Big Announcement! Panasonic just edged out Sony & Canon – The Panasonic S5 II is now the best full frame entry level camera on the market! Fantastic color, great autofocus and more! (You can watch the video on YouTube at The Slanted Lens!)
Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan and this is Kenneth Merrill. We’re in Tokyo Japan. So excited to be here. We’re running around with Panasonic’s new camera, the Lumix S5 II. It’s an incredible camera. A big step up in a lot of different ways. One of the most important ones is their phase detect auto focus. Phase detection! Finally, they implemented this! I feel like the older cameras were in some ways a little unusable because of the auto focus limitations. But this one is actually really great, on par or maybe even better than all of the other cameras that its competing with. In fact, I might go so far as to say this might be the best entry-level full frame camera on the market. It certainly competes completely with the a7 IV and with the R6, you know. And this camera is on par or better in so many ways. So we’re going to take a look at those features. We’re going to see exactly what they look like as we travel around Tokyo. We’re going to take some images, some video and see exactly what we got. So let’s get started and see what we can do. Let’s do it!
So let’s see what it takes to be a competitive camera in the still industry in 2023, the new cameras. It’s a 24 megapixel camera. I love the ease of use just in basic kind of ease of use. It’s fascinating, even though I have a 70-200 millimeter lens on here, lenses have become lightweight. And these new lenses by Panasonic are very lightweight. A lot of the smaller ones are 67 millimeter which gives you a very small form factor. The camera itself though has some great features. I love the dial on the top which allows me to go switch quickly from single frames to multiple frames. I feel like a camera to really compete these days has got to be at least 24 megapixels, which this is. So it gets it in that same category as the R6 and as the a7 IV. Also, I just love the fact that as I use this, it’s really, it’s been very quick for me to get to the buttons, white balance and ISO. I have the exposure compensation on the top. I shoot aperture priority often. So it allows me to adjust that. I always bring it down at least two-thirds of a stop. And everything just is very button tactile and easy to get to. This button right here for record is a little far back for my hands. I don’t know what it is but it’s a little ways back there. But you’ve got to have great dynamic range. You’ve got to have great still images that give you a beautiful picture.
I did a shot this morning of a gentleman walking up the kind of the path that was on and the color is just so wonderful. So, so far I find it really lightweight, easy to use and it’s got that great tilt out screen which is really nice. Well there you have it.
All right, let’s talk about some of the specs of this camera. First off it comes in at a price point that is really affordable. It is one of the less expensive cameras in this category if you look at the R6, if you look at the a7 IV and the Nikon Z6. I mean this really is a very economic, I mean it’s priced at a really great point. The price is two thousand dollars. Yeah, which is really good for what you’re getting. A camera that’s competitive in almost every way with the cameras we just listed. It is 24 megapixels like the others. It has image stacking, 96 megapixel image stacking, dual native ISO, which has become pretty common with these Panasonics. Its got five axis stabilization. You got 6.5 stops and also the phase hybrid autofocus with 779 points which it’s a great coverage on the entire sensor. It’s giving you coverage from edge to edge. And that’s the most autofocus points I think of any of the cameras, any of those cameras we just mentioned. Yeah, absolutely.
So it has nine frames a second. I think that number is really important, especially in this category. That’s for mechanical. For mechanical shutter, nine frames a second. When it says 30 frames a second and that’s in electronic. Yeah, the electronic thing is always iffy for me because then you have rolling shutter this isn’t a stacked sensor. Yeah, like something like the a1 has. So if you shoot the 30 frames per second electronic shutter mode you will have some wobble or skew depending on what’s happening in the scene. And it can shoot up to 200 frames continuously which is a very respectable number. Yep, in terms of video specs this does shoot up to 6K in 4.2.0 10 bit. If you want to shoot 4.2.2 10 bit you have to go down to 4K resolution. Which is usually fine with me. I prefer shooting in 4k anyways. If you want to shoot 60p in 4k it will crop into an APS-c crop on the sensor. That really has become the, kind of the price jump. When you want to get 120 frames a second you have to pay six thousand dollars. That’s kind of where it nets out. It does do those higher frame rates. It can do up to 120 frames per second. But it’s only in full HD. Yeah, which makes sense.
So we’re going to take a look at the picture quality. We just shot a bunch of images. We processed a bunch of images here. We’ll just take a look at them. Just talk a little bit about what the color looks like and what we’re seeing.
