Lumix Stories Video Series GH5 World-Class Still Camera, Ben Grunow

Posted Sep. 23rd, 2017 by Daniel J. Cox

The Lumix GH5 is a world-class still camera and this video, the first in a four-part series, drives the point.  One of the most common misconceptions about Lumix cameras is the idea they’re mainly built for high-end video capture. The comments I often here go something like this, “The GH5 produces spectacular video but if you want your camera for stills, buy the Olympus.” Nothing could be further from the truth, and Panasonic is unleashing a series of videos showcasing several professional photographers to dissuade this completely baseless assumption. The first up is a mini-documentary of fellow Lumix Luminary and landscape photographer Ben Grunow

Lumix Takes a Backseat to Nobody in the MFT World

Why is the notion that Lumix still pictures are somehow inferior such a popular fallacy? I have a theory. In short, Lumix has brought such revolutionary video tools to the GH5 that those features overshadow EVERYTHING else. That being the case, video is all you hear about. When it comes to stills, the GH5 is spectacular, but spectacular

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

Fred Kurtz watching for opportunities for his new GH5 and Leica 100-400mm lens as we patrol the Namib desert. Fred was one of our first NE Explorers to see the advantages of Lumix cameras and MFT in general.

in the world of still photography is somewhat anticlimactic since we’ve been getting amazing still captures from many brands since 2003. But in the world of Micro Four Thirds still photography, the GH5 takes a back seat to nobody—you just don’t hear that since the excitement of video overshadows virtually everything else.

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

Self-portrait in the morning light of an abandoned building in Kolmanskop, Namibia. That’s a GH5 I’m shooting to produce professional quality still photos on tripod.

Where Did Lumix Come From?

To understand why Panasonic has been able to do so well so quickly requires a bit of perspective. What many people don’t know is the long history Panasonic has had in the world of video production. They’ve been making professional video cameras for decades and in the realm of cinematography, they’re a world-class player. Along with their video cameras, they also produce their own digital sensors. In short, these guys know what they’re doing whether it’s a still capture or a moving image.

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

Me working the abandoned buildings in at Kolmanskop, Namibia with two GH5’s and one G85. YOu don’t want to be changing lenses in this dusty old ghost town that was once full of diamonds.

The second part driving the Lumix fallacy is the fact that all of Panasonic’s notoriety for their engineering prowess in video has been cloaked in the darkness of business to business relationships. In other words, if you’re a major corporation with a video production department, you know Panasonic video cameras. However, if you’re the average consumer, you know Panasonic for

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

The Lumix shooters at Mala Mala, South Africa. Many of our NE Explorers have made the switch. I will admit that it’s very helpful to have someone (me) who can show them how these cameras perform. Everybody is so skeptical until they see the images I capture. Some are STILL skeptical.

making world-class TV’s, laptop computers, tablets, microwaves, nose hair clippers, hair dryers, and thousands of other electronic items. Many photographers like to make fun of Panasonic’s world domination in electrical consumer goods with comments like, “I don’t’ want a camera made by a company that makes computers.” The ignorance of this delusion is that’s exactly what cameras are today. Computers with lenses attached. Personally, I do want a camera manufactured by a company who intimately the knows the ins and outs of electronics and computers. Like it or not, photography is now heavily dependant on computer and electronic technology. Panasonic’s success in all things electronic gives them the ability to fund research and development. A good barometer of a company’s ability to drive new technology is their placement on the Fortune 500 list. In 2017 Panasonic is listed #110 on the 2017 Fortune 500 Global List. Sony is listed at #105, Canon comes in at #347, and Nikon? They aren’t’ even listed.

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

NE Explorers with their Lumix cameras in Ireland. For those on the fence about whether the GH5 and other Lumix cameras are the real deal I ask: how many of you remember the folks who swore digital would never replace film? I was one of the first adopters of digital in the natural history production business. And I’m still selling the photos today I shot with a Nikon D100 back in 2003. But I should mention, I had plenty of people tell me the quality wasn’t good enough. The rest is history.

World-class Engineering is a Panasonic Trademark

Finally, back in 2001, Panasonic decided to leverage their engineering knowledge of how to produce stunning video pictures and apply that experience to making still cameras. Keep in mind, a movie or video clip is nothing more than a collection of still photos shot in sequence. So as you can imagine, going the still camera route was not a huge leap for their engineers. Thier biggest challenge was wrapping their heads together to understand the ergonomics a still camera required as opposed to a video camera. The second challenge has been to figure out world-class autofocus capabilities since almost no professional video/movie camera person uses autofocus, although that’s changing with the GH5.

