Panasonic S5 II Review
|Full model name:||Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II|
(35.6mm x 23.8mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 204,800|
|Shutter:||1/8000 - 60 sec|
5.2 x 3.8 x 3.2 in.
(133 x 97 x 82 mm)
|Full specs:||Panasonic S5 II specifications|
Panasonic S5 Mark II Preview -- First Impressions
by Jeremy Gray
Preview posted: 01/04/2022
02/14/2023: First Shots added
At CES 2023, Panasonic announced a pair of new full-frame S Series cameras, the S5 Mark II and the S5 Mark IIX. Panasonic has designed the cameras to be true hybrid cameras, delivering high-end still photography and video performance without compromising in either regard. To that end, the S5 Mark II models are the first Panasonic Lumix cameras to include phase-detect autofocus, responding to the increasingly loud demands from its users.
There's much to discuss with the new cameras, but before doing so, it's worth pointing out that the LUMIX S5 Mark II and S5 Mark IIX models are different in only a few ways. Nearly every spec and feature of the S5 Mark IIX is included in the more affordable S5 Mark II, with only a handful of differences separating the two cameras. At the end of this preview, we have a dedicated section outlining the differences between the models. Unless otherwise noted, whatever we have written about the S5 Mark II applies to the S5 IIX.
Panasonic S5 Mark II Key Features and Specifications
- Full-frame mirrorless camera with L-Mount
- Improved handling: 8-direction joystick, improved eye sensor, better grip and more
- Weather-resistant design
- Internal cooling fan
- Dual UHS-II SD card slots
- 3.68M-dot OLED EVF with 0.78x magnification
- 3-inch free-angle display with 1.84M dots
- New 24.2-megapixel image sensor
- Phase-detect autofocus system with Panasonic's existing contrast-detect AF technology
- 779 phase-detect points covering most of the image area
- New engine with L2 Technology
- Active I.S. technology for improved stabilization
- Dual Native ISO
- 96MP High Resolution Mode
- Burst shooting up to 30 frames per second with electronic shutter with full AF
- Burst shooting at up to 7 fps with mechanical shutter and full AF (9 fps without AF-C)
- Improved video performance, including 4:2:2 10-bit C4K at 60p, 6K 4:2:0 at up to 30p, High Frame Rate video, 10-bit Slow & Quick Video, 96kHz 24-bit audio with external mic, 4ch audio with DMW-XLR1, RAW video data output (with optional paid update or S5 IIX)
- For S5 IIX only: All-intra recording, ProRes recording, USB-SSD recording and live streaming
- $1999 body only ($2,199 for S5 Mark IIX)
Panasonic S5 Mark II Design and Handling
At first glance, the Panasonic S5 Mark II looks much like its predecessor. However, there are some important differences in the camera's design and handling. Starting at the camera's rear, a couple of changes will likely have a big impact during real-world use. First, the eye sensor has been moved to the top of the viewfinder, resulting in improved operability and more accurate detection of when the user is looking through the EVF. Second, the joystick has diagonal movement (8-way) versus the 4-way joystick on the S5. That'll make it much easier to move the autofocus area to precisely where you want it in fewer movements.
Moving to the top deck, the front and rear grip shape has changed slightly to make the S5 II easier to hold than its predecessor. The shutter release now has a slightly different angle, which should fit more naturally for many users. The neckstrap eyelets sit more flush on the camera body and are now made from a different material that will be quieter during use.
Looking at the camera's side, you'll notice a full-size HDMI Type A port rather than the mini HDMI port of the original S5. On the other side, there are still two SD card slots, but they're both UHS-II this time around. You won't sacrifice performance when using the secondary slot anymore. By the way, while it's not visibly different, the S5 II uses USB 3.2 Gen2 technology rather than USB 3.1 Gen1. That especially affects the S5 IIX, which we'll discuss later.
If you think the S5 II's viewfinder area looks taller and longer, you're correct it is! This is a major change for the camera's performance, even though it isn't a large change in overall dimensions. The S5 II includes built-in active cooling technology, and the fan system is built into the EVF area, sitting just above the lens mount. The camera's forced cooling fan brings cool air under the EVF "prism" and then forces the warm air away from the sensor area inside the camera. The active cooling is not just extremely clever, it also doesn't sacrifice the camera's weather resistance the S5 II is water and dust-resistant.
