Panasonic Lumix GH5 online Review

Panasonic Lumix GH5: The best Panasonic Lumix camera yet

Panasonic Lumix GH5 Leica 12 60mm Lens (1)

Photographic online review site Cameralabs has published a very detailed and comprehensive review of Panasonic’s answer to Olympus’s OM-D EM1 II micro four third (MFT – M43) flagship mirrorless camera the Panasonic Lumix GH5.

The new GH5 promises unrivalled video capacity as well as the best image quality yet for a Panasonic micro four third camera.

So has the new Panasonic GH5 moved the game on for Panasonic’s micro four system and like the OM-D EM1 II does it represent Panasonic’s first proper “pro” focussed camera?

Panasonic Lumix GH5 (3)

From Cameralabs:

“The Lumix GH5 is Panasonic’s most powerful mirrorless camera to date and a worthy successor to the GH4, whether you’re shooting stills or movies. It’s fast, flexible and feature-packed, easily taking-on rivals in this category and out-performing virtually anything at its price for video. Like the recent Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II it proves Micro Four Thirds can not only play with the big boys, but beat them in many respects.

It’s easy to concentrate on video with the GH5, so I’m going to start with the stills. Panasonic could have been complacent in this regard, but has combined a new sensor with improved image processing which delivers photos that look as detailed – and crucially as natural – as the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II in my tests. The built-in stabilisation is Panasonic’s best yet offering three to five stops of compensation in my tests, while the DFD focusing delivered a high hit rate on moving subjects even at the top speed of 9fps. While a lot of attention is devoted to continuous AF these days, it’s also important to credit Panasonic with supremely quick single autofocus that continues working in very low light levels.

I also welcome the upgrade in Panasonic’s 4K Photo modes, now available at double the frame rate on the GH5 or at a higher 6K resolution. The ability to grab stills from short video clips remains the same, but the chance to do it at 18 Megapixels makes it much more useful than the 8 Megapixels previously. Meanwhile a higher resolution viewfinder, larger and more detailed screen, dual SD slots (both of which exploit UHS-II speed), 5GHz Wifi and Bluetooth, all enhance the shooting experience.

Video is of course where the GH5 becomes really exciting. The GH4 was the first camera in its class to offer 4K video at 30p and now the GH5 boosts this to 60p with no crop in the field of view and no recording limit either. Forget half hour clips: on the GH5 I recorded an uninterrupted two hour clip at 4K / 50p on a single charge, while the ability to run on mains power and hot-swap SD cards suggests even longer recording times are also possible – I’ll test this capability soon.

Previously the GH4 could only record 4K internally in 8-bit / 4:2:0, but now the GH5 can do 10-bit / 4:2:2 internally at 30p. This along with built-in stabilisation, new vectorscope and waveform views, and an optional compact XLR mic adapter means the GH5 can satisfy the needs of many pros in a very compact and portable configuration – and if you do want to connect an external recorder to access 4K in 10-bit up to 60p, the HDMI port is now gratifyingly full-sized. Meanwhile a series of firmware updates during 2017 will bring higher video bit rates, a high resolution anamorphic mode, and an optional V Log L profile that’s very flat.

The GH5 is, in short, triumphant at video and the features and frame rates could be sufficient to even tempt those who previously switched from the GH4 to the full-frame Sony A7S Mark II. Yes, the Sony is cleaner at 6400 ISO and can continue filming at absurdly high ISOs (even looking very respectable at 25600 ISO), but if you can shoot below 6400 ISO I think there’s few who wouldn’t be very satisfied with the GH5’s output and feature-set, especially for the money.

Indeed there’s very little I can criticise the Lumix GH5 on. I personally feel some of the buttons are unnecessarily small or flush to the body, but appreciate this is a personal opinion. The viewfinder resolution falls when shooting at fast burst rates with continuous AF. The autofocus slows down in the 4K and 6K modes compared to shooting ‘normal’ stills. There’s no Bulb timers to preset long exposures. There’s no support for USB charging in-camera. Some may also argue the camera was released a few months too soon with a flurry of firmware updates promised by Summer 2017, but I feel the camera as tested was sufficiently complete to be very usable and the updates will be here before we know it.

I don’t think any of the things above are deal-breakers, so arguably the biggest issue for the GH5 is the old argument concerning its Four Thirds sensor size. There’s no denying Four Thirds is smaller than APSC, which in turn is smaller than full-frame, and unsurprisingly the larger formats will deliver cleaner stills or video at high ISOs. But in my tests I didn’t really notice much difference until I was shooting at 6400 ISO or above, and I rarely needed to use these sensitivities thanks to the combination of effective built-in stabilisation and bright lenses that perform well even at maximum apertures. I do appreciate some photographers and videographers will need to deploy high ISOs though and if they want the cleanest results, they’ll benefit from a larger sensor, but I would urge any potential buyers to think carefully about how they’ll shoot and whether – or how often – they’ll truly need very high ISOs. Even if you desire the high ISO performance, you may find the GH5’s feature-set ultimately more compelling”.

