Hey, this is Jay P. and today on The Slanted Lens we’re going to take a look at what I think are two solid full-frame sensor cameras that do both great video and stills. We’re going to take a look at the Z6 II from Nikon and the S5 II from Panasonic. These two cameras come in at a marketplace where they do great video and they do great stills. I think these cameras are worth looking at comparatively to one another. So let’s just take a look at how they function in both those categories. I’ve got Josephine here with me today. She’s going to help us decide which one of these cameras she’s going to buy. Yep! You’re going to buy one of these cameras when we’re done? I will, yeah. There you go. I wonder which one.
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Let’s break down the specs of these two cameras. First off they both have full frame 24 megapixel sensors. Okay, price wise, both these cameras come in around $1996 or $1997 dollars. Within a dollar of one another. So they are pretty much equal when it comes to price. Both these cameras have 14-bit depth.
Let’s take a look at the picture quality between the Z6 II and the S5 II. You know, these are two of my most favorite cameras when it comes, camera lines, when it comes to picture quality. Panasonic has a beautiful image. Nikon, I think, has a beautiful image. And when I look at these two images side by side they are both of them, really color rendition, is spot on to me. The Nikon is just a slight bit more magenta, just slightly. The Panasonic is very neutral. The Nikon is a little bit brighter. When I set them at the same camera settings the Nikon seems to come out just a little bit brighter. But look at the color rendition on that Spyder Checkr. We get great color rendition across the board. The color feels correct to me. It doesn’t feel overdone. The greens are very strong in the background on both of these cameras. But the skin tone looks correct to me. It feels comfortable. I think these are two great cameras. By looking, punch in and just look at the picture, how sharp they are. Those 24 megapixel sensors, we just see really sharp, sharp, sharp images. I’m just very impressed. Maybe the Nikon looks a little bit sharper. But they are very close to one another. Let’s take a look at the, just the image without the Spyder Checkr in there. And yeah, they are both really super sharp and great rendition. If I look here now at this little metal plate that I love to take pictures of because it just gives me, I focus one focus point on the 500. And I can take a look at that and just look at how sharp they are. A great color rendition. I know these two cameras are head to head when it comes to picture quality. So there’s a look at the image quality test. When it comes to image quality and sharpness between these two cameras, these two platforms, I think they are head to head. I’m going to give them a tie because I think they both look fabulous.
Ergonomics, let’s look at the ergonomics of these two cameras. First off, the Nikon Z6 II comes in at 1.35 pounds. Whereas the Panasonic comes in at 1.45 pounds. So the Panasonic is slightly heavier, but just slightly. We do have, on the Z6 II, an SD card and a CF Express type B card. Which is going to give us faster refresh rates and faster buffering. Whereas on the Panasonic we have two dual slot SD cards. We have a 3.2 inch monitor at 2,100,000 dot resolution. Whereas on the Panasonic you have a 3 inch monitor with a 1,840,000 dot resolution. We have a tilt up screen with the Nikon. It does not flip out like the Panasonic does. And that flip out is super important if you’re doing any kind of video. If you’re going to do video of yourself, if you’re going to put this camera in to a tight space you need that articulating flipping out, flip out screen. They both have touch screen LCD touch screens. As far as the camera goes I love the grip on the Panasonic. It gives me a place for my fingers. My little finger has a place to rest. Whereas with the Z6 II that little finger doesn’t have a great place to rest. The body is a little shallower. I do love the fact that we have an LCD screen on the top of the Z6 II. Which we do not have on the Panasonic. Panasonic has your, just standard buttons. Panasonic is very much like an old school kind of film camera in that you have dials for your frames per second. You got a dial for your different auto modes. And you have three right across the front which give you your ISO, white balance and then a compensation, exposure conpensation. Or you can program that for something else. Both of these cameras have a wheel on the camera right side to allow you to get to it and roll it. It’s interesting, because Nikon puts a little bump on the back of their camera it keeps you from hitting that with your finger. Whereas on the Panasonic I hit that occasionally and can change my settings inadvertently. Whereas it’s got a little bump there that keeps you from being able to get to that on the Nikon. I love, on the Nikon that you have these two little function buttons right here at your fingers which allow you to program those for features that you want to use and have access to really quickly. And your hands on the grip you can get right to it. The joystick on the back of each of these cameras is pretty accessible. I think it’s a little more accessible on the Panasonic. A little lower on the Nikon Z6 II. Overall I feel like we have a good combination, in each of these cameras, of buttons that you can program. Old, more kind of old school type of features on the Panasonic. It makes the Panasonic just a really nice camera to use if you like to have your buttons and dials pretty much like the old DSLRs. I do love, on the Panasonic, that the wheel in the front that allows me to change my aperture or whatever you assign it to is right where I’m shooting. So when I’m shooting I can roll that. I can shoot, I can roll, it’s just really easy to use. Whereas on the, I’ve got to come down really low here on the Z6 II to get to that wheel in the front. And it’s just not as convenient for me. I think getting to your record button is a little bit of a stretch on the Panasonic. I’ve got to reach back if you’re doing video. Whereas on the Z6 II you can hit it right here. It’s very close. On the Panasonic though, you can program so that you use your trigger as the record button in video mode. So you can make that a function which makes that really easy to use. It makes it work really nicely. For the strap, I love the fact that the Panasonic has fixed hard spots for the strap to allow you to strap it. Whereas the Nikon Z6 II has got the little rings you put things on. It’s just much easier to use these in any kind of camera rig if you’re going to use it on a gimbal and all that. I don’t like these little floppy rings. I feel like it’s kind of a design of the past and everyone’s gone to more the rigid kind of loops to be able to put your straps and things on. I think that’s a much, it’s an advantage for the Panasonic. Who wins? It’s hard to say because it depends on what you’re shooting. So I’m going to give them a tie when it comes to ergonomics.