The magnesium alloy camera body includes a 3-inch vari-angle rear display with 1.84M dots. The EVF uses a 3.68M-dot OLED panel and delivers 0.78x magnification. Other features include a rear control dial, dual command dials, a dedicated mode dial on top, quick-access buttons for exposure controls near the shutter release, and a dedicated video recording button.
For the S5 Mark IIX only: the camera sports a sleek blacked-out design, with all logos and branding on the front black instead of white and no red flourish under the mode dial. Both models are fully compatible with the existing vertical battery grip for the original S5 camera.
Image sensor: New 24.2-megapixel image sensor with phase-detect autofocus
Finally! After long last, LUMIX users can enjoy phase-detect autofocus. The S5 Mark II includes a new (new to Panasonic, at least) 24.2-megapixel image sensor. On the sensor are 779 PDAF points. We'll discuss autofocus further in a bit, but it's a big deal that the sensor includes PDAF.
The S5 Mark II uses Dual Native ISO technology, promising better noise performance and expanded dynamic range at higher ISO settings. The ISO ranges from 100 to 51,200, although it can be further expanded to ISO 204,800.
Performance: Hybrid autofocus, L2 Technology and much more highlight impressive features and specs
The new phase hybrid autofocus system sports 779 PDAF points and 315 contrast-detect autofocus points. The S5 Mark II still uses Panasonic's tried-and-true DFD autofocus technology to help drive performance across various subjects and situations. The increased points allow the camera to better track smaller subjects throughout the frame. Speaking of smaller subjects, the camera also includes a new smaller 1-area AF option, answering requests from users who wanted more precision.
As for subject detection, the S5 Mark II has that too. Although there isn't any mention of AI technology at play, there's subject detection autofocus for human and animal subjects that promises improved speed and precision. Panasonic's engineers have focused on six key areas to deliver the phase-detect AF performance that users expect: tracking ability, handling scenes with several people, delivering smooth autofocus for product videos, working well in backlit conditions, focusing in low light and handling varied light sources. While Panasonic could have introduced PDAF technology sooner, it needed to wait until image quality and autofocus performance concerns were fully met, and that time is now.
There are other noteworthy aspects of the S5 II's autofocus system, including AF-C when zooming, autofocus micro adjustment and impressive focus breathing suppression. Regarding AF-C when zooming, some Panasonic S-series lenses will require firmware updates to take full advantage of the feature. Some lenses will be updated at launch, whereas others will follow in the month or two after the S5 II hits store shelves.
Underpinning the autofocus and performance is L2 (L squared) Technology. You may recall that last May, Panasonic and Leica Camera AG announced a strategic comprehensive collaboration agreement, resulting in L2 Technology. The S5 Mark II is the first product to benefit from the agreement, delivering next-generation processing technology.
L2 also helps the S5 II deliver improved shooting speed, including full-res raw image capture at up to 30 frames per second with full autofocus. This impressive speed requires using the electronic shutter, which promises reduced rolling shutter distortion. If you want to use the mechanical shutter, AF-C shooting is limited to 7 frames per second (AF-S is 9 fps). Buffer performance is greatly improved, increasing to 200 raw (or raw + JPEG) images at 30 fps, up from 24 images at 5 fps on the original S5. That's a significant bump. The S5 II has a new engine with better processing speed, and the sensor has a higher readout speed, resulting in improved performance across the board.
The S5 II also includes improved image stabilization, including a new Active I.S. technology. The in-body image stabilization benefits from improved processing and allows for a 96MP High-Resolution mode. A tripod is highly recommended for the mode, which combines eight slightly shifted images to create a 12,000 x 8,000-pixel image. The camera processes the JPEG images in the camera, resulting in a file ready to go straight from the camera itself no off-camera processing required. You can access the mode via the Drive Mode dial on the camera.
Active I.S. technology is designed for shooting handheld video while walking, and Panasonic believes it may replace the need for a gimbal for some users. Active I.S. technology delivers approximately 200% better shake reduction than conventional systems (such as in the original S5) by determining the degree of camera shake and optimizing correction ratios.
