Panasonic GH5 Image Quality


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Slightly higher than average mean saturation levels, with slightly better than average mean hue accuracy.

ISO Sensitivity
100
200
400
800
In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located toward the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center. Mouse over the links to compare results at different ISOs, and click on the links for larger images.

Saturation. The Panasonic GH5 produces images with slightly higher mean saturation compared to most cameras at default settings. Mean saturation is 113.1% (13.1% oversaturated) at the base ISO of 200 and 113.6% at extended low ISO 100, which gradually falls to a minimum of 110.2% at ISO 12,800. The Lumix GH5 pushes dark red, dark orange, dark green and dark blues moderately, and most other colors a little, but undersaturates yellow, aqua and cyan slightly. Colors are nice and vibrant even at high ISOs, a noticeable improvement over its predecessor. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.

Skin tones. Here, the Panasonic GH5 does well, producing natural-looking Caucasian skin tones with just a slight push towards pink when Auto or Manual white balance is used in simulated daylight, giving a healthy appearance that's not overdone. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.

Hue. The Panasonic GH5 shifts orange toward yellow, yellow toward green, and cyan toward blue, but not as much as some prior modes, and the yellow to green shift along with the desaturation is quite minor; a noticeable and welcome improvement over the GH4. The GH5's mean "delta-C" color error after correction for saturation is 4.51 for JPEGs at base ISO. That's a bit better than average these days, and color error remains fairly stable throughout the ISO range. Overall, the GH5's color rendering is a nice improvement over the GH4's. Hue is "what color" the color is.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Warm colors with default Auto white balance and very warm colors with the Incandescent white balance setting. Good color balance with the new AWBc setting and very good with Manual white balance. Average positive exposure compensation required.

Auto White Balance (AWB)
+0.3 EV
Auto White Balance (AWBc)
+0.3 EV
Incandescent White Balance
+0.3 EV
Manual White Balance
+0.3 EV

Indoors, under typical incandescent lighting, color balance is a little warm and reddish with the default Auto white balance setting (AWB), but the GH5 actually does better than most cameras. The GH5 also offers a new AWBc setting said to suppress reddish tones in incandescent lighting. It was a bit cool and magenta in our test, but better than the default Auto setting. Results with the Incandescent setting were very warm, with a strong orange-yellow cast. The Manual setting produced the most accurate results, though slightly cool. The Panasonic GH5 required +0.3 EV exposure compensation here, about average for this shot. (Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.)

Outdoors, daylight
Sorry, the weather has not cooperated for our usual "Far-field" outdoor shots, so we will fill this section in once we've had a chance to shoot them.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
~2,700 to ~2,750 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
~2,750 lines horizontal
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,700 lines vertical
Camera JPEG
Strong detail to
~2,750 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
Strong detail to
~2,750 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW

An in-camera best quality JPEG of our laboratory resolution chart reveals sharp, distinct line patterns up to about 2,750 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 2,700 lines in the vertical direction. (Some might argue for higher, but aliasing artifacts start to interfere and lines begin to merge at these limits.) Complete extinction of the pattern occurs between 3,700 lines and 3,800 lines. We weren't able to extract significantly more high-contrast resolution by processing the Panasonic GH5's RW2 file using Adobe Camera Raw, perhaps just 50 lines more in the vertical direction, and the ACR conversion also shows much more color moiré which is practically nonexistent in the camera JPEG.

Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Very good sharpness overall, with minor edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Mild to moderate noise suppression visible in the shadows even at base ISO.

Very good definition of high-contrast
elements, with just slightly visible
sharpening artifacts.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression tends to blur
detail in areas of subtle contrast.

Sharpness. The Panasonic GH5 captures sharp, detailed images, thanks in part to the lack of an optical low-pass filter. Some minor edge enhancement artifacts are visible around high-contrast elements such as the sharpening "halos" along the lines and text in the crop above left, but default sharpening is not too overdone, and you can always adjust in-camera sharpening or i-Resolution settings to better suite your tastes. Please be aware that because there is no optical low-pass filter the GH5 will be more susceptible to aliasing artifacts such as moiré patterns and false colors than models with an OLPF, however per-pixel sharpness is improved. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.

