Panasonic GH5 shoots 4K at 60 frames per second — with no time limits

Even without a dedicated camcorder, 4K video is now readily available in the same smooth frame rate as HD. Panasonic today announced the Lumix GH5, the first mirrorless camera that can record 4K-quality footage at 60 frames per second. During the 2017 CES, Panasonic also unveiled the the selfie-inspired mirrorless Lumix GX850 and 60x-zoom Lumix FZ80, but the GH5 is clearly the star of the bunch.

An update to the highly lauded GH4, the first mirrorless camera to shoot in 4K, the GH5 captures both Full HD and 4K footage without the time limits normally posed by cameras. A new sensor with a 1.7 times faster signal readout, paired with a processor that’s 1.3 times faster than the predecessor’s, allows this video-centric camera to capture 4K in 60p/50p, Panasonic said.

Panasonic already has an April firmware update in the works to add in 10-bit recordings, which is commonly used in high-end film production for more accurate colors. The GH5 will be able to capture video in MOV, MP4, AVCHD Progressive, and AVCHD formats. Panasonic said it also added a number of different features requested by professional film users, including embedded time codes for syncing footage from multiple cameras.

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Panasonic Lumix GH5

The GH5 sensor has been redesigned with 25-percent more megapixels, now boasting 20.3MP versus 16.05 in the GH4. Panasonic also removed the optical low-pass filter, a layer over the sensor that prevents distortion in fine patterns but also tends to distort the finer details. Without optical low-pass filters, cameras tend to capture better details than cameras still using the filter.

The updated Venus Engine processor then reads each pixel and categorizes that data as either a flat, detail, or edge piece. Panasonic explained that the camera then processes the photo based on that information, detecting color fringing at the edges and fine-tuning the detail areas of the image. The company said the new process allows for greater detail while still achieving natural textures.

The GH5’s processor treats color with a similar concept, detecting hue, saturation, and brightness separately for richer colors across the image’s dynamic range. The updated processor also brings four times more noise reduction over the previous model.

The camera’s autofocus system, jumping from 49 to 225 focus points, incorporates the company’s Depth from Defocus mode (which was later added to the GH4 with a firmware update), as well as the built-in focus stacking introduced last year on the G85 and compact LX10 and FZ2500. The mode shoots two images at different focal points, allowing for some focus adjustments in post. In the GH5, the defocus feature is six times faster than with the GH4.

Panasonic says the flagship mirrorless shooter locks focus in 0.05 seconds and can shoot nine frames per second (fps) while adjusting the focus between the shots, or at 12fps with a fixed focus. If that’s not enough speed, a new 6K photo mode will pull 18-megapixel stills out of a 30fps video to enhance the chances of nailing the timing of the shot.

The camera’s list of features also includes five-axis image stabilization, which can also be paired with two-axis in-lens systems, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

The mirrorless camera’s body is constructed from magnesium alloy with weather sealing; it can resist cold temperatures down to -10 degrees Celsius, or about 14 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s an electronic viewfinder, tilting touchscreen, and dual SD card slots, with the latter being a new feature.

The GH5 will retail, body only, for $1,999, and availability is slated for the end of March.

GX850, FZ80

The Lumix GX850, a more budget-minded mirrorless camera, is also headlined by 4K. Also known as the GF9, the GX850 is reminiscent to the selfie-loving GF7 and GF8. The $549 camera (available early February) uses a 16-megapixel sensor with the optical low-pass filter removed, and records 4K video (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) at 30fps or 24fps as an MP4 file. Panasonic’s 4K photo burst mode is also here, but unlike the GH5’s 6K Photo, resolution is eight megapixels. The aforementioned Depth from Defocus mode is also included.

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Panasonic Lumix GX850

The GX850 has a flip-up screen for selfies, and the camera automatically switches to selfie mode when the screen is flipped 180 degrees. Panasonic also added beauty retouching, panoramic selfies, 4K selfies, and a new background control mode that adjusts the softness of the background without manual modes. Users can also trigger a selfie by waving or by putting their face close to a friend’s.

While the GX850 is designed for selfie enthusiasts, the FZ80 bridge-style compact also joined Panasonic’s ranks today at CES as a flexible outdoors or travel camera.

The FZ80 comes equipped with a fixed (permanent) 60x optical zoom lens, along with manual exposure control for both the 18.1-megapixel stills and 4K, 30fps videos – a nice update over the HD-only FZ70. The camera captures a 20mm-1,200mm range on a 35mm-equivalent camera. Panasonic said the new zoom camera locks focus as quick as 0.09 seconds, shooting bursts up to six per second with continuous focus or up to ten with the focused fixed on the first shot. The camera also offers Panasonic’s Post Focus and Focus Stack modes, optical image stabilization, and Wi-Fi. The camera has both electronic viewfinder and a touchscreen LCD. The FZ80 will retail for $399 beginning in March.

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