Since I haven’t received my Panasonic GH5 (Amazon, B&H) yet at the time of this writing most of this guide is conjecture – the result of relying on information provided by Panasonic, educated guesses and my personal experience and analysis based on the work I’ve done with the GH4. It is only a starting point, from which you will hopefully continue to research and find what best suits your workflow. The information provided here might not be accurate or relevant. You are solely responsible for your decisions and actions.
This guide covers everything from how to select the right lenses and accessories for the Panasonic GH5 to workflows in production and post production to get the best out of your footage. The main menu which links to all sections can be found here.
In Part One we covered ergonomics, controls and cages. In this part we’ll dive into native lenses.
What is a native lens?
A native lens is one specifically designed for the Panasonic GH5 and the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system. The four major brands are:
There are others, but only these four make lenses that autofocus for video.
Do you need Autofocus for video?
Both Olympus and Panasonic make lenses for their cameras, though if you need autofocus and the right balance of image stabilization I highly recommend you stick to Panasonic lenses. AF for video is hit and miss at best. Sometimes you’re on a gimbal or shooting a news event and you don’t have a choice. But for most other occasions I would not recommend AF.
If you don’t need autofocus you have the choice of:
- Native lenses from other manufacturers, and
- Non-native lenses used with an adapter. E.g., the Metabones Speed Booster. We’ll cover this in the next part.
Panasonic recommends their native lenses over other brands for continuous video autofocus.
So, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll split this part into the best native lenses for autofocus and for manual focus. Let’s start with primes:
Best prime lenses for autofocus
When should you pick prime lenses with autofocus?
In theory, prime lenses have the best optical performance, and are faster to focus. For general video work though, these advantages are not so obvious, if at all. However, the single greatest advantage prime lenses have in general is they can open wider than zooms. You can go down to f/0.95 if you wanted to! Though with AF you’ll probably get f/1.2 or f/1.4 at best.
This makes it a great option for low light cinematography. And there’s really no excuse for not having at least one prime because they also tend to be cheap without sacrificing quality.
If you only had $300 or so for one lens, which would should you get?
If you only had $600 or so for one lens, which would should you get?
What are the best wide angle lenses for the GH5?
One of the great disadvantages of the MFT format is its sensor size, and because of it you really can’t have ultra-wide lenses that aren’t cost-prohibitive. One way to circumvent this problem is to use a Speed Booster or focal reducer, though you are limited by how wide you can go.
Here are my suggestions, in order of preference:
- Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 12mm f/1.4 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Summilux 15mm f/1.7 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic LUMIX G 14mm f/2.5 ASPH. II (Amazon, B&H)
So you’re at a 24mm equivalent at best. That’s just wide, not ultra-wide. For ultra-wide options look at zooms.
What are the best normal lenses for the GH5?
For a little longer, you have:
- Panasonic LUMIX G Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. Power OIS (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic LUMIX G 42.5mm f/1.7 ASPH. Power O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H)
This would give you an 85mm equivalent. By now you’ll have guessed, anything with a Leica on it is definitely preferable, and more expensive.
What are the best telephoto lenses for the GH5?
This is where you say bye-bye to Panasonic and embrace Olympus. Olympus makes a few great lenses for the MFT system, though for autofocus for video it won’t make a big difference. I don’t recommend Olympus because Panasonic has made it quite clear that Olympus lenses (and other third-party lenses like Sigma, etc.) will be slower for video AF tracking.
For telephoto lenses though, you really don’t have any options in Panasonic. These are your picks:
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 75mm f/1.8 (delivers a 150mm equivalent) (Amazon, B&H)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm f/4 IS PRO (600mm equivalent) (Amazon, B&H)
What about macro lenses?
In order of preference:
- Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO 30mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H) – This is a general purpose macro, for larger objects.
- Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm f/2.8 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H)
Best zoom lenses for autofocus
When should you pick zoom lenses with autofocus?
Zoom lenses are all about convenience. You pick a zoom when you want that flexibility in creating wide shots and close ups. You simply don’t have the time to swap lenses often, or can’t afford more than one or two general lenses.
If you are sticking to zoom lenses, get the most expensive you can afford. You typically get what you pay for.
If you could only get one lens, which would should you get?
Get the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Asph. (Amazon, B&H). Please note, this is the Mark I version. A newer Mark II version has been released, but it’s $999, so pick the latter if you can afford it.
This lens will give you a 24-70mm 35mm equivalent, more than enough for most general purpose video work.
What are the best wide angle zoom lenses for the GH5?
Luckily the MFT system has two great wide-angle zooms, in order of preference:
- Olympus M.ZUIKO Digital ED 7-14mm f/2.8 PRO (Amazon, B&H)
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
This would give you a 14-28mm 35mm equivalent, more than enough for most wide-angle work. Note I’m mentioning the Olympus because it’s more rugged and more suited to outdoor use (it’s also weatherproof), and for ultra-wides AF isn’t that big of a deal. The only major drawback of these zoom lenses are that you can’t put standard screw-in filters on them. You’ll need something like the Formatt Hitech 165mm Lucroit Filter Holder Kit (Amazon, B&H).