Video: A true hybrid camera
The Panasonic S5 promised some great video performance, and the S5 Mark II takes that aspiration much further, promising high-end video features and performance. Highlighting just some of the new video features are: 4:2:2 10-bit Cinema 4K video at up to 60p with unlimited recording time, 6K (3:2, 17:9) and 5.9K (16:9) 4:2:0 10-bit video at up to 30p, High Frame Rate video, and 4:2:0 10-bit Slow & Quick Video.
Audio matters, too. The S5 II delivers 24-bit 48khZ video with built-in and external mics but also adds High-Res 96kHz 24-bit audio with an external mic and 4ch audio using the Panasonic DMW-XLR1 mic.
Unlimited recording time is amazing and made possible by the S5 II's active cooling system. There is one very minor caveat. Video resolutions over 6K are capped at 30 minutes with the camera's default heat management system enabled, which is required by different regulations. However, you can change that setting and achieve unlimited recording, assuming you aren't in a scorching environment.
The full list of recording modes and formats is too lengthy to include in this preview, but we'll give you some highlights. The S5 II can record at all resolutions, up to 6K, using the full width of the sensor with bit depth ranging from 4:2:0 to 4:2:2 at bit rates up to 200Mbps in MOV and LongGOP recording formats. For APS-C (pixel-to-pixel) recording, resolution tops out at C4K (4096 x 2160) but is otherwise the same. 3.3K is also available in the APS-C image area.
For high-speed video, HFR video is available in FHD and 4K resolutions at up to 120p. S&Q (Slow and Quick) video is available in the same resolutions, although you can shoot FHD video at up to 180 frames per second. For both FHD and 4K resolutions, you can record as slow as 1 fps, allowing for super-quick video.
Additional video-friendly features include new real-time LUT functionality to perform color grading in-camera using .VLT or .cube files saved to your SD card, Waveform Monitor, Vector Scope and Zebra Pattern. System Frequency, Synchro Scan, Fan mode and a redesigned video-centric control panel is also available.
S5 IIX: There are also special video features limited to the S5 IIX model (or in some cases, a $199 paid firmware update available for the S5 II) we'll cover those at the end.
Panasonic S5 II Price and Availability
The Panasonic S5 II and S5 II X will be available later this month starting at $1,999 (body only). It is also available in kits with the Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 zoom and S 50mm F1.8 prime lens.
Panasonic S5 IIX: A videographer-oriented option
If you're serious about video features, the S5 IIX may be your ideal S5 II model. It has unique features that make it an absolute beast within a high-end video workflow.
Kicking things off, as mentioned, the camera looks slightly different. All the controls are the same, but the S5 IIX is blacked-out. It's stealthy. There's no obvious white branding text on the camera and no red flourishes. Otherwise, the exterior design is identical. All the controls are the same between both models.
Still photography features? They're the same, too. The big differences come when you look at video features. The S5 IIX offers RAW video data output over the full-size HDMI port. That's a significant difference, although it's one that can be eliminated if an S5 II owner pays $199 for the DMW-SFU2 firmware update. That "update" is included in the price of the S5 IIX, which is conveniently $200 more than the standard S5 II model.
The other video features unique to the S5 IIX out-of-the-box are unavailable on the S5 II, even with the paid firmware upgrade. These features include USB-SSD recording, ALL-Intra recording, ProRes recording, wireless IP live streaming, USB tethered streaming from a connected smartphone and wired IP streaming.
The USB-SSD video recording is huge. This enables more video modes, including bitrates up to 800Mbps speeds not possible on UHS-II SD cards. Further, an external recording medium moves significant heat from inside the camera to outside, which can affect performance. Many ProRes formats also require USB-SSD recording, including 5.8K and C4K ProRes 422 HQ. Some ProRes 422 modes require the SSD, too, including 5.8K and C4K. Again, if you want to record to an SSD, you must opt for the S5 IIX model. No firmware update will add this feature to the standard S5 II.
The Panasonic S5 Mark IIX is $2,199 (body only). Like the S5 II, it can also be purchased in kits with the Lumix S 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 or 50mm F1.8. You can also buy the camera with both these lenses. The S5 IIX will be available later than the regular S5 II, arriving in stores this May.
Buy the Panasonic S5 II
$2248.00 (100% more)
42.4 MP (43% more)
Also has viewfinder
$3498.00 (100% more)
12.1 MP (100% less)
Also has viewfinder