Panasonic LUMIX S5 Review and Sample Footage

September 2nd, 2020 icon / message-square 10

Panasonic has just announced the new LUMIX S5 and I had a chance to play with it a bit before their official announcement. How does it perform in the field? Read on to find out more in this Panasonic S5 review.

The Panasonic LUMIX S5 is the latest in the nicely growing family of LUMIX cameras and let me tell you, so far, it is my favorite! If you are in the market for a compact full frame L-Mount camera, one that can deliver very nicely looking images, then the LUMIX S5 could be a prime candidate.

Panasonic LUMIX S5 – It’s show time. Image credit: CineD

Overview of the current Range of LUMIX Cameras

The current Panasonic LUMIX range of cameras consists of the S1H, S1R, S1 and now the S5. Each has its own strengths and some weaknesses, but overall, it is safe to say that the differentiation from one another is rather clear (at least up to the point of introducing the S5):

  • The LUMIX S1H is targeted purely at filmmakers (Panasonic’s high-end L-Mount full frame camera)
  • The S1R for photographers
  • The S1 for hybrid users and content creators

So what about the S5, you may ask. Well, at a first glance, it seems as if the camera might overlap with the LUMIX S1, simply because both are targeted at capturing the attention of hybrid users – but a closer look will reveal that, when it comes to taking photos, the S1 is indeed superior. But regarding video? Not really. The current big advantages of choosing the LUMIX S5 are its compactness and price (it is $500 cheaper than the LUMIX S1). I’m leaving AF performance aside, as the S1 will get an S5 autofocus performance boost with a firmware update that will be released later this year.

Panasonic LUMIX S5. No recording time restrictions when on 8bit

Panasonic LUMIX S5 in the Field

For the last few weeks, I was lucky enough to run with the LUMIX S5 and all in all, I had A LOT of fun working with it. I simply fell in love with its size and learned how to make it work for me (yes, I’m an advocate of small capable cameras). If you are a Panasonic user, you will feel right at home when navigating the menu and as always with Panasonic LUMIX cameras, the S5 feels very flexible with what it can do in all sorts of filming scenarios.

Panasonic S5 – IBIS

The 5-axis In Body Image Stabilization system works well. Maybe at times, I would have wished it would be a bit stronger, but overall, it gives the right balance between “shakiness” and “smoothness”. I’m of course referring to run & gun filming scenarios here, as when you’re shooting while standing still, the IBIS will preform remarkably (really like a tripod replacement). Maybe the best example is my video above. I shot Ai all hand-held but for the interviews.

Lowlight capabilities

The camera is a dual ISO one and the cleanest images can be obtained by using ISO 640 and ISO 4000. The maximum ISO value is 51,200 and in some cases, it can be usable too. Let’s get it straight, it is not a Sony a7S III (night vision device), but it never claimed to be one. For a documentary style of working, I think he camera will not limit you in anyway.

Auto focus performance

Panasonic worked hard in order to improve the autofocus performance of this contrast-based AF camera. And the results are good, BUT, still a bit inferior to what we get from some of the competitors. Let me summrize by writing that if you are a Panasonic user, the LUMIX S5 is the best in the range, at least until the S1 (and S1R/S1H) will get a similar update by the end of this year. What I’m missing here is consistency. At times, the autofocus worked remarkably well (regardless of the frame rate and resolution I chose to work with), and then, bang, the camera will hesitate or miss the focus point all together.

Dynamic Range and Rolling Shutter effect

A separate written review featuring the above is currently in the making. Gunther, my colleague is working hard to compile all the relevant data and come up with a valuable Lab Test soon!

Recording time and overheating

While using the LUMIX S5, I did not experience any overheating issues, not once (and yes, it is a fan-less camera). It is yet to be seen how it will react in the hands of many, but in my opinion, Panasonic did really well here. When it comes to recording times, as long as you are filming in 8bit, there is no time restriction, just the capacity of your SD card and battery life (which is very good like with many other Panasonic cameras). If you are filming in 10bit, then the recording limit is set to 30 minutes, but of course you can start recording again immediately after the camera stops.

Panasonic LUMIX S5 and the Panasonic S 20-60mm kit lens. Image credit: CineD

About the above video

I spent a wonderful day with Ai Kishimoto who is a mother as well as a talented artist. You can explore more of her work by clicking here. Luciano, my team member, did a great job editing her story. Thank you, both!

Everything was filmed on the Panasonic S5, at 4K/24p, hand-held (but the interview), in V-log. Graded with Lutify.me. Lens: Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 (good all a-rounder lens. Gets a bit unsharp at the edges when wide open). Music taken with permission from epidemicsound.

The Future of Panasonic Cameras

A bit of a bombastic headline, but we just published an interview with Yamane-san, director of the Panasonic Imaging Business Unit. I hope you can find some answers to the questions you might have, related to the current situation and future business plans of Panasonic.

Panasonic LUMIX S5. Image credit: CineD

Panasonic LUMIX S5 – Conclusion

This camera might prove to be the most important LUMIX L-Mount camera Panasonic has ever released. It is the one that is supposed to drive the LUMIX cameras engine forward, as it offers good performance at an attractive price – especially when combined with the 20-60mm kit lens. And last but not least: the LUMIX S5 is a camera that brings joy for filming! I really had a great time working with it. Its size is perfect (for me) and the overall usability experience is simply fun and nice.

What do you think about the Panasonic LUMIX S5, is it the camera you have been waiting for? Do you think the price tag is right? Please share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Russ Johnson
Russ Johnson
Member
10 days ago

Thanks for the ‘real world’ review. I always trust your assessment which is obviously from the point of view of a sophisticated filmmaker. Love your light touch with your subjects.

La Calle del Horror
La Calle del Horror
Member
October 8th, 2020

I’m waiting for Panasonic to make their distribution larger to try this camera on Mexico, I’d love to upgrade from the GH4.

John Valenton
John Valenton
Member
September 9th, 2020

This was an awesome review. What was your monologue recorded with?

Jack Jin
Jack Jin
Member
September 5th, 2020

Thanks for the great review Johnie! One thing I’m worried about is that I’ve seen color blotches on underexposed skintones and surfaces on the s1 10bit vlog footage before, and since the s5 uses the same codec as the s1, have you seen any artifacts from the 10bit longgop codecs?

Last edited 2 months ago by Jack Jin
Manuel Manuel
Manuel Manuel
Member
September 4th, 2020

First off, I really like the tone of this short documentary. I invite you to do a documentary film because I can see you have a special sensibility with people.
Sencodly thank you as always for putting passion and your human touch. Yes, I understand what you mean by saying “This camera brigs back the joy of filming”.
If you saw on the table the S5, the XT4, the a7s III and the eos R5… And you knew that in one hour you would have to leave to shoot a documentary, which camera would you throw in the suitcase without thinking twice? God bless!

Last edited 2 months ago by Manuel Manuel
Walter Vargas
Walter Vargas
Guest
September 4th, 2020

“If you are filming in 10bit, then the recording limit is set to 30 minutes, but of course you can start recording again immediately after the camera stops.”

Then why have the limit?

Chris Santucci
Member
September 7th, 2020
Reply to  Walter Vargas

I recall reading that these limitations were tariff related, that it’s not considered a video camera from that perspective if it doesn’t record past that limit (or indefinitely).

Vadim Sestopalov
Vadim Sestopalov
Member
September 2nd, 2020

Thank you for the review! And for the great documentaries! Is it better than Eos? ror xt4 because they look pre

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