Panasonic is adding a valuable new feature with its latest GH5 firmware, announced today and available later this month.
When the GH5 was announced nearly a year ago, it hit all the major specs—4K, 10bit, 4:2:2 and even 60p—all in a tidy package building on the beloved GH4, all for under $2,000. One thing missing was intra-frame encoding, which is coming at the end of September with the latest revision of the firmware to version 2.0.
The new record format is called ALL-Intra, where Intra refers to "intra-frame" encoding, which means all compression will be applied to individual frames as opposed to "inter-frame" encoding that compresses groups of pictures (GOP) together. Inter-frame encoding actually has the possibility of creating nice looking images in smaller file sizes, but requires more work for post-production systems and generally requires a transcode. Inter-frame encoding can also tend to fall apart in heavily action focused or wildly hand-held sequences where ALL-Intra can record action beautifully by applying equal data to every frame. ALL-Intra will be available in 400 Mpbs and 200 Mbps flavors, up to 4K 23.98p.
4K 60p will remain 4:2:0-8bit Long GOP, limited to 150 Mbps, which makes sense but might frustrate some users. 60p is a lot of bandwidth for a camera to process and pump onto a card, and in ALL-Intra mode, even at 400 Mbps, you are likely to see some artifacting if the camera tries to push 60 frames into each of those seconds at 400 Mb. With the limits of the record cards accepted by the GH5, it's unlikely that 4K 60p will ever be available ALL-Intra. Frankly, having 400 Mbps intra recording at all in a camera this small and inexpensive is a major bonus. Additionally, as frame rates get higher, with less difference frame to frame, Long GOP remains a useful tool to keep file sizes manageable.
Heavily inter-frame encoded video files don't tend to play well in your editing software and typically require a transcode to work effectively, while intra files tend to be much larger (hence that top data rate of 400 Mbps), but play more easily. ALL-Intra files are going to eat up more of your disc space, but if you want to dive straight into your edit without a transcode, especially on a tight turnaround job, the 400 Mbps or especially the 200 Mbps ALL-Intra are something to test. Be sure you are working with SD cards that are at least video speed class 60, and frankly faster cards couldn't hurt.
The firmware update also extends the Anamorphic mode of the camera with new format options that increase the total pixel count of your anamorphic recordings. This gives you pixel volumes equivalent to what you would get in a 6K recording, but in the 4K file size.
Firmware 2.0 will be available from the Panasonic site at the end of September.
- 6K Anamorphic equivalent mode
- ALL-Intra 400 Mbps and 200 Mbps formats
- Lumix Tether USB-tethered shooting compatiblity
- HLG HDR video mode
- Improved white balance and auto focus