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Panasonic S5 IIx: A New Era of Hybrid Cameras?

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing popularity of hybrid cameras, designed not only for capturing perfect photos but also for recording professional-quality video. This trend reflects the increasing importance of the video format in the online world and on digital platforms, where as content creators, we seek universal tools capable of meeting a wide range of creative needs.


Front view of the Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx camera, with the prominent large sensor visible in the open body of the camera, taken by photographer Michal Stehlík during the review.

Panasonic S5 IIx - 24.2Mpx full-frame CMOS sensor optimised for noise reduction at high ISO values.


Panasonic has always built a reputation in the field of photography and video for emphasizing quality and innovation. Its excellent internal stabilization system, wide dynamic range, and precise processing have made its models some of the most interesting alternatives on the market. However, the focusing system of older models, based on contrast detection, was often discussed. This focusing system is very accurate and perfectly suitable for photographing static scenes, but at the same time slower than the phase detection system, which can create problems with focusing accuracy in dynamic scenes or when tracking moving objects.


New Phase Hybrid Autofocus and Top-Notch Video Features


This dramatically changed with the introduction of the S5 II model, where Panasonic presented a new hybrid focusing system, combining both worlds – the speed of phase detection with the accuracy of contrast detection, thus responding to the call for a powerful yet affordable full-frame solution. The number of focusing points expanded to 779, thanks to deep learning technology, enabling high-speed and precise tracking of people (faces, eyes, heads, and bodies) and animals (dogs, cats, and birds).


Product photo of the Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx camera body, showing its design and layout of controls, taken by photographer Michal Stehlík during the review.

Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx


Today, let's look at its extended version, the S5 IIx model, which retains the best of the S5 II model but goes even further towards filmmakers and video creators. It offers options such as recording in ProRes 422 HQ format (or 422 codec) up to 5.8K/30fps resolution on an external SSD disk via USB-C port. For those unfamiliar, ProRes allows capturing more details and a greater color depth in video due to its lower compression rate compared to standard H.264 or H.265 formats.


In this price category, hybrid cameras offering 5.8K ProRes video are like spotting a unicorn.


Furthermore, it supports 5.9K Apple ProRes RAW video output to Atomos devices and options for IP streaming and USB tethering. With these features, the Panasonic S5 II X pushes the boundaries of what an affordable full-frame camera can offer, becoming an extremely powerful tool for anyone seeking a combination of professional image quality, flexibility, and advanced recording options.


Basic Specifications of the Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx:


  • Image Sensor: 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor (35.6 mm x 23.8 mm)

  • Effective Pixel Count: 24.20 MP

  • Lens Mount: L-mount

  • File Format - Photography: JPEG (DCF, Exif 2.31), RAW

  • Color Space: sRGB, AdobeRGB

  • File Format - Video:

  • MOV: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC, Apple ProRes (422HQ, 422)

  • MP4: H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, H.265/HEVC

  • Video Resolution and Frame Rates:

  • 6K Resolution (3:2 and 17:9 aspect): 29.97p/23.98p, 200 Mb/s (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM) - 30-minute recording limit

  • 5.9K Resolution (16:9 aspect): 29.97p/25p/24p, 200 Mb/s (4:2:0 10-bit LongGOP) (H.265/HEVC, LPCM) - 30-minute recording limit

  • C4K/4K Resolution: up to 60p, 4:2:2 10-bit, unlimited recording due to integrated cooling system

  • Full HD Resolution: up to 180 fps for slow-motion shots - unlimited recording due to integrated cooling system

  • ProRes Recording: up to 5.8K resolution (ProRes 422 HQ/422), maximum bitrate for ProRes 422 HQ up to 1.9 Gb/s - external recording to USB-SSD - 30-minute recording limit

  • ISO Range:

  • [Normal]: 50* / 100-51200 / 102400* / 204800* (1/3 or 1 step EV) *Extended ISO

  • [V-Log]: 320* / 640-51200 (1/3 or 1 step EV) *Extended ISO

  • Autofocus: Hybrid phase detection (combination of phase detection speed with contrast detection accuracy) - 779 focusing points

  • Stabilization: B.I.S. - 5-axis, 5-step efficiency (Dual I.S. 2 - combination of B.I.S. sensor stabilization and O.I.S stabilization in Lumix S Series lenses - up to 6.5 steps)

  • Viewfinder: OLED, 3.68M points

  • LCD Display: Articulating, rotating, touch screen, 1.84M points

  • Burst Shooting:

  • Mechanical Shutter: 9 fps AFS/MF (7 fps AFC)

  • Electronic Shutter: 30 fps (AFS/AFC/MF)

  • Wireless Functions: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

  • Durability: Sealed against moisture and dust ingress

  • Memory Cards: Supports SD, SDHC, and SDXC cards, UHS-II compatible

  • Audio: Option for 4-channel audio recording in LPCM format with an external adapter, such as the Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR microphone adapter

  • Battery: DMW-BLK22

  • Connections and Ports: HDMI, USB-C, 3.5mm microphone input, 3.5mm headphone output

  • Dimensions: W 134.3 mm x H 102.3 mm x D 90 mm

  • Weight: 740g


Sensor and Improved Processor - The Foundation of S5 IIx's Image Quality


The perfect image quality is taken care of by a 24.2Mpx full-frame CMOS sensor with an improved processor optimized for noise reduction at high ISO values (standard range for S5 IIx: ISO 100 - 51200, expandable up to ISO 50 - 204800) and improvement in dynamic range (14+ EV V-Log/V-Gamut) using L2 technology developed in long-term cooperation with Leica.


