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Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II review: A video powerhouse with room for improvement

Panasonic Lumix

Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II review

The Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II is the next edition of the successful DC-S5 full-frame camera. The S5 II is a formidable candidate for video projects and still photography, thanks to a new phase detection autofocus mechanism and an inbuilt cooling fan for longer video recording. However, its autofocus system falls short for moving subjects, making it less suitable for action photography than rivals such as the Canon EOS R6 Mark II and Sony a7 IV.

I put the camera through its paces using two lenses. The first was a 50mm F1.8 portrait lens and a more flexible 20-60mm F3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens. Here’s my in-depth evaluation of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 II

Photography of Stills

The S5 II has a 24MP BSI CMOS sensor with 5-axis stabilisation, which is equivalent to cameras in the same price range, such as the Nikon Z 6 II and Sony a7C. The sensor features a native ISO sensitivity range of 100-51200 and an enhanced ISO sensitivity range of 50 to 204800. Users may shoot 8-bit JPGs or 14-bit Raw photographs, however despite the format’s rising popularity in hybrid cameras, Panasonic has not implemented 10-bit HEIF compatibility.

The S5 II, on the other hand, has an electronic shutter multi-shot mode that can move the sensor with pixel-level accuracy. This mode generates 96MP or 48MP photographs in Raw or JPG format, making it a great option for landscape photography. However, it requires a tripod and a relatively static scene, and the e-shutter does not sync with flashes, limiting its utility in the studio.

The image quality of the S5 II is comparable to other current-generation 24MP full-frame cameras. Photos shot with the S5 II were compared to those taken with the EOS R6 Mark II, and the results were remarkably comparable, with just minor changes in noise patterns. The camera offers good image quality up to ISO 6400 and good results even at ISO 51200.

Connectivity and Battery

According to CIPA testing standards, the S5 II uses the same DMW-BLK22 battery as its predecessor, producing about 370 photos per charge, which is significantly fewer than the previous model’s 470 shots. Panasonic states that if you enable power-saving functions, you may shoot roughly 1,250 photographs, which is a huge improvement.

It is vital to note that stills performance ratings do not take video use into consideration. During my testing, I observed that 5.9K recording severely drains the battery, thus I recommend bringing an extra battery or charging between shooting sessions using the USB-C charging connector.

The camera has two memory card slots, both of which accept SDXC cards and have UHS-II transfer rates. It also has a full-size HDMI connector for connecting to an external display or recorder, 3.5mm ports for headphones and a microphone, and a 2.5mm remote port. The hot shoe accommodates on-camera accessories such as an external flash (with 1/250-second sync) and an XLR audio interface. Set the camera to use the MOV container format, which allows stereo audio, for the optimum audio quality.

Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix S5 II improves on its predecessor in many ways, but falls short in focusing, particularly for fast-moving subjects. Despite this, the S5 II excels at video, making it a good pick for vloggers and independent filmmakers. However, it lacks ProRes recording, which is available in similarly priced cameras such as the Fuji X-H2 and Panasonic GH6.

Overall, the S5 II is a nice camera, and a firmware upgrade to improve the focusing mechanism is hoped for.