Preferred Settings for Panasonic Lumix GH5

Posted Sep. 24th, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

This blog post outlines my preferred settings for the new Panasonic Lumix GH5. I’ve been shooting Lumix GH5 since it was released nearly five months ago.  In that time I’ve produced a little over 36,000 images, and along the way I’ve decided on a number of settings that work best for the work I do. I’ve been asked by my friends at Bozeman Camera if I had any custom settings I would share, and of course I said yes. With that in mind, I decided to put my suggestions into a blog post for the benefit of all Lumix GH5 users who enjoy nature, travel, and general photography. To get started, if you haven’t done so already, you should really have a copy of the GH5 Advanced Manual.

Mylio workflow

Mylio blazes through over 1 million images in less than a second to find Lumix GH5 photos.

One of the great things about Panasonic is their relatively consistent camera menu User Interface (UI). From the diminutive Lumix LX10 to the powerhouse Lumix GH5, most Lumix cameras have a virtually identical UI. There are exceptions as far as features, but diving into the menu of the LX10 is a similar visual experience as that of the G85, GH4, GH3, FZ300, and other Lumix models.

Preferred Settings for Panasonic Lumix GH5

A scene of the night skies as we enjoy a bush dinner in the Namib Desert of Namibia. Focus on night sky was achieved via the Star Light AF which is nothing you have to turn on. Just poin the Single AF sensor at the sky, make sure AF Switch is set to AF-S and let the camera aquire focus. It does so very slowly but give it a chance and it will work.

The GH5 is slightly different with a new section that divides settings by category. Once you see and understand this new page, the rest is virtually the same as what we see in other models.

Preferred Settings for Panasonic Lumix GH5

A photo of the new Custom Settings division page.

Another new menu feature is the My Menu option. In My Menu, you can keep track of the many different Custom Settings you make to your camera. This is a welcomed feature since there are so many options you can customize to make the camera work in a way that is best for you. It’s a great new option to go to the things you’ve changed fast and easy.

Preferred Settings for Panasonic Lumix GH5

A new option in the GH5 is the My Menu selection.

The first section I’ve detailed below are basic settings applied outside the menu, in other words, buttons and dials on the camera body itself.

Camera Settings Physically on Camera Body

  • AF Mode Switch, upper right side of camera body encircling the AF/AE button. The switch should be set to AF-C most of the time but I do change to AF-S as needed.
  • AF Area Button: Set to 1-AF or 225-AF. I often use both. For birds in flight I use the 225 and sometimes the Custom Multi
  • Program Dial: P for Professional I like to say. Read more here.
  • ISO: Based on light and shutter speed required. For birds in flight typically ISO 640
  • White Balance: Generally set to Auto but sometimes cloudy for more warmth
Preferred Settings for Panasonic Lumix GH5

AF/AE Lock button and AF switch physically on the back of the camera, not to be confused with Many settings with similar names in Menu.

Custom Settings Via the Menu

Record Tab

  • Aspect Ratio = 3:2 (I use 3:2 to match the aspect ratio of my Nikon cameras so presentation images are consistent)
  • Picture = L17m
  • Quality = RAW+Jpeg Fine (Jpeg is for a backup image as well as to easily load to my iPhone if needed)
  • AFS/AFF = AFS (don’t confuse this MENU item with the physical SWITCH on the body for AF mentioned above in Camera Settings)
  • AF Custom Setting (Photo) This will be grayed out if you have the AF Switch on AF-S. That switch which is located on the upper right side of the camera needs to be set to AF-C to engage the AF Custom Setting (Photo). This feature is rather complicated and I wished it weren’t. But for general photography, I use the first option Set 1. For action photography such as birds in flight, I use Set 4.
  • Metering mode = Multiple (Nikon calls it Matrix. Canon calls it Evaluative)
  • Bust Rate= High
  • ISO Limit set = 3200
  • ISO Increments = 1/3 EV
  • Extended ISO = On
  • Long Shutter Noise Reduction = On
  • Color Space = sRGB

Horned puffin in flight from my recent shoot in Alaska. Captured with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm

