June 27, 2017 at 12:45PM, Edited June 27, 12:46PM

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Stuck between GH5 & a7sII - Need your experience & thoughts to help me decide

Hey everybody, it's about that time for me to upgrade my camera and I need your input to give me some clarity on what to decide.

I've been using my Canon 5D Mark III for three years now and it has served me very well in my personal & professional work but I'm at a point now where it's been limiting me due to it's outdated specs.

I've narrowed my options down to the a7sII & the GH5 for a few reasons. Compared to my 5D, both offer me higher framerates @ 1080 (slow motion has become a priority) better video codec options (coloring & effects work on compressed h.264 from the 5D is becoming a major problem) and additional video options that I just don't get with my 5D.

What's been driving me crazy, and this is where I need your help, is the low-light situation.

As we all know, the a7sII is a low-light beast. I've seen the footage and I've been very impressed with what it can do. Most of my work is done in a controlled lighting environment, but I also do a fair amount of run&gun shoots (looking to do more in the future) and I can see myself really benefitting from the low-light capability of the a7sII.

However on the other hand, the GH5 practically outdoes the a7sII in just about everything else. The 10bit color, the high-res shooting, the framerates, etc. It's got everything else I want besides the low-light performance.

I've read online that using a metabones speedbooster XL to the GH5 helps increase the amount of light entering the sensor, and can sort of offset the comparative low-light disadvantage. I would have to pick one up anyway so I can use my Canon glass on whichever camera I pick up, but I'd like to know if it really does offer that low light performance boost.

My dilemma might seem trivial since the GH5 meets more of my needs than the a7sII, but the low-light abilities are something that (after seeing how it performs in the real world) I place very high on the priority list - which is why I'm having this dilemma.

So my question to you is: Is it that big of a deal? From your experience, is the low-light performance difference between them something that I should really be concerned with? I know it's about "preference" and many of you will most likely tell me to choose depending on what I need most, but I would like to get your personal opinions on it and how you would go about making a decision like this if you were thinking of the same thing?

Thanks in advance,

18 Comments

If your world is low-light, nothing beats the SONY. I have friends who do martial arts training, and often they turn the lights down so that the environment really is dark. Videos of their practice fights help them assess their techniques. The SONY is the only practical way to capture footage there.

But when those same friends want to produce promotional material, they care as much about results and I tell them I'm bringing lights, they get all excited and are happy to perform in such production-friendly circumstances.

I think you have it right: if you want a one-trick pony that is the true low-light Ninja, SONY all the way. For everything else, the GH5 is stellar. Do you want to specialize in bringing one tool to one kind of job, or do you want to do jobs that require (and reward) a broad range of skills and techniques?

June 27, 2017 at 5:10PM, Edited June 27, 5:10PM

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Buy both. I don't know your financial situation. But if you regularly do paid jobs having multiple choices is priceless. I have 3 cameras and just ordered a fourth. They all serve difference specific purposes for me (bought the a6300 for low light). There's no one trick pony for me so I need multiple. And what I don't have I rent.

July 1, 2017 at 11:09AM

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Don Way
Writer/Director of Photography
947

One thing that you can do to ease the low light situation with a GH5 is to use the Voigtlander lenses - in my experience F0.95 makes a very dark situation usable in many cases [and the bokeh is great - especially like the look of the 25mm)

July 1, 2017 at 12:38PM

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Thomas Dove
DoP
197

Wow I had the same dilemma that you are facing a couple weeks ago. I shoot mainly music videos and show events and needed a pretty decent low light camera. I love the sony A7SII footage I have been seeing online for low light situations. However, I came across one Panasonic Gh5 in store at Best Buy and had to give it a try. All that I can say is that I'm totally blown away with this camera. The build quality is very sturdy. It simply has more than 2 grand worth of features and the image is amazing. I normally shoot with my Red Dragon but this Gh5 camera hasn't disappointed me yet. I use the sigma art 18-35mm 1.8 lens with speed booster and even it low lights this camera is great! Also, in body Image stabilization is pretty good I must say. The sony A7sii is definitely a low light beast but the Gh5 is pretty good in low light as well. With a fast lens it has too many features to pass up and the image when exposed correctly is a monster as well. Good Luck with your decision! Regardless, you chose two good cameras to pick from so you can't lose either way.

July 1, 2017 at 11:37PM

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Donnie King
DOP
13

My personal opinion, you're better off with an a6500 than either of those. Low light is on par up to like 25600 use the ~$1000 you save to get a good monitor with false color and lut support for monitoring the Slog2

July 3, 2017 at 12:59PM

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Josh Wilkinson
Music Video Director/DP
251

I just had this same dilemma, and eventually ended up choosing the GH5. I'm super happy with my purchase. The thing "feels and acts" more like a video camera then anything -- and that's a huge plus that I think is overlooked. I've taken it out at night to shoot a bit and test it out. It's not terrible. My iso is capped at 3200 to avoid too much noise, but things look pretty good at night; especially with the speed booster and some 1.5 lenses or something. You wont get that crazy "see in the dark" look that the a7s2 has -- but you also wont get those crazy light blooms from dynamic practicals in frame. I like the natural night look of the gh5. Popping around through the frame rates is super useful, and I'm editing the 4k 10bit footage now, and it's just a dream to work with as far as grading goes. It also has a lot less rolling shutter effect, and the color profiles built in look really nice (though you could go for the VLog and add a couple stops if you wanted).

