Quite a mysterious case we have in our hands from Panasonic regarding the recently announced Lumix S5 camera. Besides having a specific launching date, there are really not many details or transparent overviews of it. Today we'll talk in a speculative mode based on two things Panasonic has given to us. First, the users' target, which is literally aimed for video content creators. And secondly, the specs, which require a bit of digestion if you are not as tech savvy as ourselves.
So far, Panasonic's communication strategy has centered around the suggestion of keeping an eye aimed towards their Instagram account. So far, aside their usual photographic content, just a couple of posts have been shared regarding the S5. The camera will be unveiled here on September 2nd, 2020, at 14:00 UTC. Curiously enough, a lot of the reactions triggered by the main announcement post demand information about the long-awaited GH6 *. Up to this point, anything that we could expect is still murky and uncertain.
* Curious note: people are really curious about how this camera will be almost like a future full-frame or even micro four-thirds GH6. Will it still be the affordable mirrorless flagship camera for Panasonic? And some others are very much interested in seeing how this new S5 compares to the previous S1H.
Not a Huge Game changer
Don't get us wrong, it could be a nice milestone for Panasonic, but since we aren't talking about a new GH version, it couldn't be that much of an innovation. And even if it could be, it will be joining the L Mount lineup so not much of a change from that side either. Good or bad, having a different mount is always a huge change, and not an easy to digest one (at least during the first year or two).
According to the awesome folks over at Rumors, Panasonic is planning on releasing some new and affordable L-Mount lenses, and we could have a better idea about this new road map sprint during the S5 announcement day. Otherwise, it could happen a bit later in October or even November. Remember we are being highly speculative here, and we simply can't be 100% about the future, especially when it regards new cameras in 2020.
What are the Leaked Specs Telling Us?
Or at least trying to. Overall, the leaks suggest that the camera will be compact, but more specifically, an easier to handle version of the previous DC-S1 camera. And by that, we have an educated guess of a considerable downsize of ~35%. Imagining a camera based entirely on specs and a particularly iffy labeling logic is quite an abstract challenge to pull-off, but we are doing our best to reduce the arid roughness of the brief available information you can find elsewhere. Thankfully, we do have a specific time and date, and the certainty of having a new full-frame mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses capabilities. According to TechRadar's insights, one can get the feeling that Panasonic Panasonic has decided that an entry-level, accessible full-frame model camera was pretty much needed. Especially if they want to appeal to a different type of audience than the existing one built around the L-mount environment. Thanks to a shady leaked press released, they also suggest that the price could be around $2,000.00 ~ $2,300.00 depending on "just the body" or "kit" options.
Specs, Specs & Specs
You can spot them all right here, and based in our intuition (and quite naive spirit) we will focus on the specs that we find more interesting (positive or not) to us. They might not be the best to spot on, or maybe they would. We are only trying to digest all this huge amount of information for you to have a friendly yet insightful reading experience.
Reducing the size of the camera is always appreciated, especially for people constantly working and shooting in the outdoors or any circumstance in which hand carrying the camera all day long is part of their quotidian practices. This applies for rough photojournalistic works, to even landscape and wedding recordings. Walking or standing for several hours with a heavy camera set-up is not a comfortable thing to do. And even when carrying around your gear in a nice camera bag like our leather messenger Torres bags or backpacks, you'll be benefited by having a lightweight yet trusty camera by your side.
Beyond the effective 24.2 megapixels on its 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor, let's take a look at the Lumix S5 specs that got our attention the most!
ISO: It seems that the camera comes with a baseline ISO of 50, which stretches out to 204,800. The specs are a bit confusing and it might seem that this is native, but it could be an emulation or extension as well (and by that we mean both poles, the 50 and 204,800, we are not sure). Camera manufacturers should start working a bit more on achieving lower ISO values, which will be perfect for landscape photography. The camera also varies its ISO ranges when switched to Cinelike modes, but based on a historic revision, we can be sure that these values will behave beautifully under low or difficult lighting conditions. Of course, we are not recommending anyone to use such high ISO values, we are just saying that the camera achieves them.