Motion Picture Tab

  • Rec Format = MP4 (LPCM)
  • Rec Quality = Depends on every shoot. Most often 4K 8bit-100m/30P
  • Continues AF = Most often OFF. But I’ve been experimenting since GH5 is so much better at AF in video mode.
  • AF Custom Setting (Video) Default. This is grayed out if you have the above Continues AF set to OFF.
  • Video Style = Standard
  • Filter settings = OFF
  • Metering Mode = Multiple
  • Diffraction Compensation= Auto
  • Stabilizer=  Operation Mode
  • Mic Level Display = On
  • Mic Level Limiter = On
  • Wind noise canceller = Standard
  • Sound Output= Recorded Sound

Custom Tab C-With Wrench

Exposure Page 1/6

  • ISO Increments = 1/3 EV
  • Extended ISO = ON
  • AF/AE Lock = AF-ON (Necessary for back button AF activation)
  • Shutter AF = OFF (Necessary for back button AF activation. Used with AF/AE Lock = ON listed above)
  • Half Press Release = OFF
  • Quick AF = OFF

Focus Page 2/6

  • Eye Sensor AF = OFF
  • Pinpoint AF Setting = DEfault
  • AF Assist Lamp = ON
  • Focus Release Priority, AFS/AFF = Balance, AFC = Balance
  • Focus Switching for Vert = Off
  • AF+MF = OFF
  • MF Assist = Focus
  • Manual Focus Assist Display = Full

Dials Page 3/6

  • FnButton Set = The only one I’ve changed is Fn6 which I use for Depth of Field Preview which is a visual of an Aperture blade with the word Preview
  • Quick Menu = Default (Preset)
  • Dial Set. Assign Dial (F/SS) Default, Rotation (F/SS) Default, Exposure Comp set to Front Dial. (This is an important change. Allows me to instantly change Exposure Compensation based on HIstogram without having to push the +/- EVE button on top of the camera behind shutter button. This makes changing your exposure based on the histogram exceptionally fast. This can get knocked off when putting your camera in a bag but EVF shows either too bright or too dark AND you should always be looking at the histogram which will also tell you if it’s been knocked off center. Dial Operation Switch Setup = Default
  • Joystick Setting = D-Focus Movement
  • Operation Lock Setting. Cursor = On, Joystick = On, Touch Screen = On All Defaults. Have to admit, I’m unsure what Cursor is. Need to look a that up. Touchscreen Off is an option for people who have a difficult time with their nose touch back of LCD and moving the AF sensor accidentally.
  • Video Button = On
  • Touch Settings: Touch Screen – On, Touch Tab – On, Touch AF – On, Touch Pad AF – Offset

i-Information Pages 4,5/6

All the settings on these pages, 4, 5, are listed below if I have made any changes. Most are left at default so I’m not listing them. If it’s not listed you can figure it’s not changed from what the camera was set to at the factory.

  • Auto Review-Duration Time (Photo) = Off All other options are set to default.
  • Constant Preview = Off
  • Peaking = On
  • Histogram = On

Wrench Tab

All Wrench settings I have left in the default position. The one some might want to try is the Economy. The economy setting is there to give you options for when your camera shuts itself off to save battery power. I’ve not found batteries to be an issue so I’ve not messed with it.

Green Arrow Icon

I have only one change in this menu and it’s the Rotate Display = Off. This allows verticle photos to be played at the full size of the LCD. To see it properly you have to rotate your camera. Otherwise, your verticles are played up and down with the LCD in the horizontal position which makes the images small and difficult to review.

That should do it. These are my entire collection of settings I use 99% of the time. No, I can’t remember the other 1%. I sometimes try different things, but if they aren’t in the list they haven’t been helpful for me. Let me know if anything is unclear. I’m happy to answer any questions in the comment section below.

Luminary Disclaimer

In the spirit of complete transparency, I want all my readers to know that I am a Lumix Luminary. That means I get paid a small stipend for writing about a system I absolutely love. That said, I want you all to know there is no amount of money more important than my integrity. Much to the chagrin of my Lumix colleagues, I often point out the bad with the good regarding Lumix technology and their camera gear. My belief is honesty and truthfulness will not just help you, but it also helps a company I love to work with. To that end, it’s full steam ahead telling it like it really is. 