Viewfinder resolution between these two cameras is very similar. We have 3,690,000 dot resolution on the Z6 II. And on the Panasonic S5 II we have 3,680,000 dot resolution. They’re very similar. You don’t see a difference.
Auto focus points, we have 273 autofocus points on the Nikon Z6 II and 779 autofocus points on the Panasonic S5 II. So when it comes to autofocus points, definitely the Panasonic wins. But the real test is how does it perform when you take it out and shoot. So let’s take a look at that autofocus test right now for stills mode. The Nikon, I’m shooting, I’m getting about 29ish frames in each one of these tests that we do. And I’m losing about three, well three to four. Around four images each time as she walks towards me. I’m losing about four. It seems to be that transition area as they get fairly close and it’s getting a little closer to you. The autofocus is having a harder time pulling the focus as it gets up close. So I’m losing about four-ish on each one of them as I went through.
When I look at the Panasonic I have a lot more images here. We’re shooting almost 55 images. And out of that 55 I’m still, it’s around the same, around three to four that I’m losing. But I’m shooting 55 images. So it’s coming up close and again that same area that the camera seemed to struggle with as you do that transition into closer. From kind of waist up to face, close face. I lose a few in there. But it’s 55 frames and I’m losing about four to five. So we shot multiple tests on each of these cameras. And it looks to me like autofocus wise in this test they are functioning very similar to one another. So there’s a look at the autofocus test. I think these two cameras perform very, very close. I felt like the Panasonic edged out the Nikon slightly. Julene said she felt like it was a tie. So we’re going to give it a tie.
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So let’s take a look at continuous shooting of frames per second with these two cameras. On the Nikon you get 14 frames per second, up to 124 frames. Whereas on the Panasonic you get nine frames per second up to 200 raw or 300 jpegs. I didn’t find anything definitive about what the electronic shutter is for the Nikon. I know it has an electronic shutter. I’m guessing from what I’ve read it looks like it’s 14 or better. But on the Panasonic we know we get 30 frames per second, up to 200 raw and 200 jpeg. So if I compare these two as far as frames per second I’m going to say, it’s definitely, Panasonic’s the winner. We got that 30 frames per second and I think that makes it very compelling.
When it comes to autofocus in video mode on these two cameras, as you look at these two side by side here, as she comes towards me, they both seem to hold on to her face fairly well. When she turns around there you lose a little bit with the Nikon. But when she gets away from us the Nikon jumps off just a little bit. We see it kind of lose the focus. The Panasonic seems to be staying on her better as she kind of comes and moves away from us. As she turns her head away from us it seems to stay with her longer. And when I look at these two as far as autofocus in video mode, it feels like the Panasonic is staying on her just a little bit better. The Nikon seems to lose focus as she turns her head away from us a little bit. So there’s the autofocus video test. And it goes to Panasonic.
Let’s talk about the video capabilities of these two cameras. The Z6 II has a 4:2:2 10 bit at 4K, 24 and 30 frames per second. You can get a 60 frames per second but it does come in a crop. You’re going to crop in on that 60 frames per second. But it does give you 60 frames per second which is nice to have. You do have N-log. You also have 10 bit 4:2:2 HDMI out. Which gives you the ability to record out to an Atomos recorder.
