Lumix S5 Full-frame Camera Released

Posted Sep. 2nd, 2020 by Daniel J. Cox

My Lumix history

Many of you know I’ve been a big fan of Panasonic Lumix cameras for many, many years. At one time I was even one of their ambassadors. However, my affiliation with Panasonic ended about a year and a half ago mainly due to issues with their autofocus system, a problem that affected fast-moving action like Birds In Flight.

Lumix S5 image

But an additional frustration was their decision to start producing full-frame cameras. At the time I was very unhappy, thinking they should keep their eye on the ball with their micro four-thirds system. 

Lumix S5 image

As time has moved on, so have I, and I’ve now come to appreciate their decision to join the full-frame market. Though I still hope for continued Micro Four Thirds (MFT) development, I now understand Lumix has to offer additional products people are demanding.

Lumix S5 image at 10,000 ISO

Even though I’m convinced smaller, lighter cameras and lenses are the future, many new to photography know nothing more than, “bigger sensor equals better camera.” This misunderstanding is at the heart of Lumix and Olympus being ahead of their time. I firmly believe eventually somebody will win at the smaller, lighter game. Just look at the iPhone to understand why. Until then, we’re all being forced into full-frame overkill.

Lumix goes all in on full-frame

When the S1 and S1R were announced, I was very surprised at the immense size of both cameras. Not just a larger sensor but a very large camera to go with it. I have no idea what inspired Lumix engineers to design such a large body when compared to other full-frame models. Both cameras received good to excellent reviews except for their autofocus systems and large dimensions. But overall, they were considered well-designed cameras with terrific image quality in both stills and video. Generally speaking, they were an interesting first step into the full-frame market. But the large size and weight hampered their success immensely.

Lumix S5 image

Thankfully Panasonic, being a large company with a burning desire to be a full-frame player, didn’t give up. And so, today they’ve announced a new, smaller, lighter, version full-frame camera called the Lumix S5.

Lumix S5 image at 12,800 ISO

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen this camera in person, so I can’t give my own personal opinion on what it’s like. But I do highly respect Panasonic for going back to the design table and addressing the size and weight issues of the original S1 and S1R versions of this camera. From what I’m reading and seeing on the web, this is the camera that should’ve been built from the start. Let’s just hope the autofocus issues have been resolved as well.

Lumix S5 image at 6400 ISO

When I heard this camera was being released I called my good friend and fellow Lumix fan Mark Toal. Mark and I worked together when I was a Lumix Ambassador. I knew Mark would have the inside scoop, and in fact, he produced a short video to give us a little better idea of what the new camera is all about. He also supplied all the still images in this blog post.

Another video you might enjoy seeing was produced by Gerald Undon. Gerald is a Canadian that produces the most in-depth videos you can imagine. I can only guess at the production time it takes to do one of his review videos. Below is his take on the new camera.

In conclusion, I’m excited for Panasonic. They still produce what I feel are the best handling and best built cameras on the market. I was extremely inspired to see they left the three buttons, E/V, WB, and ISO, on top and just behind the shutter button on the S5. I miss those buttons when I’m shooting my Olympus and Sony systems. Even though I’m impressed with this new entry into the full-frame field, one has to remember, it’s the lenses that break both back and bank. If they can reduce the size of full-frame lenses AND match the AF I have in my Sony A9, I’ll be very interested in shooting more Lumix gear.

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There are 4 comments on this post…
  1. Colm RyanOn Nov. 19th, 2020

    I reckon Panasonic have decided in their heart of hearts that the days of M4/3 are numbered; at most they’ll get a couple more years out of it and that will be that. Olympus, ditto; whatever’s at the late design phase will get pushed out to market but after that….

    I realized all this when I tried an S1 (lovely beast of a camera, btw) and found that it was almost a Xeroxed G9, just a lot bigger.

    The underlying reason of course is the general move up to full frame for everyone, or at least to APS-C (though after M4/3 goes, APS-C will be next on the hitlist, with smartphones snapping at its heels).

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with the M4/3 sensor as we all know(!), but as marketing has taught us, reality does not matter: it is how the sensor is perceived by the camera-buying public that counts.

    There is a bright side: if I’m right, then in a couple of years we’ll see incredible discounts on M4/3 gear, just to free up warehouse space.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Nov. 21st, 2020

      You may be right. I guess time will tell.

  2. Beth DavidowOn Sep. 4th, 2020

    I’m still shooting the Lumix GH5; got it mainly for the 4K/60fps since I do more video than stills. But, like you Dan, I’m profoundly frustrated (after years of being a Nikon pro with such fast optics/ cameras) that the autofocus on the GH5 is so wretched. But I’m in too deep to switch.

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn Sep. 4th, 2020

      Unfortunately Panasonic has really let us down when it comes to auto focus. It’s simply mind boggling they just don’t move to the technology that is working for every other camera company.

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