Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on The GH5 2.3 Firmware Update
Are you hesitant about the latest firmware update for the Panasonic GH5? Here are a few reasons why you should take the plunge.
When new firmware comes out, there’s always hesitation from the camera community. Will it brick the camera? Has anyone encountered any bugs? There’s usually a “you go first” attitude. (This is even more true when the firmware doesn’t really offer a complete overhaul — like 2.0 did.) However, while the majority of new features are photography-based, such as the ability to add grain to a photostyle, there are a few nifty upgrades for GH5 filmmakers that you shouldn’t pass up.
Setup > Page 2 > Night Mode > Monitor On
Night mode isn’t necessarily a feature for every GH5 filmmaker. In fact, I’d argue that perhaps 90% of GH5 filmmakers will never need to use this feature. Night mode reduces the glare and brightness of the LCD and the viewfinder by displaying the image in red. Of course, when we think about that on a practical level, you’re not going to want to use night mode when filming an exterior night scene on a busy street — it’s not meant for that.
But if you’re shooting wildlife or a nighttime time-lapse in the wilderness, the bright glare from the LCD screen is not only going to distract the wildlife, it’s also going to strain your eyes. (Which is why many professionals tell you not to look at your phone in a completely dark environment.) The bright screen will reduce the visibility of the surroundings when you’re in complete darkness.
Night mode gives you the option to reduce the LCD glare. Again, this is not something you’ll probably use for narrative work, but there are plenty of practical applications for the function. When you turn on Night Mode, you can increase or decrease the luminance of the display by pressing the display (DISP) button.
Live View Boost
Custom > Monitor/Display > Live View Boost > On
(While this feature is a new addition to the photography tools available on the GH5, I think it serves some purpose for filmmakers who use the Gh5 for time-lapse.)
As opposed to Night Mode, we also have Live View Boost. When photographing in extreme low-light situations, you may be unable to see what’s visible in the composition, and changing the exposure is not an option because the current settings are vital for what you need to shoot (think of a dark open field exposed for the coming sunrise). Whatever the case, you can give yourself a helping hand with Live View Boost. This setting increases the brightness of the display without affecting the settings of the image. Note, you have to turn off “constant live view,” and this is not available in movie mode.
Maximum Enlarged View
If you use vintage glass or consumer-friendly cinema lenses, you’re going to be without the autofocus. Thankfully, the GH5 has two features that will help you find your focus before hitting record. The first is focus peaking, which illuminates the edges of in-focus objects, and the second is MF assist.
MF assist is a tool the magnifies the image when you turn the focus wheel of your lens or double-tap the touchscreen. In 2.3, we get up to 20x enlarged view when using MF assist. This is especially great if you’re using a telephoto lens from several meters away. A common issue may be that the talent or object may appear to be in focus and the focus peaking is telling you they are, but upon reviewing the footage, you see they’re slightly soft. With the option of digitally zooming 20x, you can get right in on the actor’s face to check your focus.
The continuous autofocus for the GH5 has been one of the camera’s shortcomings. As I’ve already stated, I only use manual lenses, so the problem hasn’t been an issue for me. However, for those who vlog, create online tutorials, or just want to use the camera for home recording without constant manual focusing, the continuous autofocus has been troublesome. We previously covered the problems (and fixes) in “The GH5’s Autofocus: A Disaster or Simply Misunderstood?” But whether the problem was due to user error or a truly terrible AF, the 2.0 firmware update changed the autofocus algorithm, improving the feature.
However, there was still dissatisfaction in the community with how the AF performed in the SS/Gain Operation > ANGLE/ISO mode, which allows users to film at a true 180-degree shutter angle. Enter 2.3, and once again, GH5 users are getting an improved autofocus — along with a direct focus on the use of AF when using the 180-degree shutter. How reliable is it? Well, ProAV TV gives us a demonstration in the following video.
Does the firmware change the camera as much as 2.0 did? No. But it does improve features and add new tools that many are going to find useful. For the full list of updates and new features, head on over to the Panasonic website for the press release.
Looking for more on the GH5? Check out these articles.