Panasonic Lumix S5II Review | Hands on Experience

Panasonic Lumix S5II Review | From Hands-on Experience

Welcome to my full review of the Panasonic Lumix S5II mirrorless camera.  This review article is from two months of experience using the LUMIX S5II camera ahead of its original release.  The LUMIX S5II is the upgrade for the original LUMIX S5 that I am a huge fan of (I purchased four of them!)

I was hired to produce Lumix S5 training content for Panasonic, so I have far more insight into the camera than regular reviews would have.  That said, this review is not sponsored.  Instead, this review article combines the videos I made for Lumix and my detailed video review.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Review
Panasonic LUMIX S5II in the field with the Lumix S Series 50mm Prime Lens (B&H Link)

 

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Phase Hybrid Autofocus (Finally!)

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The wait is finally over!  We finally have a new autofocus system in a LUMIX camera.  Over the years, Panasonic has stuck to its guns with contrast DFD, which has proved to be highly inferior for video work compared with Nikon, Sony, or Canon.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Phase Hybrid Autofocus
Panasonic LUMIX S5II Phase Hybrid Autofocus

 

This new Phase Hybrid Autofocus System works far better than any of the previous Panasonic cameras, and it’s on par and outperforms my Sony A7SIII in some shooting scenarios.  Check out my video review above for samples of the autofocus performance versus the Sony A7SIII.

Panasonic Phase Hybrid Autofocus Outperformed My Sony A7SIII
Panasonic Phase Hybrid Autofocus Outperformed My Sony A7SIII – Full Video Here

 

For owners of a LUMIX S5 or GH6, the autofocus options in the menu are the same, but the performance is vastly different.  The new 779 phase detection points on the new 24mp sensor offer more accurate depth information allowing the S5II’s autofocus to be highly reliable.

Panasonic S5II 24MP Sensor
Panasonic S5II 24MP Sensor

 

Dynamic Range

The new sensor and image processor allows the S5II camera to capture 14+ stops of dynamic range when shooting in the V-LOG video profile.  The benefit of this excellent dynamic range is to capture more details in both the shadows and highlights.

The Dynamic range is the same as the original S5 and will allow you to capture excellent video quality and photographs.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Feature Overview

Here’s a quick overview of the Lumix S5II and what makes it a game-changer for content creators and videographers.

Panasonic Lumix S5II vs. Lumix S5 Body Comparison

Let’s tour the Panasonic Lumix S5II, and I will also compare it against the original S5 and let you know what’s changed.

Looking at the new S5ii next to the original S5, from the front, they both look like they take up the same physical footprint as each other.  However, turning them to the side is where you’ll notice the S5II is slightly thicker.  Weight-wise, the S5II is only 20 grams heavier than the original; even though the body is a tad chunkier, they feel similar in the hand.

The extra few grams on the S5II have warranted thanks to a slew of new features.  The first of the S5II’s unique features is a full-size HDMI port versus the Micro HDMI you can see on the original.  This is a massive benefit for anyone using an external monitor or recorder.

Full-Size HDMI ports have the advantage of a more robust, more-secure connection without needing a dongle or specialty cable like you’d need with the Micro HDMI type.  In addition, I always use external monitors in my studios, and having a more standardized connector on a camera is handy.

Active Cooling

The second reason the Panasonic S5II is slightly wider is it now has an active heat management system.  The enthusiastic cooling fan works in combination with the new unlimited recording capability of the S5II.  This fan keeps the temperature down for heat-challenging environments and extended recording durations. 

No Overheating

If you’ve seen any YouTube videos over the last two years, many other camera brands and models overheat very quickly or have short recording durations placed on their video modes.  The Panasonic Lumix S5II has neither issue, thanks to the active cooling.

The Intake and Exhaust fans are placed near each command dial to ensure proper airflow.  The enthusiastic cooling fan is automatic, but the settings can be adjusted manually, depending on your shooting scenario.  Again, Panasonic did a great job cramming these professional features into a compact full-frame body.

