Panasonic Lumix G5 Review

 
Camera Reviews / Panasonic Lumix Cameras / Lumix Compact System Camera i Review

Panasonic G5 Video Recording

Panasonic has been one of the leaders in video from interchangeable-lens still cameras from the beginning of their Micro Four Thirds product line. And at the high end, their DMC-GH2 (and now the newly-released DMC-GH3) was a real breakthrough product for super-compact, high-quality HD video recording.

The Panasonic G5 doesn't aspire to those heights, but does provide good, basic video recording capability for the average consumer, with much better than average focus tracking, stereo sound recording, and a nice set of creative modes to boot. Add one of Panasonic's PowerZoom lenses for silky-smooth (and silent) zooming, and you'll have a very nice little video-recording package. Even with the non-PowerZoom kit lens, though, the Panasonic G5 is a great consumer-level video solution.

Panasonic G5 Basic Video Specs

  • 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) Full HD recording at 60p and 30p; 1080i at 60i
  • 720p (1,280 x 720) HD recording at 30p
  • AVCHD or MP4 file formats, with Dolby Digital 2ch audio (AVCHD) or AAC (MP4)
  • VGA (640 x 480), 30 fps, 4Mbps standard-definition recording (4:3 ratio MP4)
  • Program AE-only exposure for video recording
  • Very broad range of exposure styles and creative effects available in video mode
  • Built in stereo microphone
  • Still images can be captured while recording video, temporarily muting the audio
  • Can be set to "motion picture priority" or "still pictures priority", governing whether stills shot during video recording are 2 megapixels, with only a brief gap in the audio, or full-resolution, with a brief screen blackout
  • Video AF modes include single AF, continuous AF, and subject tracking AF (AFF)
  • Autofocus can be triggered during movie recording by half-pressing the shutter button,in single-AF mode
  • Manual focus also available in movie mode, although no focus-assist available during movie recording itself
  • "Touch-focus" feature is great for shifting focus during movie recording, works very well
  • Lossless digital zoom in video mode, up to 3.6x for HD resolutions, 4.8x for VGA
  • 2x/4x digital zoom also available in any video recording mode
  • Wind noise can be minimized with a wind-cut setting, although audio may be slightly altered
  • Microphone input sensitivity can be adjusted to 4 different levels, and there is an option for displaying the level onscreen if desired
  • Flicker reduction settings of: [1/50], [1/60], [1/100], [1/120] and [Off] to minimize flicker under fluorescent or LED lights
  • Can divide short film clips in-camera into 2 separate clips
  • Class 4 or higher cards recommended for video

Panasonic G5 Video Speeds & Feeds: Image size, frame rate, and file format

The Panasonic G5 offers three video resolutions, three frame rates and two format settings in the following combinations:

Panasonic G5 Video Options
AVCHD Format (.MTS files)
Menu Designation
Resolution
Frame Rate
Approx. Bitrate

(PSH)

1,920 x 1,080
(16:9 aspect ratio)

60 (progressive)
28 Mbps

(FSH)

60 (interlaced)
17 Mbps

(FPH)

30 (progressive)
17 Mbps

(SH)

1,280 x 720
(16:9 aspect ratio)
60 (progressive)
17 Mbps
MPEG-4 Format (.MP4 files)
Menu Designation
Resolution
Frame Rate
Approx. Bitrate

(FHD)

1,920 x 1,080
(16:9 aspect ratio)

30 (progressive)
20 Mbps

(HD)

1,280 x 720
(16:9 aspect ratio)

10 Mbps
(VGA)
640 x 480
(4:3 aspect ratio)
4 Mbps

All but one of the Panasonic G5's video modes are progressive scan, meaning that every video line is scanned, one after the other, for every frame. The FSH mode uses an interlaced scan, in which every other line is displayed in one scan, then the alternate lines are displayed in the next. Interlaced scanning reduces the data rate that needs to be recorded, and plays pretty well on HDTVs, but many viewer programs on computers will show severe "tearing" artifacts if your subject moves in between scans.

The Panasonic G5 also offers both AVCHD and MPEG-4 recording formats. AVCHD compresses the video imagery better, producing higher-quality imagery with smaller file sizes, but is much harder to edit than MPEG-4. This is changing somewhat now, with more software available that can effectively edit AVCHD, but if you want to edit your video clips, check to see what your editing software supports before deciding on a format.

The G5 sample we tested was intended for sale in the US, so its video timing supported the NTSC spec. Units sold in PAL countries have frame rates of 50 and 25 fps vs the 60/30 fps shown in the table above.


Panasonic G5 video quality

The Panasonic G5 produced very good-quality video, with very good detail at the highest bitrate (and the good side of average at lower bitrates), practically no motion artifacts, and good-looking color. It did best in daylight, a well-lit interior or shortly after dusk. It rendered our standard night scene a little darker than we'd prefer, but you could still make out some detail in the shadows, and areas like the "INC" sign with its light shining on it and the store interior were quite good. Much to its credit, there was very little video noise in the night shots, and we saw no sign of moiré or aliasing anywhere in the image. (The corrugated roof under the INC sign often shows moiré patterns, even with higher-end cameras.) We also saw no signs of moiré in the big grass fronts in our daylight tests with Charlotte the Wonder Dog.

