Panasonic Lumix S5 II Review - The full-frame breakthrough?
The brand new Lumix S5 Mark II is Panasonic's latest release in the field of full-frame system cameras. It comes with some important new features in the video area and especially the autofocus system has been tinkered with! With a video resolution of a full 6K at 30fps with full sensor readout, dual native ISO, a unlimited recording time thanks to integrated, active cooling and many other important improvements, Panasonic sets the bar very high for new system cameras right at the beginning 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 already over 60 lenses on the market. However, the cooperation between Panasonic and Leica has become more and more solidified and more and more developments of the two manufacturers intertwine, which is why they have now founded another cooperation: LÃÂ² Technology
The two Ls here stand for Leica and Lumix, and the two companies want to incorporate their know-how into future cameras. Leica will contribute its expertise in optical and imaging technologies, and Panasonic will contribute its knowledge in video and digital technologies. The S5 II is the first camera here to combine this joint development, so let's see what has really changed compared to the S5.
Panasonic didn't change much on the S5 II's body, and it wasn't really necessary. The body is still relatively compact and has also adopted the popular control concept of the S5. On the left side, however, we now finally have the large full-size HDMI port, where we still had to work with micro-HDMI in generation one. However, to manage the high data rate of the S5 II, it 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 in the viewfinder. It not only offers the increased resolution from 2.36 to 3.65 megapixels, but also hides a strong feature of the S5 II - the new integrated fan.
Cold air is sucked in just below the Lumix lettering, and the warm exhaust from the sensor is then blown out the sides of the viewfinder. This setup is much more discreet and clever than it was, for example, solved in the GH-6, where the fan was mounted under the display and thus made the housing noticeably larger. Panasonic promises no performance problems here even at 40 degrees ambient temperature. Of course, we can hardly 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 LÃÂ² 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
Hidden in the familiar body is the new 24.2 MP full-frame sensor, which paired with the new image processor brings some new features. Where the S5 only allowed 5 frames per second in AF-C or 7 frames per second in AF-S in mechanical shutter, the S5 II now offers up to 7 and 9 frames per second in mechanical shutter and up to 30 frames per second with AF-C and AF-S in electronic shutter possible. The new image stabilizer can now correct up to 7.5 stops in combination with a lens instead of 6.5. High-res recording via pixel shift still manages 96 MP in the S5 II.
Our main focus is clearly on the video features of the camera, because although the S5 was already a strong photo camera as well, it was still mainly used by videographers. This was simply due to the many professional features in the areas of operation, display and especially 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 can't 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, those who need all of these features will have to be patient, as Panasonic has announced a more powerful, plain black sibling in the form of the Lumix S5 II X, which is then not scheduled for release until June of this year.
At least the option of HDMI RAW output will also come to the S5 II with an optional paid software update, however.
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 was theoretically already recording 5.9k, but not internally, only via HDMI output. The S5 II records the 5.9k also 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 here, it is now also recorded in 4:2:2 10 bit. The S5 Mark I was limited to 4:2:0 10 bit here.
Furthermore, the camera shines with professional video features such as the waveform display, the real-time integration of LUTs or also a mode for the use of anamorphic lenses. What's new with the S5 II is the ability to adjust exposure settings using shutterangle and gain, which is important for seamless integration, especially in a professional setting. There are a few more small items that have been added to the menu, for example the camera can now do a programmed focus pull with up to three different focus points automatically using autofocus. Also, we can now prescribe file segmentation to the camera to keep the file sizes of individual clips small.
Specs same as S5 II + Black Edition design and more features:
- 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 both cameras, we don't notice much difference. Both cameras perform more or less identically as far as the rolling shutter is concerned. However, we have to note at this point that Panasonic already did a very good job with version 1 of the S5 and there were actually no loud calls for improvement here.
The new IBIS of the S5 II now corrects up to 7.5 stops (combined with a lens) and has thus become significantly better than the IBIS of the S5 Mark I once again. You can find a direct comparison in our video.
The only thing that kept the S5 from taking off right away was the somewhat weak autofocus. Most photographers hardly had any problems, but the purely contrast-based autofocus system caused a too weak autofocus performance in video mode. The manufacturer promptly improved this with a patch, but the autofocus in the video segment was still not exactly optimal. Filmmakers still had slight problems with the autofocus performance, especially in 4k at 24 or 30fps.
But we can now tell you with a clear conscience that Panasonic has seen these problems and has now improved them significantly in the S5 II. A classic example is a running person. Where the S5 lags a bit, the new generation handles it solidly and focuses directly
We were really excited about 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 AF focus points instead of 225 and a new image processor, as well as the new autofocus algorithms.
Even when the actual subject is obscured by another object, autofocus now responds much better and adapts quickly, yet naturally, to the new situation. Our only criticism of the new focus system is the lack of subject detection when shooting in 5.9K when an HDMI signal is simultaneously output. Without HDMI output, the scene detection does workÃ¢Â¦ after all
After all the technical details, it's time for a conclusion! What does the fun cost anyway and for whom is the new S5 II worthwhile?
With an entry-level price of 2,199 euros, it has become somewhat more expensive compared to the 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 here for a good price and for all filmmakers it might even be worth the upgrade from an S5.