Best Price on LUMIX S5II 

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Electronic View Finder

Another major upgrade on the Panasonic Lumix S5II is the increased resolution of the Electronic View Finder.  The new EVF has a resolution of 3.6 million dots over the original S5, which had a 2.36 million dot count.  This 1.3 million dots or so bump in resolution has a few advantages.

Firstly, the shooting experience will be improved for both photo and video shooters.  The increased resolution will make critical manual focus easier when using the EVF.  Lastly, the images and videos will look sharper when the camera is in playback mode.

Media Card Slots

The next upgrade over the original Panasonic S5 is the S5II now has a set of matching UHS-II SD card slots.  While the original S5 had one UHS-II card slot, the second was UHI.  This matching second slot on the S5MM can allow the camera to write to each card at precisely the same speed.  This can be invaluable if you run your dual card setup in backup mode.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Media Card Slots
Panasonic LUMIX S5II Media Card Slots

 

USB-C Port Upgrades

The last major upgrade with the body design is the USB-C port on the side of the camera.  The Panasonic S5II can now be powered or charged with a USB-C PD power supply.

While you could charge the battery on the previous model, you couldn’t run the camera indefinitely with USB-C PD power.  So this is a welcomed addition, and I am using it to power the S5II in the studio here while I film this.

Menu System

Let’s take a quick look at the menu system and how to navigate it.  First, with the camera in the Movie Mode on the command dial, enter the menu and hit the Menu/Set button on the back of the camera.

The great thing about Lumix cameras is their ability to be used in a way that works for you.  You can navigate the menu using the touchscreen, the dial on the back, the joystick, or the top dials.  If you prefer, you can use both hands to get to your favorite options in a flash.

Custom Function Buttons

You can also easily store your favorite camera feature to a custom button.  Take this custom button on the front, for example.  We can map any of these features to that button by holding it in for about a second.

Let’s map the Waveform to it.  The Waveform is a convenient filmmaker tool for correct video exposure.  Once the option is selected, just hit the menu/set button on the camera, and we can bring the Waveform up simply by pressing the front button.

If you feel like the Waveform readout is too large, You can easily resize it.  Tap on the Waveform until it goes yellow, and then use these two top dials to resize it accordingly.  You can also move it wherever you like by simply touching it and sliding it around on the screen.

The Lumix S5II also lets you map pre-existing buttons to any feature you wish to use, making this camera highly customizable for video shooters and photographers.

S&Q (Slow and Quick) Frame Rates

The Panasonic S5MII has a dedicated S&Q option on the command dial.  “S&Q” is an excellent way of storing your favorite slow-motion setting, for example.  This footage will be slowed down in the camera without audio so that it can be placed directly on your project’s timeline.

If you prefer audio, you can store a custom frame rate mode to the C1, C2, or C3 options on top of the camera and recall them using the command dial.  These custom options are also great if you often shoot in the same two rooms.

You can white balance for both rooms and save your preferred frame rate, white ratio, picture profile, and resolution without needing to set it up each time.  This is a convenient feature, especially for content creators like myself.

Lumix Sync App:

Let’s talk about the Lumix Sync App, which connects wirelessly from your phone or iPad to your camera.  The app can control your camera remotely or transfer files directly to your phone without needing a computer.  The app can also make upgrading your camera’s firmware even more accessible than it already is.

If you own one more S5II camera, you can back up your settings from one camera and load those exact settings on another.  In the studio, where I use multiple of the same camera type, this is a handy tool for ensuring each camera is set up correctly.

Video Features

Let’s cover the video features.  While the Panasonic S5II has loads of professional features, a beginner can use it in a way that will deliver excellent results with minimal effort.  For example, I shoot a lot in Aperture priority mode.  This allows me to get a blurry background, but the camera can adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically.

Furthermore, if I just wanted the camera to maintain a proper shutter speed for natural motion blur, I could set it to the S Settings in the quick menu.  In the studio, I shoot manually, which ensures settings don’t auto-adjust when I don’t want them to.  You can make it work with minimal effort depending on your shooting situation.  Whether you’re a professional or a beginner, there’s a mode that will work for you.

