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Panasonic Lumix S5 Review

Panasonic's new full-frame 24mp L-Mount camera, the Panasonic Lumix S5, reviewed - a more compact L-Mount camera, it offers a wide range of features and abilities to would suit both the stills photographer, and the videographer.

|  Panasonic Lumix S5 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Panasonic Lumix S5 (2)

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a more compact full-frame mirrorless camera in the L-mount range, joining the S1, S1R, and S1H line-up, but with a much more compact camera body. The camera has a 24mp full-frame sensor, built-in in-body image stabilisation, 4K video recording, a tilting vari-angle screen, and is available for £1,799 body only, or £1,999 with the LUMIX S Series 20-60mm f3.5-5.6 lens.


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Panasonic Lumix S5 Features

Panasonic Lumix S5 (16)

Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma introduced us to the L-Mount alliance at Photokina 2018, and this is a collection of companies sharing the same lens mount in order to produce L-mount cameras and lenses, giving the consumer additional choice, with a number of cameras and lenses to choose from. In fact, you can get Panasonic lenses, Leica lenses, and Sigma lenses, so there is already a relatively wide choice of lenses available.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is the latest full-frame mirrorless camera from Panasonic and features a 24mp sensor. It's one of the most affordable full-frame L-mount cameras available and joins the 24mp Panasonic Lumix S1, 47mp Lumix S1R, and 24mp S1H - with the S1H aimed specifically at videographers.

If you're familiar with the Panasonic Lumix S1 range, then you'll know that the cameras are quite large in comparison to many mirrorless cameras, and the Panasonic Lumix S5 addresses this issue by being a much more compact camera weighing in at 714g with battery and memory card, and measuring 132.6 x 97.1 x 81.9mm.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is available body only, or as a kit with the Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which is a new relatively compact wide-angle zoom, with a useful and very wide (for a kit lens) 20mm at the wide-angle end, zooming to 60mm. However, if you're hoping to maximise bokeh, then this isn't going to the choice for you, and for portraits, you will most likely want to look for a lens with a brighter aperture. The lens does not feature optical image stabilisation, and it's likely that adding this would have added to the weight and size of the lens.

Panasonic Lumix S5 (5)

The camera features in-body image stabilisation (IBIS), which moves the sensor to counter any camera shake, and gives up to 5 stops of stabilisation, or up to 6.5 stops when used with a lens compatible with Dual IS 2. This also means that the camera can help remove dust from the sensor (by shaking it), and there's a high-resolution multi-shot mode that lets you shoot 96mp images.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is Panasonic's smallest full-frame mirrorless camera to date!

The S5 has P, A, S, M shooting modes, giving you full manual controls. There are three custom modes (C1, C2, and C3), iAuto (intelligent Auto), Movie, and Slow and Quick (for high-speed, slow-motion video recording). There's a second dial on the top left giving you drive modes, which includes single, continuous shooting, 6K/18mp photo shooting (including Post Focus options), time-lapse/interval shooting options, and the self-timer.

Auto-focus has been updated since the S1/S1R/S1H, with improved AF tracking, plus detection for human bodies, heads, faces and eyes, as well as animals.

Wi-Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz depending on region) and low-power Bluetooth v4.2 are built-in, letting you connect to the camera from your smartphone. The camera also supports tethering and webcam use.

The S5 records 4K UHD video at 60/50fps (with an APS-C crop), and 30/25/24fps using the full-frame. A firmware update is on its way, which will improve the video options available, to include 4K CINE video recording. V-Log and V-Gamut is included, and the camera is said to give 14+ stops of dynamic range. The camera also has Dual Native ISO technology which helps when shooting in low light conditions for video recording.

Panasonic Lumix S5 (13)

Key Features

  • 24mp Full-Frame CMOS sensor
  • L-Mount Alliance
  • Sensor-based Image Stabilisation, 5-stops
  • 3inch screen, 1.84m dots
  • 0.74x magnification electronic viewfinder, with 2.36m dots
  • 7fps continuous shooting
  • 6K/4K Photo Modes
  • 96-megapixel High-Resolution multi-shot mode
  • 4K 4:2:0 10-bit video, 60fps, V-Log
  • 4K HDR video support
  • FullHD video up to 180fps
  • Dual ISO, ISO50 to ISO204800
  • Dual SD card slots, 1x UHS-II, 1x UHS-I
  • New battery - 470 shots (with LVF)
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in
  • Weather-sealed camera body
  • 714g with battery and memory card


Panasonic Lumix S5 Handling

Panasonic Lumix S5 (3)

Handling and build - The camera feels good in the hand with a metal body, and solid build quality. The front and rear control dials are well placed, and where you'd expect them to be. They are metal dials, with a metal mode dial, and drive mode dial. The camera is weather-sealed so you don't need to worry too much about using the camera in all weather conditions.

