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  • Fitri Aiyub

Panasonic LUMIX S5 Review : Better Than A Sony Mirrorless?

I’ve gotta be honest. This review got me a little attached. Not just because I have any weird fixations for inanimate objects or anything like that, but purely due to having ample time with this camera— the Panasonic S5. I’ve quite literally used this camera sporadically throughout various past reviews lately on this channel, as well as the phone reviews we also make on our Simplified channel.

But yeah, not to say that I'm loyal to any brand, but I think it's fair enough to say when you've invested thousands on an ecosystem of some sort, like lenses, filters and memory cards, you'd want things to just "work". So treading into something else, ever so often feels as though there's some bias-ness going on subconsciously before having to look deeper into what makes a camera just another camera, or is there more here that I'm not seeing. At least, that's how I've been training myself to think when it comes to experiencing different cameras in the last year on this channel.

And the Panasonic S5 is surely the type of camera that makes you believe it's an ordinary mirrorless full-frame, yet in some areas it’s performed far better than Panasonic’s latest and highly favourable micro-four-thirds GH6. But as an overall camera in my opinion.. Its better than the “powerhouse” S1H, so hear me out.


After spending enough time with something, you'll start to develop a bond which can look and feel ordinary at first. For instance, this Panasonic S5 shoots internally up to 10-bit 4K60 and goes up to 6K 12-bit externally. It also does 14 stops of latitude in V-log, it even has S&Q Mode for higher frame rates up to 180fps (Which is just a treat to have if you’re constantly finding yourself shooting in slow-mo like most of you Sony users would be familiar with...)

Cinema 4K up to 30fps, and all of the other video-centric features which Panasonic is mostly known for.. like waveforms, shutter angle options, audio limiters and something a little more unique to this camera – 6.5 stops Dual in-body stabilisation.


Because what makes a good A-cam in my opinion, is something that’s fast, reliable and easy to understand. Yeah you could memorise things and customise functions to your liking on most cameras, but even then, menu system’s like the ones you get on older Sony cameras like my A7iii, did a terrible job at helping the user remember where everything is if you didn't set Picture Profiles or White Balance settings to your liking. But of course, the A7iii is considerably an old camera in today’s standards, but even if I were to mention a few on the newer A7iv, A7S iii, and even the latest FX30, it still feels as though the learning curve is much higher than the menu system you get on Panasonic or Canon cameras.

Don't get me wrong, Sony’s have improved very much from their previous menu systems and even solved that green-ish tint for S-log profiles, and even their base A7iv now shoots in a 10-bit colour space. So yeah, I’ve been a big fan of Sony cameras so far and I do hold a lot of respect for what they do in their camera department, until I experienced this Panasonic S5.

For one, the ergonomics on this camera suits my right hand so much better than the grip of my A7iii or mostly on any other Alpha series if I’m honest. It's also covered in this leather-like texture for better grip. Whether or not this material would deteriorate over time when exposed to outside elements, it might not have a bright future as shown in a previous review I made of the S1H.

It looked really weathered if I'm honest, like it really went through battle or something. Go check that video out!

S&Q mode (as I mentioned earlier) is available on the top dial, while your necessities such as your white balance, ISO and exposure buttons sit at the top right, along with the trigger, your secondary dial and of course the big red record button, just like the other LUMIX cameras.

I also find the joystick on the back to be better placed feeling like a more natural resting place for your thumb. A really small shift in position, it still makes quite a difference. Then again, hand-sizes will vary, so maybe this is just a more personal observation than a factual one.


And not to forget the trusty Autofocus switch, closer to the viewfinder. Which makes a lot of sense when you’re using the EVF, having that efficiency to switch between single, continuous, or manual servo, the button in the middle lets you choose further Autofocus modes, which I found to use both the Oval zone priority for most of my product shots like this iPhone 14, and the 225 area points for everything else.

I do still need to take a minute to make some comments about Contrast Autofocus, which just isn’t the best on the market, which in this case with the S5, alongside other Panasonic cameras which also use contrast detection autofocus. Compared to Canon’s dual-pixel or Sony’s hybrid-phase autofocus, it just doesn’t compete with the accuracy you get with those systems. If you’re coming from either of those platforms, yeah.. You’ll never complain about it ever again, cause the difference here is night and day.

