The Panasonic Lumix S5 is Just What the L-Mount Needed

Panasonic has officially announced the Lumix S5, a lightly teased and heavily leaked full-frame mirrorless camera that brings the capabilities of the Lumix S1 and S1H to many smaller and friendlier variants. At $ 2,000 (body only), it is the cheapest S-series camera yet, but takes many professional features from its older siblings.

Weighing 25 ounces, not only is it half a pound lighter than the S1, but it is a hair under the Lumix GH5, a camera that uses a much smaller Micro Four third sensor. Fortunately, Panasonic did not build the quality to get there. The S5 is built on a full-magnesium-alloy chassis with a weather-sealed body. It has a strong hand grip, dual SD card slots and a fair amount of direct-access control, although the top LCD display has disappeared.

Panasonic Lumix S5 Rotated Forward With Monitor
Devon Mathies /

If we are making a fuss about physical design, it is because it is the most important feature of the S5. The S-series models were larger than DSLRs before, and the S5’s slim-down body would go a long way to put an L-mount camera in more hands.

For what’s inside, it’s mostly all technology we’ve seen before. The 24-megapixel full-frame sensor is perpendicular to the S1, while the camera’s video mode mimics much of what is available in the S1H, including full width 4K / 30 or cropped 4K / 60 from an APS-C area of ​​the sensor. is. The in-body image-stabilization also returns and comes with a 96MP high-resolution mode, but the stabilization performance is slightly downgraded by 6.5 stops when paired with the stabilization lens (mainly thanks to the smaller chassis, allowing the sensor to Less space should be found to stabilize. Around).

What’s new is autofocus processing, which now works better in continuous mode. Subject recognition has also improved greatly, now being able to detect smaller subjects, including faces that only take 2.5% of the frame. Added support for head detection helps in face and eye detection, which improves tracking for human subjects facing away from the camera. If you are wondering if these improvements can be brought to S1 cameras through firmware improvements, then the answer is yes. This update is coming later this year.

Panasonic Lumix S5 Back Panel
Devon Mathies /

Autofocus still relies on contrast-detection and Panasonic’s depth of defocus technology. While photo performance has increased significantly, Sony and Canon are not expected to maintain video performance with the rapid phase-detection systems found on competing cameras.

In many ways, the S5 looks like a very strong alternative to the S1 and even the S1H, but it has some drawbacks. Still photographers give up shooting speed, as the S5 tops out at 7 frames per second or Top 5 with continuous autofocus. The beautiful, 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder of the S1 has also been replaced with an undergarment, 2.36-million-dot version.

On the cinema side, the S1H is missing many of the pro-level features here, including the high-bitrate all-intraplem codecs. But you can still shoot 10-bit 4: 2: 2 video with full V-logs, so the footage from the S5 and S1 should be easy to match.

However, Panasonic has already announced a firmware update for the S5 that will bring several missing video features by the end of the year. These include DCI aspect ratio, shutter angle instead of shutter speed, and even the option to display a vectorscope. All-intframe codecs will not make the cut, but will, to some extent, output 5.9K RAW video.

Yes, you read it correctly: The $ 2,000 S5 will have the same video quality as the $ 4,000 S1H, so as long as you’re ready to use an external HDMI recorder. This is huge news for independent filmmakers.

So how does the Panasonic Lumix S5 perform? Digital trends have been shooting for the past few days and you can read about our experience in our full review.

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