On the Panasonic we have h.264 and h.265 at 4:2:2 and 4:2:0, 8 and 10 bit. It gives us the ability to do 6K on the Panasonic, which is fabulous. Love the 6K, 60 at 24 and 30 frames per second. You do have 4K at 24 and 30 frames a second as an external recording solution. You can get 12 bit at 6K for 24 and 30 frames a second. The one aspect of the Panasonic that I thought was really interesting, I wasn’t sure I was going to like, but I’ve learned to really love and use here at The Slanted Lens and that is the Real Time Lut. That’s taking the log you’re taking, the V-log and you’re putting a Rec 709. They have several different Luts in the camera. You can load other Luts that you can apply to the Rec, to the V-log. And that just gives you the ability to have a log. Which gives you a great dynamic range. You apply the Lut in camera so it’s baked into the footage. But it really is a great workflow solution. You can have that workflow solution where you’re shooting on that Real Time Lut. It gives you a beautiful image. We just shot and saw beautiful images on this camera. And that’s an option that’s kind of new and unique to the Panasonic.
These two cameras have great video capabilities but I think Panasonic really is the video camera. Panasonic has been strong in this area for quite some while, quite a while. The Panasonic also has open gate recording which gives you the ability to record the entire sensor and allows you to reposition your framing. Also it’s much easier to get a vertical out of that open gate recording if you’re doing something for Instagram and we are cutting for Instagram and Tic Toc, those kinds of things all of the time. So that’s a great advantage that Panasonic has. So wrapping this up, when it comes to video I think Panasonic’s pretty hard to beat in this category. Between these two cameras it definitely goes to the Panasonic.
Image stabilization, both these cameras have image stabilization. Let’s look at that stabilization, how it works. Let’s take a look at the test. When it comes to image stabilization with these two cameras I’ve got it on a rig. So they’re both on the same rig. So I’m walking with them at the same time. So they’re getting the exact same motion. And if I look at these two compared to one another it’s pretty hard to beat Panasonic’s stabilization. It is just very smooth. You see the Nikon is really bouncing a little more. And the Panasonic is much smoother as you go, as you look at these side by side. And I spin around her and you see it as I walk towards her. It’s a little less of that bounce in my step with the Panasonic. Whereas the Nikon is struggling a little bit. You also see the focus in this test. You can see how the focus kind of loses her face a little bit in the Nikon. Whereas in the Panasonic it stays with her just a little better. So there’s the image stabilization test. Pretty hard to beat Panasonic on that one. When I look at that stabilization the Panasonic is very smooth. Actually the Z6 II did a great job, but it’s just not quite as smooth. These are set up on a rig so they’re both being recorded at the same time. And you can feel a little more of the step in the Z6 II. Whereas with the S5 II it’s a lot smoother. I think the Panasonic is much smoother than the Nikon and so it goes to the Panasonic.
All right, let’s look at the ISO comparison between these two cameras. We’re going to start off at 400 ISO because, one and two hundred ISO they’re very similar. No reason to even look at them. By the time that we get to 400 ISO they’re very similar cameras. Maybe the Panasonic has a little bit more digital noise. We take a look at the nose. That bridge of the nose is really important to look at because you see the color band that you have there. And you’re going to see how the color builds in that nose as it goes from the highlight to the shadow. And just what that little color band there, it’s a little pinkish, now got a little bit of yellow in it on the Nikon. But let’s jump up to the 800 ISO and let’s just see how they compare at 800 ISO. So we’ll look at that band on her nose and we’re getting a little bit of a band there. But really, back up here, if we look at the noise back in the background, the Nikon’s just a tiny bit better than the Panasonic. Just a tiny bit it seems like to me. When I look at 1600 ISO, look at that back in the background. I feel like that, yeah, the Nikon is just giving me a slight bit, you know, the difference, Nikon is slightly brighter when we do these at the same exposure. And they are seeing a little bit of that. They are very similar to me at 1600 ISO. But maybe the Nikon’s edging out the Panasonic just barely. When we get up to 3200 ISO, certainly the noise is starting to build on both of them. It feels a little bit like we have just a little better rendition on the Nikon. Look at that shadow transition and the color. We’re starting to see yellow start to build here on the nose of the Nikon. The Panasonic is still hanging in there pretty good at that, in that color transition area. Let’s go up to 6400 ISO. Look at 6400 ISO. And we’ve got pretty heavy digital noise on both these cameras. But I think the Nikon’s doing slightly better, slightly better when it comes to digital noise. But I think the Panasonic is doing a little bit better when it comes to holding the color rendition and not getting that banding from the highlights to the shadows. So let’s go to 12,800 ISO. Now we got major digital noise everywhere, obviously. And again, I think they’re reacting about the same. We’re getting just a little better rendition of a little less digital noise with the Nikon. But we’re getting a much stronger color shift in the banding between the highlights and the shadows. So the Panasonic seems to be holding the color a little better. The Nikon seems to be holding the digital noise just slightly better. When I say slightly, these two cameras are super close together when it comes to this. We go to 25,600 ISO. I mean there is a lot of digital noise here, man. And, again I think the Nikon is slightly better when it comes to the digital noise. But I think the Panasonic is holding the color better in the transitions. And now we go up to the last one which is 51,200 ISO. And everyone shoots at 51,200, don’t they, all the time? Digital noise is crazy. They’re both off the charts here. But the Panasonic is holding that well, what color rendition there is. All right, there’s a look at those two cameras. Very close together when it comes to digital noise and the ISO comparison. I think they’re head to head. So there’s the ISO capability test. Man, they were very close. But I’m going to say the Nikon edged out the Panasonic just barely.
