Is it a full-frame GH5? Perhaps a mini S1H? Actually, it’s a little bit of both. Introducing the Lumix S5 — Panasonic’s new compact, full-frame mirrorless camera. The S5 is the lighter and more compact sibling to the S1 and S1H. However, just because it’s smaller, doesn’t mean it can’t hang with its siblings. 

The Panasonic S5 comes equipped with the same 24.2 megapixel sensor found in the S1 and S1H. It also supports impressive specs such as external 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 output. The S5 is a versatile all-around camera. It might not end up at the front of the pack in many areas, but it’s more than capable when it comes to photo and video. It’s safe to say, the S5 easily hangs with its larger and more costly siblings, but it’s not without some trade-offs.  

 

Rear controls of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Specs

The Lumix S5 costs $2,000 and falls into the category of a compact, full-frame mirrorless camera. Currently, the S5 supports internal recording at 4K 10-bit 4:2:0, a max data rate of 200 Mbps and up to 180 frames per second in full HD.

While filming in 4K, the S5 caps out at 60p. However, this also comes with a forced APS-C crop factor. Its maximum supported output is 5.9K RAW at 12-bit while using an external recorder, like the Atomos Ninja V out its HDMI. 

Its 24MP sensor takes photos and captures 7 fps in burst shooting mode and 96MP images using high-resolution mode — which stitches together (4) 24MP photos.

Top controls of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Ergonomics

The S5 weighs in at 715g, which weighs less than the GH5. Despite having a larger sensor, the S5 features a smaller camera body.  It’s a good size camera, though — not too big or too small. However, the grip feels a bit shallow. 

When we first picked up the camera, we noticed the strap mount sticks out farther than similar cameras. This makes it slightly uncomfortable in your hand. The weight distribution also feels rather unbalanced, with most of the weight sitting to the left side. 

It has both a headphone and a microphone port, as well as USB-C connectivity. This charges the camera even while in use. It has a micro HDMI port — we wished for a full-size HDMI instead.

All the buttons and dials sit easily in reach without having to let go of the camera. Out of the five dials found on the camera body, most of them feel extremely robust; however, the control dial and the front dial don’t have the same robust feeling. 

The S5 is also weather-sealed which is always nice to have. All things considered, the functionality, size and weight of this camera lend itself well to run and gun type shooting.   

Shoot assists

Panasonic did an excellent job of providing the S5 with an array of shoot assist features. There are some of the more standard features such as focus peaking, exposure value meter, manual focus guide, shutter angle, vectorscope and histogram. Then there are some more unique features such as dual zebras, luminance spot meter, a built-in waveform monitor, and even timecode. 

It also features a handy red record frame indicator which makes it super obvious when you’re recording. Plus, it has a slew of frame markers to choose from with all sorts of colors and aspect ratios. 

Full articulating screen on the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Screen

The Panasonic S5 comes equipped with a fully articulating touch screen, which we appreciate. The screen has 1.8 million dots, which isn’t terribly far off from the S1H at just over 2.3 million dots. Touchscreen functionality works great for menu navigation as well as adjusting exposure controls. It also features tap-to-focus capabilities. The screen is plenty bright and sufficient enough for easy viewing, even when outside on a sunny day. 

The S5’s electronic viewfinder has over 2.3 million dots. This is lower than the 5.76 million dots found on the S1 and the S1H. If you use the EVF often, then it may be worth considering one of the more expensive camera bodies. That said, the EVF provides enough resolution to grab focus and properly set exposure. However, it’s not anything to write home about. Just for reference, the Sony A7iii — which came out two years ago — has the same EVF resolution.  

Video

The camera’s video capabilities make this camera stand out among its peers. The S5 provides superb video quality, up to 14 stops of dynamic range and 5.9K RAW signal at 12-bit 4:2:2 internally. These are rather impressive specs, especially when you consider the price of this camera. You’d be hard-pressed to find another camera at this price point with specs like that.

Right out of the box, using no fancy profiles or settings, the image is excellent. It also comes loaded with powerful picture profiles, no record limit in certain modes, vertical video for social media and even shoots anamorphic.   