This first image was a pano of the anime area down in Tokyo. It’s just, the color is beautiful. I mean it’s deep and it’s just as beautiful. Yeah, look at like the reds and the blues there on the right side of the image. It just like pops out as like kind of a three-dimensional look to it. It really does.
This is just, these are un-altered. I just exported them through straight out of camera. Actually, a lot of these are just jpegs right off the camera. And you see a pretty good dynamic range there.Look at the blue sky in the background.
Look at the shadows in the foreground on this gentleman worker. Beautiful reds. You know, that’s something that I feel like digital cameras struggle with is good reds. I don’t know, I think that’s probably the one thing that I was most impressed with about using this camera was just the color as I’m looking at it on the back of the camera. It was so vibrant and so deep. It just looked really wonderful.
So there this is speculation on my part, but they said that the processing they’re calling it L squared because it’s in partnership with Leica. Somehow Leica has been involved in helping them develop their new processing engine for the images.
And part of me wonders if that’s why the color is so vibrant. Because Leica colors are very similar to this. And that they have a lot of vibrance and the reds and the blues and the tonality is really, really good.Well, you couldn’t go wrong if you have Leica color, that’s for sure.
I got into these leaves at one of the temples there, and the lights on them at night. And it was just beautiful light and beautiful color. Oh, wow, that photo of those stones is surprisingly beautiful. Look at that gradation.
Yeah, like the warm to the cool. Yeah, man, I just really like the way that it handles gradation. I will say the blues, the teals feel a little punchy to me. Like if there’s a touch of blue in anything it just really, it’s really blue. It pushes that out. When I did this image of the gentleman in the hard hat and the orange vest I immediately had a flashback to when we were shooting downtown LA with the Hasselblad. Yeah, and when I’d see the color on the back of the Hasselblad I go, oh my word, this is so beautiful. And that’s the reaction I got when I was looking at this.
It was just beautiful color. And it makes you want to shoot when you see your images coming up on the back of it, going oh, those are so pretty. Do you feel like, is there any camera in the same price bracket, the $2000 to $2500 range that has comparable colors? You know what, I have shot on all of them in this category, and there is absolutely not one. I mean the Canon is close because it has a pretty, it Canon has dialed the orange back a little bit in their cameras. And so they’re a little better. It’s on better for color. Nikon is probably the closest, really color-wise. But certainly the Z9. But that’s another category. Yeah, I’m looking forward to doing some comparisons. And we’ll be doing a comparison with the a7 IV and this camera because we want to see those color comparisons. And I think that’s going to be worth looking at. So that’s something’s going to be coming.
So we just did an autofocus test. I had Kenneth walking towards me, flipping around and walking away. It stuck with him when he turned around it stuck with him. I mean we’ll look at the images when we get back in the studio but for the most part it looked to me like it was pretty on.It would go, and that that is the one aspect of the autofocus, you can do it on human which means it stays on your head to body to head to face to eyes. You know, whereas if you just do eyes it’s going to just look for the eye. The way that was explained to me is it’s in a hierarchy. So when your camera is set to human detection it will prioritize the eye. But if it can’t use your eye it’ll use your head. And if you can’t use your head for some reason they’ll look for your whole body, look for something human. There’s something human in there now.
Now, was this, what mode were you in here? Human detect, eye detect? I was in human detect. Yeah and it stayed on him. I will say when it was on human detect and there’s only one human in the frame it usually locked on really well and did a really good job. The only time it got confused is when you had a lot of bodies and then it would kind of, it wouldn’t know which human to pick sometimes. Imagine that, imagine the camera not knowing what you’re trying to focus on, knowing what you’re thinking. I say I didn’t love the visual interface when we set it to face and eye detect. There was no indicator of what it was locking onto. And then when it was on human detect it has these orange boxes around the person or the head that it’s tracking. But it shows which eye it’s focusing on with this weird gray cross hair. Crosshair, that’s crosshair caught me off guard. Yeah, I’m going, am I on the eye? And then you said, well it’s a crosshair. I’m going, there’s a crosshair? Oh, yeah there’s a crosshair. I mean at least make that orange or something. Yeah, exactly. So it’s really obvious that that thing is working.