Panasonic's Lumix GH5 World Class Still Camera

Cocoi heron in flight on the Cuiaba River in the Pantanal. Shot in 6K Photo Mode with GH5 and Leica 100-400mm

Fast forward to 2017, and the GH5 proves Panasonic is coming close to perfecting their knowledge of designing and building world-class still cameras that easily compete with all the other brands, including Canon and Nikon. Ben’s piece above was produced to show the world the GH5 is truly a world-class stills camera, and I think this first in a four-part video series does a great job getting people to understand that. Keep your eye here in the Corkboard for more to come.

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 10 comments on this post…
  1. Eric G GuizzettiOn Mar. 5th, 2019

    I had the GH4 which I felt was awful for photography. I am somewhat wowed by the GH5 and taking into serious consideration. This is after years with Nikon F5, D2h, D4, D5 and Sony A7rii. I was at Glaziers in Seattle today looking at the Nikon D850 and noticed that the GH5 build even looks more solid then its older sibling. My problem is a love manual focus with a mirror. I shoot allot of high speed movement and need to be able to focus on the fly.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Mar. 5th, 2019

      Thanks, Eric for stopping by to add your thoughts.

  2. GUILLERMO J GARAYOn Aug. 23rd, 2018

    hello, currently have the GH5 always looking for opinions on lenses that are worth the purchase and will not hurt my pocket. any recommendations on lenses for either video for weddings or in general and lenses for portraits or weddings as well. would definitely like to hear some feedback, looking to making a purchase in the next week or so for an event.

  3. JonOn Sep. 30th, 2017

    It’s a shame the GH5 doesn’t get much attention for stills because it’s great! I posted my GH5 gallery in the link field here so hopefully you can click to see my GH5 gallery. I’ve been very impressed with it. I started with the G85 and liked it so much, I decided to buy the GH5…and sold my D750.

    • BRianOn Dec. 2nd, 2017

      I have a D750 and I’ve been back and forth with switching to the GH5. I’m taking new interest in travel film making but I am keeping my love for landscape photography. The non negotiable for me was to bring 2 cameras as the places I go to are very remote and includes a lot of hiking. How is the image quality, particularly for wide-angle landscape shots for the GH5? And what lens do you use?

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Dec. 5th, 2017

      Brian, the gH5 has excellent image quality but what I’m seeing from early tests with the newly announced G9, the G9 may now be the leader in MFT image quality. The G9 also has the new High Resolution Mode which combines as many as 8 images to create an 80 megapixel super sized file in either RAW or Jpeg. There are some cats to this technology since the subject matter can’t be moving but for many landscapes it’s looks very promising. I’m looking forward to testing it out in New Zealand where landscapes are plentiful. My favorite wide angle for landscape is the Leica 12mm F/1.4. I’m also loving the new Leica 8-18mm F/2.8-4 for super wide scenes. For your video work the GH5 is still the superior camera but only due to the high bit rates and other super high end technical video capabilities it has. That said, the G9 is not far behind, It has almost all the very highest quality video capabilities with the exception of Maximum video bit rate of 400mbs on the GH5 and 150mbs on the G9. Only an issue if you’re shooting large screen productions for the BBC or Nat Geo in my opinion.

    • Juice Media.On Jan. 22nd, 2018

      Your link doesn’t show. Would love to see it as I’m a gh5 owner and want to see what’s possible!

    • Juice MediaOn Jan. 22nd, 2018

      Hi Jon,

      Ignore my previous message as I figured it! Fantastic photos, really. Great work. Do you mind telling me what lenses you’ve used?



    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Jan. 24th, 2018

      Simon, Here’s list of lenses I use on a regular basis.
      -12mm Leica F/1.4
      -12-35mm Vario F/2.8
      -60mm F/2.8 Leica Macro
      -35-100mm F/2.8 Vario
      -12-60mm Leica
      -100-400mm Leica

  4. AdventsamOn Sep. 23rd, 2017

    I totally agree, having used m43 and then with a 18 month diversion with Fuji (pro2/xt2) all I can say is the gh5 with new PL 12-60 is simply superb combo.

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