I also use the Panasonic lenses on it and that dual OIS is freaking incredible.

July 3, 2017 at 3:36PM

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Joey Fameli
Producer / Tested.com
19

Today you work in a controlled environment or you have enough light (1600 iso + 1.4 lens is exactly how i can see with my eyes), buy gh5, i just bought and the 10bit 422 UHD is stellar, i put my bmpc4k 400 iso prores against gh5 10bit 422 (recorder externally with VA4K in prores), same lens, same situation and set up, i find hard to find difference about quality, sharpness and dectail. When you need more light (if you need) you can rent a sony or better... today a camera that shoot in 10bit 422 4k is in post so good to push hard color correction and adjustment then i never want to hear to shoot in 8bit or 4:2:0; two years ago i told that i no go back to dslr until i can shoot almost 10 bit, after you start to work in 10bit you discover a world where you cannot go back. until sony not release a 10bit externally recording for sony alpha cameras, i'm very happy about them for photo, i had gorgeous photos shooted with 7r, 7r2, but about video... i need same ability of post produce them.
after many years of video i learned a simple rule, buy today a tool for a work today, for the future, when i need, i can buy more or rent right tools.

July 4, 2017 at 8:52AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director
675

Hi Ehab,

I've shot with the GH4 (very nice ergonomics & handling I have to say) for two years but sold it and switched to Sony. (A6300/A7) The reason was that even in normal low light situation (a well lit living room in the evening) the GH4 image quality in the shadows was poor. The GH5 apparently is a bit better, but somehow I prefer larger sensors, APS-C of full frame. Don't expect miracles from the 10 bit either, I never noticed any difference between 8 bit and 10 bit on my GH4. If you like full frame, the Sony A7S II will be a very good choice. Else the A6300/A6500 (APS-C) would be an option too.

Good luck with your choice.

July 5, 2017 at 6:56AM

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Erwin Hartsuiker
CineVideo-NL videographer
491

This is extremely vague, but many of the videos I've seen made with the A7S/A7Sii look so much better than anything produced with the GH5. GH5 videos all look like, well, video to me. Does anyone else see what I'm seeing? Why is this?

July 7, 2017 at 10:17PM, Edited July 7, 10:17PM

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If you check out YouTube videos from working professionals, you will see that many of them are now shooting with GH5, and a few have even switched from shooting with the Sony A7SII to shooting with the GH5...

Why the GH5 is GREAT for Wedding Filmmakers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-rvIB5EnIY

Sample of White In Revery's Work
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13YrHzPtmfI

Using the GH5 as a B-camera to the RED EPIC on a Professional Shoot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=issws15ZDnQ

GH5 vs RED EPIC analysis with FOOTAGE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAKad7pb334

July 9, 2017 at 10:32AM, Edited July 9, 10:39AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32118

GH5 for now and then a year from now when the a7S III comes out sell the GH5 and get the a7s III.

I had the same dilemma but ultimately the GH5 has more of what I want now but the good thing is the a7S III will have the best of both the GH5 and a7S II plus more.

July 11, 2017 at 2:19AM, Edited July 11, 2:20AM

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Sony has to sort out the overheating problem if it wants to have 10-bit recording in the A7S III, as 10-bit 4:2:2 recording has to deal with 6 times as much data as 8-bit 4:2:0.

July 11, 2017 at 8:18AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32118

(accidental double post)

July 11, 2017 at 2:19AM, Edited July 11, 2:21AM

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Neither. Use magic lantern to hack your 5d and get 14 bit color. Don't get obsessed with gear, your 5d is not obsolete, if you shoot raw with good glass it will still look better than most of the cameras out there.

July 12, 2017 at 11:42PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1151

I'm actually planning to install magic lantern on my 5D to keep it productive, but there are still things that I needed that it wouldnt be able to provide like high frame rates.

August 7, 2017 at 7:37AM

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Ehab Eazy Ismail
Director/D.O.P
100

To me the main advantage of the GH5 is that it's weather sealed, and it has an anamorphic mode. The advantage of the A7s II is the lack of video noise. Even in good light the GH series has noise in the shadow, which I don't like.

August 3, 2017 at 5:40PM

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Jesse Yules
Director
291

I just released a music video today (https://vimeo.com/232710394) that was shot on the a7sii+ Ninja Flame, with Zeiss Planar 50&85mm t1.4s and Rokinon 24&35mm t1.4s, in a variety of different lighting setups, and the major hitch in post that could have made things a lit easier is the GH5 10bit's ability to get around color banding. it's due to the 8bit and our lighting and was mostly fixable in post but it was frustrating enough that during the edit i actually started shopping for a GH5 so we could avoid it in future on shots with those lower light subtle grades- I dont think we shot anything where the low light itself would have edged the GH5 out, so at the end of the day it really comes down to what kind of images you want to make, the tone and emotion, because both cameras are very capable. It's hard to beat the price on the gh5, but that price difference starts to shrink the deeper into speedboosters and fast glass you need to go to make up the loss of usable stops. each can be pushed to do good work, it'll come down to personal style and workflow.

September 27, 2017 at 6:37PM, Edited September 27, 6:38PM

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D. Scales
director / producer
86

Using a sony will disappoint you with its rolling shutter. i think GH5 is a better choice.
using a speedbooster you can increase aperture of the lens allowing more light and more blurry background.

October 4, 2017 at 2:38AM

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Arsh DSJ
Director Editor Producer
221

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