In short, the GH5 package is the prime kit for shooting with our Isco Micro, Schneider XL, and Custom Single Focus anamorphic lenses. Although many other cameras- Sony A7s, GH4, GH3, Black Magic, Canon, work well with anamorphic- the GH5 is the best value for shooting DSLR anamorphic today.
(The GH5 v2.0 firmware has been released and includes a number of great new features for anamorphic shooters! See our article on it here.)
As a follow up to our popular GH4/GH5 anamorphic guide, we thought we’d follow up with a few first impressions for those interested in either purchasing the camera, purchasing an anamorphic lens, or adapting anamorphic to the GH5.
6k 60fps 4:3 anamorphic recording is cinema glory
The ability to shoot in 5k or 3k, at a 4:3 aspect ratio, at a maximum of 60 frames per second for slow motion, is the most cinematic paintbrush available in such a small package and price point. The quality of image produced by this mode is absolutely unparalleled at this price. 3328 x 2496 becomes a massive 6656 x 2496 canvas in your editing timeline. The v2 firmware increases this ability to shoot at the full height of the sensor!
The GH5 v2 firmware allows for 10 bit recording for better skies even more flexible color grading.
If there was a DSLR built for anamorphic cinema, this is it. The only cameras that might compare near but still far above this price point would be the Black Magic Ursa Mini and the Kinefinity KineMax or Terra 6k. The Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera might give the GH5 a run for it’s money, but that’s not due until late 2018.
A powerful editing rig is needed
We edited GH5 footage on a pretty beefy i7 system with a modern nVidia GPU. 6k editing can be a bit choppy in Premiere Pro 2017. If you’re planning to use plugins (especially Warp Stabilizer)- you’ll want to make sure you are using a later model i7 or Ryzen CPU with a GPU of at least 4GB- preferably more. If you’re using HEVC on the new GH5 v2 firmware, you’ll need to transcode.
If you’re having trouble editing GH4 4k footage, try converting your footage to Apple ProRes 442HQ or DNxHD (on Windows) for far smoother playback on older systems. Adobe Media Encoder will accomplish this task quickly.
In Body Image Stabilization is more useful than expected
None of the DSLR cameras we’ve used for video in the past have featured IBIS. When we bought the Panasonic GH5, we didn’t expect to bother with the feature and were far more excited about the resolution anamorphic 60p modes. This video features the extremely clear Isco Micro Anamorphic Lens using IBIS and a Zhiyun Crane handheld gimbal.
But with 2x anamorphic lenses, longer lenses generally work better to avoid any vignetting. 2x anamorphic helps by doubling your field of view (effectively turning a 100mm lens into a 50mm lens), but still requires usually at least 85mm on a full frame camera and 42.5mm on a micro four thirds to avoid vignetting- and about 35mm in 4/3 mode.
Check out our anamorphic lens calculator to determine which lenses might work with your camera setup and recording aspect ratio.
But since we’re generally shooting with longer lenses, the IBIS feature really helps stabilize and smooth out the look and give a better overall hold to the camera. The feature is definitely noticeable and a welcome assist to anyone more unconformable with shooting handheld on longer lens setups.
And finally, the GH5 v2 firmware increases a great feature for IBIS shooters- anamorphic mode. Because anamorphic lenses must be perfectly aligned vertically, when the sensor compensates for roll (horizon) axis, this might slightly skew the anamorphic image and become very obvious that stabilization tech is being used. The v2 firmware prevents this roll skew when using anamorphic lenses.
Note to set your IBIS settings to the focal length of the taking lens (not the effective anamorphic focal length) as your horizontal field of view will still be identical to the focal length marking on your prime lens.
Anamorphic desqueeze and Focus Peaking make anamorphic life easier.
The Panasonic GH5 features focus peaking- or highlighting in-focus areas in the viewfinder to help the operator know where their focal plane is set. The GH5 v2.0 firmware also has introduced anamorphic desqueeze modes for 1.3x and 2.0x lenses, making it far easier to see the desqueezed image as it would appear in post production and effectively compose a frame.
Having used monitors that use focus peaking in the past, we’ve found it useful for pulling rack focuses on film sets but never used it really in day to day usage or run and gun shooting, instead deferring to the traditional focus zoom settings to be sure images are in focus.
Anamorphic focusing isn’t difficult, but it can be a challenge for first time users. If you’re a first time user and want to shoot immediately, we recommend investing in a single focus build which is as easy to focus as any manual focus lens. If you’re curious, here is how single focusing is setup, and how macro focusing can work with anamorphic.
However, the focus peaking feature of the Panasonic GH5 makes this all much easier. If you’re squinting at a 3.5″ articulating screen, anamorphic focusing can be a bit frustrating. But focus peaking helps you easily confirm that you’ve nailed focus with your dual focus lens, by both vertical (anamorphic) and horizontal (prime lens) lines of blue dots confirming your focus.
This is the best bang for the buck camera for anamorphic, by far.
We’ve shot anamorphic on Black Magic Ursa Mini, Pocket, BMPCC, Kinefinity, Red Dragon, 5D Mark II and III (Magic Lantern), Sony A7s, Panasonic GH2, GH3, GH4, and more. Although many of these cameras have strengths that appeal to anamorphic filmmaking, none of them pack all of the features and benefits that make the GH5 v2.0 the highest value camera available for DSLR filmmakers looking to experiment with anamorphic cinematography.
The insanely high quality V-Log image, 3k or 5k (stretched out to an insane 6k or 10k) available in 60fps slow motion, with anamorphic IBIS, in-camera desqueeze, and focus peaking to help take the mistakes out of solo operator filmmaking make this an insane value at less than $2000. We’re not committed to any camera system or manufacturer, but we know that we will be using our lenses with GH5s for a long time.
If you’re looking to test out exactly what lenses will work for GH5 DSLRs, head on over to our anamorphic lens calculator to test. Select your sensor size, your aspect ratio, and you will be informed and ready to shoot!
If you are interested adding anamorphic flares to your toolbox, please visit our anamorphic lens store for demos and examples. We have spent several years collecting, modifying, and testing anamorphic lenses to weed through the junk, make needed modifications, and assemble ready-to-shoot packages.
If you are interested in learning more on working with anamorphic lenses and DSLR, please check out our anamorphic tutorial blog for more anamorphic tips and tutorials!