Griffin Hammond Explains Why the GH5s is His Cinematic Shooter

We recently caught up with talented documentary filmmaker Griffin Hammond. Since Hammond is a global brand ambassador for the Panasonic LUMIX GH5, we asked him to share his thoughts on the the GH5s.

Hammond has been using LUMIX GH cameras since the GH1. He finds them to be quality cameras that he can rely on for cinematic-looking video. Just a few years ago, Hammond shot his highly successful documentary Sriracha, on the GH3. The documentary went on to win numerous awards and was called “gorgeously shot” by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Today, he still uses a GH3 to shoot his YouTube videos, and he also owns and uses both a GH4 and GH5s.

Getting a Cinematic Look on the GH5s

Recently, Hammond has been working on a few projects that have required him to shoot in Tokyo, Taipei and Singapore. For these projects, Hammond wanted the best dynamic range he could get, so he used the GH5s. “If I want the maximum dynamic range, the GH5s is the camera to use because it has 14 stops of dynamic range. It has dual native ISO — I mean it’s designed to be a more light-sensitive camera than the GH5,” Hammond says.

Hammond — more often than not — shoots his projects in a handheld, documentary-style, but his client wanted something different for these projects. “The client wanted a very cinematic, stable look. Since I wasn’t doing handheld anyway and I wanted to maximize the dynamic range because I’m going to give this to a colorist.” Hammond says, alluding to the lack of in-body image stabilization in the GH5s. “I was already shooting in 10-bit 4:2:2 in V-log. I’m really trying to maximize the performance of the camera already, so the GH5s is better for that.”

There are plenty of features on the GH5s that Hammond utilized during his time shooting abroad, like the GH5s’ 4K, 60 fps video shooting. “I mean the 240 [fps] and 1080[p] is pretty crazy. That’s definitely a plus. I do find myself usually — if I want slow motion — I’m doing 4K 60 [fps], ‘cause I still want the resolution. I think this latest project I was shooting is a 24 frame project, so shooting 60, I can get 40 percent slow motion on the GH5s,” Hammond said.

The trade-off is worth it.

Since Hammond normally shoots documentary-style videos, he routinely uses in-body stabilization, but he’s willing to trade that in for greater dynamic range and light sensitivity with the GH5s. Plus, he’s found other stabilization options to compensate.

“[With the GH5s] you may not have in-body stabilization, but you still can use lenses. All Panasonic lenses that have OIS (optical image stabilization) built-in, you can still use those. And you can still use a gimbal,” Hammond says. The GH5s is a lightweight camera, so it’s compatible with lots of stabilization tools. And OIS lenses for the GH5s are affordable, too.  “I’m not buying lenses for full-frames. My most expensive lens is 1,600,” Hammond says.

In the end, there are numerous ways to stabilize shots while still getting the benefits from the camera’s cinematic shooting features.

The GH5s’ Dual Native ISO keeps Hammond Shooting Even in the Dark

Hammond’s ultimate philosophy is “filmmaking is light.” “I don’t think I ever want to go into a situation thinking I’m going to try to shoot by candlelight,” Hammond explains.

But sometimes dark shooting conditions can’t be helped. When Hammond has found himself in a darker-than-ideal situation, the GH5s’ dual native ISO has helped him get the shot.

“I’m always looking to do my job as a filmmaker and maximize light, but I do like that the GH5s is a camera that can help me when I [ am shooting in dark conditions,]” Hammond said. “With the GH5s, you have dual native ISO … 400 and 2500 are both native. I find that 6400 is easily a usable ISO; I’m telling you I can go like four times higher on the GH5s [vs. the GH5] with minimal noise in the shadows.”

A Camera with Maximized Performance

The GH5s’ 14 stops of dynamic range, dual native ISO and 4K, 60 fps video shooting helped Hammond capture cinematic shots for his clients, and there were a ton of different ways to stabilize the GH5s that didn’t break Hammond’s bank account.

For Griffin Hammond, the GH5s is a great camera for capturing cinematic video. “[The] GH5s [is] squarely focused on filmmakers,” says Hammond. “ … So if I’m going to do HDR mastered work, this is the camera to do it with.”

Go to to learn more about the GH5s.

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