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How to Shoot Anamorphic Lenses on the Panasonic GH5

Anamorphic lenses are a huge part of what defines the “Classic Hollywood” look. Their defining characteristic is that they squeeze their image dramatically along the X-axis, essentially cramming a long, rectangular final image into an almost square recorded image. In the old days this allowed for a sprawling wide-screen image capture on the compact 35mm film format of the day. Nowadays all of our image capture is in 16:9 widescreen, so to shoot anamorphic most effectively you need to find a 4:3 sensor or crop into your 16:9, which nobody wants to do. Enter the Panasonic GH5, which uniquely allows for “Open Gate” recording that reads out its entire 4:3 sensor in one swoop. Perfect for anamorphic shooters.

1 - Activating 4:3 Mode

To get started, make sure the mode dial is set to Movie, then open your menu. Under the first camera menu, scroll down until you see “Anamorphic (4:3)” Here you will see a few different resolutions and frame rates,  all the way up to 6K at 60p. That’s right, you can shoot 6K on the GH5 now. But if you are concerned about bit rate, you might want to note that it only goes up to 200mbps, while recording in 4K recording gets you a whopping 400mbps. Choose wisely. 

2 -  Desqueeze

If you toggle back to live view right now, you will probably see a horribly squished image, like you are shooting through a funhouse mirror. That’s because you are seeing the raw output from the anamorphic lens. Remember, its purpose is to squish a very wide image onto a very tall sensor. The camera will still record what you need, but it would probably help to be able to view the final image when you are shooting. To this end, we re-enter the first camera menu and scroll down to “Anamorphic Desqueeze Display.” This will digitally stretch your image back out on the display (but again, not the recorded image) so you can see what you are shooting more clearly.



3 - Stabilization

If you plan to take advantage of the In-body stabilization while shooting Anamorphic, it may interest you to know that Panasonic has introduced a dedicated stabilizer mode just for you. Open the second camera menu, scroll down to Stabilization, and on firmware v2.0 and higher you will find a setting called Anamorphic (Video) with modes for 2x squeeze lenses and 1.3x lenses. This would also be a good time to set your focal length.