power into its flagship mirrorless.

Shop for Panasonic Lumix GH5 (body only)

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You'll be able to get your hands on it in the US around the end of March or beginning of April, for a competitive body-only price of $2,000. (I don't have other pricing or availability yet, but that converts directly to £1,620 and AU$2,775.) The 12-60mm f2.4-4 lens that Panasonic announced at Photokina should be available around the same time, and there should be a kit with that lens, though we don't have pricing yet for the lens or for a kit.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 is better outside and looks first-rate inside

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Where's the kitchen sink?

Sensor and imaging processor: Like the current generation of high-end Micro Four Thirds cameras, the GH5 upgrades to a 20.3-megapixel sensor, and like Olympus' modern line has dropped the antialiasing filter from it for sharper photos. It also gets Panasonic's latest version of its Venus Engine processor; the faster sensor readout and processing speed enable almost all of the upgraded capabilities, and tweaks the algorithms for better detail handling and noise reduction.

Video: This is where the GH5's core audience comes from, and Panasonic is going all-out to woo folks away from Sony's A7 series, at least as much as one can, given the tradeoffs of Panasonic's much smaller sensor. Many of the whizzy new capabilities won't be available when the camera first ships, instead coming onboard via firmware updates currently targeted for April and the second half of 2017.

These include 4K/60p and 50p frame-rate options, all-intra 400Mbps (4K) and 200Mbps (HD) codecs, 4:2:2 10-bit internal or simultaneous internal/external recording for all but 4K/60p (HD 4:2:2 is the only update in April), high-resolution anamorphic mode and 4K Hybrid Log-Gamma (for HDR10-standard HDR). Out of the gate it will offer variable frame rate and anamorphic recording, a waveform display, a new "709-like" gamma profile, and the ability to program two focus points via the touchscreen to automatically pull focus between them. (V-Log gamma and a new lookup-table-based preview will be an extra-cost option as with the GH4.)

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2017

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Autofocus: The DFD (depth from defocus) AF system in the GH5 jumps to 225 areas from Panasonic's current 49-area maximum, which covers a huge chunk of the scene. In addition, it now samples focus at 480fps and you can set the AF sensitivity and tracking parameters. As a result, Panasonic claims much better continuous autofocus. The camera also gains Panasonic's combo sensor-shift/optical Dual IS image stabilization. (The company also announced it's refreshing the 12-35mm f2.8, 35-100mm f2.8, 45-200mm f4-5.6 and 100-300mm f4-5.6 lenses to support the system, as well as to add dust-and-weather sealing. Look for "II" in the names.)

Features: Panasonic's recent cameras have a feature called 4K Photo, which is essentially movie capture optimized for pulling 8-megapixel frames out of it as an alternative to continuous shooting (which jumps to 9fps with continuous AF, by the way). In the GH5, Panasonic debuts 6K Photo for grabbing 18-megapixel frames. Interestingly, it's using the HEVC codec for recording in 6K Photo mode; no camera's used it in any form since Samsung faded away from the business. The camera also gets a connectivity upgrade, making it one of the few cameras that uses 802.11ac for Wi-Fi -- that means it supports the 5GHz as well as 2.4GHz bands -- plus low-power Bluetooth for a persistent connection.

Design: The GH5 joins Olympus in adding freezeproof to its list of weatherproofings, down to 14 degrees F (-10 degrees C). Panasonic chucked the built-in flash for better thermal performance, but in exchange it received a reworked microphone that you can use in conjunction with add-on mics to cancel out ambient noise. Its big, new-to-the-market OLED viewfinder hits a resolution high of almost 4 million dots, and it incorporates two UHS-II SD slots.

Those are just some of the highlights.

The body's changed enough to require new accessories -- in addition to a new battery grip, Panasonic's offering a hot-shoe-mount (and powered) XLR adapter.