Detail. The crop above right shows the effect of noise suppression in the form of smudging of individual strands together in the darker areas of the mannequin's hair, as well as in areas with low local contrast, although chroma noise is virtually nonexistent. This is good noise versus detail processing performance for a 20-megapixel Micro Four Thirds model, leaving lots of fine detail intact instead of blurring much of it away in an attempt to hide noise. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Panasonic GH5 produces sharp in-camera JPEGs with very good detail. As is almost always the case, better detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files than can be seen in the in-camera JPEGs, with fewer sharpening artifacts to boot. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

Base ISO (200)
Camera JPEG, defaults
RAW via Adobe Camera Raw

In the table above, we compare an in-camera JPEG taken at base ISO using default noise reduction and sharpening (on the left) to a matching RAW file converted with Adobe Camera Raw 9.1 via DNG Converter 9.10 using default noise reduction with some strong but tight unsharp masking applied in Photoshop (300%, radius of 0.3 pixels, and a threshold of 0).

As you can see, the in-camera JPEG contains very good detail, however ACR extracted additional detail, particularly in the red-leaf fabric where it resolved a lot more of the fine thread pattern, and it also generated less noticeable sharpening halos for a similarly crisp image. The ACR conversion however shows much more luminance noise after sharpening, especially in flatter areas with little detail. You can always turn up the luminance noise reduction (default of zero was used here), use more selective sharpening, or process the files in your favorite noise reduction program or plugin if you find the noise objectionable. Bottom line, as is usually the case shooting in RAW mode can produce better detail while offering more control over the final output when using a good converter.

ISO & Noise Performance
Very good detail versus noise tradeoff for a Micro Four Thirds model.

Default Noise Reduction
ISO 100 ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600 ISO 3200
ISO 6400 ISO 12,800 ISO 25,600

The Panasonic GH5's images are very detailed and clean at ISOs 100 (extended) and 200, with only minor luma noise detectable in the shadows, and virtually no chroma noise. ISO 400 is also quite detailed, though a touch more noise and blurring from noise reduction can be seen. ISO 800 shows stronger noise with noise reduction blurring some very fine detail in the process, though overall detail remains very good and chroma noise remains very low. ISO 1600 shows a larger drop in image quality than prior ISO increments, but fine detail is still pretty good and chroma noise is still well-controlled. ISO 3200 is of course noisier with a larger drop in image quality, softer detail and more noise reduction artifacts, though overall the image is still fairly good, especially for a Micro Four Thirds camera. At ISO 6400, noise starts to take on a rectilinear crystalline effect as a result of noise reduction and sharpening, a lot of fine detail is blurred away, though chroma noise is still well-controlled. Image quality drops off rapidly at ISO 12,800 and 25,600, though, with stronger noise and noise reduction artifacts giving the images a stippled and peppered look, with noticeable chroma blotching in darker areas.

Overall, though, very good high ISO performance from a Micro Four Thirds camera. Both luminance noise and especially chrominance noise levels appear lower than in GH4 JPEGs despite the smaller pixels, thanks to improved anti-noise processing.

We did however notice the GH5 tended to select slightly longer shutter speeds for the same JPEG brightness of a scene as the GH4 (usually about a 1/4 stop slower), which resulted in lower noise levels in RAW files. When the two cameras were equally exposed using the same aperture, shutter speed and ISO settings resulting in slightly dimmer GH5 JPEGs, noise levels in RAW files were similar if not a bit higher from the GH5.

We're of course pixel-peeping to an extraordinary extent here, since 1:1 images on an LCD screen have little to do with how those same images will appear when printed. See the Print Quality section below for our evaluation of maximum print sizes at each ISO setting.

Note that we now shoot this series at f/8 instead of f/4, for increased depth of field (at f/4, it was very difficult to focus for maximum sharpness in the crop area while maintaining consistent focus between models).