Panasonic Lumix GH5 (4)

Summary

” Panasonic’s Lumix GH5 is a worthy flagship body, greatly extending the quality and capabilities of the earlier GH4. A more detailed viewfinder, twin SD slots which both support the full speed of UHS-II, effective continuous AF at 9fps, and built-in stabilisation all make it a powerful stills shooter and the improved sensor and image processing delivers the best-looking images from a Lumix body to date. Panasonic’s unique 4K Photo modes now operate at twice the speed or at 6K for extracting higher resolution stills from video clips. Unsurprisingly it’s the movie modes which really impress with unlimited 4K video internally at 60p or in 10-bit at 30p (or both if you’re using an external recorder), and a wealth of features including vectorscope and waveform displays, anamorphic capture, programmable focus transitions, optional XLR inputs and very flat output (especially with the V Log L update), all making it one of the most portable and professional movie solutions for the money. The GH5 is a no-brainer for video pros but also becomes a highly compelling stills camera too – Highly Recommended”.

March 2017

My Take:

Well the Olympus OM-D EM1 II certainly has equal now in the Micro Four Third ( MFT – M43) world and although for me personally I’d choose the EM1 II (after all am a EM5 II owner with a clutch of M.Zuiko “Pro” lenses),  if I was seriously into video the Panasonic Lumix GH5 would be the camera to go for.

Sure outright image quality doesn’t quite reach that of the best APS-C DSLR from say ISO 800 upwards but mirrorless cameras bring some features and capacities that DSLR’s simply cannot match.

To my mind the new GH5 is a proper “pro” camera just like its Olympus brother and that’s no bad thing at all.

Mark Baynham ( March 2017)

 

 

Fujifilm X-T20 online review

Fujifilm X-T20: The wise choice for the cost conscious buyer 

Online review site Dpreview has published its full review of Fuji’s mid level mirrorless Trans X camera the Fuji X-T20 and they seem very impressed

Fujifilm X-T20 Review thumbnail

From Dpreview

“Fujifilm’s X-T20 takes the design and handling of the X-T10, adds many of the ‘guts’ of the X-T2, and stirs until a very competent mirrorless camera emerges. It offers the direct setting controls found on nearly all of Fujifilm X-series cameras that make it a real pleasure to use. Image quality has improved, courtesy of Fujifilm’s latest 24MP X-Trans CMOS sensor, and the AF system has been updated, as well, though its performance is inconsistent. The X-T20 also gains 4K video capture and clean HDMI output, as well as the company’s latest Film Simulation modes.

The Fujifilm X-T20 isn’t just a very competent camera; it’s a competent camera that’s fun to shoot with, unlike most of its peers. While things like its build quality and attractive design and responsive performance are all appealing, it’s the combination of numerous direct controls and a great viewfinder that make the X-T20 a camera I want to pick up and use.

The X-T20 has shortcomings, of course, like a good-but-not-great autofocus system, 4K video that’s not as good as the best of its peers and a few ergonomic foibles, but in this reviewer’s eyes, the X-T20 is a midrange mirrorless camera that should be strongly considered.

Conclusion:
The Fujifilm X-T20 is a beautifully designed mirrorless camera that is a pleasure to use. It offers numerous direct controls, a high resolution EVF, snappy performance and excellent image quality. The X-T20’s continuous AF system can struggle in low light, and subject tracking is inconsistent. 4K video quality isn’t the greatest, and capture controls are limited. Despite that, the X-T20 is a first-rate mirrorless camera and a great value, to boot”.
March 2017

Another Fujifilm X100F Review

Fujifilm X100F Review thumbnail

Online review site Photography Blog UK has published its review of Fuji’s X100F and here’s what they concluded:

From Photography Blog UK:

“The Fujifilm X100F is a very enjoyable camera to use, and fans of the brand and this style of camera will not be disappointed by the improvements made to this latest iteration. 

Autofocusing has been improved, and you can rely on it to get the shot in focus consistently and quickly, especially if you already have the focus point in the correct place. 

Images are bright and vivid, while the different film simulation modes give you lots of scope for getting the colours you desire to match the scene you’re shooting. You’ll probably find you have your own favourite, but they’re great to experiment with. 