Full Sensor Video Shooting:

Another significant advantage of the Panasonic S5II is its ability to capture a 3:2 video image using the whole sensor.  Moreover, the S5II can capture this full sensor readout to a whopping resolution of 5.9k!

In this day of social media and various aspect ratios, the 3:2 aspect ratio can be used in any scenario from standard 16×9, 9×16 (or vertical video), 1×1 for Instagram, or any other standard resolution.

The advantage to the 3:2 capture is you are not losing the same sort of resolution you might when shooting in a 16×9 widescreen and trying to crop a vertical video out.  You are getting more information captured above and below the typical aspect ratio.  More data = more options for cropping in post.

Frame Markers:

To complement the 3:2 video capture is a Lumix feature called Frame Markers.  These framing markers make it easy to frame an aspect ratio without cropping while recording.  There are plenty of aspect ratios to choose from, and these offer an easy way to prepare content on different platforms while recording in a 3:2 ratio.  In addition, the frames can be adjusted by color or aspect ratio in the camera’s menu system.

Real-Time LUT recording

The Panasonic S5II has the full version of V-LOG, which captures the most dynamic range when shooting video.  In addition, Panasonic has also added a feature called “Real Time LUT Recording.” This new feature allows users to upload a VLT or CUBE LUT and bake the LUT while recording.

Previously, LUTs had to be applied in post-production.  This is a huge time saver for folks wanting to shoot for efficiency while still drawing on the camera’s full dynamic range.  For example, if you find yourself applying the same LUT to your footage repeatedly, this is an excellent way to speed up the editing time.

Color Science & Image Quality

Many video shooters, including myself, shoot panasonic for their choice of color science.  When shooting in many standard picture profiles, the S5II gives a tremendous straight-out-of-camera look.  I use the Natural profile, which I’ve always found to be very real-world accurate.

S5II vs S5 Color Science
S5II vs. S5 Color Science with the same 50mm f1.8 Prime on Both

 

The Skin tones, vibrance, and overall look need minimal color correction in post-production, even when shooting.  The examples on screen were shot using the Natural profile and the results, to my eye, look great.   

The Picture Profiles are the same as the Panasonic S5 I covered on my website.  Check out the link to learn more about the included color profiles.  The main addition is the new “Real Time LUT” option.  This mode allows you to record in V-LOG while also baking in a LUT at the time of recording.  LUTs are “Look Up Tables” that add color information to the desaturated V-LOG modes. 

Natural Profile Panasonic S5II
Natural Profile Panasonic S5II 

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Dynamic Range

Another benefit to the Panasonic Lumix S5II is the 14+ stops of dynamic range.  Dynamic range is the camera’s ability to retain the brightest and darkest part of any scene while not losing information.  The 14+ stops of dynamic range paired with this full-frame sensor and color science will render excellent results.

The Lumix S5MII is a 10-bit camera at heart.  If you are using the MOV option, you’ll see a mix of 10-bit 4:2:2 and 10-bit 4:20.  The MP4 option houses the very few 8-bit codecs that might come in handy for quick-turnaround projects where 10-bit is not required.

Additional Video Features

Using the command dial on the top of the camera will bring up S&Q mode.  S&Q allows the camera to shoot anywhere from 1 to 180 frames per second in Full HD.  Slow-motion footage can be captured using the S5MII and is automatically slowed down in the camera without audio.  Phase Hybrid Autofocus is supported until 60p; then, it’s over to manual focus in the higher frame rates.

Serious filmmakers shooting anamorphic will be pleased to know the Lumix S5II supports anamorphic filmmaking by turning this feature on in the menu system.  In addition, the camera will automatically de-squeeze the preview to make the shooting experience as easy as possible.

4K Live Crop

“4K Live Crop” is another fantastic feature that allows you to set up a start and end point digital pan or zoom-in camera, giving you an easy way to film product b-roll or slider-style effects without any hardware.  Here’s an example of the live crop function so you can see how great it looks.  Again, this can be a simple pan or faux zoom-in, and it’s all done digitally.  Awesome stuff!

