10 lenses to consider for shooting video with your Panasonic Lumix GH5 camera.

Okay, you’ve got yourself a shiny new Panasonic Lumix GH5 camera. If you’re grinning ear to ear, I get it. The GH5 is an incredible camera. In my testing I can see why it has garnered acclaim. The feature set is amazing for a camera that costs $1,995 (USD) — not inexpensive to be sure, but a bargain relative to much of the 4K competition. And the image is very nice. I even recently used the mirrorless beast to shoot my short film Crazy or Die (see below). Using the camera on that project simply blew me away.

Now that you have a GH5 as well it might be a good time to pick up a lens to pair with the body. If you’re just starting out, a quick tip: don’t go too crazy. Budget carefully and plan out your lens kit.

You’ll likely want to cover as broad a focal range as possible. And, keep in mind, if you invest solely in the native Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mount found on the GH5 you’ll lock yourself in a bit. Should you decide to upgrade down the road those lenses won’t be compatible with other, say, more expensive cameras such as those made by RED or Sony. Which is why I’m generally a fan of the widely used Canon EF lens mount.

First, a quick word on “best.”

Are these 10 lenses the best?

Yes and no.

I’ve found them to be the best for my purposes. Keep in mind I shoot mostly short doc style, events, and interviews for Stark Insider. Those who shoot travel and wildlife might need something slightly different. Also, there’s many ways to interpret the term best: best technical performance and sharpness (DxOMark is a good place to research that); best in low light; best cinematic look; best price/performance value; best compact lens; best zoom; and on and on it goes.

A lens, like a camera, is just another tool. Nothing more, nothing less.

So think of this list as more of a guide. A starting point. Just some ideas to consider if you’re shopping for a new lens for your GH5.

Don’t forget that old saying: you date your camera, but marry your lenses.

Finally, happy shooting! If you’re like me your GH5 pretty much goes everywhere with you (and, in my case, it’s replaced my 80D as my travel camera of choice).

Top 10: Best lenses for shooting video on the Panasonic GH5

(Note: if you have other suggestions please feel free to chime in with ideas on your favorite GH5 lenses in the comments)

1. Panasonic Lumix G 12-35mm I f/2.8

Panasonic GH5 top controls
GH5 with Panasonic 12-35 I lens.

Mount: MFT
Price: $697 on Amazon
Good for: all around, run-and-gun, documentary and events

If you can buy only one lens for your GH5 (or GH4) this is a good one. It’s a native mount, so it keeps the whole package compact. Plus, it take advantage of Panasonic’s magical dual stabilization — combining the lens stabilization with the camera’s in-body stabilization. With the crop factor, the focal range works out to about 24-70mm. This is just about ideal for grabbing wide shots, and then being able to zoom in to catch some drama up-close. Yes, there’s an updated version of this lens that Panasonic released alongside the GH5. If you have the cash go for it. But I’ve had stellar results with the original (Mark I) version, and you can save a bit too.

2. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 ART

GH5 with Ninja Blade monitor and Sigma 18-35mm ART lens.

Mount: EF
Price: $799 on Amazon
Good for: just about everything (though limited on reach), short films, music videos, corporate work

Sigma 18-35mm ART… this lens is quickly becoming legendary. Sony user. RED user. Panasonic user. Doesn’t matter what camera you own (or rent), it seems everyone talks about this lens across the respective forums. I’ve used it for almost 4 years now on a variety of cameras (RED Raven, Canon C100, GH5, 80D, Blackmagic) and it’s absolutely the bees knees. Tack sharp, but also very cinematic — meaning the bokeh and out-of-focus areas look dreamy. Just a beautiful lens. Keep in mind to use this on the GH5 you’ll need an EF-MFT adapter. I use the Metabones Ultra 0.71 and it works great. The nice thing is — again — because this is EF mount, you’re future proofing a bit should you ever buy/rent a higher end Sony (like the FS7) or RED (Raven, Scarlet-W). Highest recommendation.

Tip: here’s how to remove those annoying, jingly, noise-making camera strap rings from your GH5.

3. Rokinon 35mm Cine t/1.5

Panasonic GH5 with Rokinon 35mm lens
Panasonic GH5 with Rokinon 35mm lens (with Metabones adapter) and a DIY light gel.

