Panasonic S5 Review
|Full model name:||Panasonic Lumix DC-S5|
(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 specifications|
Panasonic S5 Review -- Now Shooting!
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Panasonic S5 Field Review - by Dave Pardue
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Panasonic S5 Product Overview
For those interested in a Panasonic mirrorless camera, the company now offers two different model lines to choose from, Micro Four Thirds or Full-frame. As one of the Micro Four Thirds platform co-creators, their offerings here are wide-ranging, while the Full-frame S-Series is much more recent. However, things in the full-frame camp are ramping up very quickly, and with the just-unveiled Lumix S5 model, Panasonic now has a total of four full-frame mirrorless models to consider. Plus, with the L-mount Alliance between Leica, Sigma and Panasonic themselves, there's already quite a few native lenses to use as well. Indeed, despite the young age, it's already a highly versatile system.
So if you want a Panasonic camera and want full-frame, where does this new S5 model fit into the landscape? Essentially, it's the full-frame Panasonic camera for the rest of us, or a good majority of us anyway. It's Panasonic's most compact and most affordable full-frame camera so far.
Earlier Panasonic S-series models, the S1R, the S1 and then the follow-up video-powerhouse S1H were all undoubtedly professionally-oriented, flagship-style models. All three are big on features, big on performance, big on price, and big on size. These other S-series models are feature-packed, expensive, and surprisingly heavy and bulky compared to most other full-frame mirrorless cameras.
The Panasonic S5, on the other hand, aims to address these "drawbacks," offering a much more compact, lightweight and portable camera, while at the same time still delivering a highly versatile set of features and performance specs for a wide range of photo and video use-cases. Despite its smaller size, the camera does not seem drastically hampered or restricted in many ways regarding its features. For instance, it has built-in IBIS, 96MP High-Res Shot mode, unlimited 4K 30p video, 4K 60p video, 10-bit video recording, weather-sealed construction and more. Plus, with a price tag of just $2000 body-only (compared to the $2500-3000+ range of the other S-series cameras), this new Lumix full-frame camera has "enthusiast" written all over it.
Whereas the earlier S1-series models were "prestige models," as Panasonic puts it, the new S5 aims to lower the barrier of entry for their full-frame lineup and bring on board more photographers and videographers into the Lumix family. Perhaps you're thinking about moving up from your Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera, or you're making your way into the mirrorless world for the first time and are looking for a feature-rich yet portable photo/video hybrid camera. Either way, the new Panasonic Lumix S5 might just be that answer.
Let's dive in to get a closer look at the cameras specs and features...
Panasonic S5 Key Features & Specs
- 24MP full-frame image sensor w/o optical low-pass filter
- Native ISO range: 100-51200 (Expanded: 50-2014800)
- Dual Native ISO
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization (5 stops; 6.5-stops w/ Dual IS 2)
- DFD-based contrast-detection AF system w/ improved subject-recognition & tracking algorithms
- 96MP High-Res Shot mode w/ JPEG & RAW
- New Live View Composite photo mode
- 7fps with AF-S; 5fps with AF-C
- Unlimited 8-bit 4K 30p video; 4K 60p video up to 30min
- 4K 30p 4:2:2 10bit (internal rec.); 4K 60p 4:2:2 10bit (hdmi output)
- 4K 60p in-camera timelapse
- Full HD slow-motion video at up to 180fps
- V-Log preinstalled; 14-stops of dynamic range
- Dual UHS-II SD card slots
- Dust & moisture resistant sealing; Mag-alloy construction
- $1,999 USD body-only; $2,299 w/ 20-60mm lens kit
Design & Product Tour
At first glance, the Panasonic S5 resembles the rest of the Lumix S-series line, but it's not until you see them side-by-side that it becomes clear how much smaller and more compact the S5 is over the higher-end models. In fact, not only is the S5 noticeably smaller and lighter than the previous S1-series cameras, but it's also nearly the same size and just a tad lighter than the GH5 Micro Four Thirds camera. That is quite impressive!
However, Panasonic stressed that they didn't just want to make the smallest full-frame mirrorless camera possible. The goal for the S5 was to balance physical size and weight with ergonomics (such as a decently-sized handgrip) and, importantly, thermal performance and heat dissipation. According to Panasonic, they did not want to compromise the camera's thermal performance for the sake of making it super-compact. And while the S5, obviously, does not feature the active cooling system like the larger S1H, Panasonic states that the S5 incorporates a "heat-dissipating structure" that they developed from the GH5 and S1H, allowing the S5 to dissipate heat efficiently. Combining that with the power efficiency of their Venus Engine processor, the S5 can offer a surprisingly compact design yet still manage high-end video features, such as 4K 60p 4:2:0 10bit internal recording.
