Three years after starting my photography and videography journey, I bought a Panasonic Lumix GH5. I got a phenomenal bargain in near-perfect condition from a friend. He added extras that made the deal even sweeter.
These days, there’s many people that want to get into cinematic videos and GH5 happens to be one of those ideal cameras people lust over. It has internal 10-bit 4:2:2, V-LOG, 4K @ 60FPS, a headphone jack, dual SD-card slots, and much more.
The GH5 blows away the competition, and at a low price of $1297 – it’s the best value professional camera.
My journey started with much simpler, yet capable, cameras to earn my rite-of-passage with the GH5.
After shooting with the GH5, I think most people that want this camera don’t actually need it.
They’ve just fallen into the hype and likely feel GH5 will improve their content.
In this article, I cover five reasons why you shouldn’t buy a GH5. If these reasons apply to you, consider the alternatives I’ve listed.
1. You’re a beginner
Whenever I tackle a new subject, I start with the fundamentals and gradually increase my knowledge to gain confidence in the subject. One step at a time, right? If you’re a beginner, the first concept you should master is exposure.
Exposure is controlled through shutter speed, aperture, and iso.
It was my first major lesson in photography and it can be learned on any camera offering manual controls.
There’s many cameras tailored for beginners. Panasonic G7, GX85, G85, and G95 all have manual exposure controls at less than half the price. These cameras are great for beginners and don’t overwhelm you with superfluous features.
Make no mistake, the GH5 is a professional camera with professional features, but if you’re a beginner, consider alternatives to gradually improve your skills.
2. You want to vlog
If your primary goal is to Vlog like Casey Neistat, consider the platform and how your viewers consume your content.
YouTube and social media is largely accessed through 5″ mobile phones. So shooting 10-bit 4:2:2 4K in v-log then color-grading in post for a YouTube vlog about your life is likely not going to take you further than shooting 8-bit 4:2:0 in 1080p (or even 4K). And you could’ve put that time towards something else.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve recorded many videos in 4K 8-bit at 4:2:0 sampling to be screened on my big-screen Samsung 70″ TV.
However, for YouTube, the majority of your audience won’t notice the difference between image quality. And if they do, perhaps there’s other areas that need improvement.
Does your story-telling need work? Your lighting? Your sound?
Which brings me to the next point about leaving room for gear.
3. You could use the money
The GH5 is expensive. In some cases, as much as by 3x as compared to beginner cameras like the Panasonic G85. Cha-ching!
The GH5 features dual SD cards with a minimum V60-rated UHS II card for 400 Mbps. And guess what, this requires more money.
The GH5 has a v-log upgrade for $100. Again, this is more money… you get the point.
If you’re starting out, consider getting a cheaper camera to put the remaining amounts into lenses, lights, audio and other equipment to further your photography or videography.
4. It’s complicated
This heading could totally be the relationship status with the GH5.
Are you aware of synchro-scan, all-I, v-log, and shutter angle?
Well, did you know the GH5 has 139 settings? That’s right, 139! Many of them are advanced terms and can be overwhelming to learn for the newcomer.
The GH5 also has v-log capability which requires addition color-grading in your video editors, not to mention additional time. So not only is v-log an additional cost, but requires more effort to get the colors right.
Make no mistake, this is a pro-level camera with pro-level features. If you don’t understand the fundamentals, you won’t understand the advanced, complex topics.
5. You’ll need to upgrade… everything
With 400Mbps and v-log, this is not exactly something that can run on your grandpa’s 386 with a turbo-button. For these higher image resolutions, you’ll need quick computing power.
In fact, DaVinci Resolve (free version) doesn’t suport 4:2:2 video files. You’ll need to upgrade to the studio version for $299. You can convert the files to ProRes (or other readable formats), but that’s an additional step.
For higher-end image quality, you’ll want a computer with at least 32GB RAM, 3 GHz processor, a video card with 8 GB RAM, fast SSDs and much more.
In short, you’ll need to upgrade everything. Otherwise what’s the point in getting a $1300 camera and shooting in a mode available at a lower priced camera?
The Panasonic Lumix G7 is the camera that I started with and it is packed with features. I’ve seen sales as low as $500 for this camera and two lenses. It features 100Mbps at 4K (30p/24p). It also doesn’t overwhelm you with advanced features like shutter angle and synchro scan. On these cameras, you simply double the frame rate (30fps = shutter speed of 1/60s).
If you can afford more, I’d recommend the Panasonic Lumix G85. It has HDMI pass-through which allows output to an external device while recording. The G7 lacks this pass-through feature. In addition, the G85 has in-body image stabilization (IBIS).
Obviously this isn’t a comprehensive list, but I believe these cameras are the absolute best-value Panasonic Lumix cameras in 2020. The advantage of owning a camera from the Lumix line is that the features and menu settings build on each other as you upgrade cameras.
The GH5 is a professional camera with professional features and definitely has it’s place. Unless you’ve accumulated some experience under your belt, consider one of the alternatives at a lower price. In the end, you’ll learn a lot more without feeling overwhelmed and can eventually upgrade to the GH5 when you’ve improved your overall knowledge and skills.
YouTuber Guy With Camera helped me convert 4:2:2 MP4s into ProRes. He made a video that uses ffmpeg to convert the files. He provides a script and walks you through creating proxies.
Check out his channel for more helpful videos. Thank you, GWC!
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