New GH5 “6K Photo” Rumours Commentary [updated]

I’m skeptical of this FT5 Rumour

This is a FT5 rumour and according to 43rumors, it means it’s a 81–99% chance that the rumor is correct.

What’s New?

  • 20MP Sensor
  • Dual Card Slots
  • 4K Photo Stills 60 fps
  • 6K Photo Mode 30 fps
  • 1-stop better ISO

Ok, I’ll take this with a grain of salt because it just feels like someone putting a lot of big numbers in a stat sheet and in theory this is similar to a rumour that was already contradicted by another one in the past — well, rumours!

The Dual Card Slots is something I had written about and that only makes sense, it’s a natural step up from what both GH4 and E-M1 to offered. This also points for a new form factor and possibly a new grip accessory as well.

I wonder about the rest though.

Let’s start with the fact that 20MP in 4:3 does not give you 6K.

But there was a rumour in March that was very similar to this new rumor and it said:

  • 6k recording at 30 fps and 4K at 60 fps
  • Each 6K frame has 18 Million Pixels. this means you can screen grab 18MP photos from each 6K recorded frame
  • If the camera records 6K than the Four Thirds sensor will have 20+ Megapixels in “normal still photo mode”

So it would have to be more than 20MP for stills and then, another rumour back in May that said that Panasonic had designed a multi aspect sensor that would be made by Sony.

The usual Micro4/3 sensor is 17.3 x 13.0mm, the multi aspect sensor used in the GH1 and GH2 has the same 13.0mm height but it’s wider, with something around 18.8mm and 19.0mm.

What is a Multi Aspect Sensor?

In a normal sensor, if you adopt a different aspect ratio, you will have a slight crop. Nobody talks about this because it’s just a technicality but in a 3:2 sensor like the usual Full Frame or APS-C, you have about 1.06x crop when you get into video mode 16:9. With a 4:3 sensor, if you crop to 16:9 aspect ratio, the crop is about 1.09x.

The crop is basically the proportion of the diagonals of each aspect ratio. When using a multi aspect sensor, you use the whole image circle, which means that you won’t have any crop because the diagonal of the image in 4:3 will be the same as the 16:9.

What does that mean then?

It means that this sensor might have 20MP for stills, but due to it’s extra width, it might be capable of 6K in video. In this case you can apply that same crop of 1.09x to get how many pixels you would get from a 20MP 4:3 sensor.

The GX8 has a 4:3 20MP sensor, the width of the pictures are 5184 pixels wide and from that you would get around 5650 pixels in width for around 22MP in this multi aspect sensor but that’s still barely enough to call it a 6K sensor.

And what’s the difference between Photo Stills and Photo Mode? I would say that the Photo Stills is just a electronic shutter burst, something that Panasonic has implemented since the beginning of times and Photo Mode would be something like Photo 4K, in which you can get a video file from it and grab stills if you want.

But that wouldn’t make sense since it’s 4K Photo Stills and 6K Photo Mode and it would make more sense to have 6K stills burst of 30 fps and 4K 60 fps video and not the other way around, so let’s just invert the concept.

So this rumour say that it might be a Photo 4K of 60 fps and a 30 fps burst in 6K. But that still doesn’t make sense, why would the GH5 have a Photo 4K at 60 fps but no video mode with the same frame rate? Or maybe it’s because it can only be used for a limited time?

But it wouldn’t make any sense for Panasonic to put any limitation for the 4K 60 fps in the GH5. The Panasonic DVX200 feats a 4/3 sensor and it already offers 4K 60 fps — and that’s a 1-year old camera. The more likely scenario is that the GH5 will offer the 4K 60 fps in normal video mode but also 60 fps in Photo 4K.

But at what aspect ratio would the 6K burst be? 16:9 is not quite the standard for Micro 4/3 stills — even 3:2 is not — and at 4:3 aspect ratio it won’t be a 6K picture, otherwise the sensor would need to be at least 27MP. So 6K Photo Mode might be just a name the source of the rumour gave to it because I don’t quite see Panasonic marketing it as such without the 6K in 4:3.

Everything Panasonic has done regarding stills has always had 4:3 as its priority and unless they are somehow deceiving consumers in calling it 6K Photo Mode, it might just be a full sensor readout burst at 30 fps that can be delivered in multiple aspect ratio. It would be very similar to Photo 4K but with a much higher resolution and limited by the buffer memory. Or else, something doesn’t add up here.

Either way this is simply too much speculation over some weird bold specs. It even feels forceful to make it fit the bill. 4K 60 fps is something that I had listed in the original article about the GH5 and it would be very welcomed for some — for me, I don’t care do much for 4K 60 fps as I care about 1080p 120 fps, even more so if it’s 240 fps.

As for Full Sensor 30 fps stills burst, that can be interesting for sports and other situations that such a high fps burst might help, but that’s certainly something that not a lot of people will crave for it, even more because it will be subjected to rolling shutter, which limits a bit the applications for it. But of course, in the end, that is a bonus and you can always get creative about it!

I feel confused with this being a FT5 rumour, sure, if it’s true, I will be happy about a 4K 60 fps and even possibly a multi aspect sensor — which I thought Panasonic had moved on from it — but as long as the other specs are true, it means Panasonic did a nice job in matching people’s expectations and even surpassing it.

Let’s never forget that rumours are still just rumours. This 6K Photo and 4K 60 fps that popped up again today were denied by rumors in June and July that said it was the same sensor as the GX80/ GX85/ GX7 MKII and that can still happen again.

The proximity to the announcement might make the 6K Photo, 4K 60 fps and the multi aspect sensor rumours more likely but you never know.

[update: September 1, 2016]

3 sources seems to confirm to 43Rumors that it’s indeed just a full readout 30fps burst, one of them even add that it will be 10-bit 4:2:2 in 4K 60 fps.

I’m still a bit skeptical about that since I was expecting the same 8-bit 4:2:0 used in the DVX200, but hey, I won’t complain if it’s 10-bit 4:2:2.

At this point I do find it a bit weird that no source commented about the IBIS but I think that people are exaggerating a bit — out of fear. As I wrote the other day, if the GX80/85 is capable of that, why wouldn’t the GH5 not have it?

Panasonic is well aware of how much people wanted IBIS working in video, they also know about the positive feedback from the GX80 or how a lot of people considered going Olympus for that feature alone.

The GH5 is also much bigger and it will have a far better heat dissipation, if the GX80 is capable of 4K and IBIS, there is not much that would make me believe that the GH5 can’t do that.

The fact that the GH5 might have 10-bit 4:2:2 doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t manage overheating. The GH4 was the coolest of all 4K cameras in the category.

Let’s say Panasonic adopt the more processing intensive codec like H.265 HEVC, there are still a lot of options that allows Panasonic to implement IBIS. Let’s say that with IBIS ON there is a time limit or even that with IBIS ON you can only record at 8-bit 4:2:0 — like the GX80.

Having some limitation with IBIS working is still a far better option than not having it at all.

If there is no IBIS, the vast majority of people that want a GH5 will be very disappointed and I doubt that Panasonic doesn’t know that. For me, logically speaking, there are far more reasons to believe that the omission of IBIS from the rumours is not that important than thinking that it’s worrisome.

Soon enough 43Rumors should have confirmation from sources that IBIS is indeed a feature. Sure, it’s still just rumours but I’m optimistic about it.