Extremes: Sunlit, dynamic range and low light tests
Somewhat high default contrast but with good dynamic range for its class. Excellent low-light performance, able to capture images and autofocus in very low light.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Panasonic GH5 did well with the deliberately harsh lighting of this test. Contrast is a little high at its default setting, but dynamic range is pretty good in JPEGs. We felt the +0.7 EV exposure is the best compromise here. Although skin tones around the eyes are still a bit dark, we prefer it to the +1.0 EV exposure overall, because there are fewer clipped highlights At +0.7 EV, relatively few highlights were clipped in the white shirt and flowers. There are however some deep shadows which are a little noisy and discolored with a green tint, but they have good detail. The bottom line though, is that the Panasonic GH5 performed well with the wide dynamic range of this shot for a Micro Four Thirds camera, though as expected, competitors with larger sensors will often offer better performance. See below for how the Panasonic GH5's sensor performs (RAW mode) in terms of dynamic range.

Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)

Face Detection
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection Off
Aperture Priority, 0 EV, f/8
Face Detection On
iAuto, 0 EV, f/2.0

Face Detection
Like most cameras these days, the Panasonic GH5 has the ability to detect faces (up to 15 in a scene), and adjust exposure and focus accordingly. As you can see from the examples above, face detection improved exposure in both Aperture Priority at f/8, and in iAuto mode where the camera chose portrait mode and used a much wider aperture of f/2 to help isolate the subject from the background. Both look slightly overexposed, however overall exposure is much better than the dim default exposure with no face detection (far left).

Tone Curve Settings
In addition to a standard Contrast setting, the Panasonic GH5 has a curves setting which allows you to adjust the shape of the tone curve to tweak shadows and highlights independently. There are 4 presets (Standard, Lower Contrast, Higher Contrast, and Brighten Shadows), as well as 3 custom settings that allow you to adjust the highlight and shadow ends of the curves by +/-5 units. Above are examples using the default and 3 standard presets. Roll-over the links on the left to compare thumbnails and histograms, and click on the links to access the full-resolution images. As you can see, the 3 presets worked as expected, lowering contrast, increasing contrast, and brightening shadows compared to the default tone curve.

Intelligent D-Range (0 EV)

Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range
The above shots are examples of Panasonic's Intelligent Dynamic Range Control (or i.Dynamic) at work, with no exposure compensation. Note that the camera does not take multiple shots and merge them as HDR mode does (see below). It's a system that adjusts local contrast and exposure more akin to Nikon's Active D-lighting, Canon's Automatic Lighting Optimization or Sony's Dynamic Range Optimization.

There are three levels of iD-Range available on the Panasonic GH5: Low, Standard and High, plus Auto and Off. It's manually selectable in P, A, S, M exposure modes, as well as in Creative video mode. Here, you can see darker midtones and shadows were progressively boosted as the strength was increased, without blowing highlights in the process, and Auto selected an amount similar to High.


High Dynamic Range (0 EV)

HDR mode
Here, you can see the Panasonic GH5's High Dynamic Range mode at work, though our "Outdoor Portrait" scene isn't a great subject (we'll replace these with our "Far-field" shots once they are available). HDR mode takes three images at different exposures and combines them to increase dynamic range. Mouse over the links, and click on them the view the full resolution files.

Auto did a good job, producing results similar to +/-1 EV which was arguably the best for this scene. The +/2 EV setting was similar, while +/-3 dimmed the entire image. Be aware that ghosting and double images are possible if there is movement between frames. Also notice the angle of view is narrower in the HDR images, likely because the images have been cropped and upsized during the optional auto alignment process.

Dynamic Range Analysis (RAW mode)
While we once performed our own dynamic range measurements based on in-camera JPEGs as well as converted RAW images (when the camera was supported by Adobe Camera Raw), we've switched to using DxO Labs' results from their DxOMark website. As technology advanced, the dynamic range of modern high-end cameras in some cases exceeded the range of the Stouffer T4110 density scale that we used for our own measurements. DxO's approach based on RAW data before demosaicing is also more revealing, because it measures the fundamental dynamic range of the sensor, irrespective of whatever processing is applied to JPEGs, or to RAW data by off-the-shelf conversion software.

In the following, we use DxO's "Print" dynamic range results, which are scaled based on camera resolution. As the name suggests, this scaling corresponds to the situation in which you print at a given size, regardless of how many megapixels the camera might have. (In other words, if you've decided to make a 13x19 inch print, that's the size you're printing, whether the camera's resolution is 16 or 300 megapixels.) For the technically-minded, you can find a discussion of the reasoning behind this here on the DxOMark website. Also note that DxO Labs uses a signal-to-noise (SNR) threshold of 1 when defining the lower boundary of acceptable luminance noise in their dynamic range measurements, which corresponds to the "Low Quality" threshold of the Imatest software we used to use for this measurement.

