External Recording and Data Wrangling Solutions for the Panasonic GH5

Disclaimer:

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.

The Panasonic GH5 Guide is now available! Click here to learn how to make cinematic videos with the Panasonic GH5.

In the last part we looked at third-party adapters and lenses for the Panasonic GH5. In this part, we’ll look at external recording as well as the entire data wrangling workflow for the Panasonic GH5.

 

 

External Recording

If you’re looking for the internal recording options, I’ve already covered them here. In this chapter we’re only concerned about external recording.

The Panasonic GH5 outputs ‘clean’ 4K via HDMI (Type-A connector, full size). You can output 4:3 and 16:9. You cannot output waveforms or vectorscopes or focus peaking. Select [AUTO] for settings until you get the hang of it.

Here are the specifications:

External Recording without Internal Recording
Resolution System Frequency Frame rates Data Rate Color Codec Availability
4096 x 2160 / 3840 x 2160 24 Hz 24p Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD Now
50 Hz 25p, 50p Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD April 2017*
59.94 Hz 23.976p, 59.94p Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD April 2017*
Internal and External Recording At the Same Time
Resolution System Frequency Frame rates Data Rate Color Codec Availability
4096 x 2160 / 3840 x 2160 24 Hz 24p Uncompressed 10-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD Now
50 Hz 25p, 50p Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD April 2017*
59.94 Hz 23.976p, 59.94p Uncompressed 8-bit 4:2:2 Prores or DNxHD April 2017*
  • *Check the firmware roadmap in the above link.

The key takeaway here is you can get 10-bit 4:2:2 via HDMI, but if you’re recording both internally and externally at the same time, then at 50p and higher the color drops to 8-bit 4:2:0.

Is there a benefit in recording 10-bit externally?

I will only know this once I have my hands on the camera, which should be sometime in the second week of April. But I’ve made two excellent videos that will give you a lot of food for thought (Thoughts on 8-bit vs 10-bit in the GH5):

And a primer of the differences between RAW, Log, Compressed codecs and uncompressed HDMI:

Based on my past experiences with cameras in this range there will be a slight benefit to recording externally, but it’s only necessary under certain situations like chroma keying and so on. It remains to be seen how big the difference really is in the Panasonic GH5, so stay tuned!

What is V-Log L and how’s it different from V-Log?

V-Log L is supposedly the light version of V-Log, the log format found in the Panasonic Varicam. Log provides you a flatter image with the most dynamic range possible. You get a maximum of 12 stops in V-Log L, and this is the mode you choose for highest dynamic range for video.

Both V-Log L and V-Log have the same gamma curve and you use the same LUTs designed for the Varicam.

To get V-Log you need to purchase an additional license (B&H) for $97 or so. This is how you install it:

How do you expose V-Log?

First you need to know where the levels stand in V-Log. Here are the official specs:

IRE (%) IRE
0 7.3
18 42
90 61

So you can see that middle grey must fall at 42 IRE. The other thing to know about V-Log is that it operates in a much larger color space and gamut known as V-Gamut:

So in theory the combination of V-Log and V-Gamut must deliver more colors than any profile or Rec. 709. In practice however, these low-end but capable cameras are color-limited. It would be foolish to assume the colors will be close to the Varicam.

I will be testing how to expose V-Log, but for now here’s a video I made for the Sony a7S that should give you an idea of how to go about it:

If both V-Log L and V-Log are the same, why have an “L”?

The Varicam has an extended color gamut (V-Gamut) that the GH5 cannot match. If the color gamuts don’t match the output results from V-Log LUTs will not be similar, especially in the case of third-party LUTs created for the Varicam. However, with the VLT LUTs, Panasonic’s engineers would have tried to mimic the color science so you can match the GH5 with the Varicam (which means Alexa as well) and use the former as a B-cam, drone cam or crash cam.

Can I use LUTs in the camera?

Yes, but only those with the VLT (Varicam) extension, specially designed for the Varicam. The specific LUT available right now is the Varicam V-Log to Rec. 709 LUT.

You need to load the LUTs (up to four) on an SD card (Folder 1). These luts will have a file extension of *.vlt.

No *.cube, those won’t work.

What format should I choose for the best image quality on the GH5?

If you’re shooting 4K spherical, then choose 4096 x 2160 with a 24 Hz base at 24p at 400 Mbps 10-bit 4:2:2, in the V-Log L gamma. Use one of the Panasonic LUTs to shoot, and then later color grade in post (you’ll need a decent computer to tackle 4K). You can get the *.cube version of the VLT LUT here. You also have a V-Log IDT for ACES, if that’s the route you are taking.

