Full-frame mirrorless cameras have long been great photography sidekicks, but now they're really unearthing their video talents as well – and the Panasonic Lumix S5 is another great example of this trend.
As we expected from recent leaks, the Lumix S5 is a small version of the pro-friendly Panasonic Lumix S1. What we didn't quite expect was that it's also even smaller than the Panasonic GH5, a Micro Four Thirds camera that's been hugely popular with amateur filmmakers.
Like the GH5, the S5 comes with in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and a fully articulating touchscreen, too. But where exactly does it fit into a range that already boasts the Panasonic S1, S1R and S1H? And how does it compare to new rivals like the Nikon Z5? Let's take a look.
Panasonic Lumix S5 release date and price
The Panasonic Lumix S5 will be available to buy from the end of September – so if you're a YouTuber or amateur filmmaker looking for a new video sidekick, there's not too long to wait.
It'll be available to buy in two forms. The Lumix S5's body-only price is $1,999 / £1,799 / $3,199, which puts it in between the more stills-focused Nikon Z5 and the Panasonic Lumix S1's launch price. While that price means it's not exactly 'entry-level', it is packed with video features that could help justify the outlay.
You'll also be able to buy it with the new S Series 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 lens $2,299 / £1,999 / AU$3,699.
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Design and build
Considering how popular Panasonic cameras have been with videographers, it's no surprise to see the company sticking with that audience for the Lumix S5.
Built around the same 24.2MP full-frame sensor as the Panasonic S1H, the S5 comes with a fully articulating touchscreen and a body that's the "smallest and lightest S Series camera to date".
It weighs 630g, which is significantly lighter than the rest of the Panasonic S series, most of which weigh at least 1kg. Luckily, this doesn't mean you have to compromise on features like in-body image stabilization (IBIS) or weather-sealing – the Lumix S5 has both.
The Lumix S5's IBIS system is apparently good for 6.5 stops, though this depends on which lenses you use it with. Lenses that lack optical image stabilization will, though, still give you a decent five stops of compensation, which is a real boon for handheld video and stills.
This IBIS system also supports handy modes like a 96MP High Resolution mode, which combines eight JPEGs or raw files to give you a huge final shot.
While the Lumix S5 does have two card slots, only one of these is compatible with faster UHS-II cards, with the other one only being UHS-1.
Specs and features
While the Panasonic Lumix S5 is a hybrid camera, it's the camera's video specs that really catch the eye.
It can shoot 4K at 60p (with a crop applied), or use the whole frame when recording 4K at 30p. That puts it ahead of models like the Nikon Z5, which uses a heavy 1.7x crop when recording 4K at 30p (and doesn’t offer 60p at all). The S5 can also shoot 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit video internally, which puts it ahead of most full-frame cameras at this price point.
Another bonus is that there's no video time limit when shooting 8-bit video, thanks to Panasonic's heat dispersal tech. You are limited to 30-minute clips when recording 10-bit 4K video, though, which is to be expected from a camera this small.
Elsewhere, it's pretty packed with video features, including the Dual ISO feature inherited from the Panasonic Lumix S1H, and support for Anamorphic lenses.
You also get Panasonic's V-Log and V-Gamut profiles, handy for those who like do color grading, along with slow motion and quick motion modes. In 4K, you can slow footage down by 2.5x or speed it up by 30x, while in Full HD it stretches further to 7.5x slow motion or a 60x quick mode.
Of course, the big question is whether or not Panasonic has improved its contrast-based 'Depth by Defocus' autofocus system, which we've previously found to lag slightly behind rivals.
The answer is yes, with Panasonic stating that its "“rewritten the algorithm” for its autofocus system, making it more reliable and reactive when compared to previous S1 models. In fact, Panasonic Lumix S1 owners will be getting these improvements in a firmware update too. But we'll have to wait to test the camera to see exactly how much this has improved.
A new 2,200mAh battery means the S5 can keep going for around 470 photos (using the EVF), which is fairly average. And one other specs compromise is that the S5 only has a Micro HDMI port, rather than a full-sized one, which may put off professional videographers. But otherwise the Panasonic Lumix S5 offers very good bang for its price tag.
Panasonic Lumix S5 early thoughts
We haven't got our hands on the Lumix S5 yet, so it's hard to make definitive conclusions. But on paper, it certainly looks like the full-frame camera that Panasonic's S series needed.
While we've been fans of the rest of the S series, they're pretty bulky, high-end cameras that are really aimed at professionals. The Lumix S5, though, is a small hybrid that takes a lot of our favorite features from the GH5 and S1, and combines them in a body that could appeal to YouTubers, amateur filmmakers or anyone who's looking for a powerful hybrid mirrorless camera with a good range of lenses.
Of course, existing cameras like the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z6 are more affordable, but they lack video features like the ability to shoot 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit video internally. Stills shooters looking for a full-frame bargain will still likely be better off with the likes of the new Nikon Z5 and Canon EOS RP, but we're very interested to see how the S5 compares to the pricier Sony A7S III and rumored Sony A7C. Look out for our full review very soon.
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