Here, we compare the Panasonic GH5's dynamic range (in orange) to its predecessor's, the GH4's (yellow), and also to the Olympus E-M1 Mark II (red), a competing state-of-the-art Micro Four Thirds camera.

As you can see from the above graph, the GH5's dynamic range is a bit higher than the GH4's across the board, ranging from 13.0 EV at base ISO to 7.85 EV at ISO 12,800, compared to 12.76 EV and 6.87 EV respectively. Except at maximum ISO, the difference is less than 0.5 EV which is probably just discernible in real-world shots.

The Panasonic GH5 offers slightly higher dynamic range than the Olympus E-M1 Mark II at base ISO, but at higher ISOs, the Olympus does a bit better with about a 0.5 to 0.75 EV advantage.

Overall, very good dynamic range from the Panasonic GH5's 4/3" sensor, though of course larger state-of-the-art APS-C and full-frame sensors will perform significantly better.

Click here to visit the DxOMark page for the Panasonic GH5 for more of their test results and additional comparisons.


  1 fc
11 lux
1/16 fc
0.67 lux
1/16 fc
No NR
ISO
200
Click to see  GH5LL002003.JPG
1s, f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL002007.JPG
15s, f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL002007XNR.JPG
15s, f2.8
ISO
3200
Click to see  GH5LL032003.JPG
1/15s, f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL032007.JPG
1s, f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL032007XNR.JPG
1s, f2.8
ISO
25600
Click to see  GH5LL256003.JPG
1/125s, f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL256007.JPG
1/8s, 1 f2.8
Click to see  GH5LL256007XNR.JPG
1/8s, f2.8

Low Light. The Panasonic Lumix GH5 performed well in our low light tests, able to capture bright images down to the lowest light level we test at. The darkest level equates to about 1/16 the brightness of average city street lighting at night, so the Panasonic GH5 should be able to take well-exposed photos in almost any environment in which you can see well enough to walk around in.

Using the default noise reduction setting, noise is low at ISO 200 and well-controlled at ISO 3200 with a very fine, tight noise "grain" and a very low chroma component, though as you'd expect, noise is high in images at the maximum ISO of 25,600. Images are a bit dimmer than the GH4 for the same lighting and exposure variables, though, so the GH5 may not be quite as sensitive as the GH4 was at each ISO setting.

Automatic color balance was pretty good in low light, just slightly on the cool side.

We didn't notice any significant issues with hot pixels, though with long exposure noise reduction turned off (rightmost column) there were a lot of slightly brighter pixels in the very deep and green-tinted shadows at ISO 200, as well as a few hot pixels, though that's not unusual. We didn't detect any significant fixed-pattern noise although a change in color balance from the top to bottom visible at ISO 25,600 may be an indication of some minor heat blooming.

Low-light AF: The camera's autofocus system was able to focus our low-contrast AF target down to -4.6 EV, and on our newer high-contrast target down to -6.4 EV unassisted with an f/2.8 lens, which is excellent, especially for a camera with contrast-detect autofocus. The Panasonic GH5 also has a focus-assist light which allows it to autofocus in total darkness, as long as the subject is within range and has sufficient contrast.

How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.

NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) Thanks to their phase-detect AF systems, digital SLRs tend to do much better than point & shoots, but you still shouldn't expect a quick autofocus lock with moving subjects. The GH5 uses contrast-detect autofocus, as is found in most point & shoot cameras, so its low-light focusing ability may be less than that of some SLRs with phase-detect systems. That said, though, the larger, more sensitive pixels of the GH5's sensor do better under dim lighting than do the tiny pixels of most point & shoots.

Output Quality

Print Quality

Very good 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100/200; a nice 16 x 20 at ISO 1600; a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageISO 100/200 prints are quite good at 30 x 40 inches, with pleasing colors and excellent fine detail. The higher resolution 20-megapixel sensor certainly proves its worth here as compared to 16-megapixel predecessors and rivals not capable of such a large print at the lower sensitivities.

ISO 400 images look good at 24 x 36 inches, with nice color, fine detail and no noticeable clues that the gain has risen. Larger prints are certainly possible for wall display purposes here as well.