Audio Capabilities

The powerful audio capabilities of the Panasonic S5II are very impressive.  This camera now gives us 24-bit Audio Recording with up to 4 channels.  Paired with the DMW-XLR Adapter, you can achieve excellent audio results using a professional shotgun microphone – like I am.  This 4-channel audio setup can be either the XLR channels, onboard microphones, or the inclusion of a great-sounding 3.5mm audio preamp system.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Lens Range Explained

Let’s cover the lens selection and availability for the Panasonic L-Mount cameras.  Not only does Panasonic have a vast range of native prime and zoom lenses available for the S5MII, but there’s a total of 61 native lenses from Panasonic, Sigma, and Leica in the entire ecosystem.

Filmmakers will appreciate the wide range of Cine and Anamorphic lenses for L-mount cameras.  When you also include M-mount-adapted lenses, the options are almost limitless.

Every lens in the Panasonic S-Series range has been designed for hybrid use, meaning there is no need to worry about destructive digital corrections.  All S-Series lenses are optically designed to offer the best performance.  Thanks to the New Phase Hybrid AF system, you’ll also seeeco-systemautofocus performance with lenses across the entire ecosystem.

Low Focus Breathing Lenses

As a video shooter, I am a massive fan of the Panasonic S Series of Primes.  These lenses give me excellent optical performance, autofocus speed, and low-focus breathing.  The low-focus breathing on the S-Series is a massive benefit to non-Lumix lenses, which can produce a 15% field of view loss at a close focusing distance.  All the outdoor video samples were shot with the Panasonic S-Series of Primes, and they look beautiful paired with this camera.

Who is the Panasonic S5II For?

Let’s talk about who the Lumix S5II is for.  This new camera is an excellent run-and-gun camera for content creators, vloggers, and filmmakers of any level.  Whether you’re shooting a commercial, YouTube video, or Instagram Reel, the S5II has you covered.  This is one of those cameras that you can use however you want to.  You can let the camera do the work and focus, or you can get your hands dirty and master the manual modes for more serious production work.

The unlimited recording and high dynamic range will make this perfect for long-form interviews, live streaming, and live music performances.  Knowing the camera will not overheat is also a definite advantage over other systems on the market.

The S5 has some of the best image quality I have ever seen mixed with the best IBIS system I’ve used in a Full Frame Camera.  No overheating and unlimited recording set this apart from most of the competition.

Lastly, if you’ve been applying the same LUT file in editing to VLOG for years, you can now bake it in as you record.  This is going to be a huge time-saver for a lot of content creators and videographers.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Photography Modes

The S5II is a hybrid camera in the true sense.  While the Lumix S5II is loaded with a 24-megapixel sensor, it can capture an image up to 96mp thanks to the new high-resolution mode.  This high-resolution mode takes a series of 8 images quickly and compiles them in-camera.

High-Resolution Photo Mode

The S5II does this by moving the image sensor slightly between each shot to bump up the resolution and detail.  As a result, each high-resolution photo only takes a few moments to process in the camera, saving you the need to stitch images together in editing, as you’d find on competitors’ camera systems.  Again, the results are stunning; this is all done in-camera!

High-Resolution mode has two different options.  Mode 1 is optimized for static scenes, and mode 2 allows for scenes with movement, as seen in this lake example.  Mode 2 captures the natural flow of the water while still allowing for a full super-high-resolution image.  Depending on your scene, you can choose the best option for your shooting scenario.

Panasonic LUMIX S5II Live View Composite

Live View Composite is another tremendous photographic tool that allows you to set your desired exposure, take the shot, then view the image on the screen as it is being exposed in real time.  Then, once you’re happy with how the framing looks, hit the shutter button again to stop the exposure; this mode is also great for light painting, shooting light trails, and other long exposure scenarios.

Here are a few examples of how this looks on screen.  This allows the photographer to get creative in different shooting and lighting situations.

