Why I Converted from Canon to Panasonic – Hello GH5!

Canon 650D and Panasonic GH5

It's official. I'm a convert and I honestly didn't see thing coming. I thought I'd be a Canon girl till I died. However, I am absolutely in love with my new Panasonic GH5. Even my cat is getting jealous with the amount of attention I am giving this new camera. So, how did this new romance come to be?

Before we start, I'd just like to point out that I am by no way a camera expert. I'm just talking through experiences using different cameras.

I've been the proud owner of a Canon 650D for nearly 6 years (wow, has it really been that long?). This little camera served me well over the years where I didn't really take photography seriously. I'd shoot anything I liked the look of in auto mode and didn't think much else of it. It's only as I've turned photography into a passion and a hobby that I've started to feel dissatisfied with this camera.

The main thing that made me consider an upgrade was when I bought a shiny new lens for my Canon - a 70-300mm beast that cost me more than I ever thought I'd spend on camera equipment. I fell in love immediately but then started to notice how unimpressive the standard kit lens was that came with my Canon. I'd use my 70-300mm to shoot everything, including portraits. Eh, excuse me, could you please stand around a mile away so I can take this close-up of you? Yeah, still can only see your face. Please move further away. The photos were epic but not so easy to grab. I actually started to take landscape photos on my iPhone because the quality trumped that of the standard kit lens. My iPhone took all my photos from my Scotland trip and majority of photos from my Lake District trip. Not bad, eh?

The plan was to buy a new wide-angle lens. I'd got my heart set on the 16-35mm f/2.8L Canon lens. At a pricing of around £1,500, it wasn't immediately accessible to me. To buy a good quality Canon lens, you need the dollar.

The final straw for me that made me fall out of love with my 650D was when I decided to use it as a vlogging camera. Autofocus was noisy as hell, ruining all my footage. I also couldn't get the mic to work and it would actually make the sound worse than the sound built into the camera. But the worst part was the footage I obtained. It was so pixilated and I just couldn't understand why. Even with my amazing lens, the camera seemed to destroy the footage. I guessed that by having 60fps on all the time it was murdering my footage but still, I was less than impressed.

I conceded that for my Namibia road-trip, I'd be vlogging on my iPhone and only using the Canon for wildlife photography with the 70-300mm.

Canon 650D
Takamaka beach on Mahe island in Seychelles

Canon 650D with standard kit lens

Ella on Takamaka beach on Mahe island in Seychelles

vs Canon 650D with 70-300mm taken moments apart

The funny thing about me is I'm an 'all or nothing kind' of person. Sure, I could upgrade to the camera above mine. The Canon 80D is £1,000. The 6D is also £1,000. But I had my eye on something else. First I wanted the 5D mark iv that costs £3,000 for just the camera body. I'd still need the lens for an extra £1,500. But then I decided, why spend £3,000 for the camera second from the top when I could only spend another £2,000 on top of that for the Canon 1D X mark ii (the best of the best). At £5,000, this camera is very accessible... Sometimes I think I'm nuts. I mean seriously, going from the 650D to the 1D X? Crazy as I am, that was my plan for around 6 months.

What Prompted the Change in Heart?

Then, one night whilst I was waking up but still asleep, I realised that I had some money saved up. Could I really buy a new camera? See, there was always another camera I had my eye on - the Panasonic GH5. I jolted awake. I could afford the GH5. Did it make sense to buy the GH5 now or save till I could afford the 1D X? I think this was the part where reality started to sink in for me. The 1D X didn't suit my needs at all really. I wanted a vlogging camera that could also take awesome images. The GH5 was perfect. I couldn't really justify spending around £3,000 more to get the 1D X. All my favourite vloggers use the GH5. I've seen what a difference it makes to their footage. It also has every feature I want such as slow motion and time lapse.

I researched and then bought the GH5. I also heavily researched lenses and opted to get the 12mm Leica lens. I've learnt my lesson that the standard lens isn't always the best lens.

I'm sure you're wondering, why did I go for the Panasonic GH5 rather than a Canon at a comparable price? I know Canon are a well-known and respected camera brand but research and reviews suggested that the GH5 trumps a lot of Canon's 'enthusiast' range cameras. Very few Canon cameras can film in 4K and do super slow motion of 180fps still in very high quality. To do a time-lapse on a Canon camera, you need to buy a separate camera-timer and oh, it sounds so complicated! I also very much doubted that without spending over £3,000, that I'd get a Canon camera that was vastly greater than my current 650D. Also, I'm talking videos here! Photos on my 650D were lovely when using the right lens but the videoing element was lacking.