Daniel J. Cox

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There are 19 comments on this post…
  1. John R. ParksOn Feb. 15th, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Daniel, I am seriously thinking about purchasing the Panasonic GX 85 for people shots, and some children. I am considering the 42.5 f/1.7 lens (I can’t afford the 42.5 f1.2 lens). I want to get blurred backgrounds. Is there another lens that I am overlooking? I don’t want to get a large lens that would make the camyfront heavy. Thanks for your help, John~

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Feb. 15th, 2018 (1 week ago)

      John, unfortunately I’ve never shot the 42.5 F/1.7. However, I do think it would do a reasonably good job at blurring out the background but how it would compare to the 42.5 F/1.2 I’m not sure. The one lens you may want to consider that I love for it’s great ability to throw the background out and have nice reach is the 35-100mm F/2.8. It’s so small, very light and I’ve used it extensively on the GX8 which is a bit larger than the GX85. However I still think it would be a great option. Hope this helps. Whatever you decide please stop by to let us know how it goes.

  2. bernard mcphillipsOn Jan. 3rd, 2018 (2 months ago)

    Hi Daniel
    Thanks for the settings list. I just got a new gx8 and i am busily scouring for the odd tidbit to get me started understanding the whole layout. i been trying to put together a spreadsheet road map of the menu settings pages before i tackle the function button allocations. I think a big dial with all of the functions in one place would have been nice, but maybe not so compact.
    Being a novice with the lumix terminology(coming from a 30d i’ve had since 1994), I’d like to understand each of the settings and why you chose such settings. I’m talking in depth analysis and logic behind each choice so as to gain broader understanding of the lumix system. I’ve had to reset the camera a couple of times when I’ve found myself in a place of confuddlement , and couldn’t get back out. One of the many questions I have, are around the grayed out areas in the menus, depending on which mode you are in. some seem logical, others seem more complex, I am thinking that maybe it’s because they have been allocated to a function button already? So not sure. The other question of course is if you can point to some resources that would allude to or clarify the in depth analysis aspects i mentioned above. Oh, one more question. My main purpose for getting this camera was to do some digiscoping with a swarovski st80 hd. I did get the 25mm f/1.7 lens as a first lens(came as a kit) but i find i have to use the digital zoom x2 to get rid of the vignette. Is it true that i can’t use the digital zoom with RAW? If so what would be a work around?? Sorry for rambling on. My wife loves puffins. I love puffins too.
    Thanks for the great pics.

  3. TiborOn Dec. 30th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    Dear Daniel!

    I’m looking for Hungary. I work with the GH5 machine in RAW format with a 3: 2 aspect ratio. Looking back at the pictures and copying to my computer, they always appear in 4: 3 aspect ratio. What is the reason and the solution?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 30th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Tibor, good to have you join the conversation. Yes, even if you choose 3:2 format in camera, the actual image records the entire 4:3 chips size. Don’t look at this as a problem. It’s actually a huge benefit. Before the G85 all the Lumix cameras would crop the sensor at the 3:2 setting or whatever you choose to shoot at. But now, the camera no longer throws that extra part of the picture away so you can reclaim the the extra sensor image area AFTER you take the photo if you feel you made a mistake. I’m not sure what software you’re using but in Lightroom, if you shoot in the 3:2 format, when you select the Crop tool, that crop frame comes up as 3:2, but behind the crop is the additional part of the picture. This gives you the ability to change the crop on that frame. This is a powerful feature for birds in flight where in the excitement of shooting quickly I have cropped the tip of the wing. If I have was shooting in 3:2 I can check the crop lines and often the wing tip will be there behind the Crop marks on the frame. I move the image down and voilà, you now have the wing tip back. Let me know if you need additional explanation.

  4. Valerie HopeOn Dec. 17th, 2017 (2 months ago)

    Hi Daniel, I can’t see your images on my MacBook have you taken them down?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 17th, 2017 (2 months ago)

      Valerie, Sorry but I have no clue what you are referring to. What images?

  5. Portrait of Virginia Huang

    Virginia HuangOn Oct. 16th, 2017 (4 months ago)

    Great blog post! You will be glad to hear that Steve just bought the GH5. We were so excited to read your post. It was really helpful in setting up the camera.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 17th, 2017 (4 months ago)

      Glad to hear your moving into the future and the blog post was helpful. Welcome to the cutting edge with LUMIX technology

  6. George McCarthyOn Oct. 13th, 2017 (4 months ago)

    I am a UK pro wildlife photographer and have been for the last 30 years and during that time I have used Canon 35mm exclusively. A few years ago I reluctantly got rid of my 600mm purely from the weight perspective relying on the 500mm F4 and extenders. However I am now finding that heavy especially with a D series pro body. From my workhops I have also become aware of more and more clients using Panasonic and Lumix bodies and the bonus of reduced weight. So my question is this. Are you still using your Nikon 35mm gear and if so why? I apologise if this is a question you have responded to many times before. In my defence this is the first time I have visited your excellent site and I’m pretty sure it will not be the last.

