I wasn’t really expecting an update to the Panasonic S5 this early. But if you look at how technology has changed, it was probably inevitable. Today at CES 2023, Panasonic is announcing the new Panasonic S5 II along with their new Panasonic S5 IIx. The latter dons its New York best and blacks out all the logos while including some video performance boosts. Considering most of the folks who read The Phoblographer don’t care much about video, you probably won’t care about the S5 II if you’re just a photographer. But, the Panasonic S5 II’s $1,999 price point might be very attractive given some of the performance boosts.
- New L2 tech, specifically between Leica and Panasonic. They’re collaborating on the processor here from what we’ve been told.
- $1,999 for the body only
- Sales start in January, 2023
- New autofocus update
- Phase hybrid AF
- Focusing is still human and animal/bird
- 779 AF points
- Tracking AF is fine tuned to work with real-world needs
- Claims of it working better with tracking when there are several people in the frame
- Works very well in backlit conditions
- Low light focusing revamps
- Active IS: an evolution of dual IS. It uses newer hardware and algorithms
- They’re claiming the autofocus is 200% better than the S5 original, but that’s not for stills. This isn’t a CIPA rating.
- Unlimited recording time with this camera
- Designed to work in 104 degrees F due to a new internal fan design
- HDMI type A
- USB C 3.1 gen 2
- 8 directional joystick
- OLED LVF: 3.6 MP with .78 magnification
- 30 fps with AF-C with electronic shutter. And improved rolling shutter
- 9 fps mechanical with 7fps with AF-C
- Electronic shutter won’t work with a flash
- Still dual SD card
- 24.2MP sensor. Reads out faster Than the previous sensor, it’s not the same one.
- 14 stops of dynamic range
- Live view composite is coming via a firmware update later on. Panasonic says that this is because of the new processor.
- Same grip as the S5
- Same battery
- Just as weather sealed as previous model
Here’s a quick look at the new Panasonic S5 II. Of course, you can tell from the marker on the front of the camera. Panasonic states it’s pretty much identical to the previous camera.
On top, you’ll spot a bunch of familiar things. Panasonic puts a little marker on the ISO button so you can feel where it is without moving your eye from the viewfinder. There’s a dedicated record button, mode dial, and a dial for different programmable drive modes too. Additionally, there’s also the exposure dials around the shutter button and the back.
Here’s a view of the back of the camera. Panasonic puts only two controls on the top left with the rest being accessible by the thumb. You’ll find the joystick to be one of the most prominent changes. This needs to be experienced in person to really understand it. Panasonic also revamped the viewfinder as well.
Of course, the LCD screen also flips inward as needed.
The Panasonic S5 II is said to have the same durability and weather resistance as the previous camera model. With that said, the Panasonic S5 was very good when we took it out in the rain. Otherwise, it feels almost the exact same with a few differences. You can immediately feel the difference in the joystick. On top of that (or to the side, rather) the viewfinder is much easier to read if you’re visually impaired. The Panasonic S5 was my favorite Panasonic camera body. And I’m pretty excited that the Panasonic S5 II is more or less the same. It still feels rugged while being lightweight and feature-packed. Considering that it’s smaller than the Panasonic GH6, I’m happy about all this.
Ease of Use
The Panasonic S5 II has more or less the same menu system that you’ll come to know and love from Panasonic. And truly, I really have always liked their menu systems right after Canon’s. With some memorization and a few taps of the LCD screen, you can get to pretty much everywhere in the menu.
What I think photographers will really like though is the much more tactile joystick. It will make fine selecting the autofocus and navigating through things so much better. However, what I wish the Panasonic S5 II did was have illuminated buttons. They’re such a treat to have when you’re working in the dark with something like Live Composite.
The Panasonic S5 II that I used was a pre-production model. And with that said, it wasn’t even loaded up with the most recent firmware. However, I got to try the autofocus on the Panasonic S5 II X — which is more or less the same camera when it comes to autofocus performance. With both the Panasonic 85mm f1.8 and Leica 28mm f2 Summicron SL APO lenses, it focused very quickly. But in my quick test with a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG DN Art lens, it didn’t seem as snappy. However, I’m going to need to do more tests.
Panasonic has always claimed that the L-mount shares all info through the mount and that the lens performance should be identical across the board–barring the focusing motors being used in the lenses.
This is a pre-production version of the Panasonic S5 II that we used and photographed. And to that end, we didn’t get to take photos home for our own analysis. We’re supposed to be getting a review unit soon though. So we’ll be doing an analysis with various pieces of glass.
I’m pretty excited for the Panasonic S5 II. But to be honest, I think I’ll be more excited for it around May of 2023 when Panasonic guesstimates that the new firmware for the camera will come that gives it Live Composite.