What are the best normal zoom lenses for the GH5?
You might be asking, why not a variable aperture zoom (something like an f/4-5.6 or whatever). The problem is once you set exposure and then zoom in, you’ll have to compensate by raising the ISO. In low light situations, you’ll have a cleaner wider shot and a noisier close up. In the editing room side by side, the differences will be more pronounced. Try to avoid variable zooms whenever possible for video.
What are the best telephoto zoom lenses for the GH5?
If wide angles are the bane of MFT, then telephoto lenses are its rockstars. This is a great system for any kind of telephoto work, and now that the GH5 has internal 5-axis IBIS, it works great with Panasonic OIS telephoto lenses.
Get the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II POWER O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H). This is the Mark II version due out in end of March 2017. It will give you a 70-200mm equivalent, great for any kind of telephoto work. Olympus also has a stellar ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO lens, but I’m not sure how well it’ll perform for image stabilization.
Best prime lenses for manual focus
When should you pick prime lenses with manual focus?
When you can and want to control the focus, that’s when. This applies to corporate videos, fictional work of any kind, documentaries, etc.
The key factor is the kind of manual focus you want. The professionals use follow focus systems, but even if that’s overkill for you, you need to ensure the focus ring on the lens is solid, smooth and reliable enough to consistently nail focus. Luckily, the GH5 has focus peaking, and the back LCD is pretty decent, so manual focusing will be a joy.
The one big gotcha is the focus-by-wire mechanism of many of the native lenses. This means you don’t get the same amount of focus for an equivalent amount of turn. You can’t get any kind of muscle memory going, and you’re totally dependent on the lens for the job. What’s worse, each lens will behave a bit differently! For this reason, I only recommend lenses for manual focus where the focus ring is good enough for professional use.
What are the best wide angle lenses for manual focus?
Here are my suggestions, in order of preference:
- Voigtlander Nokton 10.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H)- It doesn’t get much better than this!
- Samyang 12mm f/2.0 NCS CS (Amazon, B&H)
- Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 12mm f/2.0 (Amazon, B&H) – I don’t completely recommend this due to the focus-by-wire problem mentioned above. But it has great image quality.
What are the best normal lenses for manual focus?
Here are my suggestions:
- Voigtlander Nokton 17.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Type II (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 42.5mm f/0.95 (Amazon, B&H)
Seriously, you can’t beat this combo. Some complain that the Voigtlander is a bit soft. But a bit soft with 4K doesn’t really matter. In fact, it’ll make skin tones look much creamier. I can’t think of a better system, especially because you need an excellent focusing mechanism at f/0.95.
What are the best telephoto lenses for manual focus?
With telephoto lenses accurate focus is critical. Here are my suggestions:
- Samyang/Rokinon 50mm f/1.2 (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 Aspherical IF (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 100mm f/2.8 ED UMC Macro (Amazon, B&H)
- Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f/2.0 ED UMC (Amazon, B&H)
Overall though, I’m not too sure about getting telephoto lenses with manual focus unless you’re on a tripod and have a solid focusing strategy. If you’re going to run and gun it choose Panasonic lenses that also offer OIS+IBIS. Remember, every time you change the focal length you’ll have to manually change the IBIS focal length setting in the camera.
What about the Veydra Primes?
The Veydra primes (Amazon, B&H) seem like a great option if you want a set of color-matched cine lenses that have standard front diameters and focus rings. But they have three disadvantages I can’t reconcile:
- They’re slow, at T2.2 for primes (a T2.2 would roughly be an f/2) that cost $1,000 a pop.
- They only go as wide as 12mm and there are no real super telephoto options.
- Lastly, who shoots cinema-level video with the GH5? With those kinds of budgets you can easily afford an a7S II or better. I would really be renting an FS7 Mark II or C300 Mark II and cine primes if I was really serious.
This is just me, I’m not saying these lenses are bad or anything. They could offer great image quality and construction, but still, I don’t see the benefits. I won’t recommend them because I can’t see ever needing them.
Best zoom lenses for manual focus
When should you pick zoom lenses with manual focus?
For pretty much the same reasons as when you pick prime lenses with manual focus, but want to stick to one or two lenses to cover you for most situations. Zoom lenses are all about convenience. The one major gotcha with manual focus on zoom lenses is that most low end zoom lenses are not parfocal.
So to really get the benefit of manual focus and zooms, you’ll find you’re always pining for the most expensive options. There aren’t any native lenses that meet this criterion. In the next part I’ll cover a few great third-party options.
If I could only have three lenses…
What if I could only have three lenses for everything? This is what I would get:
- Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14mm f/4.0 ASPH. (Amazon, B&H)
- Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Type II (Amazon, B&H) – Manual focus only (If you need AF replace with the Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 25mm f/1.4 ASPH)
- Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 35-100mm f/2.8 II POWER O.I.S. (Amazon, B&H)
In the next part we’ll talk third-party lenses and adapters. Please support wolfcrow and buy from either of these links, it won’t cost you extra: