This is the Video that Convinced Me Panasonic’s GH5 4K 4:2:2 Stabilized Autofocus Camera is Ready for Serious Handheld Documentary Production

Panasonic’s amazing new Lumix GH5 Super 16/Micro Four Thirds 4K 4:2:2 10-bit camera combines eagerly-anticipated autofocus functionality with what may be the best stabilization going right now, but videos clearly demonstrating both feature sets in action have descended into something of a fanboy slanging match. 

It was a relief, then, to come across a short movie that does the job straight off the bat, effectively and without commenter conflicts or fanboyisms, showing off the benefits of the GH5’s autofocus and in-body image stabilization for video along with the optical beauty of the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro lens.

Goodbye shakeycam, your time is done.

The Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup as of April 2017, and it is rumoured that a 17mmm f/1.2 prime is under development. From left: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 8mm f/1.8 Fisheye Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 f/4.0 IS Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 Pro, M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 Pro and M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4.0 IS Pro. I look forward to Olympus adding more fast professional-quality colour-matched primes to the M.Zuiko Pro lens lineup.

I am partial to the Olympus M.Zuiko Pro prime and zoom lens range for documentary work, not least for the lenses’ matched colour rendering as well as their weather resistance, solid build and repeatable quarter-turn manual clutch focus.

Some cinematographers have dismissed Olympus M43 lenses for uncinematic colour rendering but the needs of documentary moviemaking can be very different to those of feature film production and different again to stills photography.

I have found Olympus M.Zuiko Pro lenses to be excellent for documentary photography and video, with the zooms exhibiting minimal optical curvature that can be corrected in raw processing software recognizing imported or EXIF-based lens profiles.

Curvature can be more of a problem in video if the scene contains parallel vertical or horizontal lines as in architecture, but the M.Zuiko Pro primes appear to be very well optically corrected.

Olympus seems to be on the path towards finally fully realizing a current pipe dream, a full-featured, colour-matched set of top-quality professional-standard prime and zoom lenses for video and stills production.

Panasonic, Olympus’ partner in the Micro Four Thirds System Standard Group, is following a different path with two parallel lines of lenses, its Leica and Lumix zooms and primes, neither of which contains as many focal length options as the M.Zuiko Pro collection.

Micro Four Thirds critics railed against the format for its small choice of lenses for years despite the large number of MFT lens makers amongst the MFT System group’s membership and outside it.

It is a sign of Micro Four Thirds’ acceptance and maturation that photographers and moviemakers now look for matched sets of lenses in a range of focal lengths like those now being produced by Olympus, Panasonic, Voigtlaender, Veydra and others.

There can never be too much stability when handholding cameras for stills and video. A well-designed camera cage like this from Seercam boosts stability by offering a little extra weight (but not too much) and plenty of good, solid grip. More GH5 cage options are appearing now, and my favourite for one-person documentary moviemaking is this one while I would choose 8Sinn’s smaller, sleeker cage for shooting big-crew feature films with geared prime lens sets like those made by Veydra, or Duclos’ modded Voigtlaender f/0.95 Nokton primes.

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Header image concept and production by Carmel D. Morris.

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