Design-wise, the S5 is remarkably similar to its larger S-series siblings, just shrunken down. In terms of buttons and controls, the S5 offers a very similar array as the larger models, including dual top-deck control dials, a rear multi-directional scroll wheel, a joystick control, and a trio of quick-access buttons on the top for White Balance, ISO and Exposure Compensation.
One of the more apparent differences in the S5 is that given the smaller footprint, the camera lacks the top-deck info display seen on the S1-series cameras. Instead, the S5 features a non-locking PASM mode dial in its place on the right side of the EVF. On the opposite side of the EVF, the camera features the familiar Drive Mode dial, similar to the GH5.
And speaking of EVF, this is another area of divergence compared to the higher-end models. The electronic viewfinder in the S5 isn't as nice as the ones on the higher-end S models, opting for a 0.74x OLED screen with 2360k dots of resolution, whereas models like the S1 or S1H feature a large 5760K-dot OLED screen with a 0.78x magnification ratio. The EVF in the S5 isn't quite class-leading, offering a lower-res display and less magnification ratio than several other full-frame mirrorless cameras and even earlier Panasonic MFT cameras, such as the GH5 and G9 models.
When it comes to the rear LCD screen, the S5 is certainly more fitting for the hybrid shooter than the S1, for instance, as it now offers a fully articulating touchscreen display. Again, like its EVF, the rear LCD on the S5 isn't as large or as high-res as the higher-end models, opting for a 3.0-inch screen rather than a 3.2-inch design -- though given the smaller form factor of the S5, this isn't that surprising or really much of a downside. The LCD panel itself is also a lower resolution, with 1840k dots of resolution; it's slightly higher-res than the GH5, however.
In terms of its build quality, the Lumix S5 is constructed entirely out of magnesium alloy, just like the higher-end S-series models. However, it doesn't have the exact same level of weather-sealing as its bigger brothers, offering just dust- and splash-resistance and no "freeze resistance" classification. According to the specs, the S5 is designed to withstand an ambient operating temperature down to just 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees F), which still puts it in-line with several other full-frame mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony A7 III, Canon R6 and Nikon Z6, for example. Nonetheless, the S5 should be up to the task for handling tough shooting scenarios, inclement weather and all but the harshest of environmental conditions.
Ports, Connectivity, Storage & Battery
When it comes to ports and connectivity, the Panasonic S5 offers the usual array of ports and connections you'd find on an enthusiast-level hybrid camera, including both 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks and an HDMI port, albeit using the smaller Type D Micro-HDMI standard. The S5 also includes a USB Type-C port with USB3.1 transfer speeds as well as in-camera charging and USB-C Power Delivery compatibility. Further, the S5 supports USB tethering for image transfers as well as remote control using the LUMIX Tether desktop application. The S5 will also be compatible with Panasonic's recently announced LUMIX Tether for Streaming software, allowing it to be used as a webcam for video conferencing and live-streaming.
In terms of wireless connectivity, the Panasonic S5 features both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy and is compatible with the newer LUMIX Sync mobile app. The S5 features both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi frequencies, with 5GHz capable of offering high-speed connections and data transfers. The 5GHz connection is designed to connect the camera to a home or office wireless network point (router), while direct Wi-Fi connections to mobile devices use the 2.4GHz band.
The Lumix S5, as we've come to expect from enthusiast-grade cameras these days, offers dual memory card slots. The S5 feature two SD card slots, with Slot 1 supporting UHS-II cards and the second Slot 2 offering just UHS-I speeds. We'd have loved to have seen dual UHS-II support, but having dual card slots using the same memory card standard in an of itself is a nice feature.
For power, the Panasonic S5 uses a new lithium-ion battery pack, the DMW-BLK22. The new DMW-BLK22 battery pack uses the same form-factor and is backward-compatible with the GH5/GH5S/G9 camera; However, interestingly, you will not be able to use GH5/GH5S/G9 batteries in the S5. Battery life for the camera is CIPA-rated for around 440 images with the LCD or 470 with the EVF. Using the S5's Power Save LVF mode, the camera is rated for up to a more impressive 1500 shots per charge, according to CIPA standards. In addition to supporting in-camera charging, the S5 will ship with a standalone battery charger. A new battery grip, the DMW-BGS5, will also be sold separately.