Green lizard outside our wooden cabin in the rainforest on Mahe island, Seychelles

When using the right lens on my 650D, I could shoot awesome photos like this

Canon 650D and Panasonic GH5

My First Impressions of the GH5

On Sunday afternoon the doorbell rang and I ran ecstatically to answer it. It was here! It was here! Christmas really did come early this year. Sure enough, my next day delivery was on time and soon I was unboxing my brand new Panasonic GH5, Leica 12mm lens, UV filter and new SD card. My Canon lens converter was arriving on Tuesday. Oh my goodness, the difference in quality compared to my Canon 650D was immense. The GH5 has a solid metal body. Even the lens is metal. Both the camera and lens are very weighty, a sign of good quality.

The 3 hour camera charging time were some of the longest 3 hours of my life. I just wanted to shoot stuff! Finally, I could use the new bad-boy and I was sure as hell impressed. Online I've read that one of the down-sides of the GH5 is the sheer quantity of features and complexity of menus. Interestingly enough, I found the camera really easy to use and settings easy to adjust. It felt a lot more intuitive than the Canon. For manual mode, instead of trying to get the green dot in the middle of my view-finder, I can adjust the aperture on the lens itself and then use a dial to adjust the shutter-speed independently. It has an auto-ISO function which is amazing and the view-finder is like watching a cinema-screen. I don't just use the view-finder however as the screen is really useful. I can see my settings clearly on this screen including my aperture and shutter-speed.

My one peeve at this moment in time is that sometimes I take a photo, it looks perfect when I review it back on my camera but when I transfer it onto my computer, it's so dark! I'm putting this down to my inexperience with the camera as the more I've used the camera, the less of an issue this is becoming. My most recent batch of photos were perfect.

Anyway, I'm sure you're dying to see some of the photos this can produce, right? My wonderful kitty kindly volunteered to model for me. Work it, girl!

Please note, I have brightened some of these photos due to the issues I mentioned earlier.

Cookie Ella's cat taken with Panasonic GH5

That background blur though!

Cookie Ella's cat taken with Panasonic GH5

Those details, especially her eyes!

I typically suck at indoor photography but the photos the GH5 are capturing are insane. Both those photos were taken in incredibly low-light conditions. The 12mm Leica lens has an aperture of as wide as f/1.4, making it ideal for low-light conditions. I know I still have a lot to learn but given those were taken as first-attempts from a very inexperienced photographer, I am impressed.

For comparison, here's a photograph taken in similar lighting conditions on the Canon 650D shot with the standard kit lens. To make this a fair comparison, I edited these photos in exactly the same way as I did the GH5 photos.

Cookie Ella's cat taken with Canon 650D

The lens doesn't have as wide an aperture therefore I had to increase the ISO. The result is that it's more grainy

Cookie Ella's cat taken with Canon 650D

Ignoring the grains, the image isn't as sharp as the GH5 image and the colours don't pop as much

Ignoring the fact that Cookie doesn't look anywhere near as enthusiastic about the Canon as she is the Panasonic (she clearly has a favourite), the image quality is dramatically different. Yeah, I know it isn't the fairest comparison in the world - comparing an f/1.4 to an f/3.5 but even ignoring this aspect, the image is nowhere near as sharp, detailed or vibrant.

Then there was the overall shooting experience. After playing around with the GH5 for a couple of days now, it was a shocking experience using the Canon again. The view-finder is very small and even when the subject is in focus, it looks hella blurry in my view-finder. It's so blurry that I was struggling to see where my green dot was. I swear it wasn't always this blurry. I half-wonder if I've knocked some settings at one point but who knows? Then looking at my photos didn't fill me with satisfaction. There's a reason why I've never shot indoors before.

The Verdict

The Canon 650D is not a bad camera. It was just what I needed for years as I transitioned from a regular point-and-shoot camera to a DSLR (fun fact, my Caribbean cruise trip in 2012 was taken on a regular point-and-shoot). It was handy that this entry-level camera had Manual settings so I could learn a lot about my photography and improve it. I've had this camera for 6 years now and am only now upgrading. It taught me a lot and for the price of £500 is pretty good value. I mean just look at the lizard photo above. Looks like it could go on a David Attenborough documentary on the BBC!

Often with cameras, we are only limited by ourselves. Instead of constantly trying to buy the 'best' cameras, we should instead focus on how we can make the most of the cameras we have. I truly believe I made the most of my 650D and ended up with many awesome photos. I would definitely recommend this camera (or a newer model of this camera) to anyone looking to get a foot-hold in photography. It has a lot to teach us about photography.

In the end, it was the videoing capabilities of this camera that prompted my change. But bear in mind the 650D was the first model in this range to introduce videos. I'm sure the 700D model has improved on this.

I am incredibly happy with the Panasonic GH5. It is perfect for my needs as it takes both great photos and great videos. I'm just one of the many people who have been converted. None are more converted, however, than my little kitty, Cookie. I mean, just look at her in the above photos!

I think if you are looking to upgrade to another Canon or Nikon, you should seriously consider the Panasonic. Of course, it all depends on what your exact needs are but it's worth considering all options before purchasing. I should know!

What camera do you use? Have you upgraded your camera recently?

Panasonic GH5

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