The Fujifilm X100F is the perfect size and weight for maximum portability, and with a 35mm f/2 lens, it’s the ideal camera for street photography – if that’s the kind of work you like to do, then you’ll find it very appealing. Some will find having a fixed focal length a drawback, but it’s quite a flexible length for a range of different subjects that forces you to work with your feet rather than relying on a zoom. 

That said, at the end of the day, the Fujifilm X100 range remains a niche camera. You have to have a specific need for a camera like this, and while it does what it does extremely well, many will be looking for something which is a bit more of an all-rounder – especially for the cost involved. 

Using the Fujifilm X100F is generally great – lots of dials and buttons make changing most settings quick and easy. Improvements have been made to ergonomics which make sense, but the screen is the biggest let down. Not being touch-sensitive means that sometimes, just sometimes, you can miss the definitive moment because changing the AF point isn’t the split second action it would be with a touch-sensitive screen. That aside, it would also be super helpful if the screen tilted so you could use it as a waist level finder for street photography. 

Ultimately, there’s a hell of a lot to like, if not love, about the Fujifilm X100F. It’s a beautiful camera, is great to use and produces lovely images – there’s just a couple of reasons which means it stops just short of perfection. If you’re looking to save money, take at the look at the still excellent X100T, or even the X100S or original X100″.

March 2017

Fujifilm X100F online review

Fujifilm X100F: Best X100 model yet by a country mile

Dpreview has published a comprehensive review of Fuji’s latest X100 model, the Fujifilm X100F and its worth a read.

The orginal X100 was a unique camera in its time, offering a fixed prime lens, an APS-C Trans X sensor and clever electric-Optical viewfinder but it was flawed in a number of areas so Fuji not only improved the orginal model via firmware updates but also introduced the X100S and X100T models.

Well the X100F takes all the very best aspects of the X100 concept and adds both a new 24mp sensor (same as in the X-Pro 2 and X-T2) and incoporates tweaks to ergonomics (via button layout), the result promises to be the best X100 model yet and an excellent camera in its own right, so what did Dpreview think?

From Dpreview:

Conclusion

“The X100 series started life as a great concept with wonderful styling that lots of people loved, despite of its manifold quirks. Each subsequent model has been a little bit better, but not always enough to make them essential upgrades for existing owners.

The X100F changes that. The image quality takes a huge leap forward, as do the ergonomics, thanks to the addition of the AF joystick. But most significantly, the speed of operation, including that of the lens, has been noticeably improved. We think it’s enough to change the way you feel about the camera.

So, while we didn’t feel the X100T was enough of a step forwards to justify a Gold award, we have no such qualms about the X100F. On balance, we think this is the ‘rush out and buy one’ product that we’ve always hoped the X100 series would be.

The X100F’s combination of image quality, usability and styling make it the best in the series yet. It’s still a niche camera, but this latest version’s limitations stem primarily from its design, rather than its implementation. A true photographers’ camera”.

My Take:

I have tested and reviewed the three previous X100 models, loved most aspects of them them but also been frustrated by others.

The X100F is the first X100 model I’d have absolutely no qualms buying with my own money, its easily the best X100 model yet and represents a  genuine value for money upgrade for X100 and X100S owners. It will be a bit harder for X100T owners to justify an upgrade but I have no doubt whatsoever that many will purchase the X00F, its a cracking camera.

The X100F is one of the very few modern cameras that is able to blend old school photography with state of the art digital technology.

Its not quite perfect, the touch screen still isn’t articulated (doh) nor is it a touch screen and AF is till a bit unresponsive comapred to some of the opposition but if you seek a 35mm (equivilent) fixed lens compact (ish) camera with an EVF/Viewfinder that produces superb image quality and looks the business, the Fuji X100F is the camera for you. As a street, reportage camera its top class and even people who shoot urban city scapes and landscape will be delighted with the X100F.

Mark Baynham (March 2017)

 

Sigma 85mm f1.4 “Art” : Optical Perfection?

We know that DxO lab testing revealed the new Sigma 85mm f1.4 Prime Lens was as good as it gets but what about real world testing?

Well Dpreview have published a full user review of Sigma’s new “Art” lens for full frame DSLR’s and here’s what they concluded:

From Dpreview

Conclusion

“The Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art offers some incredible image quality for the price, with outstanding class leading sharpness, excellent subject isolation and bokeh performance. The F1.4 aperture makes it a fantastic choice for low-light events and portrait shooting. The lens does experience some purple and green fringing when it’s shot wide open at F1.4 in harsh backlit conditions, but stopping it down to F2.5 eliminates it entirely. All in all this lens is one of the best portrait lenses we’ve seen to date and at a bargain price for the performance”.
No doubts there then?
February 2017