Now that we've had the full tour of the ins and outs of the S5's design and physical features, it's time to dive inside and get a look at the heart of the camera. The new Lumix S5 centers around a 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the same sensor as the one in the S1. Like its larger sibling, the sensor inside the S5 also lacks an optical low-pass filter, which should allow for better fine detail resolution and per-pixel sharpness, though you run a higher risk of moiré and aliasing artifacts.
Powered by Panasonic's latest Venus Engine image processor, the Lumix S5 offers a native ISO range of 100 up to ISO 51200. The sensitivity is further expanded down to a Low ISO of 50 and up ISO 204,800. All in all the S5 offers the same full ISO range as the earlier S1 and S1H cameras.
Like the S1H, the S5's sensor features a Dual Native ISO architecture, with two dedicated circuits per pixel. As the ISO rises, once you reach a certain ISO level, the camera will automatically switch from the "Low ISO" circuit to the "High ISO" one prior to the image/sensor data reaching the Gain Amplifier. The base ISO of the "low" circuit is ISO 100, while the "high" circuit has a base ISO of 640; from ISO 100 up to ISO 640, you'll use the "low" circuit, then from ISO 640 up to ISO 51200, the camera will be utilizing the "high" circuitry. Though this is a very simplified explanation of Dual Native ISO, the result of this specialized circuitry allows for higher ISO shooting with lower visible noise. Unlike the S1H, however, which allows for user-selection Dual Native ISO ranges, the S5 is set for just Automatic Dual Native ISO switching.
In addition to simple single-shot 24MP images, the S5 can also capture 96-megapixel high-resolution images thanks to its on-board in-body image stabilization. Like the S1, the S5's High-Res Shot mode captures multiple frames in quick succession, all while precisely moving the sensor a pixel at a time, and then processing all the data in-camera for a file higher-resolution image. Unlike the S1, however, the S5 now allows for 96MP high-res JPEG images in additional to high-res raw files; the earlier S models only offered raw files with High-Res mode.
Speaking of image stabilization, the 5-axis in-body IS system on the S5 is, by itself, rated for up to 5 stops of correction. The system is also Dual I.S. 2-compatible, and when used with an OIS lens, the combined image stabilization system is rated to offer up to 6.5 stops of correction. All in all, that's a fairly power IBIS system, though it's not as powerful as the one inside the S1 or S1H, both of which offer up to 6 stops alone or 7 stops with Dual I.S. 2.
A new, and so far exclusive feature, for the Lumix S5 is Live View Composite mode. Similar to Olympus' Live Composite mode, Panasonic has now introduced this innovative long-exposure shooting mode to a full-frame camera, allowing for easier recording of nigh scenery, astrophotography, star-trails, light-painting and more. Much like Olympus' implementation, the S5's Live View Composite mode is like a more sophisticated Bulb Mode; the camera will continue to "record" new light as it hits the sensor, but it won't simply gather and record light across the frame continuously, which would eventually result in an overexposed image. With Live View Composite, you can watch the scene build in real-time on the screen and then stop the image capture with another press of the shutter button. The camera does all the image compositing work in-camera.
The S5 also features a new HLG Photo Mode, which is similar to a High Dynamic Range photo capture mode, though you will have to view the special HLG images on an HLG-compatible TV or screen in order to visualize the full dynamic range of the image. However, in HLG mode, the S5 will also allow for the capture of RAW and regular JPEG images for use elsewhere or when an HLG-compatible display is not available.
Other shooting features include in-camera raw processing, a Sheer Overlay mode for shooting multiple images with different compositions (will super-impose the previous frame as a reference for your next shot), and multiple aspect ratios, including new panorama aspect ratios: super-wide 65:24 film panorama ratio and a 2:1 wide aspect ratio.
Autofocus & Performance
When it comes to autofocus, those familiar with Lumix cameras, both full-frame and Micro Four Thirds, will know that Panasonic have eschewed the popular on-sensor phase-detect technology and have instead doubled-down on souping-up the performance of contrast-detection autofocus by way of their Depth From Defocus technology. DFD-backed CDAF has proved to be quite fast for single-shot AF in previous Panasonic cameras, though it has struggled with continuous focusing when it comes to subject-tracking and burst shooting performance, putting Lumix cameras a bit behind competing mirrorless cameras that utilize phase-detection AF.
