Panasonic Continues m4/3 Push

Panasonic today “announced" a number of new m4/3 products at Photokina. I use quotes around “announced” because some of these products won’t be available until 2017.

First up we have a product that will ship soon, the G80/G85. For some reason Panasonic has drifted into the habit of regional name differences, a bad habit that caused Nikon a lot of grief in the film era (and the remnants of that regionality still do). But essentially no matter what name is on the body, it’s essentially the same camera, though the frame rates for video differ in PAL/NTSC regions.

The G80/G85 is the seventh generation in a long line of DSLR-style m4/3 cameras, and replaces the G7. It’s not the top of Panasonic’s line, but close to it. The big news here is: weather sealing on the body, an updated IS-on-sensor system, no AA filter over the sensor, a completely redesigned mechanical shutter to reduce shutter shock, the addition of an in-camera focus stacking mode, and some tweaks to the EVF to make it a little better than the G7’s. Body only price is US$899, with the 12-60mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS lens kit version being US$999. Full details on the camera are on this site’s data page for the camera, as usual.

Next up, we have the 18mp GH5, which was pre-announced (delivery in 2017). Not a lot of details are forthcoming, but Panasonic promoted the video aspects of the upcoming camera. While many anticipated something greater than 4K, Panasonic actually sought to make the 4K video the GH5 records better than that of the GH4. In particular, two things stand out: support for 60 fps, and internal recording of 4:2:2 8-bit (60 fps) or 10-bit (30 fps) video data. Those two things would certainly be first in a compact camera form, and are a big step for videographers, who already love the current GH4.

Panasonic is also promoting the confusing “6K Photo.” This appears to be a “grab from video stream” type of capture where the photo stream is taken whileshooting video. Weirdly, the aspect ratio of this 6K Photo is 2:1 (6000 x 3000 pixels), and max rate is 30 fps.

Overall the GH5 is decidedly built on the GH4 design philosophy, though a number of small but clear design changes can be seen in the prototype.

Not much else is known about the GH5, though a prototype will appear at the Panasonic booth and more may be revealed during the show itself.

Likewise, not much is known about the new 8-18mm, 12-60mm, and 50-200mm lenses (all f/2.8-4). Developed with Leica, Panasonic is touting them as “versatile and compact” with “very high picture quality.”


text and images 2017Thom Hogan
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