If you’re shooting anamorphic, wait for the high resolution 6K anamorphic (which might be about 4.5 to 5K). The rest of the settings are the same.

Should I use third-party LUTs?

No. If you’re looking for shortcuts, do as you please. But don’t be under the mistaken impression a LUT somebody created in his basement is the real deal. LUTs are a lot more complicated (and limited) than what people think. If you are interested in making your own LUTs or color grading for the cinematic look, check out this cool video I made:

What about other gamma curves?

V-Log is not the only gamma available. Here are the others (called Photo Styles):

  • Standard
  • Vivid – more saturated colors and contrast
  • Natural – muted colors, low contrast
  • Monochrome – two modes (It’s better to shoot color and convert to monochrome in post, so not recommended)
  • Scenery – highlighted blues and greens for landscapes
  • Portrait – Emphasis on good skin tones
  • Cinelike D – Film-like look with emphasis on dynamic range
  • Cinelike V – Film-like look with emphasis on contrast
  • Like709 – Close to Rec. 709, with less of a white clip (I don’t recommend this)

Various gammas respond differently to grading, which you MUST do if shooting in any gamma other than Rec. 709. If you don’t want to shoot in Log one of the Cinelike profiles might be good for you.

Colors are a matter of taste. Don’t ask others what their settings are. If you don’t know what colors and look you like, the problem is not the picture setting. It’s you!

Other important settings in the Panasonic GH5

Here’s an explanation of some settings you might find confusing:

Luminance Level

You get three options (10-bit values in brackets):

  • 0-255 (0-1023)
  • 16-235 (64-940)
  • 16-255 (64-1023)

Here’s the simple answer: Pick 0-255 (0-1023) and never look back. The only time you need to change this is if you’re shooting directly for broadcast. In that case, follow the specs they give you. If you’re on your own with no information, pick 0-255.

Flicker Decrease

I’m not sure how useful this is. It’s very hard to catch flicker on a small LCD, so if you have an external monitor it’ll be more easily detectable. You have the following settings:

  • 1/50
  • 1/60
  • 1/100
  • 1/120

Choose depending on the electrical frequency and your shutter speed, and hope for the best.

Lens Noise Cut

An interesting option. If you’re using a lens with a power zoom option, you can switch it on to reduce the zoom noise while recording video. Panasonic does warn that the sound recorded quality might be different, so it looks like it’s processed audio and not something that happens in the lens.

Needs to be tested, but based on this information I believe it’s better to ignore this function. The zoom noise will only be picked up by the internal mic or a mic close to it. Since this does not eliminate noise entirely, you can achieve the same thing with greater control in post.

Highlight Shadow

You can create your own gamma curve (within reasonable limits). This setting is not available in Rec. 709 or V-Log modes for obvious reasons. Definitely worth checking out with the other photo styles.

Anamorphic 4:3

To be used with anamorphic lenses or lenses combined with anamorphic adapters. The aspect ratio is 4:3, so you’re looking for a 1.75x or 2x squeeze (the former is most preferable, but rarely available).

Master Pedestal Level

Adjust the black level to see more into the shadows. Definitely worth testing.

What kind of HDMI cable do you need?

To get the best signal out of the GH5, you need an HDMI cable that meets the following criteria:

  • High Speed HDMI Cable (Supports 4K and HDMI 2.0)
  • Length up to 1.5 m (4.9 feet) only

Should you use the HDMI cable holder?

Yes. As someone who has broken HDMI pins, trust me on this.

Is audio recorded via HDMI?

Yes. If you have the optional XLR adapter attached via the hot shoe, the audio is converted to HDMI and output with the video. If the external recorder can accept audio (most do), then it will record this audio as well.

External Recorders for the Panasonic GH5

At the time of this writing there are two recorders that guarantee recording for 4K at 60p:

Which is the best size for 4K? I prefer a minimum of 7″. There might be other recorders accepting the signal soon, so don’t forget to research it before purchasing. Right now if all you’re using is the GH5, then pick the Ninja Inferno.