With the new Lumix S5, Panasonic has stated that they've developed all-new AF algorithms for both stills and video that is said to offer a "dramatic improvement" in the focusing experienced compared to other Lumix cameras, both full-frame and MFT. The S5 is said to offer more efficient tracking performance and less "wobble" -- a noticeable "side effect" of contrast-detect AF. Like on the S1, the new S5's DFD-backed CDAF system features a total of 225 AF areas and a super-fast 0.08s AF acquisition time thanks to the 480fps communication system between the sensor and the lens.
The AF system offers a sophisticated subject- and facial-recognition system that now incorporates Head detection in addition to Face, Eye and Body tracking. Further, the AF system is also capable of animal subject detection and tracking. According to Panasonic, the S5's subject-detection system incorporates Deep Learning technology to help power the human head + body and animal subject recognition. The S5 is said to offer 2x faster face- and eye-recognition than earlier models and 5x faster human/animal detection. The S5's updated AF algorithms also are said to offer improved face/eye detection even when the face is tilted, the subject turns around, or when the face is smaller in the frame. Further, the subject recognition is improved for body detection when the full body is also smaller/father away in the scene.
In low-light situations, the S5's AF system is rated down to -3EVs for low contrast situations, or down to an even darker 06EV for low-light scenes.
In terms of sheer burst shooting performance, the Panasonic S5 isn't a speed demon, offering up to 7fps with single-shot AF or up to just 5fps with AF-C. Buffer capacity is fairly modest with RAW or RAW+JPEG modes, at around 24 frames. However, with just JPEG capture, the buffer capacity is significantly increased, at "more than 999 frames" according to the specs when using a UHS-II card in Slot 1.
For faster burst performance, the S5 offers both 4K PHOTO and 6K PHOTO modes, though as with other cameras, these shooting modes are capturing images at full-resolution. With 4K PHOTO (8MP frames), the S5 shoots at 60fps, while 6K PHOTO (18MP frames) operates at 30fps.
On the video side of the equation, the Lumix S5 is surprisingly well-stocked, though that's pretty par-for-the-course when it comes to Panasonic. While the S5 isn't a flagship camera, it offers quite an impressive array of high-end, high-quality video modes and capabilities that should make both enthusiasts and professionals excited.
The Panasonic S5 offers 4K UHD video at up to 60fps, though there is a recording limit of 30 minutes. For unlimited recording time, the S5 can shoot at 4K UHD 4:2:0 8-bit at up to 30fps. Furthermore, the S5 offers internal recording of 4K 60p 4:2:0 10-bit and 4K 30p 4:2:2 10-bit, as well as 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit via HDMI output. Unlike the higher-end S-series cameras, the S5 does not offer an ALL-I encoding option; video uses Long GOP encoding. Videos are recording using MOV or MP4 format with either H.264/MPEG-4 AVC or H.265/HEVC compression.
Full HD video is also offered in standard recording modes up to 60fps and also with unlimited recording time. Additionally, the S5 offers a "Slow & Quick Motion" video recording mode for easy in-camera slow-motion and fast-motion videos. With the S&Q mode, the S5 can capture Full HD video at up to 150fps and 180fps and then play back the videos at 24p, 30p, or 60p. There is also 4K S&Q recording, but only up to a 60fps capture frame rate and using just APS-C crop mode. Note: With Full HD S&Q recording, when using 150fps or 180fps, continuous AF is disabled, though slower FPS options allow for AF functionality. Additionally, the 180fps mode has slightly less angle of view, though Panasonic doesn't specify the amount.
In terms of video image quality, the S5 offers 14+ stops of dynamic range performance with V-Log and V-Gamut support pre-installed. Additional video features include the ability to record 4K and Full HD video using the full width of the image sensor or in an APS-C/Pixel-by-Pixel mode. Anamorphic 4K recording is also available. The camera also features HDR video recording and in-camera timelapse at 4K 60p.
At announcement time, the Panasonic S5 does not offer Cinema 4K recording nor RAW video capture. However, Panasonic has stated that a future firmware update is on the way to add additional video features, including C4K recording. Further, RAW video output at 5.9K (5888x3312) at up to 30p, 4K (4128x2176) up to 60p and Anamorphic 3.5K (3536x2656) at 50p out to an Atomos Ninja V HDMI recorder is also planned. A variety of video recording assist functions such as the Vector Scope Display, Master Pedestal Adjustment and SS/Gain Operation(SEC/ISO, ANGLE/ISO, SEC/dB) will also be available with this future firmware update.
Pricing & Availability
The Panasonic Lumix S5 is scheduled to go on sale in mid-September for $1999.99 for the body only and $2299.99 with a 20-60mm kit lens.