Yeah, so in the video it’s nice. I mean the video and the photo share all the same autofocus characteristics. And you can kind of see it working in real time here on that same street. And yeah, I mean there are a lot of people here kind of wandering around. And it locks onto Jay P. and holds him and he turns around and it keeps focusing on him. So once it locks onto a subject matter, I mean even though others were walking really close, it wasn’t jumping. Yeah if you watch this one, Julene walks in front of you, even. Very New Yorker kind of like she pushes me out of the way. That was a very good Manhattan walk. Yeah, you’re right, and this one I did another. I did one of the bike. I actually I saw him riding up and I turned and I just hit record as fast as I could go. And it grabbed him right away. And then just followed him. And he’s kind of in and out of the frame and stuff. And I’m on like a longer lens here. And it held him all the way. So wow, I was really, really impressed. The only time where it struggled for me was in a situation like this where I’m trying to focus on these girls and you have like about a hundred people walking in front of them. I wish we had screen capture of all this stuff, but it does have, it’ll show multiple boxes and you can actually toggle left or right to tell it which person to track, which is nice. I found it still would kind of jump off occasionally if it wasn’t clear by their blocking which person you’re focusing on. But, I mean honestly, pretty mild. That’s like putting the camera in the worst possible scenario and asking it to perform and know what you’re thinking. Sometimes you just need to communicate your needs with these things. Sometimes you have to give it a hint what you’d like to have happen. All right, so I think the autofocus has really become into a class that puts it in the same class as Sony and Canon. There’s no question about that. I am really excited to test it head to head with a7 IV. Yeah, me too, because that’s really the camera, this is the same category as the a7 IV. So, but that is coming. We have that coming in two weeks. It’ll be up on the channel. A comparison of those two cameras, a7 IV and the S5 II.
One thing I like about Panasonic’s cameras is they have the v-log and this has an extra feature on top that which is the real time, what they’re calling the real-time lut. So the real-time lut feature allows you to load luts onto the camera and then burn those luts into the v-log footage. Which sounded odd to me when they first, it sounded a little gimmicky. Yeah, like why would you? You’re shooting log for the flexibility. But for something like this we ended up shooting this whole episode with the real-time lut on with their standard Rec 709 lut. And I really liked it. Because, you know, I don’t have all day to grade every single clip in this video. But I can get the advantage of the flat log profile that’s then conformed to a nicer, you know, a nice Rec 709 look without all of the work in DaVinci or Premiere. Well, I think that’s really what that’s for. I mean, if you have fast workflow, I mean here at The Slanted Lens, I don’t want to have to correct things like, I mean, we just don’t have the time and the workflow to make that happen. So it really works for what we’re doing. Yeah, if you look at some of these video files, I mean, the dynamic range in some of these images is incredible. And this is a baked in image. This isn’t graded in post or anything. This is straight out of the camera. If I had shot this in their standard picture profile or some other profile it would be blown out in a lot of these areas and you wouldn’t have as much detail in the shadows. Well, Julene was looking at some footage you shot. She’s going, “Look at the depth in that! Look at the color!” I mean, it’s just, yeah and you have that red and the orange and the blue. I mean it’s the dynamic range. It came from shadows into the hard highlights. The thing I like about this is the footage looks like the photos do to some degree. It doesn’t have quite as strong of a contrast curve with their Rec 709 lut applied. But you can load any lut you want. I mean, look at this image of this. This is beautiful. This was a very dark, shadowy situation. It was very dark. It’s just beautiful.
But on top of that you still have just straight v-log. You have the ability to shoot in log and it just gives you beautiful color. So even though you have the option to go this route, a lot of people who are using this professionally are using it as a b-camera and probably not going to do this. You’re going to want the log because it does bake it in. It becomes a baked in, you don’t have the ability to go back later and let’s go back to the log. You don’t have that option. So you have to know your situation and apply it when it’s going to make sense for your workflow.
So right now we are testing the image stabilization. So this is no image stabilization at all and Jay P. is actually trying to walk really smooth with this. So just to give you an idea, he’s not lurching around. He’s trying to walk very smooth and this is the result without the stabilization. And now we have the image stabilization on. Now this isn’t with the digital boost IS or anything. This is just the IBIS itself without any of the boosting. And it’s really good. I talked with one of the guys at Panasonic. They said that it has roughly seven stops and here it is with the boost IS and electronic stabilization turned on. So this is as stabilized as you can possibly get. One thing to look out for when you’re turning these kinds of settings on, on any system, is warped corners or little jitters in the frame. You’ll see a lot of that in my experience. With the Canon systems their digital IS is just not quite there, unfortunately. But this one’s actually pretty good. I’m not personally a fan of electronic stabilization but if you want as much smoothness as possible this does an okay job.