    George McCarthy

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 17th, 2017 (4 months ago)

      George, I’ve been shooting the LUMIX system full time since the release of the Leica 100-400mm zoom. Until then, that was not possible. I’ve been selling off my Niko gear over the past 3 years and just last month sold my 600mm F/4. I’m now completely free of all Nikon gear which is slightly sad but very liberating. One of the inspirations for me to make the change was the realization that I was tired of carrying so much equipment. I was also tired of the massive prices we’ve all been paying to get the telephoto lenses for the work we do. How pro photographers can justify a 12,000.US price for a 600mm F/4 when prices for photos today are as low as 1, 2 and 3 dollars I have no idea. Finally, if the weight and price weren’t factors, I would have moved to LUMIX just for the technology. I should have switched to Canon back in the 90’s due to them besting Nikon in AF and IS technologies. It took Nikon 7 and 5 years to catch Canon with these two technologies. I thought about that and promised myself I would not let that happen twice in my life. So here I am using a much smaller, lighter and less expensive system with many more advanced features. One more generation of sensor technology and the whole argument pro and con will be ended.

  7. Vivian TeagueOn Oct. 8th, 2017 (5 months ago)

    Hi Dan,
    I’m so happy to see this post since I’ve just purchased the GH5. I’ve been experiencing some unwanted noise so I hope making the above changes will help with that.
    I’m so glad I went to mirrorless before a recent trip. It made such a difference not having to haul all that heavy equipment. I’m looking forward to joining you in NM in Jan.
    Viv Teague

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 18th, 2017 (4 months ago)

      Vivian, the smaller cameras are at a disadvantage regarding noise issues at higher ISO’s. Which has an amazing noise reduction tool. The files processed with DXO are superb and though not quit as good as a full frame camera, they are close.

  8. Portrait of Mike Cromwell

    Mike CromwellOn Oct. 2nd, 2017 (5 months ago)


    Am wondering what changes you might make to your settings once you upgrade to the new v2.0 software.

    Mike C

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Oct. 6th, 2017 (5 months ago)

      No changes Mike. Most important updates were targeted at the video side of the camera.

  9. Rick FOn Sep. 26th, 2017 (5 months ago)

    Thanks Daniel,

    I haven’t got hold of my GH5 yet, but in a few months I will be able to put these settings to good use. I enjoy your pics, and advice!


    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 26th, 2017 (5 months ago)

      Thanks, Rick. Always appreciate hearing from our readers.

  10. Louis BerkOn Sep. 25th, 2017 (5 months ago)

    Daniel, great and useful information (as always). What do you feel about using centre-weighted or spot metering for birds in flight against the sky? I’m finding that multiple metering is underexposing for birds against the sky. I do open up the EV sometimes by up 1-2 stops but my overall impression is the metering is struggling?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 25th, 2017 (5 months ago)

      Louis, It all depends on the size and color of the birds you’re working with. For my recent puffin shoot. I personally stick with Multi-Metering but to negate the white sky, if the birds are not filling the frame, I will sometimes switch to Manual Exposure and meter off a gray rock, mid to light green vegetation or if I have one, a gray card. The example below is a photo of a horned puffin that was shot against a very dark background, with dark mountains in the distance.

      Horned puffin in flight from my recent shoot in Alaska. Captured with the Lumix GH5 and the Leica 100-400mm

      Those dark mountains would have been severely overexposed the white chest and neck of the puffin. So I set my camera to Manual Exposure, metered off the gray colored rock on the beach, that were in the same light as the birds, set my exposure and shot away as they flew against the dark background. I would use this same technique if I wanted to negate a very bright white sky and the birds were not filling the frame.

      Sandhill cranes in flight over Bosque del Apache NWR. Lumix GX8 with Leica Vario-Elmar 100-400mm lens. ISO 320

      This second image shows sandhill cranes from our Bosque del Apache shoot. Cranes are a perfect tone, medium gray, and the sky is a middle blue. Both tones/colors that all camera meters love. So in this situation, I set my camera to Program on Multi-Metering and shot as fast as the camera could shoot in Predictive AF. This was a GX8 image I believe. Thaks for your input. Always love hearing from our readers.

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