Frame rates

While the Panasonic S5 does have some high frame rate options, you’re capped out at 60p in 4K. To get higher frame rates such as the advertised 120, 150 and 180 fps, you need to contend with some drawbacks.

First off, higher frame rates are limited to Full HD. You also sacrifice 10-bit, as only 8-bit is available for these options. 8-bit isn’t horrible though and captures usable footage. 

Whether shooting 4K at 60p or some of the higher frame rate options, you’ll experience a crop factor. The crop while filming in 60p is 1.5x. That said, the S1 and S1H both have this same crop factor. As you increase the frame rate, you start losing features like autofocus — beginning at 150p. You also lose the ability to record audio beginning at 120p and above. 

One final sacrifice you might face — depending on your lens selection — is a pretty significant vignetting effect when using 120p and up. We tested this out with the Lumix S-series 20-60mm and the 24-105mm and found vignetting present on both.

Profile pictures

The S5 features many useful picture profiles like Cinelike D2, Cinelike V2, Like709, HLG and V-Log. All of these profiles make the S5 not only a strong A-cam, but also a viable B-cam for many productions. 

A huge perk is the S5 comes with the V-Log upgrade included. The same cannot be said for the S1, which will cost you an additional $200 — making the S5 even more attractive at its price tag. V-Log can be a powerful and useful tool to have. 

The S5 does such a good job retrieving the highlights that you can push your exposure up a bit more than you might typically. In our dynamic range test, we saw 14+ stops of dynamic range. Maybe you don’t have much time for post-processing? Using the Hybrid Log Gamma profile offers a good dynamic range without the need to spend much time in post. Even the standard picture profile will provide you with a crisp sharp image, decent dynamic range, good skin tones, and an all-around decent image without all the fuss.  

Full-Frame Image Sensor on the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Image stabilization

Even though the S5 could be considered lightweight, it still has 5-axis in-body image stabilization. The S5 doesn’t need to rely solely on its IBIS either. With compatible lenses, you gain access to dual image stabilization — combining the optical stabilization of a lens in addition to the IBIS. This boosts the amount of stabilization up to 6.5-stops depending on the lens. 

Autofocus

The Panasonic S5 uses the same contrast-detect autofocus systems found on other Lumix models. Contrast-detect AF is slower than phase-detection AF but tends to be more accurate. The camera comes equipped with all the newest bells and whistles which promise to improve AF performance and accuracy. 

Depth From Focus, head-detection, face, eye and body recognition all provide some flexibility in how this AF system performs.  However, focus-wobble or hunting has not been fully eliminated. The AF of the S5 tends to hunt for focus before locking onto its target. After grabbing focus, there is still some minor focus hunting depending on the subject’s movement. 

There are also customizable settings to change sensitivity and the time it takes to focus racks to a new point of interest. This is helpful if you shoot the same kind of subject matter, as you can dial in the AF sensitivity. An interesting side note is that the AF performance seems to improve when using higher frame rate options such as 50p and 60p. 

Manual focus

Autofocus aside, using manual focus is an absolute pleasure. Initially, we disliked the focus ring found on both of the available kit lenses as they’re non-linear. Then we discovered options in the menu to adjust the focus ring controls — you can switch from non-linear to linear. 

There’s also a custom option that allows you to either increase or decrease the amount of rotation angle needed to pull or push focus. Another feature is manual focus assist, which automatically zooms in on your subject when the focus ring is adjusted. This can be turned off, as we did because we preferred to manually punch in on our subject as needed by simply pushing in on the joystick — quickly grabbing our focus then punching back out.

Media Card Slots on the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Media

The S5 has dual SD card slots, although only one of the slots supports UHS-II speeds. Recording in relay mode automatically switches to your secondary card once your first card is filled up. Alternatively, filming in backup mode records the same photo/video to both cards at once — creating the all-important redundancy that’s nice to have. 

Oddly enough, while only one slot supports UHS-II speeds, you won’t run into any trouble with internal recording, as the UHS-I cards we tested captured the highest data rate without issue. There is also no record limit when filming in 4K at 8-bit and no record limit for any of the FHD offerings.             

