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The Panasonic GH5 is a big, bad mirrorless camera that's all about video

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Full details revealed on a camera that spent three years in the works

Panasonic unveiled the long-awaited Lumix GH5 at Photokina 2016, but the company’s announcement was surprisingly light on specs. Now the company has filled in the blanks at CES, and the final picture looks like this: it’s a beefed-up GH4 — both in specs and in size — that fixes a number of problems and adds new features. But it will all come at significant price: Panasonic will charge $1,999 for just the GH5 camera body when it hits retail shelves in late March.

Panasonic is using the same battery from the GH4 in the GH5, but that’s where the similarities stop. All around the rest of the camera, changes abound. That goes for the GH5’s build as much as it does the specs — the camera is 13 percent bigger than the GH4, a choice Panasonic said it made to add things like a full-size HDMI port. The camera is also now freeze proof, in addition to the dust and splash-proofing offered on previous models. And maybe most importantly, the GH5 features 5-axis in-body image stabilization.

While it’s still a Micro Four Thirds sensor, Panasonic has bumped the resolution up to 20.3 megapixels. Panasonic also says the camera should be an equivalent of two stops better at noise reduction than the GH4 even with the resolution bump.

The GH5’s OLED electronic viewfinder also gets a solid bump up from 2.36 million dots with a 0.67 magnification to 3.68 and 0.76 magnification. The new EVF was a joy to look through during a brief hands-on demo before CES, and as one of the highest-resolution on the market, is sure to draw the attention of still shooters.

Something else that will attract still photographers is the 9 frames per second sequential shooting while using continuous autofocus. The autofocus is twice as fast as it was on the GH4, according to Panasonic, and the GH5 has 225 autofocus points to the GH4’s 49.

What’s more, there’s a buffer of 100 photos when shooting in RAW. The GH5 also evolves the “4K Photo” mode that we’ve seen Panasonic and Olympus cameras tout over the last few years. With this mode, you typically shoot a few seconds of 30fps video, and from this the camera lets you pull 4K (or 8 megapixel) resolution stills. But with the GH5, shooters will be able to pull 18 megapixel stills, something closer to 6K resolution.

The GH5 is all about video, though — something Panasonic clearly had in mind during the three years the company spent making the camera. The GH4 was Panasonic’s first 4K mirrorless camera, and Panasonic is pushing that envelope again with the GH5, allowing 4K recording at up to 60 frames per second — a spec that’s really hard to match when you’re talking about mirrorless cameras that are DSLR-sized.

Of course, we knew this at Photokina. So what didn’t we know? The GH5 will be capable of shooting up to 180 frames per second in 1080p. There’s now a built-in microphone that helps cancel out camera noise. The GH5 allows unlimited recording — in all video modes, Panasonic says — to the in-body SD card slots (assuming your cards are up to snuff). You can even set up in-camera focus pulls by selecting different points that you want the autofocus to hit while you’re recording. The GH5 can even record 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally, so users will no longer need an external capture device for pro color reproduction. Software updates in the second half of 2017 will enable high resolution anamorphic video and 4K HDR capture modes, too.

In addition to pulling the curtain back on the GH5, Panasonic also announced two new entry level cameras that update existing lineups. There’s the $399 FZ80, which has a 1/2.3-inch image sensor and boasts a 20-1200mm (35mm equivalent) lens. It shoots 4K video at 30 frames per second, 18 megapixel stills, has a 1.04 million dot 3-inch touch screen, and has a 1.17 million dot viewfinder that Panasonic says is five times sharper than the one on the FZ70. There’s also the interchangeable lens GX850, which will run $599 and has a 1.04 million dot LCD touchscreen that flips up 180 degrees. The FZ80 will be available in March, and the GX850 comes out in February.