Unlike some cameras like the GF5 which read the sensor at only 30p and repeat frames to achieve 60p, or extract two fields from one frame for 60i, the G5's sensor output is 60p in all AVCHD modes.

While AVCHD may be a little harder to edit, the image quality in the Panasonic G5's "PSH" mode (AVCHD, 60 progressive frames/second, 28 megabit bitrate) is a good argument for its use. The full 60p meant very smooth motion with no artifacts, and the detail the G5 delivered in this mode was very impressive. Particularly noteworthy was how well the camera held onto fine detail even during fairly rapid panning. Situations like that, with large changes from frame to frame, are very tough on AVCHD encoders, but the G5 did very well with it.

Rolling shutter artifacts (aka the "Jello effect") are a fact of life in video from digital still cameras, but the Panasonic G5 again did very well in this area, likely due to its fast sensor readout. Rolling shutter is very minimal; you're unlikely to notice any sign of it, at any normal panning speed.

Overall, we were very impressed with the image quality of the Panasonic G5's videos: It outperforms many cameras selling at considerably higher prices.


Panasonic G5 video focusing

  • Multiple focus modes:
    • Single AF
    • Continuous AF
    • AFF - subject tracking
    • Manual focus
  • Multiple AF options:
    • Face Detection
    • Object tracking
    • 23-area
    • 1-area
    • Pinpoint
  • Touch focus works beautifully for videos
  • Focus motor operation with PowerZoom lens is silent, can't speak for normal kit lens
  • i.Resolution mode for enhanced sharpness (not really focus, but seemed to fit here)

Video autofocus operation with the G5 is very smooth, and generally quite accurate. It was confused a couple of times by Charlotte the Wonder Dog's mottled coat and fast action, but it recovered pretty rapidly each time, and with all other subjects its autofocus was very sure-footed. We were also very pleased with the way the G5 handled large, abrupt changes in subject distance, too: Many contrast-detect systems have real trouble when faced with an abrupt change in subject distance, but the G5 just smoothly moved from the old to the new focus positions, with no sign of hunting or confusion.

Our favorite feature: We love Panasonic's touch-focus feature for video recording! It makes it easy to smoothly shift focus from foreground to background or between subjects, with the slow, steady focus shift giving a very professional look to your movies.


Panasonic G5 video exposure

  • Video exposure is always fully automatic, but you can adjust exposure compensation before recording begins
  • Multi-zone, center-weighted, and spot metering available
  • i.Dynamic mode adjusts exposure and contrast to maximize dynamic range
  • Auto Exposure lock doesn't work in video mode
  • Multiple exposure styles available:
    • Standard
    • Vivid
    • Natural
    • Monochrome
    • Scenery
    • Portrait
    • Custom
  • Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation and Noise Reduction settings can be adjusted in any exposure style
  • Very wide range of creative options available in video mode:
    • Clear Portrait
    • SilkySkin
    • Backlit Softness
    • Clear in Backlight
    • Relaxing Tone
    • Sweet Child's Face
    • Distinct Scenery
    • Bright Blue Sky
    • Romantic Sunset Glow
    • Vivid Sunset Glow
    • Clear Nightscape
    • Cool Night Sky
    • Warm Glowing Nightscape
    • Artistic Nightscape
    • Clear Night Portrait
    • Appetizing Food
    • Cute Dessert
    • Freeze Animal Motion
    • Clear Sports Shot
    • Monochrome

Video exposure with the Panasonic G5 is always fully automatic, although you can adjust exposure compensation over a very wide range, before recording begins. We found the G5's video exposure system to be quite accurate most of the time, though as mentioned previously, it rendered our standard night scene a little darker than ideal.


Panasonic G5 audio recording

  • Built-in stereo mics
  • No external audio input
  • Recording level manually adjustable in 4 steps
  • Optional audio-level display on-screen during recording
  • Wind noise can be minimized with a wind-cut setting (Auto, Off)

Panasonic G5 video samples

Here are some examples of video shot with the Panasonic G5:

Panasonic G5: Video Samples
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (FPH) mode, 30p, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (FSH) mode, 60i, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (PSH) mode, 60p, MTS format
Download Original
1,280 x 720
AVCHD, (SH) mode, 60p, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MP4, Progressive, 30p, (FHD) mode
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MP4, Progressive, 30p, (HD) mode
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (FPH) mode, 30p, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (FSH) mode, 60i, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (PSH) mode, 60p, MTS format
Download Original
1,280 x 720
AVCHD, (SH) mode, 60p, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MP4, Progressive, 30p, (FHD) mode
Download Original
1,280 x 720
MP4, Progressive, 30p, (HD) mode
Download Original

Panasonic G5 focus speed test

Panasonic G5: Focus Speed
1,920 x 1,080
MP4, Progressive, 30p
Download Original

Panasonic G5 depth of field test

Panasonic G5: Depth Of Field (No Aperture Control)
1,920 x 1,080
MP4, Progressive, 30p, f/5
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
MP4, Progressive, 30p, f/22
Download Original

Panasonic G5 Rolling Shutter Artifacts ("Jello Effect")

Panasonic G5: Rolling Shutter Artifacts
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (FPH) mode, 30p, MTS format
Download Original
1,920 x 1,080
AVCHD, (PSH) mode, 60p, MTS format
Download Original

 

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