I love the ergonomics of this camera because it is very tactile. You got three buttons across the front that just allow you to have white balance, ISO and your exposure compensation. And that, buttons right there, I can quickly make adjustments if I’m seeing images that are a little too bright and a little too low. So I love that feature of the round dials on the top that allows you to choose your frames per second. It allows you to choose what mode you’re in. One thing I also want to mention is they have a new state-of-the-art fan system in this camera where it vents the heat from the sensor upward into the chamber below the hot shoe.And then they have little vents and a fan that disperse the heat outward. And supposedly that’s supposed to allow you to run the camera for a lot longer than some of the competitors that have no way of really dispersing the heat. Especially when you’re shooting 4K, 6K video for extended periods of time.So I would definitely look into this camera if I were doing live events like weddings where you have a camera sitting out in the sun shooting for 30 to 60 minutes at time. And often some other systems like Sony will overheat as well. We talk about Canon overheating a lot but Sony over heats. How does Sony get off on that one? I don’t know. Because I’ve had many, many experiences with an a7S overheating in like a California afternoon. I hope that the other manufacturers implement a similar system. Yes, that makes a lot of sense.
I think it’s important to note here that they have an entire range of lenses that match this ecosystem. You’ve got this mirrorless camera, you’ve got small format lenses you know. And it just makes this a very compact, small format. And I think that for travel for a lot of different applications it makes it really useful. So I think the lens, kind of the lens support for this camera, I think also makes it really usable.
Another thing I want to mention too is that I asked them about weather sealing, especially with the new fan design, and they said that the weather sealing is the same level as it is on all their other cameras. So it’s like splash and dust resistant. You know, a little bit of a drizzle or whatever should be fine as long as you’re not submerging it or you’re not in a downpour. Yeah, and apparently the way they designed that fan on top means that no water will ever get into the camera. It’s completely sealed off.
So there is, on this version the S5 II X and the X has a couple features. And the line that they used in the launch that I thought was pretty good was, “If Batman had a camera, this would be his camera.” Because it’s all black. All black, none of the lettering. Nothing that would normally be there. It’s all black. But it also has a USBC, which allows you to record directly to an SSD card or an SSD drive. So you can record forever 4.2.2 HQ Pro-res. Yeah, which is awesome. The other benefit is that that can be used as an ethernet connection. So you can send it to a device and then do streaming. Or you can even stream wirelessly through their app. Yeah, they have a great app on the phone which you can go to YouTube. You can stream wirelessly you know, right from the camera to your app on the phone, right out to your YouTube feed. So it’s really a great kind of you know… (It’s only $200.) …so it’s really a great setup to be able to do live feed and it’s only two hundred dollars more. Yeah, I’d pay the $200 just for the black. Just for the black paint alone. That’s an expensive black paint but it would be worth it!
All right, so let’s wrap this up. I am going to say one thing that I love about this camera. You say one thing and then let’s wrap it up. Okay, go for it. Okay, I love the color. I just love seeing the color. I just, it’s so exciting to shoot for me. And I’m going to say two, and the autofocus. Is that the one you were going to say? No. Okay, so those two things make this camera in my mind a top of the class in these four cameras. I think it really does make this top of the class for those four cameras in that price range, the R6… yeah. Yeah, I think my, I don’t know, the thing I love the most about the camera, besides the color which would have been my first thing, is just the user experience. It just feels good in the hand. The menus are really intuitive. I didn’t experience any frustration with the actual functionality of the camera. Which is honestly pretty rare with mirrorless systems in my experience. It’s just a pleasure to shoot. It’s a very well designed machine. I think if you are serious about cameras and growth and kind of direction that in this category of around two thousand dollars, entry level full-frame mirrorless camera, I think this camera really comes in, in the top of that field for me. Because of color, ease of use, and autofocus, I think it really has been placed in a position where it’s a camera and a system you should look at. I’m excited about the one thing, and that is the fact that, you have Canon, you have Sony, and now I think you have a very strong Panasonic. You have a third in that category that I think are very viable systems that are going to have lens support. They’re going to have great color. I think that’s great pretty exciting. It’s true, it does feel like we’ve lived in a world that’s mostly Canon and Sony with a few like Nikon holdovers from the DSLRs and anytime some camera company innovates and brings out a new, you know, product that’s competitive is just such a good thing. Because it forces all the other companies to compete, to do better. And I feel like Panasonic came from almost, you know really last place in this race and jumped right to the, you know, even with the front of the pack. They’re doing a really good job. They really are all right.
So there’s a look at that new S5 II. So I hope you enjoyed this. Look forward to our comparison with the a7 IV that’s coming up in two weeks. And I hope you enjoyed this. Leave us some comments and make sure you subscribe. Ring that Bell and keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’!