Mount: MFT, EF
Price: $499 on Amazon for the EF version (really great price for a cine lens with this kind of build and image quality)
Good for: filmmaking, music videos, low light situations

Once you have a few basic lenses in your bag, you may want to consider a proper “cinema” lens. Typically that means a few things: (a) a prime (i.e. no zoom); (b) a de-clicked aperture ring; (c) increased rotation range on the focus ring (for fine tuning rack focus). You’ll also find that cine lenses generally perform better than their zoom counterparts in low light. The best ones — the really expensive ones — also tend to breath less meaning there’s little to no change in the image as you change focus points. Since we’re talking reasonably priced lenses here, I’d strongly consider the cine range from Rokinon. This 35mm is, in a word, outstanding. Especially for the price. That people even dare compare it to more expensive stuff from the likes of Zeiss and Cooke should tell you that it’s pretty darn good. I love the smooth ring movement, the gorgeous imagery. I especially like the price! BTW- even though this lens (like some others on this list) doesn’t have IS, the GH5 does wonders with its built-in IBIS. It’s truly impressive, and far better than what I got out of the Sony a6500 and its jello-like warping. So you can handhold these kinds of cinema lenses with the GH5, something not possible (without shake) on cameras like the C100, FS7, A7S II, etc.

SHOT ON GH5: Crazy or Die short film

By Clinton Stark. Featuring Loni Stark. Lenses: Rokinon 35mm cine, Sigma 18-35mm Art, Angenieux 12-120mm (only for scene where Loni is sleeping at beginning).

“Crazy or Die” 

What is essential is invisible to the eye.

4. Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95

Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95 Type II Manual Focus Lens for Micro 4/3 Mount

Mount: MFT
Price: $799 on Amazon
Good for: filmmaking

Voigtlander makes some very special manual primes for the MFT mount: 17.5mm, 25mm, 42.5mm. Take your pick. In my experience they’re less clinical then what you’d get from an equivalent from Panasonic or Olympus. By that I mean they have character, which could be another way to say they’re less sharp. But often that’s a very good thing, as maybe you want your image to approximate film. And these Voigtlanders, at least in my experience with them on the GH5, is that they reduce the “video look”. It’s personal taste. These are a little pricey, too, so I would possibly rent one first, and make sure they’re exactly what you want. Build quality is outstanding, as are the buttery smooth rings. Sheer pleasure to shoot with these lenses.

Tip: renowned cinematographer Shane Hurlbut (ASC), has an informative blog post (and videos) testing the Voigtlander prime lenses on the Panasonic GH4.

5. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Mount: EF
Price: $110 on Amazon (is there a better deal for a lens?!)
Good for: street work, all-rounder, low light

The nifty fifty. This is a bargain and a half. Great in low light. A compact profile. Sharp and easy to use. Top notch stuff from Canon. A classic for a reason. (Just beware the crop on this with a GH5 will work out to about 70mm or so with a Metabones adapter)

6. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II

Canon C100 II with Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens

Mount: MFT
Price: $1,899 on Amazon (look for occasional email coupons from Canon… I got one that allowed me to save 30% on this lens when buying via the Canon web site)
Good for: travel videography, wildlife, sports, interviews

A pricey lens, but it delivers. The Canon 70-200mm is that ubiquitous white lens you see on Canon DSLRs at sporting events — it’s especially prevalent at major events such as the Olympics or World Cup. But it’s also a suitable lens for shooting interviews. And for travel and wildlife. On the narrow end you can get a nice separation from the subject and background. Note this is a Canon EF mount, which means you’ll need an adapter (smart or dumb). Again, I use the Metabones Ultra 0.71 on my GH5.

7. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Digital Zoom Lens

Mount: EF
Price: about $350 on Amazon
Good for: wide angle, cityscapes and landscapes, establishing shots

I admit that this is my least used lens on this list. Not because it’s not good. In fact it’s excellent for the price. I just don’t find myself needing to shoot wide that often. So why did I include the Tokina 11-16mm on this list? Because sometimes we need a wide shot. Maybe it’s for an establishing shot. Or maybe it’s because you shoot amazing vistas for travel videos. Either way, this Tokina is a solid option. (not that it should matter, but, man, is this one ugly looking lens)

8. Rokinon 85mm t/1.5

Rokinon 85mm Cine Lens

Mount: MFT, EF
Price: $299 on Amazon for EF version
Good for: bokeh, close-ups

I absolutely adore the bokeh on this lens (EF version).