IBIS: This is still a love-hate thing among several photographers and videographers alike. Some love it, and some others hate it to the core. For the newcomers, IBIS stands for "in- body image stabilization", which operates by moving the sensor in a compensatory way thanks to a mechanism that allows the camera to reduce shakiness produced while hand- holding the camera. The key element of these sort of optical stabilization systems is that they stabilize the image projected on the sensor before the sensor converts the image into a digital file. This mechanism can have up to 5 axis of movement (X, Y, Roll, Yaw, and Pitch) which are pretty much the standard nowadays. It is the equivalent of Traction Control on cars, but for cameras. Some drivers like it, some others don't. Simple as that. This will allow 5.0 stop correction on regular mode, and 6.5-stop on Dual Image Stabilization.
4K: There is a lot of information about the video recording capabilities on this camera, but in a nutshell, it can be reduced to the following. When a mode other than 4K/60p~50p is selected in picture, quality will be 4:2:2 10bit, 4:2:2 8bit, 4:2:0 8bit. When recording video at 4K/60p~50p, quality will be 4:2:2 10bit, 4:2:0 8bit.
Dynamic Range: 14 stops, which is alright for general photography purposes, although we suggest being careful with this scope. When it comes to DR, the best way for determining the sweet spot is by making some test shots and deciding how much recovery still feels pleasing to your eyes. Pulling 5 stops of light from a heavily under or over exposed photograph will likely result in some odd results. Exposing correctly in camera will always allow you to spend less time behind your computer screen and more time having fun while shooting your camera.
EVF and Screen: Both electronic viewfinder and screen are just right on the standard terrain with 2.36 million dots and 1.84 million dots respectively. It is what it is, and as an entry level full frame mirrorless camera, one can't ask too much either. Although, the 3" screen made us a bit curious since it states to be a "free-angle" LCD monitor. What does that actually mean? Will it be fully articulated or will it have just the regular angle movements? We are not sure about that, but considering the later cameras we've been watching lately, a fully articulated is definitely what we expect to have on this camera.
Auto focus: Oh my, if Panasonic could have an Achilles' heel, the AF would be it. For some reason, they haven't been able to nail it yet, and this camera doesn't seem to be the one we'll remember for changing that. The AF mode is capable of detecting human faces and eyes, as well as bodies, and animals. Although, at the slow shooting rate of 7 frames per second (electronic shutter), 5 frames per second (mechanical shutter), and 2 frames per second with the live view mode on, we wouldn't recommend using it for photographing fast animals, nor fast sports either. Although, the tracking area is alright with an area of 225 detection points. Do you remember when we only had 9? Oh boy... We surely don't miss those days.
- Size: The camera has the following WxHxD dimensions, 132.6 x 97.1 x 81.9mm, and weights approximately 630 grams out of the box (with no SD card and battery inserted), and 714g with all the aforementioned operating essentials. And if you are in need of some extra comfort and control while shooting in a vertical position, you can also get the DMW- BGS5 battery grip, which costs $347.99 and is designed for the Lumix DC-GH5 Camera. Hmmm, interesting don't you think? They are practically telling us how the camera will actually look after this. Oh, and if investing in that, don't forget to get at least one extra DMW-BLF19 battery for it. That will add a bi of extra weight, so don't forget to have a high-quality camera strap attached to it as well.
Overall, the tool looks like a very promising easy to access too full-frame mirrorless camera. A device that might wake up some intrigue in video content creators of a diverse array of levels. From casual vloggers to "disposable*" 4K action cameras.
* And by that, we mean those cameras whose only purpose is to record a couple of seconds before crashing, exploding, or getting smashed. A recurrent solution in the big film world. Destroying a $2K camera is preferred to wrecking something between $50K, $150K or even $250K.
Last but not least, the promotional video features Lumix ambassador Todd White, a professional photographer specialized in fashion, portraiture and other commercial photography and videography. Therefore, we could at least expect that the camera will behave spotlessly under comfortable and controlled situations like the ones White is used to work with. Further conclusions will be mere speculations, but at least we know that sharpness will be a must in this somehow entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera (if that makes any sense to you).
As said before, the main target for the S5 is video content creators. So, wrapping it up, the video specs are quite decent, and better than the previous Lumix S1 (which seems logical given the Moore's law in which technology tends to double itself after 1 iteration of approximately 1 or 2 years, depending on the field). The overall market offer for full-frame non cropped 4K 10bit 4:2:2 recording is quite limited, and the no overheating fact makes it stand out from the crowd when compared to other previously discussed cameras in our blog like the Sony α7s-III or the Canon R5.
After this gentle expectation campaign, Panasonic seems to have responded in an elegant yet bold way to all the previous noise around its a brand name. We hope that this new full-frame mirrorless camera comes with some nice innovations for us to talk a bit further in the short-coming future.