Last year, Panasonic released its first full-frame mirrorless camera and, for a brief time, they enjoyed a monopoly on the category. Over the last couple of months, though, Canon and Sony have joined the fray with more compact offerings that make Panasonic’s S1 look like a veritable beast of a camera. The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a direct response to that, as it packs all the good things about the S1 into a smaller and lighter body.
Like the S1, it’s a video-centric camera for shooting 4K footage, allowing you to take high-quality 4K video without having to lug one of those large cinema cameras along. Whether you’re an amateur filmmaker looking to pen the next indie hit, a professional videographer waiting to work on live events again (remember those?), or a YouTuber looking to step up your channel’s production value, this thing should put a powerful 4K camera on your arsenal without the cumbersome size.
The Panasonic Lumix S5 is built around a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor that shoots 10-bit 4K video at 60 fps, as well as 1080p footage at up to 180 fps for taking slow-motion footage of fast-paced action shots. It also has options for V-Log/V-Gamut video that allows both HDR and 14 stops of dynamic range, so you can use this to capture professional-grade 4K footage that’s probably somewhat comparable with dedicated cinema cameras. Five-axis in-body stabilization ensures smooth videos even when you’re shooting scenes on the move with the camera in hand, along with a large grip to give you a firm hold at all times.
It has an improved video autofocus system that should enable faster subject acquisition and smoother face tracking compared to the S1. Sadly, it uses contrast-detect autofocus, which is inferior to the phase-detect used in competing products from Sony and Canon. Basically, if video autofocus is a big deal to your shoots, you’ll probably want to consider those two over this.
The Panasonic Lumix S5 has a 3-inch touchscreen display that you can position at a variety of angles to allow both awkwardly-angled shots and selfies alike, as well as an OLED viewfinder with 0.74x magnification and 2.36-million dots. We know, that EVF doesn’t sound great, but this is a video-centered camera, so photographic elements are kept to merely serviceable level (and yes, that holds true for a lot of its other features). A generous selection of manual controls allow you to adjust a whole load of things on the fly, while the touchscreen interface lets you dive deep into the feature set, in case you need to access settings not mapped to any of the physical controls.
It comes with dual SD card slots, one UHS-II and one UHS-I. Why not two UHS-II? Again, it’s because this isn’t really meant for photography, as the higher speeds of UHS-II are only really useful when taking burst photos. Other features include a splash-resistant body, magnesium alloy construction for better heat dissipation (it won’t overheat nearly as badly as other cameras in the category), and a rechargeable battery rated at over one hour of video recording in 4K.
The Panasonic Lumix S5 comes out mid-September, priced starting at $1,999.99.