Tech reviews

Panasonic Lumix S5 II review: time to switch?

Panasonic Lumix S5 II: Two-minute review

At its launch, there’s no more capable full-frame camera under $2,000 / £2,000 for video and photo than the Panasonic Lumix S5 II. It succeeds the Lumix S5 – a camera that I rate highly, and which earned four-and-a-half stars in our Panasonic Lumix S5 review – and arrives with a comprehensive set of improvements, and is set to join its predecessor on our list of the best video cameras

So what sort of bang do you get for your buck? Highlights include a new 24MP full-frame sensor and 6K / 30p video recording, with virtually all video options available in 10-bit. What’s more, the S5 II isn’t limited to 16:9 video aspect ratio (or wider) like most cameras, but can record from the full sensor area, which in the S5 II is 3:2 aspect ratio. You may have already heard this uncropped video referred to as ‘open gate’ or ‘full sensor’ recording. 

Uncropped video is nothing new – I own a Panasonic Lumix GH5 which does this from its 4:3 aspect ratio – but most other cameras, including the Canon EOS R3 and Nikon Z9, impose a 16:9 crop, which effectively discards the pixels from the top and bottom of the image. The S5 II can make full use of the entire sensor, which is a dream for those intending to shoot in narrower aspect ratios embraced by social media, like 4:3, 1:1 and 9:16.

Panasonic Lumix S5 II camera on a table with view of the front and lens removed revealing full frame sensor

(Image credit: Future)

Panasonic’s image stabilization has impressed me again, and its effectiveness has been improved over the S5, especially for run-and-gun filmmaking. Whether it’s some casual vlogging or slow-shutter-speed landscape photos, the S5 II is a camera that can be used handheld in most scenarios and will still deliver sharp photos and smooth video clips. 


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