Evening picture of Gdańsk taken by photographer Michal Stehlík with the Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx camera and PANASONIC LUMIX S 20-60 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, featuring a Ferris wheel and adjacent buildings with the reflection of city lights in the Martwa Wisla river.

Gdańsk - Panasonic S5 IIx / Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm f/3.5-5.6  - ISO100, f/13, 10s


When printing large-format photographs (about 1 meter and above), the resolution of 24.2Mpx may seem insufficient, but in practice, the lower resolution further contributes to a significantly better signal/noise ratio and maintains very high image quality.


Maximum Creativity - Advanced Recording and Shooting Options


However, if you need higher resolution for printing, the Panasonic S5 IIx offers a 96Mpx recording mode, which allows you to take very detailed shots of static scenes from a tripod. The camera automatically captures eight consecutive shots with sensor shift, and the new high-speed signal processing system smoothly synthesizes them into an image equivalent to 96 megapixels (12000 x 8000 pixels), offering incredible detail and sharpness.


Evening picture of the Whiskey Bar building in Gdańsk, taken by photographer Michal Stehlík with a Panasonic Lumix S 18mm F1.8 lens during the review of the Panasonic S5 IIx, demonstrating low noise levels and excellent image quality in challenging light conditions.

Gdańsk - Panasonic S5 IIx / Panasonic Lumix S 18mm F1.8 - ISO100, f/13, 15s


Dynamic-oriented photographers, on the other hand, will appreciate the option of sequential shooting, at speeds of up to 9 frames per second with a mechanical shutter and up to 30 fps via an electronic shutter with minimal rolling shutter effect.


Panasonic S5 IIx / Panasonic Lumix S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 MACRO O.I.S. 

- ISO640, f/5.3, 1/1000s / ISO800 (tomcat), f/5, 1/1000s (sledge)



Another interesting “photo” feature is Live View Composite, where the S5 IIx takes several shots, selects those where the brightness differs, and combines them into a composite image. This can be brilliantly used, for example, when taking pictures of the night sky with light trails of stars.


If you already feel that the Panasonic is loaded with features and is perfect for you, wait for an overview of its video capabilities, which are almost unrivaled.


In addition to the 5.8K ProRes recording mentioned at the beginning, the S5 IIx offers a wide range of other video formats. It allows recording in high resolution 6K or 5.9K UHD up to 29.97 fps in 4:2:0 10-bit format, and thanks to the “Open-Gate” mode, offers the possibility to use the entire sensor area for maximum creative freedom in composition, which you will especially appreciate due to the currently very popular crop for vertical format. Here, recording still has a 30-minute limit, but thanks to integrated ventilation, you get unlimited recording in 4:2:2 10-bit C4K/4K 60p/50p format, which provides even richer and more detailed colors. Precise control over colors in post-production and seamless adjustments are guaranteed by 14+ EV V-Log / V-Gamut and auxiliary LUT functions.


Cooling system Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx: Integrated ventilation for unlimited high-resolution recording.


For slow-motion videos, the camera offers HFR (High Frame Rate) recording up to 120 fps and Slow & Quick recording up to 180 fps in Full HD resolution.


Stabilization - Compromise-Free Filming


Video recording places extraordinary demands on stabilization, and in this, the Panasonic S5 IIx excels. I dare say that their Dual I.S. 2, combining 5-axis stabilization with sensor shift in the camera body and 2-axis O.I.S. in LUMIX S Series lenses, is one of the best stabilization systems on the market, if not the best. Its performance is so convincing that it makes you wonder whether a gimbal is still needed for video recording.


Picture showing sensor stabilization in the Panasonic S5 IIx camera, called Dual I.S. 2, combining 5-axis stabilization with sensor shift in the camera body and 2-axis O.I.S. in LUMIX S Series lenses.Picture showing sensor stabilization in the Panasonic S5 IIx camera, called Dual I.S. 2, combining 5-axis stabilization with sensor shift in the camera body and 2-axis O.I.S. in LUMIX S Series lenses.

Dual I.S. 2 sensor stabilisation - Panasonic Lumix S5 IIx - one of the best on the market!


Last but not least, it is worth mentioning that the Panasonic S5 IIx is part of the L Mount alliance, which gives you access to a wide range of Leica and Sigma lenses and accessories.


Final Verdict: is Panasonic S5 IIx the right choice?


Parting with the Panasonic S5 IIx after intensive testing will be painful. I could imagine a few improvements, such as closing the shutter when changing lenses to protect the sensor from dust, who would disdain a better battery capacity, but its revamped autofocus is slowly approaching what I'm used to with Sony, and where it really excels is its exceptional stabilization and top-notch video features.


The offer of ProRes recording, 6K resolution, low noise level in challenging lighting conditions, and sound recording with the option of 4-channel 48kHz or 96kHz 24-bit recording when connecting the XLR microphone adapter DMW-XLR1 make it an extremely interesting alternative on the market and one of the best hybrid cameras I've had the opportunity to test recently.


Until next time,

Mike

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