Panasonic Side-by-Side: GH5s vs EVA1
Panasonic has been on a hot streak this past year, releasing the much-anticipated and well-received GH5s /and then/ throwing the GH5s and the EVA1 at us to boot. These two cameras came out of left field and boosted Panasonic’s reputation as a serious, innovative camera manufacturer. Both cameras sport surprising and bold feature lists that put the rest of the cameras in their price point to shame. Yes, they are two different cameras for two very different users. But for the sake of the argument, if you only had to choose one what would it be?
EVA1 Headline Features
The EVA1 is a larger camera aimed at a more video-intensive user. It has a more ergonomically friendly adjustable hand grip, as well as a rock-solid top handle to help you wield it effectively in any shooting situation. Add a cage or a top plate, and the increased body size equates to more surface area and more operator-friendly mounting options for larger items like external monitors.
Pairing nicely with this are the internal ND filters on the EVA1, which help you keep your exposure in check on daytime shoots where that darn sun is just putting out too much light. Sure, you could get a variable ND filter for your GH5s, but that is so much hassle compared to an always-ready internal system. Plain and simple, the EVA1 is ready to handle whatever lighting situations you encounter while the GH5s isn’t.
To name another thing the EVA1 can handle straight out of the box, let’s talk about audio. The EVA1 carries XLR inputs, stronger preamps, dedicated audio controls, and can deliver phantom power to boot. All of these features are pretty standard of cameras in this price tier, but it is notable that they do not exist in the GH5s. That adds cost and complexity to small shoots where you might not be able to afford either. For single-shooter audio recording, the EVA1 is your best bet.
And finally, the Panasonic EVA1 shoots in the the full-sized V log, and the full V gamut. This gives it roughly the dynamic range of the Varicam, Panasonic’s flagship cinema camera offering. In contrast, the GH5s shoots in V log L, a “lite” variety of V log that only gets you to 12 stops. That’s still very impressive and there’s no arguing with the quality of the image produced, but it’s never going to be quite the same as a camera that can utilize the full gamut.
GH5S Headline Features
Panasonic’s GH5s is, despite its small build, an absolute beast on the specs sheet. It shoots 10-bit 4:2:2 video, which no other camera in its weight class (besides the GH5) can compete with. It can record up to 60fps in 4K, and up to 240fps in 1080p or 2K - both of which, again, are unmatched for a mirrorless camera and the same as the EVA1. And, of course, it can shoot 4K anamorphic - a feature shared by only a select few cameras like ARRI’s Alexa Mini. This all puts it in a very unique position to edge in on the market for something like the EVA1.
As far as ISO sensitivity, there is no question that the EVA1 loses (by a fair bit, actually) to the GH5s. Like the EVA1, its Dual Native ISO lets it perform just as well at 2500 as it does at 400. But unlike the EVA1, it still holds together well above that second native, giving it a much wider range of usable ISOs. This means more flexibility in situations where you would otherwise have to compromise (think: night shoots) and fewer challenges in rapidly-changing situations.
Also notable is the GH5s’s continuous AF. It’s not blazing-fast or amazingly accurate, but it is a thoroughly competent AF system that, with a little bit of tweaking and fiddling, can keep up with everything you need it to do reasonably smoothly. The EVA1, in contrast, is only capable of single-push AF that is slow, choppy, and center-frame only. Videographers beware.
It might also be worth highlighting the weight difference between the two cameras as well. The GH5s, body, battery, and card, comes in at 1.595 lb. Compare that to the EVA1, which weighs 2.6 lb. stripped down and 4.5 lb. with the handles, batteries, etc. Even if you intend to carry both cameras on your shoulder, doubling or tripling the weight will make a difference over a long shooting day.
So What Should I Choose?
These are two very different cameras for two very different types of users. If you couldn’t tell that before, I hope you can tell now. But what type of user are you? Here’s some recommendations for a few common scenarios.
You’re a Videographer on a Budget
So you’ve started your own videography company. Or you freelance and you find yourself picking up traction. You’re not rolling in money right now, but you have enough cash coming in to build your kit out. The GH5s is probably the right move for you. It delivers stunning performance at a very reasonable price. It doesn’t quite check all of the boxes (audio being one of the most notable), but there are easy workarounds to thwart most of its weaknesses while allowing you to invest in other gear like a reliable tripod and some quality lenses.
You are Concerned about Future-Proofing Your Investment
If you are serious about using the camera you buy today well into the 2020s, then the EVA1 should be your hands-down pick. This is a sturdy, all-around workhorse that checks all of the important boxes and will continue to be your go-to camera for almost any shooting situation. It has strong enough low-light, but it also has internal NDs. No need for an external audio recorder - it can handle that, too. It shoots slow motion, high resolution, and even outputs 4K RAW [link to our article] if you want to expand your kit a little and buy an external recorder. With a GH5s you would have to maintain a whole kit of gear. The EVA1 is your trusty swiss-army knife.
You are a Hobbyist, a Weekend Warrior, an Amateur with Aspirations
The GH5s is your best friend here. The Dual Native ISO will take some of the pressure off of your lighting kit, the 10-bit V-Log will welcome you into the world of color grading, and the low cost of entry makes the whole investment much easier to swallow. Buying Panasonic’s GH5s allows you to add on accessories where you need them, but not pay for the pro features you won’t need.
The EVA1 is a workhorse camera with loads of features and a hefty spec sheet that will satisfy any pro shooter on the go. But the GH5s’s largest contribution is its amazing image potential at such a low price point. Which one tickles your fancy?