Review Update! The Panasonic S5 Is Decent for Street Photography Now!

We’re streaming daily on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Pocket Casts, and Spotify!

We’ve updated our Panasonic S5 review after firmware 2.0. Photographers who bought the camera are going to be happy. And better yet, they’ve also got some solid bragging rights. In the age of the pandemic, it’s not only a fantastic webcam, it’s also the only full frame camera with Live Composite. But this big firmware update primarily focuses on autofocus. And for photographers, you’ve got more L Monochrome modes. Those are fun, and help make using Panasonic even better. You should check out our Panasonic S5 review, but also go into our tests here.

For this review, we did a few extra things. We used it with both Leica and Panasonic lenses. Panasonic has said that other lenses might not focus as quick on their cameras because of the motor system. Considering how upfront our reps are, it’s understandable. Eleven years in the industry has made me very skeptical of reps at times, but this seems legitimate. The L mount shares autofocus algorithm and mount data, but wow do they need more uniformity.

With the Leica 35mm f2 Summicron S, the Panasonic S5 wasn’t as speedy, but it’s still plenty fast enough to reliably be used for street photography in good lighting. For the best results, take off the exposure preview setting. This is otherwise known as the Constant Preview setting. You’ll give the sensor and system the most light to work with this way. Of course, you’ll have to read the light meter and actually know how to shoot, but considering how much time everyone has on their hands in 2020, I think that’s a small ask.

Further, with the Leica 35mm f2 Summicron S, I was shooting wide open. If I had stopped the lens down, I’d surely nail the focus each and every time. Part of this is because of the new autofocus additions. 1-area+ and 1-area focusing got an update. You can use them straight, with human detection, and with human/animal detection. As you walk around, shoot with continuous autofocus and in medium speed shooting. You’ll get the shots! Not all of them will be perfectly in focus, but the Panasonic S5 has totally improved.

The test above was with the 24-70mm f2.8. It’s not a tough test by any means, but the Panasonic S5 was able to keep up with the biker. I remember a time when it would struggle. But the new autofocus combined with the autofocus custom setting for photo modes can get it done. The one we used the most often is the runner setting.

In the test below, I tried to see if the camera and lens could keep up with Kevin. First off, it can’t detect a face if the person is wearing a mask. And with the Leica 35mm, the performance isn’t as stellar as it is with Panasonic lenses. Check them out below!

As Kevin walked towards the camera, I walked backward. I used to do this a whole lot when I was a paparazzi and still starting out over a decade ago. But the camera and lens did a pretty decent job keeping him in focus.

As we kept walking, we found a kind lady that let us photograph her dog. It detected the face, but more of the snout than anything. The cool thing here is Panasonic’s quicker changing abilities. With Canon, you can do it with two taps on the screen. Panasonic lets it do both human and animal detection in the same setting. It works very well if the animal is still. But once they start jumping around, the autofocus won’t really know what to do. At least, this is the case with the Leica lens. It was mostly the case with Panasonic’s own too. However, Panasonic still does a bit better. 

We invite you to check out our full Panasonic S5 review with updates. You can pick one up for $2,299 on Amazon. Indeed, firmware 2.0 is very solid.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.