Rolling shutter

The rolling shutter isn’t the best, but certainly not the worst we’ve seen. It’s similar to that of the S1 and S1H. While filming at 24p, there is some noticeable jello effect present in the footage. Switching over to 60p, the jello effect reduces. We noticed the wider the angle we filmed, the worse the rolling shutter. This could be part of the reason why the jello effect was less noticeable while filing in 60p — thanks to the APS-C crop increasing the focal length of the lens.      

Lenses

The Panasonic S5 uses the newer L-mount. The camera comes body only or with the Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens as a kit. This is a pretty handy focal range with 20mm useful for vlogging. Toggle on APS-C mode to increase the 60mm side of the lens up to 90mm. Lumix offers its lineup of S-series lenses with everything from wide-angle to standard zoom, telephoto and fixed focal length lenses. Sigma and Leica also offer a good variety of L-mount lenses, so you should have no trouble finding the right lenses to kit out your camera.    

Performance

Low light

Thanks to the full-frame sensor, the low light performance is great on this camera. Panasonic included dual native ISO similar to that found on the S1H. The camera provides usable footage up to ISO 12800 with usable ISO 25600 when push comes to shove.     

Battery

The S5 features a new battery. It’s similar to the GH5 battery and is actually backward compatible, however, GH5 batteries won’t work on the S5. The battery provides a bump in performance, but nothing too crazy. For video, expect to get just over 2 hours of recording. For photo, the S5 takes an advertised 440 shots per battery charge, while something like the Sony A7iii takes 610 shots per charge.      

Battery and compartment on the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

Overheating

We’re sure you’ll be glad to hear there are no overheating issues with the Panasonic S5. However, part of the reason is due to the record limits in 10-bit. Still, the S5 has no issues recording clips up to 30 minutes in length (at 4K 10-bit) before the record limit cuts off recording. Once a clip ends, there are no overheating constraints preventing you from recording again. 

Lumix Sync App

The Lumix Sync app is a nifty addition. While using the remote shooting mode, you get a live view of the screen, including the interface. You can change exposure, start and stop recording or adjust camera settings. We found the controls were responsive, but this depended on how far the smartphone was from the camera. When close to the camera there is little to no delay. However, the video feed froze completely on us whenever we took more than a few steps away. The connectivity between smartphone and camera also seems to no longer function when on the other side of a wall.  

Remotely controlling the camera isn’t the only functionality, however. The most useful feature we found was transferring photos and video quickly to our smartphone. The transfer interface is rather intuitive and responsive. Simply select a photo or video using the app on your phone and then choose transfer. Likewise, you can also select on the camera which files you’d like to send to your smartphone.

Marketplace

Canon R6

The first competitor we’d like to talk about is the Canon R6. Both cameras have full-frame sensors, capture 4K 60p 10-bit video and have fully articulating touch screen displays. While the R6 has a much higher resolution EVF, the S5 has more dots on its rear display. The R6 easily takes the cake in the autofocus department featuring Canon’s impeccable dual-pixel AF, but the R6 is reported to have overheating issues and also costs around $500 more than the S5.  

Canon EOS R6
Canon EOS R6 without a lens on

Fujifilm X-T4

Both the X-T4 and the Panasonic S5 capture 4K 60p 10-bit, have fully articulating touch screens, IBIS and dual card slots. The X-T4 is 100g lighter than the S5, offers a higher resolution EVF, faster burst frequency when shooting photos, has slightly better battery life and is $300 less. Meanwhile, the S5 has a full-frame sensor versus the APS-C sensor found on the X-T4. 

Fujifilm X-T4
Fujifilm X-T4 with its screen flipped out

 

Sony a7 III

The Panasonic S5 also competes against the Sony A7iii — although two-and-a-half years older. Both cameras have 24MP full-frame sensors, record a maximum 4K resolution for video, have log picture profiles, microphone and headphone ports, weather sealing and S&Q recording modes.

The A7iii is $300 cheaper, has better autofocus, better battery life and also faster burst frequency when shooting photos. The S5 comes equipped with a much higher resolution and fully articulating rear display, captures higher frame rates in 4K — up to 60p, films 10-bit internally and 5.9K RAW 4:2:2 12-bit externally and has access to a more affordable line-up of lenses.     

