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Panasonic Lumix DMC-S5 Overview

Posted: 01/10/2012

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S5 and its sibling the DMC-S2 follow on from last year's Lumix DMC-S1 and DMC-S3 cameras, which launched the company's S-series lineup for Spring 2011. Like those cameras, this year's S-series cameras differentiate themselves from Panasonic's existing offerings with rounded-off bodies that project a gentler, friendler image. The Panasonic DMC-S5 is the new entry-point to the line, and compared to its predecessor, is a relatively straightforward update with a new, higher-resolution image sensor, an updated autofocus system, a modest improvement in battery life, a reduction in burst-shooting speed, and an updated software package.

The compact DMC-S5's new sensor boasts an effective resolution of 16.1 megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor, a very slight increase from the 14.1 megapixels of last year's model. Panasonic has coupled this new imager with the same Lumix DC Vario branded 4x optical zoom lens that featured in the DMC-S3. The DMC-S5's lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 112mm telephoto and features a true optical image stabilization system with which to fight blur caused by camera shake. The Panasonic S5's lens offers apertures from f/3.1 to f/9.0 at wide angle, and from a rather dim f/6.5 to f/20.0 at telephoto. The S5 includes a Panasonic Venus Engine image processor, and can shoot full-resolution images at 1.4 frames per second, down from the two frames per second of its predecessor. Information on burst shooting depth isn't yet available.

The Panasonic S5 doesn't include an optical viewfinder, instead opting solely for a 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. With each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue dots, this equates to a display resolution of approximately 320 x 240 pixels. The Panasonic DMC-S5 has a 23-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point focusing mode, rather than the 11-point system of its predecessor. Like almost all digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Unlike some cameras, the S5 doesn't attempt to recognize the faces of specific individuals, nor to differentiate between adults and children, though.

ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic DMC-S5 also includes the company's Intelligent ISO mode as seen on past models. Shutter speeds from 1/1,600 to 8 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-S5 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A fairly generous selection of 15 scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic S5 doesn't offer aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selector function, which can automatically select from a subset of commonly used scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 3.3 meters using Intelligent ISO.

As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic S5 can capture 30 frames-per-second movies with monaural sound at high definition 1,280 x 720 pixel (720p) resolution or below, although the compression used is the older Motion JPEG type, so file sizes for high-def movies are likely to be hefty. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S5 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a fairly generous 70MB of built-in memory, perhaps enough to prevent a missed photo opportunity if you accidentally leave your flash card at home. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC video output. Power comes from a proprietary 680mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and is rated as good for 260 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v8.0 Lite Edition and Adobe Reader.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S5 has not been announced for the US-market at the current time, and information on pricing and availability wasn't available at press time.