Now let’s take a look at the dynamic range test. First off the Nikon is slightly brighter. We took these straight through raw without any sharpening. Nothing like that at all. Straight through raw. So we can just look at the dynamic range on a JPEG without any kind of manipulation and right off the bat with the Panasonic it’s holding the highlights in the background a little better. It’s really giving us nice open shadows and gives us a nice dynamic range. The Nikon is a little more, like I say, bright. It’s a little brighter in the background. But let’s see what happens when we go to a minus one. Minus one should look really nice on both these cameras and it really does. The minus one is really holding all those highlights in the background for the Panasonic really well. Whereas with the Nikon I’m not holding the background. It’s just not quite as open. If you look at even the detail inside the slats of the window inside, the white is just getting a little bit more detail on the Panasonic. If we go to -2 we’re seeing a lot more, a lot better detail on the Panasonic in the background. It’s just giving us a much better rendition than we see on the Panasonic. Go to -3, you know, we’re starting to now see some color shift a little bit. And I mean it’s amazing to me how good these look at -3. I mean, are we seeing any kind of artifacting, any kind of digital noise? It’s still pretty clean on both these cameras. You look into the background here and see how the background is reacting at -3. It looks pretty good. Let’s go to minus four. At minus four we are looking at, yeah, they still, we are getting more digital noise in the background on both the cameras. You see that happening and you see the digital noise is a little bit better on the Nikon. But the dynamic range seems to be holding better on the Panasonic.
All right, let’s go to plus one. This is always scary territory for a digital camera. Wow, the Nikon is just kind of blowing out and so is the Panasonic a little bit. Look at the background on those highlights. You see this kind of brown banding that starts to happen. You see that in this little area in the background. It starts to give us this kind of brown banding and it just, they start to fall apart pretty bad here. So if we go to plus two, so the transition between the highlights and the shadows is very, very sharp now. I especially see it on the Nikon. So you get these really high light areas and it goes to shadow areas and starts to posterize. It’s a little better on the Panasonic. But neither of them are making a really great comparison to them. When you go to plus three the colors really shifted very yellow. And there’s just, highlights are blown out. I mean, the Panasonic is holding better, but still terrible look as far as the camera goes at that point. All right, so there’s a look at the dynamic range test. Looking at that test I think the Panasonic definitely has a wider dynamic range than the Nikon. It just gives us great rendition even as over and under exposed. I think it’s slightly ahead of the Nikon almost all the way through that test. They are close, but the Panasonic is just a little better.
So let’s wrap this up. These two camera platforms have beautiful picture quality. I love the picture on each of these cameras. They’re very similar when it comes to autofocus in stills mode. They both, the Panasonic has two SD cards and you have a CF Express type B. I thought that would have given us an advantage when it comes to frames per second but it really doesn’t. I’m not seeing the buffering and the advantage that that CF Express type B gives us other than it’s an expensive card that we have to purchase. So I’m kind of going back and forth in stills mode with these cameras. I think they’re very much head to head when it comes to stills. But the area where these two cameras really separate, I think, comes in the video. Autofocus in video, the Panasonic is much stronger. The stabilization in video, the Panasonic is much stronger. You’ve got that open gate recording. You’ve got the Real Time Lut. I think the Panasonic is really made as a strong video camera. And I think in that area it really kind of excels and moves ahead of the Nikon. I like the ergonomics of both these cameras but I think the ergonomics of the Panasonic are slightly better for me. I just like the button placement and kind of that, more of a DSLR, type of approach. Which makes it really fast to work for me. And I can see exactly what I’m doing. I think that’s really strong. When it comes to the Nikon I think the ergonomics are good. I don’t think it’s a camera that suffers when it comes to ergonomics at all. Great button placement. I think it’s a wonderful camera. So for me, when I look at these two cameras, I just think I get a full package for that same price range. I get a great video camera, a great stills camera with the Panasonic. And you’ll have to decide which one works best for you. But if you like this review check out some of the other reviews we have of other cameras and you keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!