Sony a7 III without lens

Final thoughts

The Panasonic S5 is a versatile all-around hybrid camera that should appeal to a broad range of the market. There really is something for all skill levels and needs — whether it be social media capabilities, professional video features or entry-level practicality. Panasonic created a well-rounded, well-priced and well-equipped workhorse in the LUMIX S5.   

Strengths:

4K 10-bit Internal

Hybrid Versatility

Professional Video Features

Articulating Touch Screen

Weaknesses:

Auto-focus

Micro HDMI

Unbalanced weight distribution

Uncomfortable hand-held feel

Tech Specs

Imaging

Lens MountLeica L
Camera FormatFull-Frame (1x Crop Factor)
PixelsActual: 25.28 Megapixel
Effective: 24.2 Megapixel
Maximum Resolution6000 x 4000
Aspect Ratio1:1, 2:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 65:24
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size35.6 x 23.8 mm
Image File FormatJPEG, Raw
Bit Depth14-Bit
Image StabilizationSensor-Shift, 5-Axis

Exposure Control

ISO SensitivityAuto, 100 to 51200 (Extended: 50 to 204800)
Shutter SpeedMechanical Shutter
1/8000 to 60 Second
0 to 30 Minute in Bulb Mode
Electronic Front Curtain Shutter
1/2000 to 60 Second
0 to 30 Minute
Electronic Shutter
1/8000 to 60 Second
0 to 60 Second in Bulb Mode
1/16000 to 1/25 Second in Movie Mode
Metering MethodCenter-Weighted Average, Highlight Weighted, Multi-Zone, Multiple, Spot
Exposure ModesAperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Exposure Compensation-5 to +5 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
Metering Range0 to 18 EV
White BalanceAuto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Shade, White Set
Continuous ShootingMechanical Shutter
Up to 7 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 24 Frames (Raw) / 999 Frames (JPEG)
Electronic Shutter
Up to 7 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 24 Frames (Raw) / 999 Frames (JPEG)
Up to 30 fps at 18 MP
Up to 60 fps at 8 MP
Interval RecordingYes
Self-Timer2/10-Second Delay

Video

Recording ModesH.264/MOV 4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [100 Mb/s]
4K Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [150 Mb/s]
H.264/MOV 4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [100 to 150 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [100 Mb/s]
4K Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p [100 to 150 Mb/s]
H.265/MOV 4:2:0 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 50p/59.94p [200 Mb/s]
4K Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) at 50p [200 Mb/s]
H.265/MP4 4:2:0 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [72 to 100 Mb/s]
H.264/MP4 4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p [100 Mb/s]
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p/100p/119.88p/180p [20 to 28 Mb/s]
External Recording Modes4:2:2 10-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 50p/59.94p
Recording LimitUp to 30 Minutes for UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p(4:2:2 10-Bit)
Up to 30 Minutes for UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 50p/59.94p(4:2:0 10-Bit)
Unlimited for UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.976p/25p/29.97p(4:2:0 8-Bit)
Video EncodingNTSC/PAL
Audio RecordingBuilt-In Microphone (Stereo)
External Microphone Input
Audio File FormatAAC, Linear PCM

Focus

Focus TypeAuto and Manual Focus
Focus ModeContinuous-Servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M), Single-Servo AF (S)
Autofocus PointsContrast Detection: 225
Autofocus Sensitivity-6 to +20 EV

Viewfinder and Monitor

Viewfinder TypeElectronic (OLED)
Viewfinder Resolution2,360,000 Dot
Viewfinder Eye Point20 mm
Viewfinder Coverage100%
Viewfinder MagnificationApprox. 0.74x
Diopter Adjustment-4 to +4
Size3″
Resolution1,840,000 Dot
Display TypeArticulating Touchscreen LCD

Interface

Media/Memory Card SlotSlot 1: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
Slot 2: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
ConnectivityUSB Type-C (USB 3.1), HDMI D (Micro), 3.5mm Microphone, 3.5mm Headphone, 2.5mm Sub-Mini
WirelessBluetooth
Wi-Fi
GPSNo

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Devin Hujdic
A self-employed video producer, Devin has created content viewed across the country and internationally.

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