Burst Rates and Phase Hybrid Autofocus

Thanks to the new phase hybrid autofocus, the S5II can now shoot 30 frames per section with continuous autofocus.  Looking at my test results, the camera did an excellent job at nailing focus throughout this test.  This is a significant improvement over prior generations of Lumix cameras making this a no-brainer for sports, action, or wildlife photography, where burst photography is essential for capturing the perfect moment.

The Panasonic Lumix S5IIX has been Announced!

In May-June 2023, Lumix announced its next full-frame mirrorless camera, the S5IIX.  The S5IIX has all of the same great video features as the S5II but with a few additions for the serious filmmaker and what Panasonic calls “the blackout design.” The blackout design is the Batman version of the camera; even the logo is blacked out.

The S5IIX can record RAW recording externally (without any upgrade fees), Internal Pro-Res Recording, USB-C SSD Recording for handling large Pro-Res files, and Live Streaming via Wi-Fi or Ethernet.  With these higher-end capabilities aside, the S5MII will be a no-brainer for content creators and filmmakers who need a feature-rich camera without the extended video codecs.

Panasonic has also announced the S5IIX; the camera features a stylish “monochromatic” design with black logos, which will appeal to photographers and videographers.  Both cameras feature the same wide range of photography features.  However, the X can record photos on SSD, a benefit to timelapse photographers.

The X features a broader breadth of codecs for those who need it, including ALL-Intra, Pro Res Recording, and the ability to output RAW Via HDMI.  In addition, the S5X is the first full-frame mirrorless camera to include USB-C to SSD photo and video recording, offering workflow and cost benefits for those shooting large files.

The S5X is the first S-series model to feature live streaming via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or USB.  The S5IIX will start shipping in May 2023.  Preorder and Order an S5II using the links below.

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Panasonic S5II Specifications

Here is a list of the official Panasonic specifications. 

Lens Mount Leica L
Sensor Resolution Actual: 25.28 Megapixel

Effective: 24.2 Megapixel (6000 x 4000)

Sensor Type 35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full-Frame) CMOS
Image Stabilization Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis
Built-In ND Filter None
Capture Type Stills & Video  
Lens Mount Leica L
Sensor Resolution Actual: 25.28 Megapixel

Effective: 24.2 Megapixel (6000 x 4000)

Sensor Type 35.6 x 23.8 mm (Full-Frame) CMOS
Image Stabilization Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis
Built-In ND Filter None
Capture Type Stills & Video
Exposure Control
 
Shutter Type Electronic Shutter, Mechanical Focal Plane Shutter
Shutter Speed Mechanical Shutter

1/8000 to 60 Seconds

Up to 30 Minutes in Bulb Mode

Electronic Front Curtain Shutter

1/2000 to 60 Seconds

Up to 30 Minutes

Electronic Shutter

1/8000 to 60 Seconds

Up to 60 Seconds in Bulb Mode

1/16000 to 1/25 Second in Movie Mode

Bulb/Time Mode Bulb Mode
ISO Sensitivity Photo

100 to 51,200 in Auto Mode (Extended: 50 to 204,800)

Video

100 to 51,200

Metering Method Center-Weighted Average, Highlight Weighted, Multi-Zone, Multiple, Spot
Exposure Modes Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Exposure Compensation -5 to +5 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
Metering Range 0 to 18 EV
White Balance Presets: Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Incandescent, Shade, White Set
Continuous Shooting Mechanical Shutter

Up to 7 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 24 Frames (Raw) / 999 Frames (JPEG)

Electronic Shutter

Up to 7 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 24 Frames (Raw) / 999 Frames (JPEG)

Up to 30 fps at 18 MP

Up to 60 fps at 8 MP

Up to 30 fps at 8 MP

Interval Recording Yes
Self-Timer 2/10-Second Delay
Still Image Capture
 
Image Sizes 3:2 Raw

6000 x 4000

4:3 JPEG

5328 x 4000

3792 x 2848

2688 x 2016

3:2 JPEG

6000 x 4000

4272 x 2848

3024 x 2016

16:9 JPEG

6000 x 3368

4272 x 2400

3024 x 1704

1:1 JPEG

4000 x 4000

2848 x 2848

2016 x 2016

65:24 JPEG

6000 x 2208

2:1 JPEG

6000 x 3000

Aspect Ratio 1:1, 2:1, 3:2, 4:3, 16:9, 65:24
Image File Format JPEG, Raw
Bit Depth 14-Bit
Video Capture
 
