Check out Lachlan’s first-look video, sample photos and review below to find out.
The Panasonic S5 and Panasonic Lumix S 20-60mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens Photographed by Alex Ball using the Panasonic S1 | f4, 1/400 sec, ISO 400
Tell us a bit about your test shoot with the Panasonic S5.
Panasonic gave me early access to a pre-production LUMIX S5. Instead of just ‘pretending’ to use the camera, I was genuinely interested in how it would handle the demanding outdoors type work I do.
It came on an adventure. A rock climbing shoot was up first. The goal was to shoot some photos and videos of a local climber in the later afternoon. To get into camera on something less exciting! I climbed a vertical cliff face with the camera attached to my harness, and made myself safe towards the top of the cliff. The S5 was small and unobtrusive, and ready to capture the scene straight away.
The following morning I had an outdoor brand shoot in the calendar, so again the S5 came along. As we drove out to the location for sunrise, it was pouring rain. But knowing that the S5, like the rest of the LUMIX S Series, is weather sealed meant I wasn't worried about getting stuck in and shooting some moody imagery in the rain and fog.
Photographed by Alex Ball using the Panasonic S1 | f4, 1/320 sec, ISO 400
What was the camera like to use? How was its performance?
Excellent – one of the best parts about the LUMIX S Series system is the rugged build and incredibly well thought out ergonomics. The S5 is just a bit smaller and lighter, but most of the same controls are there and the grip, control layout and overall user experience are still really good.
The S5 felt more responsive than the S1, S1H and S1R from an autofocus perspective, as well as in terms of response time when adjusting settings. I know these improvements will be coming to the other models via firmware.
In general, the consistent dedication that LUMIX has to updating their existing cameras via firmware is amazing. Improving, rather than just releasing new cameras every year, is a much better model for sustainability and offers a far higher value proposition for buyers, in my eyes.
Spicers Gap, Main Range National, Queensland Photographed by Lachlan Gardiner using the Panasonic S5 | f5, 1/250 sec, ISO 1600
How did it compare to other Panasonic cameras that you’ve used?
As mentioned, the LUMIX S5 is essentially an S1 series camera in a smaller package – same sensor, menus, image quality. For those considering stepping up from a GH5 or G9, for example, now is the time for sure. The added image quality benefits of full-frame and an ever-expanding L mount lens line-up means it's a great time to get into the system.
Spicers Gap, Main Range National, Queensland Photographed by Lachlan Gardiner using the Panasonic S5 | f4.1, 1/40 sec, ISO 800
How would you describe the photo and video quality?
Professional quality, robust files, excellent colour science. The video quality of the S5 is exactly what I've come to LOVE about shooting video and photo assignments with the S1 and S1H: super clean and crisp RAWs, with very realistic skin tones. My clients love the results, and I do too!
Spicers Gap, Main Range National, Queensland Photographed by Lachlan Gardiner using the Panasonic S5 | f3.9, 1/160 sec, ISO 2500
What did you like or dislike about the Panasonic S5? Did anything particularly impress or surprise you?
I obviously love the S5. But no camera is perfect. The viewfinder is a lower resolution than the amazing model in the S1 series. Whilst I still trusted it to provide an accurate enough image to confirm focus and exposure, the lower resolution is noticeable. But some compromises are obviously expected with the smaller form factor and lower price.
The Contrast AF system is a bit different to use than the Phase Detect AF of several other cameras in this category. But I've not had any issues getting great results with the AF system for demanding professional work. The latest iteration of AF in the S5 is really solid. Basically, the AF system did what I wanted it to, without an issue – and that was in some tricky moving situations in very varied light. Panasonic's implementation of manual focus is really good, too, and I prefer to use this for most of my video work anyway to have better creative control.
The inclusion of several S1H video features like a red frame around the image during recording is simple but super useful for professional work. There are still dual card slots, weather sealing and great battery life.
Overall I won't hesitate in taking only the S5 to any professional shoot. The reliability I've come to trust with my LUMIX S Series kit is there and that's all I need.
Frog Buttress, Mount French National Park, Queensland Left: Photographed by Alex Ball using the Panasonic S1 | f4, 1/320 sec, ISO 400 Right: Photographed by Lachlan Gardiner using the GoPro Hero 8 | f2.8, 1/750 sec, ISO 426
What impact will the LUMIX S5 have on your work?
A smaller, lighter option for certain trips and shoots. When I'm carrying everything into the wilderness, having less gear is a huge advantage. I can take the S5 on long hikes, paste up rock climbs and on mountaineering expeditions, and get the same amazing image quality with a bit less bulk. That's a win for me!
Frog Buttress, Mount French National Park, Queensland Photographed by Lachlan Gardiner using the Panasonic S5 | f5.6, 1/125 sec, ISO 400
Who would you recommend the Panasonic S5 to?
Anyone looking for a professional quality hybrid (stills and video) camera that is small and rugged without being a ‘plastic toy’, which is how I personally feel some other offerings at this price point feel in the hand.
To me, the S5 is super versatile. It's for shooters who value image quality, are looking for an amazing feature set and super robust video files. And would like to shoot with a really solid and highly versatile full-frame camera system. Overall, it's a solid camera and will be a very valued addition to my kit.