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Panasonic LUMIX S5 II Review – Finally With a Very Capable Autofocus System

January 4th, 2023 Jump to Comment Section 30

The Panasonic LUMIX S5 II is here and for the first time, it features a completely new Hybrid Phase Detection Auto-Focus system. But how good is it really? Let’s find out! (Watching the video is really recommended. You go ahead and try explaining autofocus performance in writing :) ).

Panasonic has just announced three new products: the LUMIX S5 II, the LUMIX S5 IIX, and the 14-28mm L mount wide-angle lens, which will be available during February for € 799 Euro (about $852).

In this review, I’ll explore the LUMIX S5 II simply because the S5 IIX will be arriving only later this year around springtime.

Here’s a quick overview of what the S5 IIX will be additionally able to do:

Panasonic LUMIX S5 II X
Panasonic LUMIX S5 IIX. Credit: CineD

• Recording Apple ProRes 422 HQ in HD internally

• Record 5.8K Apple ProRes externally to SSD via HDMI or USB

ALL-Intra internal recording in 5.8K C4K resolution at 800Mbps

EDIT: Here is the latest information from Panasonic: There will be two types of ALL-I recording for the S5IIX

  • C4K ALL-I (H), at 800Mbps and needs to be outputted to SSD.
  • C4K ALL-I (L), at 700Mbps and can be recorded internally.

• Support Apple ProRes RAW video output to Atomos and wired or wireless IP streaming next to USB tethering

Last but not least, it will be 200 USD more expensive ($2,199) and will come in a black color including the LUMIX logo which makes it a bit more special, look-wise. 

LUMIX S5 II
LUMIX S5 II. Credit: CineD

Panasonic LUMIX S5 II – What’s new?

We all learned to love and appreciate what Panasonic brings to the table when it comes to video features in their full-frame or Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras, but one of the things that we all kept mentioning was the absence of a reliable autofocus functionality in their cameras. 

To put it differently, we live in an age where being an independent content creator is becoming extremely popular, and having a good autofocus system in a camera has simply become a must. Also for professional work, autofocus is not a “bad word” anymore, mostly because the technology is reliable enough to support any type of production, be it documentary filmmaking, weddings, and such.  

I will widely explore the new autofocus system in a minute, but first, I want to briefly touch on the other enhancements that the new S5 II has over its predecessor, the LUMIX S5. 

  • It has a newly developed 24-megapixel Full-Frame CMOS sensor and engine. By the way, the new engine was developed together with Leica under their L2 technology partnership
  • Unlimited recording time
LUMIX S5 II new fan
LUMIX S5 II new fan. Credit: CineD
  • A new fan is added with selectable operating “fan modes”
  • Full-size HDMI Type A terminal
LUMIX S5 II at the left with HDMI type A
LUMIX S5II at the left with HDMI type A connector. Credit: CineD
  • High-speed USB 3.2 Gen 2 connector
  • A new sharper EVF
  • Real-time LUT recording option, enabling importing of your favorite LUT to the camera and recording it in-camera rather than grading in post-production (Which I do not recommend doing by the way)
  • It also has an enhanced Active Image Stabilisation system (More on that below)
  • A new 8-way directional joystick 
  • Up to 6K/30p LongGOP 4:2:0 10-bit in 3:2 or 16:9 internal recording in Full-Frame
  • DCI 4K and 4K LongGOP 4:2:2 10-bit internal recording in up to 60p
  • Vector Scope has been added, as well as Synchro Scan function which is great for flicker-free video recording
  • There is also 5GHz Wi-Fi support next to 2.4GHz for communication with smartphones and tablets
  • And of course, there is a newly developed phase detection autofocus system!

A paid update will be available for this camera which will unlock Apple ProRes RAW recording via HDMI to Atomos.

the image is in focus!
This time, when the focus square is on you, the image is actually in focus! Credit: CineD

User experience

So, for the last few days I was running with the new LUMIX S5 II, and let me tell you that I’m deeply impressed with what Panasonic did here, after all, this is their first attempt to create a mirrorless camera with a phase detection autofocus. If in the past, using autofocus with LUMIX cameras was a bit of a hit-and-miss, then Panasonic nailed it this time as we get a remarkably reliable autofocus functionality. Yes, it can very seldom get confused, but all in all, whatever I tried to do with it, it coped admirably. 

Hard to confuse AF
From the timeline. Hard to confuse AF system. Credit: CineD

A few other points to mention

The first one is the lowlight capabilities of the new camera. 24-Megapixel on a Full-Frame sensor gives plenty of room for filming in low light. 

ISO51,200
ISO51,200. Credit: CineD

The second is when working with the new Active IS. Please be aware that some wobbling can be evident in some filming conditions and depending on the lens you use. The wider you go with the focal length, the more prominent this phenomenon will be. 

The third is about having clean video images. Like its’ predecessor, the camera is a dual ISO one, and the cleanest images when filming in V-Log can be obtained by using ISO 640 and ISO 4000.

And last but not least, looking at the S5II specifications, some might consider it an “entry-level” one, and as such, I wish that Panasonic would have considered updating their autofocus menu to be more intuitive and perhaps arranged it by “tasks” like vlogging, product placement, running and gunning, and such. This way, the camera would take its own “best available autofocus settings” helping the less experienced user in getting great consistent results.

LUMIX S5 II and 14-28mm lens
LUMIX S5 II and 14-28mm lens. Credit: CineD

Conclusion

First of all, I would like to congratulate the Panasonic team for doing such a great job in implementing the phase detection autofocus in this camera. After all, it is their first try and they have done extremely well!

Panasonic has a new capable backbone camera and I won’t exaggerate by saying that this might be the most important camera release of the past years.   

Like its predecessor, it is a LongGOP encoding camera only. There is no All-Intra or ProRes internal recording, yet, 10-bit 4:2:2 color sampling in full-frame up to 4K is now possible, next to 6K recording in 10-bit 4:2:0. 

S5 II in the field
S5 II in the field. Credit: CineD

I’m not sure why Panasonic named this new camera after its predecessor instead of giving it a completely new name and creating a blank starting page, but whatever the reason, for $2000 this is a well-balanced full-frame camera in terms of price and capabilities. 

For an additional $200 (€300) the S5 IIX will offer Internal Full HD ProRes recording and ALL-Intra encoding at 800Mbps next to streaming capabilities. So do your math and consider getting the tool that might serve you best!

Full Disclosure: CineD was a guest at Panasonic’s camera launch event. Traveling and accommodation costs were paid by them.

What do you think about the new LUMIX S5II? If you are a Panasonic user, are you considering upgrading your camera? If you are a user of a different brand, are you considering getting a LUMIX camera, now that the autofocus system has been significantly improved? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

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