Slowing down the world – testing 240fps slo-mo in the Lumix GH5s

Snow Motion

I’m not much of a videographer, but have been paying more attention to movies and television since the arrival of the GH5 and my requirement to use and test video features in Lumix cameras. It’s hard not to notice the prevalence of slow motion footage being used almost everywhere in creative, and even documentary, video, and these days slo-mo functions in movie cameras are much talked about in forums and in techie chat rooms.

Just one of the remarkable features of the new Lumix GH5s is its ability to shoot slow motion video with a frame rate of 240fps. If you shoot in 24p, as the options in the GH5s allow when set for ‘Cinema’ in the System Frequency menu, this means you can achieve a slo-mo factor of x10. That might sound a little extreme at first, but actually when shooting fast moving action such a high factor works out to be very useful.

If you watched the Blue Planet 2 series on TV you would have, perhaps, noticed that we could see darting fish and jumping dolphins in remarkable detail because their movements had been slowed down enough for us to be able to record what they look like. If the footage had been played at normal speeds those subjects would have just appeared as a flash.

Taking advantage of the recent lovely weather I went out to shoot some footage of snowflakes falling using the variable frame rate mode. This only allows manual focus whatever lens you are using, and the FHD resolution for 16:9 footage is 1920×1080 pixels. The data rate is 100Mbps and we work in 8bit.

While the fastest variable frame in the GH5 is 180fps, the GH5s allows:

2, 12, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132, 144, 156, 168, 180, 192, 204, 216, 228, 240fps


It’s worth noting that frame rates of 204fps and faster use a slightly cropped sensor – as indicated on the information screen shown below. The crop isn’t severe  but you do lose the edges of the frame and some of the width of your focal length.

We might not expect the best quality from the highest frame rates and we should assume that using the GH5s at 180fps will provide better noise control etc, but where’s the fun in being cautious? I wanted to find out what the fastest rate would look like.

In the Creative Video mode I set the camera to aperture priority and auto ISO, and mounted in the Veydra 50mm T2.2 Mini Prime. I used the lens wide open for the majority of the footage as I wanted an extremely shadow depth of field to make the focused snowflakes stand out against the background.

I used the Cinelike D Photo Style to keep the footage low contrast and with very moderate colour saturation, and I’ve left it ungraded so you can see what it looks like straight out of the camera. I edited the clips and stuck them together using Black Magic’s DaVinci Resolve. I have the Studio edition, but the free version is more than enough for this task. The camera is handheld in all the shots, and despite getting a good covering of snow it worked without a hitch for the hour or so I was out shooting.

Let me know what you think in our GH5s forum.