Can You Actually Shoot 6K With The Panasonic GH5?

How-to-use_Panasonic_GH5_6KPhoto_Mode001By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

When Panasonic announced the GH5 with a 6K sensor, some fans were a bit miffed by the fact it still shot in 4K. But one YouTuber has figured out that there just may be a way to convince the GH5 to shoot in 6K (sort of) through the 6K photo mode, and you can even have sound! But you have jump through a few hoops.

We said the potential for 6K video was there when the Panasonic GH5 was announced back at CES in January. But could someone crack the code? Well, New York wedding and travel photographer JD of the YouTube channel Perspective Captured has been experimenting with 6K Photo mode of the GH5, and has managed to get video by setting the shutter to start and stop. This means that the photo mode will keep capturing still images, with sound, until you press the shutter a second time to stop it. Effectively turning the GH5 into a 6K video camera.

But as JD explains, while it’s great that you can in fact capture 6K video that way, the problem is that the video is recorded in H.265, the once and future king of ultra high definition codecs. That codec isn’t fully supported by most video editing systems yet. While Premiere Pro supports it to a degree, you need a driver for playback. Apple says Final Cut Pro X will support it in the next release. In many cases, you need to convert your H.265 video to ProRes in order to edit it. For that, JD uses Rocky Mountain Video Converter to make the transition.

“It’s a very computer-intensive process,” JD says in his YouTube video. “So you’re only going to want to use that 6K mode for those perfect, special moments.”

The converted video file is huge, too. JD says that every frame of 6K photo mode is 18 megapixels, and his 12-second test footage took nearly two and a half hours to convert, and the resulting file size is six times larger. So JD says you will want to be prepared for your computer to do some pretty heavy lifting that will take hours if you go that route, depending on your system’s specs.

The other drawback is that in 6K photo mode, the image is shot in a 4:3 ratio, so it’s not exactly cinematic to modern standards. Also, many point out that in 6K photo mode, the resolution isn’t really 6K at all, but a resolution of 4992 x 3744 or 5184 x 3456, depending on the options you select. Basically, it’s 5K.

Still, even at that, you have plenty of real estate there to crop down to wide screen for a 4K output, though you may as well just shoot native 4K. However, JD says the additional benefit of shooting your video in 6K photo mode is that you can pull a professional quality still image grab from any frame, making it ideal for wedding videographers to do double duty as the wedding photographer, as well, and vice versa. The same could also be said for ENG and Sports videography. Or just about any other medium where you need to have both stills and video.

But what needs to happen for H.265 to go mainstream? Well, JD says that it is dependent on whether companies like Apple, Blackmagic, and Adobe get serious about supporting the codec natively in their video editing software. Once that summit is reached, then more camera companies will begin to make the move away from aging codecs like H.264, or at least give shooters the option of H.265. Some have, but most aren’t jumping on board just yet. Maybe the GH5’s Photo Mode will be the first big step. And from there, it’s only a short jump to this:

About James DeRuvo

James has a multi-faceted career that spans radio, film and publishing. A writer about the technology in the video industry for nearly 20 years, James is also an award winning film director, having garnered a Telly Award for his short film Searching for Inspiration. He's also worked as a producer of many talk radio programs in Los Angeles with topics ranging from entertainment to travel to technology.