Will the New Lumix S5 Signal The End of Panasonic’s M4/3 Journey?

Lumix S5

There’s a chance that the smaller, lighter, feature-packed Full Frame Lumix S5 from Panasonic could kill off their Micro Four-Thirds cameras.

There’s about to be another new entry-level Full Frame camera in town in the flavor of the Lumix S5 from Panasonic. The launch event for this new L mount camera has been set for September 2nd, 2020. And while this is certainly exciting, the chirp of crickets from Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds division is deafening. The Lumix S5 is a mini S1, and if speculation is to be believed, this camera will have the same great video features as it’s bigger brother, but it will be packed into a significantly lighter body. If this is the case, it will leave cameras like the long in the tooth GH5s behind, and it may well be the start of the curtains closing on Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds journey. Let’s talk about this after the break.

The Panasonic Lumix S5 is not a secret anymore: Panasonic let the cat out of the bag. The big reveal of the camera, as stated above, will be on September 2nd, but what’s not known for sure are the specs of the new camera.

The Lumix S5 Could Be a Mini S1

A recent post over at Mirrorless Rumors claims they have a leaked press announcement that shows just what a mini powerhouse the Lumix S5 might be. The purported specs of the camera, which have also been shared by L-Rumors include:

The Panasonic S1
  • The same 24MP sensor found in the S1
  • 5-Axis image stabilization providing 6.5 stops of support
  • 4K 60p 4:2:2 10 Bit video with anamorphic support
  • 180 fps slow motion
  • Dual native ISO technology
  • 14+ stops of dynamic range
  • Improved contrast-detect autofocus with better eye and face AF
  • A weather-sealed body
  • Optimized heat dispersion
  • a live view composite mode for stills
  • A 2.36m dot EVF
  • 7 frames per second burst mode
  • USB Type C and HDMI ports
  • Two SD card slots (one UHS-II and a UHS-I)

This is a pretty impressive spec sheet, even more impressive when you find out that it will fit into a camera body that weighs just 1.3lbs. For comparison’s sake, the S1 weighs in at 2.25lbs, the Panasonic GH5s, the company’s Micro Four Thirds video monster (which doesn’t have IBIS), weighs 1.45lbs, and the G9, Panasonic’s stills-centric M4/3 camera also weighs 1.45lbs. That’s right, Panasonic has found a way to make a Full-Frame camera that’s smaller, lighter, and more feature dense than their flagship Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The Lumix S5 Is Priced Accordingly

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The Panasonic GH5s

The price of the Lumix S5 will reportedly be $1,999, which is about par for the course and in line with other cameras with these specs. The price, though, puts the Lumix S5 in direct competition with the GH5s, which still costs a whopping $1,797.99.

We all know the struggles that the Micro Four Thirds platform is having. I’m an avid Micro Four Thirds shooter myself, and I really enjoy the small size of the cameras and lenses, and the results I can get. Still, the prices of M4/3 cameras are really becoming hard to justify when you can grab Full-Frame cameras that are similarly spec’d for roughly the same price.

The Sale of Olympus’s camera division to JIP will soon finalize, and that must put Panasonic’s partnership with Olympus in jeopardy.

There’s no wonder why Panasonic’s M4/3 partner, Olympus, made the decisions they have as the market for M4/3 cameras is becoming harder and harder to justify. You can’t blame Panasonic if they want to bolster their partnerships with both Sigma and Leica at this point rather than with Olympus now that the deal to sell the latter to JIP looks increasingly more likely.

The Curtain Might Be Falling On Panasonic M4/3 Cameras

Lumix S5

Could the Panasonic Lumix S5 really spell the beginning of the end for Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras? I think it could. It’s evident that Panasonic is trying to cater to creators who favor smaller, lighter camera bodies with the Lumix S5: the same type of creators who have been hanging on to smaller, lighter Micro Four Thirds cameras for so long.

I don’t want to see M4/3 cameras disappear; I think they have their place. Still, apart from the G100, which is a camera that’s not exactly awe-inspiring, the last major M4/3 releases from Panasonic were the G9 (which is currently a bargain at under $1,000) and GH5s, and that was two and a half years ago. Since then, there has hardly been a whisper about new M4/3 flagship models. I would love to see a GH6 or GH6s, but there is nothing but silence on that front while the band is playing in full swing when it comes to Panasonic’s ventures into the Full-Frame market with the L-Mount Alliance.

What do you think about the new Panasonic Lumix S5? Will it signal the beginning of the end for Panasonic and Micro Four Thirds? Let us know in the comment section below.

Brett Day

Brett Day is the Gear Editor at The Phoblographer and has been a photographer for as long as he can remember. Brett has his own photography business that focuses on corporate events and portraiture. In his spare time, Brett loves to practice landscape and wildlife photography. When he's not behind a camera, he's enjoying life with his wife and two kids, or he's playing video games, drinking coffee, and eating Cheetos.