There's a large rubber covered grip, with plenty of texture to ensure you can get a firm hold of the camera. On the back is another rubber grip for your thumb, and the corner protrudes from the camera to make sure your thumb doesn't slip off.

On the left, you'll find a microphone, headphone, HDMI (mini), USB C connections, with rubber covers that stay open when you open them, which is nice as they aren't constantly getting in the way like some other port covers. On the right, there's a remote socket.

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Controls - The controls are neatly arranged, with the shutter release button easy to reach, and behind this, you'll find three handy buttons to let you quickly change the white balance (WB), ISO, and exposure compensation. Behind this is a dedicated video record button in a stylish looking red colour. The on/off switch is next to the mode dial.

The mode dial has all the usual P,A,S,M modes, plus iA / intelligent Auto, and there is a Movie setting, S&Q (slow and quick video), as well as three custom modes C1, C2, and C3. The top left drive mode dial features: single shot, continuous shooting, 6K/4K photo, interval timer, self-timer.

There's a dial on the back to choose between single AF, Continuous AF and Manual Focus, with a focus button in the middle. Next to this is a relatively small joystick (not as small as on Fujifilm cameras). The Q button gives quick access to on-screen settings, and these can be customised.

Focus - Panasonic uses contrast detection, in comparison to the majority of other companies that now use hybrid/phase detection focus on the sensor. Panasonic uses a technology they call "Depth From Defocus" (DFD), which is designed to give quicker AF performance. Focus is for the most part quite rapid, however, if you're interested in using the camera for video work, then you may not appreciate how the auto-focus system looks while recording, as there can be a slight wobble in the background of the video.

For stills photography, the camera does a great job focusing, being quick to lock on to the subject, and there a number of different options. The AF system is sensitive down to -6EV which means it can focus in very low-light conditions. There are 225 AF points, and these cover the whole frame, so you can set the focus point right into the corner of the frame.


Panasonic Lumix S5 (11)

The 3.0inch 1.84m dot vari-angle screen and electronic viewfinder (EVF) are both quite contrasty, with dark areas shown as almost black.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a reasonable resolution of 2.36m dots, and 0.74x magnification. Colour reproduction is good, with the screen and EVF giving an accurate view of the scene. The EVF has a large rubber surround (eye-cup) with a good distance to help reduce the amount of time your nose is in contact with the camera.

The screen can be turned to face forwards, which will be great for video and selfies. With the positioning of the ports, these may get in the way of your view of the screen depending on what you have attached.

The screen has a good resolution, is clear, and has good viewing angles. Due to the fact that you can twist, turn, and tilt the screen to any angle, you can ensure you have a good view, and reduce reflections and glare.

Panasonic Lumix S5 (10)

Menus – The menus are neatly arranged, with separate sections for photo and video options. When you switch between the still shooting modes and the video mode you'll find the menus adjust automatically to give you quick access to video options (in video mode). The sections are colour coded, and you can use the touch-screen to go through the options and change settings.

Panasonic Lumix S5 Photgo Menu Options
Panasonic Lumix S5 Photgo Menu Options

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 440/470 shots according to Panasonic / CIPA test results when using the screen/EVF. With power save mode switched on this is increased to an impressive 1500 shots! There's an optional battery grip available adding an extra battery, extending battery life to 940 / 3000 shots. There are dual SD card slots, however, only the top one is UHS-II, with the bottom one being UHS-I.

Panasonic Lumix S5 (7)

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix S5

Shooting upJust for a couple of knightsMouth of the tunnelThe GulfSubway exitThe girl and the campersEverybody's goin'It's all too much....Another way of lookingPaper & InkRolce-RoyceMei GirlCafe CultureLight on the darknessThere and back again

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