Internal Recording Modes H.264/MOV 4:2:2 10-Bit

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97 fps [150 Mb/s]

1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [100 Mb/s]

3328 x 2496 at 23.98/25/29.97 fps [150 Mb/s]

H.264/MOV 4:2:0 8-Bit

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [100 to 150 Mb/s]

1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [100 Mb/s]

3328 x 2496 at 23.98/25/29.97/50 fps [100 to 150 Mb/s]

H.265/MOV 4:2:0 10-Bit

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 50/59.94 fps [200 Mb/s]

3328 x 2496 at 50 fps [200 Mb/s]

H.265/MP4 4:2:0 10-Bit

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [72 to 100 Mb/s]

H.264/MP4 4:2:0 8-Bit

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97 fps [100 Mb/s]

1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94/100// fps [20 to 28 Mb/s]

External Recording Modes 4:2:2 10-Bit via HDMI

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) up to 50/59.94 fps

Raw 12-Bit via HDMI

5888 x 3312 at 23.98/25/29.97 fps

4128 x 2176 at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps

3536 x 2656 at 23.98/25/29.97/50 fps

Recording Limit Up to 30 Minutes
Broadcast Output NTSC/PAL
IP Streaming None
Built-In Microphone Type Stereo
Audio Recording AAC Audio

LPCM Audio

Interface
 
Media/Memory Card Slot Slot 1: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)

Slot 2: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)

Video I/O 1 x Micro-HDMI Output
Audio I/O 1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Headphone Output

1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Microphone Input

Power I/O 1 x USB-C Input/Output
Other I/O 1 x USB-C (USB 3.2 / 3.1 Gen 1) Data Input/Output (Shared with Power Input)

1 x 2.5 mm Sub-Mini Control Input

Wireless Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Mobile App Compatible No

*As of January 2023: Check with the manufacturer for the most up-to-date compatibility

Global Positioning (GPS, GLONASS, etc.) None
Monitor
 
Size 3.0″
Resolution 1,840,000 Dot
Display Type Articulating Touchscreen LCD
Viewfinder
 
Type Built-In Electronic (OLED)
Resolution 2,360,000 Dot
Eye Point 20 mm
Coverage 100%
Magnification Approx. 0.74x
Diopter Adjustment -4 to +4
Focus
 
Focus Type Auto and Manual Focus
Focus Mode Continuous-Servo AF, Manual Focus, Single-Servo AF
Autofocus Points Contrast Detection: 225
Autofocus Sensitivity -6 to +20 EV
Flash
 
Built-In Flash No
Flash Modes Auto, Auto/Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-Eye Reduction, Off, Slow Sync, Slow Sync/Red-Eye Reduction
Maximum Sync Speed 1/250 Second
Flash Compensation -3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
Dedicated Flash System TTL
External Flash Connection Hot Shoe
Environmental
 
Operating Temperature 32 to 104°F / 0 to 40°C
Operating Humidity 10 to 80%
General
 
Battery Type 1 x DMW-BLK22 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 2200 VDC, 7.2 mAh (Approx. 440 Shots)
Tripod Mounting Thread 1 x 1/4″-20 Female (Bottom)
Accessory Mount 1 x Hot Shoe Mount
Material of Construction Magnesium Alloy
Dimensions (W x H x D) 5.22 x 3.82 x 3.22″ / 132.6 x 97.1 x 81.9 mm
Weight 1.57 lb / 714 g (With Battery, Recording Media)

1.39 lb / 630 g (Body Only)

Packaging Info
 
Package Weight 2.935 lb
Box Dimensions (LxWxH) 9.2 x 6.1 x 5.6″