Here’s my review of the Atomos Shogun (the Inferno is a newer and more improved version):

The go-to codec to record the uncompressed signal is Prores HQ (4:2:2) or Prores 4444 (PC users can use DNxHR/HD as long as the codec is supported by their NLE). At 422 it will have a maximum data rate of 880 Mbps (110 MB/s), though real-world data rates will be lower based on the frame rate and content. This is how it translates to drive space:

  • 6.6 GB/min
  • 396 GB/hour
  • A 120 GB SSD drive will hold about 18 minutes of 4K footage
  • A 1TB SSD drive will hold about 3 hours

This data rate will be hard on your computers, so you’ll need fast drives for on-set copying and duplication. A 7,200 rpm drive should be able to sustain about 110 MB/s so you should get real-time copying. Playback would definitely demand a slightly better drive or SSD or RAID solution. I would only grade in a 32-bit environment to avoid problems with banding and posterization due to the 8-bit codec.

 

To connect the recorder or monitor, the weapon of choice is the Hot-shoe Monitor Mount (from $5 to way more):

hot shoe monitor mount

That’s it! I hope you found this guide useful. Stay tuned for my review and additional videos once I get hold of my camera. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.

21 replies on “External Recording and Data Wrangling Solutions for the Panasonic GH5”

  1. I would like to run another monitor out of my 7″ field monitor (it has an HDMI input and output). Is this possible with the GH5?

  2. – A 120 GB SSD drive will hold about 18 minutes of 4K footage
    – A 1TB SSD drive will hold about 3 hours
    is this when you shoot 4k60p ProRes Hq?

  3. I have the GH5 but just cannot do a playback to an external monitor using the recommended HDMI cable. All I get is a freeze-frame but no video. I have tried everything, read many articles and watched countless YouTube tutorials but no one has really addressed this. What am I doing wrong?

  4. Outputting via HDMI (4k UHD 60p – set 60p output to 10bit 4:2:2) to Atomos Inferno. Luminance values drop to 0-255. I get that this happens when recording 4k UHD 60p 8bit internal, but why is 0-1023 not available when outputting over HDMI, or is actually doing that and it’s just an interface glitch?

  5. I often use VFR 180fps which i now realize that the camera does not output to the Atomos monitor. Is that a GH5 firmware limitation? Is it planned to be changed/fixed? How can I record at 180fps or whatever VFR on my SD and use the Ninja inferno simply as monitor?
    Thank you!

  6. I can’t figure out how to set GH5(i have updated to FW 2) to output 4K 10 bit 60p to Ninja Inferno.
    I see only 4K 8 bit 60p in the formats

  7. I am using a Pixie 5 but the screen on the camera goes black when the monitor connects when I connect it to the GH5 – I want both the screen and the monitor to show? What are the settings for that

  8. Hi, I have the GH4 and the GH5 and was wondering how I’d go about using the Ninja Blade? Is there an option to down convert the 4K signal to 1080p on both cameras?

  9. Very interesting read.

    I have a Barco 6P Laser 4K DLP Pr. a professional may the best Projector in the world.
    I had since 3.5 years a Sony FDR AX1 4K 60P Cam the first for consumers that can do 4k at 60p.
    Now I test the GH5 and it beats the Sony AX1 buy far.
    As I will soon travel a lot and I like to shot in the best possible 4K 60P quality I think to compare the new Sony FS 7II to the GH5.
    This is a not fair compare I know but I like to see if the GH5 perform how good to the Sony FS 7II or say it different is it a big difference in picture quality from the GH5 to the Sony FS7II?
    Anybody that may know let me know.
    Also if I keep working with the GH5 are there any good electrical solution for zoom?

  10. Sareesh if you haven’t yet you have to check out the bright tangerine titan arm, it’s amazing! Posting my review of it this weekend! It’s awesome for external recorders for the GH5. Thank you for this detail!

    1. I have looked at it and it looks promising. I did put in an order with the local dealer last October and they never got back to me. Right now I prefer the Matthews Infinity Arm overall.

  11. You answered alot of my pending questions. Thank you for writing this up. It was a welcome aspect that if you have the xlr adapter on the gh5, it will record audio through the hdmi cable.

    1 question though… Can I record 4:3 anamorphic internally and externally at the same time? 4k 10bit 422 out and 4k 8bit 420 internal?

    1. You’re welcome. Yes, you can record 4:3 both internally and externally at the same time.

      1. I just received the gh5 with ninja inferno. I can dual record on 8bit 420….but can’t record 8bit internal and 10bit external at the same time…. Strange

          1. What article linked earlier? Why would they disable such a feature? I think we deserve 10bit external and 8bit internal as backup

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