I’ve gotta admit, there are moments when it hits and you’ll be very pleased for a minute, then there are moments when you really need it to work, and it just fails on you. To me, it works best in artificial lighting with different temperatures such as the environment I have in the studio – but not so great in daylight. Which is weird, you’d expect it to function with more light right? but I guess it also suggests the name better due to how contrast detection autofocus would prioritise higher contrast subjects for the sensor to determine what’s in focus, to which works more accurately for still subjects. Not moving ones.

Which also, makes most Panasonic cameras a little confusing if you’d really think about it. Knowing how these cameras are more geared for video use, you’d think they’d install something that would effectively be a main priority for most video enthusiasts or professionals right? Well after some digging around on the internet, it seems that Contrast detection systems are apparently just far cheaper to manufacture and also might be a reason why most Panasonic cameras are a bargain compared to other hybrid mirrorless cameras of this calibre.


Also fun fact, I know now why such screen designs like the one on the GH6 exist or even the one found on a Nikon Z9.. with that dual step articulating screen design, like the way it's both a tilt screen and an articulating screen. Well I just learned that yes, one reason being to maximise viewing angles, heat flow, or in the GH6’s case.. an in-built fan, but also because to clear any obstruction when you have the screen flipped towards the lens, while you might have any of the ports in-use. It gives just a-bit more room for the screen when you have it faced towards you. Neat right?

On this S5 however, I think they just didn't feel the need to fit a fan for a 25.2MP sensor maxing out a 4K. I have yet to heat test this camera so far, so I can't really say for sure if it could actually continuously run before overheating.

Or in simpler terms, it’ll just cost more or they might just haven’t considered it back in 2020 when this camera was released. Which wasn’t a good year if some of you might remember, being a tough period for all business and almost all of us anyways. So it could be another reason why this S5 didn’t get as much coverage and attention as it deserved…

but also factoring how the Sony A7S iii came out around exactly the same time. Which would’ve been just an impossible feat to overcome the hype. I mean that would be like trying to announce a new talent on the block, then immediately getting completely eclipsed by a famously-established-icon. So yeah, there would be no comparisons.


So what am I trying to say here? Is this Lumix S5 better than most Sony Mirrorless cameras? How about maybe put this into consideration the next time you’re out to buy a camera, how important is Autofocus to you? Because it might cost you thousands. Did I mention it only costs RM8,399 or about USD$1,997. A Sony A7S iii would cost you about double the price of one.

Final Thoughts

Depending on what you do of course, if you’re an events videographer or photographer, then yeah.. This S5 shouldn’t even be on your list. But if you’re shooting commercials or products and colour science matters more to you, then yeah you could even opt for the Blackmagic Pocket 6K Pro, which currently you could get at about the same price. But of course, that's a whole other platform which doesn’t live in that hybrid ecosystem for both video and photo capture, nor is it a “pocketable” camera.

But yeah, The Panasonic S5, a Sony A7iv contender. And maybe some might consider it to be an A7S iii contender but at the price of two. Whatever it is, I just hope they figure out how to ditch Contrast Autofocus altogether and replace it with something that actually works every time I need it to. Because reliable autofocus is just something you need in today’s world of hybrid cameras.

Sony cameras have flooded the market by being so monotonous and a popular choice amongst camera enthusiasts, but so has the iPhone. Yet people still buy them because the ecosystem just works and it’ll feel foreign for some to do the switch. Because good tech in today’s standards serves for efficiency, durability and reliability, amongst everything else.

The Panasonic S5 is a camera I’d choose over my Sony A7iii any day if it comes to stunning image quality and colour science, but I'd probably leave it behind when almost everything else I shoot which would need fast autofocus. As of now, their still worlds apart in the way they perform and yeah Sony’s are still superior, but i can’t help but to root for the small guy and say.. Panasonic might not be too far away..


Written by Fitri Aiyub

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