Panasonic Lumix S5 II Review - The full-frame breakthrough?
The brand new Lumix S5 Mark II is Panasonic's latest release in its full-frame system camera range. It comes with some important innovations in the video area and the autofocus system has also been improved! With a video resolution of a full 6K at 30fps with full sensor readout, dual native ISO, unlimited recording time thanks to integrated, active cooling and many other important improvements, Panasonic is setting the bar very high for new system cameras right at the start of the year. Find out everything you need to know about the new camera in this article!
Almost five years ago, Panasonic, Sigma and Leica jointly founded the so-called L-Mount Alliance. The aim was to introduce a bayonet standard for which there are now over 60 lenses on the market. However, the collaboration between Panasonic and Leica has become increasingly close and more and more developments from the two manufacturers are meshing, which is why they have now established another cooperation: L? Technology
The two Ls stand for Leica and Lumix and the two companies want to incorporate their know-how into future cameras. Leica will contribute its expertise in the field of optical and imaging technologies and Panasonic will contribute its knowledge in the field of video and digital technology. The S5 II is the first camera to combine this joint development, so let's take a look at what has really changed compared to the S5.
Panasonic hasn't changed much about the body of the S5 II and that wasn't really necessary. The body is still relatively compact and has also adopted the popular operating concept of the S5. On the left-hand side, however, we now finally have the large full-size HDMI port, where we still had to work with micro HDMI in the first generation. To manage the high data rate of the S5 II, however, we needed a bit more steam and now there was the update from one to two UHS-II card slots. However, the biggest and for us personally most important upgrade is the viewfinder, which not only offers the increased resolution from 2.36 to 3.65 megapixels, but also conceals a powerful feature of the S5 II - the new integrated fan.
Cold air is drawn in directly under the Lumix lettering and the warm exhaust air from the sensor is then blown out again at the sides of the viewfinder. This design is much more discreet and clever than the GH-6, for example, where the fan was mounted under the display, making the body noticeably larger. Panasonic promises no performance problems even at 40 degrees ambient temperature. Of course, it's difficult to test this now in winter, but the camera passed an endurance test directly above a heater without any problems.
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5II
- 24.2 megapixel full-frame sensor
- new processor with L? technology
- Dual Native ISO
- uncompromising image quality
- Phase Hybrid AF
- built-in fan
- 5.9K video
- Burst: 30B/s (electr.) / 9B/s (mech.)
- FHD 120p
- HDMI type A
The familiar body conceals the new 24.2 MP full-frame sensor, which, paired with the new image processor, brings with it a number of innovations. Where the S5 only allowed 5 frames per second in AF-C or 7 frames per second in AF-S with the mechanical shutter, the S5 II now offers up to 7 and 9 frames per second in the mechanical shutter and up to 30 frames per second with AF-C and AF-S in the electronic shutter . The new image stabilizer can now correct up to 7.5 f-stops in combination with a lens instead of 6.5. High-res recording using pixel shift continues to achieve 96 MP with the S5 II.
Our main focus with the camera is clearly on the video features, because although the S5 was already a strong photo camera, it was still mainly used by videographers. This was simply due to the many professional features in the areas of operation, display and, in particular, output quality. Nevertheless, there were a few points of criticism, most of which have now been significantly improved with the S5 II.
However, what the S5 II cannot do is RAW video output via HDMI, as well as 800 MBPS All Intra Recording. Also missing is the ability to record directly to an external SSD via USB-C, as well as any network streaming options. Unfortunately, anyone who needs all these features will have to wait a little longer, as Panasonic has announced a more powerful, plain black brother, the Lumix S5 II X, which will not be released until June this year.
At least the possibility of HDMI RAW output will also come to the S5 II with an optional software update for a fee.
The maximum video resolution for internal recording has increased from 4k at a maximum of 30fps to 6k at 30 fps. The S5 Mark I could theoretically also record 5.9k, but not internally, only via HDMI output. The S5 II also records the 5.9k only with a maximum of 200 mbps in 4:2:0 LongGOP, but the full sensor is read out.
While 4K 60p is still cropped to APSC format , it is now also recorded in 4:2:2 10 bit . The S5 Mark I was limited to 4:2:0 10 bit here.
The camera also shines with professional video features such as the waveform display, the real-time integration of LUTs or a mode for using anamorphic lenses. What's new with the S5 II is the ability to adjust the exposure settings using shutterangle and gain, which is particularly important for seamless integration in a professional environment. There are a few small points that have been added to the menu, for example, the camera can now perform a programmed focus pull with up to three different focus points automatically using autofocus. We can now also prescribe file segmentation to the camera in order to keep the file sizes of individual clips small.
Data like S5 II + Black Edition design and additional functions:
- USB-C SSD recording
- All-Intra recording
- IP streaming
What we are always very interested in with new camera generations is the rolling shutter behavior. When we compare the two cameras with each other, there is not much difference. Both cameras perform more or less identically as far as the rolling shutter is concerned. However, it should be noted at this point that Panasonic already did a very good job with version 1 of the S5 and there were actually no loud demands for improvement here.
The new IBIS of the S5 II now corrects up to 7.5 f-stops (combined with a lens) and has thus become even better than the IBIS of the S5 Mark I. You can find a direct comparison in our video.
The only thing that prevented the S5 from taking off straight away was the somewhat weak autofocus. Although most photographers had hardly any problems, the purely contrast-based autofocus system resulted in poor autofocus performance in video mode. Although the manufacturer promptly improved this with a patch, the autofocus in the video segment was still not exactly optimal. Filmmakers still had slight problems with the autofocus performance, especially at 4k with 24 or 30fps.
However, we can now tell you with a clear conscience that Panasonic has recognized these problems and has now significantly improved them in the S5 II. A classic example is a person running. Where the S5 lags a little behind, the new generation is solidly processed and focuses directly.
We were really impressed with how much more reliable and faster the autofocus has become on the new S5 II! One reason for this is the new phase-hybrid autofocus system. In addition, we now have 779 instead of 225 AF focus points and a new image processor, as well as the new autofocus algorithms.
Even when the actual subject is obscured by another object, the autofocus now reacts much better and adapts quickly but still naturally to the new situation. Our only criticism of the new focus system is the lack of subject recognition when shooting in 5.9K if an HDMI signal is output at the same time. Without HDMI output, the scene recognition does work after all..
After all the technical details, it's now time for a conclusion! How much does the new S5 II cost and for whom is it worthwhile?
With an entry-level price of 2,199 euros, it has become somewhat more expensive than its predecessor , but it is still below comparable cameras from other manufacturers. With the new, significantly improved autofocus system, the higher continuous shooting speed and the additional video features, you get a really strong camera for a good price and for all filmmakers it might even be worth the upgrade from an S5.