Panasonic’s flagship Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera is a force to be reckoned with, says Audley Jarvis
Panasonic Lumix GH5 review: Dynamic range, resolution and noise
Overall, the GH5 produced a very credible set of lab results, showing incremental improvements over the GH4.
While the GH5’s smaller sensor is, as expected, prone to showing more noise at higher sensitivities compared to its APS-C rivals, the point at which this becomes detrimental to overall image is generally only around a stop lower.
Dynamic range, meanwhile, is largely on a par with many APS-C sensors, which demonstrates how far MFT sensor technology has come in recent years. Resolution is also very competitive with APS-C rivals, aided the removal of the optical low-pass filter.
At its extended lower sensitivity setting of ISO 100, the GH5 is able to capture 12.46EV, which is just under half a stop more than the GH4 was capable of. Pushing into the mid-range sensitivity settings, the GH5 remains competitive, returning dynamic range figures above 10EV until you hit ISO 1600, at which point it dips to 9.8EV. As we’d expect at the higher settings, dynamic range does begin to drop off quite markedly with the top two settings of ISO 12,800 and ISO 25,600 both returning results below 7EV – still higher than the GH4, but indicating significant levels of shadow noise.
The increase in resolution to 20.3MP enables the GH5 to return some impressive resolution scores from our test charts. It returned figures of 3600l/ph at ISO 100 compared to the 16MP GH4’s 2800l/ph. Moving up to ISO 800, resolution only drops fractionally to 3200l/ph. In fact, resolution remains at or above 3000l/ph until you reach ISO 6400, at which point it dips down to 2800l/ph. From here, there’s a noticeable tail off in performance with the top setting of 25,600 returning a figure of 2500l/ph.
Given the smaller area of Micro Four Thirds sensors, noise performance at higher sensitivities has long been a bugbear for the system. But Panasonic claims the new processor gives improved noise control, and the GH5 shows improvements over previous Panasonic cameras, not least the three-year-old GH4.
Both ISO 100 and ISO 200 return especially clean images with excellent detail and no visible noise, and at ISO 400 JPEGs show only a tiny loss of fine detail. Even at ISO 1600 you can expect the GH5 to produce very good images, albeit with a slight smearing of fine detail. ISO 3200 is the cut-off point, however, and above this image quality begins to deteriorate quite rapidly, with the top three settings of ISO 6400, ISO 12,800 and 25,600 increasingly affected by luminance and chroma noise, as well as a wholesale loss of detail particularly in darker areas.