ISO 800 delivers a 20 x 30 inch print that's really not bad for this ISO, and it's a usable print for mid-level applications. For our official "good" grade we'll award the 16 x 20 inch max print size here, which shows only very mild traces of noise in flatter areas and a typical softening in the red channel, especially evident in our tricky red-leaf fabric swatch.

ISO 1600 also turns in a solid print at 16 x 20 inches (!) which is quite a rare feat for this sensor size. Most contrast detail is now lost in our tricky red-leaf swatch but otherwise the print is quite good with very little in the form of noise, and plenty of fine detail is still present throughout the print.

ISO 3200 tends to be the turning point for most Micro Four Thirds cameras, and the GH5 is no exception as its prints show a noticeable downturn in quality at this ISO. The camera can deliver a worthwhile 11 x 14 inch print here, with only minor traces of noise in a few areas and the typical red channel softening as mentioned above, but the prints begin to lose some vibrancy from this ISO and higher.

ISO 6400 delivers a good 8 x 10 inch print, and is similar to the 11 x 14 at ISO 3200. The noise levels and softening issues are well-controlled here, but there is still a noticeable decrease in "pop" as compared to prints at ISO 1600 and lower.

ISO 12,800 yields a 5 x 7 inch print similar to the 8 x 10 at ISO 6400, and is really not bad considering how high of an ISO this is for a MFT camera.

ISO 25,600 turns in a 4 x 6 inch print that may pass muster for casual snapshots, but for anything else we recommend avoiding this ISO altogether.

The Panasonic GH5 turns in a very respectable performance in the print quality department. The increased sensor resolution over the GH4 along with improved processing allows larger prints at most ISOs, and the camera matches stride with the best Micro Four Thirds cameras as ISO rises. Everything up to ISO 1600 shines in print and looks really good, and the 16 x 20 inch print at that ISO matches the best of the best MFT cameras. After that the images begin to fade a bit, which is very typical with this sensor size, so for more critical printing purposes we recommend remaining at ISO 1600 and below.

About our print-quality testing: Our "Reference Printer"

Canon PRO-1000 Printer ImageTesting hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 printer, which we named our "Printer of the Year" in our 2015 COTY awards.

The Canon PRO-1000 has a lot of characteristics that make it a natural to use for our "reference printer." When it comes to judging how well a camera's photos print, resolution and precise rendering are paramount. The PRO-1000's more than 18,000 individual nozzles combine with an air feeding system that provides exceptional droplet-placement accuracy. Its 11-color LUCIA PRO ink system delivers a wide color gamut and dense blacks, giving us a true sense of the cameras' image quality. To best see fine details, we've always printed on glossy paper, so the PRO-1000's "Chroma Optimizer" overcoat that minimizes "bronzing" or gloss differential is important to us. (Prior to the PRO-1000, we've always used dye-based printers, in part to avoid the bronzing problems with pigment-based inks.) Finally, we just don't have time to deal with clogged inkjet heads, and the PRO-1000 does better in that respect than any printer we've ever used. If you don't run them every day or two, inkjet printers tend to clog. Canon's thermal-inkjet technology is inherently less clog-prone than other approaches, but the PRO-1000 takes this a step further, with sensors that monitor every inkjet nozzle. If one clogs, it will assign another to take over its duties. In exchange for a tiny amount of print speed, this lets you defer cleaning cycles, which translates into significant ink savings. In our normal workflow, we'll often crank out a hundred or more letter-size prints in a session, but then leave the printer to sit for anywhere from days to weeks before the next camera comes along. In over a year of use, we've never had to run a nozzle-cleaning cycle on our PRO-1000.

See our Canon PRO-1000 review for a full overview of the printer from the viewpoint of a fine-art photographer.

*Disclosure: Canon provided us with the PRO-1000 and a supply of ink to use in our testing, and we receive advertising consideration for including this mention when we talk about camera print quality. Our decision to use the PRO-1000 was driven by the printer itself, though, prior to any discussion with Canon on the topic. (We'd actually been using an old Pixma PRO 9500II dye-based printer for years previously, and paying for our own ink, until we decided that the PRO-1000 was the next-generation printer we'd been waiting for.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 Photo Gallery .

Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!



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