9. Angenieux 12-120mm (with focus crank!)

Angenieux 12-120mm on Blackmagic Micro Cinema Camera

Mount: C
Price: varies, typically $500-900 on eBay
Good for: Brian DePalma cranking mode or Jean-Luc Godard cigarette mode

Okay, we’re down to the last two lenses on my list. So they’re getting slightly quirky. If you’re just starting out with your GH5, don’t start here. Go back up to #1 and look at those options up there. If you’re like me, though, and have been shooting for many years and are always exploring new looks, then here’s one idea. Angenieux 12-120mm: this is the famed lens used often during the French New Wave period in the 1960’s. One of my favorite directors, Jean-Luc Godard, used it to shoot the groundbreaking indie Breathless (1960) which took French film in a decidedly non-studio and innovative direction. Now thanks to eBay you too can shoot with the same lens! But… don’t necessarily expect the same results! Oh well, one can try. Back in the day this was very expensive glass. And today Angenieux still makes high quality, expensive lenses — ones that us mere mortals could never afford. So why not? Go vintage. You’ll need an inexpensive C/MFT adapter. And, keep in mind, the lens will vignette at 12mm, so you’ll need to either zoom in a bit, or use the extended zoom function on the GH5 to crop in. It’s far from ideal, so, again, proceed with caution if you go this route. I love the soft look. And the zoom has a crank which can help me get some great Brian DePalma like shots. Combined with the flexible frame rate options on the GH5, and you have artsy, slow-mo nirvana.

10. SLR Magic Anamorphot-50 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter

SLR Magic Anamorphot-50 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter

Mount: 62mm thread
Price: $899 on B&H Photo
Good for: filmmaking

SLR Magic makes many interesting lens and adapters for MFT cameras. The Anamorphot is an adapter (with glass, so you might also call it lens, but it doesn’t work on its own) that enables you to shoot in that much-loved widescreen “scope” format. It can look glorious. It does require some extra work. For one, the image will look distorted on the LCD (you can “de-squeeze” it using an external monitor). And you’ll need to do some extra work in post in your NLE to make the footage look proper. It’s not hard though. To use this adapter, you attach it to the front of a “taking” lens. This adapter uses glass to achieve that anamorphic look. There’s lots of web sites and YouTube videos that go into great detail on the process. Basically, you could spend days if not weeks learning and fiddling. If you’re shooting a music video or short film or commercial, and want it to look high end… consider shooting in anamorphic with the SLR Magic Anamorphot and at 60fps and/or 96-120fps. But, it will take some practice.

It’s Just One More Tool…

There you have it. 10 of my favorite lenses for shooting video with the GH5.

Top 10 Lenses for Shooting Video on the Panasonic GH5 CameraClint’s Top 10 Lenses for the Panasonic GH5

1. Panasonic Lumix G 12-35mm I f/2.8
2. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 ART
3. Rokinon 35mm Cine t/1.5
4. Voigtlander Nokton 25mm f/0.95
5. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM
6. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II
7. Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
8. Rokinon 85mm t/1.5

And the specialists:

9. Angenieux 12-120mm (French New Wave!)
10. SLR Magic Anamorphot-50 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter

But remember, as I like to often remind myself:

A lens, like a camera, is just another tool. Nothing more, nothing less.

Everything else is likely to have even more impact on your project. Lighting. Composition. Sound. And, of course, the story. So don’t fret too much. Try to avoid the fun game that is paralysis-analysis and get out there and shoot and shoot and shoot.

Note: you can find my work on the Stark Insider channels on Vimeo and YouTube!

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  • James_Duke

    How does Lumix GX Vario II 12-35mm compares to Lumix G Leica DG Vario 12-60mm?

  • Daniela Quiroz

    Hey, thanks for this great list! I’m wondering why you chose the metabones .71 vs the .64? Seems like there’s a lot of conflicting ideas out there for a full frame lens to mft mount, would love to hear from you about how you’ve done with the .71 in practice. Thanks!