Firmware updates show a brand’s commitment to photographers after the sale — but sometimes, those software updates bring features that should have been available from the start. The newest firmware for the Panasonic S5 IIx brings some solid new features. But, while handheld high res is a welcome addition, other additions feel like features that were simply forgotten on the original software.
The biggest new feature on the Panasonic S5 IIx is the ability to shoot handheld high-resolution photos. Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds cameras have this feature, but the S5 series didn’t. This was likely because of the differences in the stabilization systems, with the G series offering a superior system. With the new firmware, however, the high-res mode is available without a tripod, with shutter speeds down to one second. That’s a huge addition since a lot of photographers hate hauling a tripod along.
The tripod-based high-res mode is still there, and with the firmware is now capable of long exposures of up to eight seconds. But, the weird thing is that the original S5 could already shoot at eight seconds, but the S5 II and S5 IIx did not. Expanding the feature for longer exposures is nice to see, but why wasn’t it part of the original launch when the predecessor had the feature?
The next feature in the firmware update magnifies the image during manual focus. And AF-Point Scope magnifies the image in autofocus when the Fn button is pressed (after customizing the controls). These are both great, helpful features. But I’ve seen similar options on other cameras before, so again, this feels like correcting an oversight that should have been on the original software.
We’ve added the following changes to our Panasonic S5 IIX review:
Ease of Use
The high-resolution mode gives the Panasonic S5 IIx a lot more flexibility — and with firmware version 1.3, the camera has even more versatility. The firmware also adds handheld high-resolution mode, which works at shutter speeds down to one second. The G series had this option, but the S series originally only featured the tripod-based high-res mode. Getting lots of detail without hauling around a tripod? That’s a nice upgrade.
The high-resolution mode works for exposures as long as eight seconds, opening up some potential for high-resolution long exposures. The feature works for images that have consistent motion blur. There’s some delay between frames, so this mode only works if you want motion blur. Trying to take a high-resolution image of the stars, for example, will result in tiny star trails rather than crisp, tiny circles.
Firmware updates now help S5 IIx shooters easily see whether or not the subject is in focus. Manual focus assist magnification has been added, which allows for up to 20x magnification when focusing manually. Frankly, this is a pretty standard feature, and this should have been available at launch rather than with firmware.
Panasonic has also added a similar feature but for autofocus called AF-Point Scope. This allows photographers to assign one of the Fn buttons to magnify the focus point, a feature that is hugely helpful when working with wide apertures or subjects that take up a smaller portion of the frame. Again, though, this is widely available and should have been on the S5 IIx at launch. But, better late than never.