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The Panasonic Lumix S5: Everything we know

Panasonic teased the upcoming Lumix S5 mirrorless camera Wednesday, August 19, ahead of the official announcement set for September 2. This is Panasonic’s first acknowledgment of the purportedly lower-end full-frame camera that has been heavily rumored.

If a leaked spec sheet is to be believed, the S5 will sit a tier below the Panasonic S1, a beefy mirrorless camera that earned a Digital Trends Editor’s Choice award when we reviewed it in 2019. The S1 is a powerful, high-end camera that targets professional shooters. It also weighs more than most DSLRs. The S5 is rumored to weight 715 grams, making it about 30% lighter than the S1.

While the teaser image reveals little about the camera beyond the “S5” badge, we can glean a couple of details from it. The top plate appears to be dominated by control dials, the relatively large size of which likely indicate that this is indeed a smaller body. It also looks as if the S1’s top LCD panel isn’t present, which reaffirms the idea that the S5 is a lower-tier camera.

A smaller, simpler, and (presumably) cheaper S-series camera is exactly what Panasonic needs. Until now, the series has started at $2,000 with the S1 (originally $2,500), which kept it out of reach of most nonprofessionals. Canon, Nikon, and Sony all offer entry-level full-frame models well below the $2,000 mark. A more approachable camera will help Panasonic bring in new customers, and likely boost the overall popularity of the L-mount (which is shared by Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma).

What else we know

Again going off the leaked spec sheet, the Panasonic S5 will feature a 24-megapixel sensor, likely very similar to the one in the S1. The video mode looks to be surprisingly capable for an entry-level camera, offering 10-bit 4K/60 at up to 200 megabits per second. Even anamorphic video modes are listed.

While 6K video doesn’t appear to be an option, Panasonic’s 6K Photo mode is. This shoots 6K “stills” at 30 frames per second, but is actually a video mode behind the scenes. Similarly, 4K Photo mode returns, with frame rates up to 60 fps.

All of this looks quite good, but there are some specs that bring us pause. The electronic viewfinder apparently has a resolution of just 2.36 million pixels, definitely on the low end of what we’d expect in a modern camera. The S1 and S1R debuted with 5.76-million-pixel EVFs, the highest-resolution options available until the Sony A7S III introduced a 9.44-million-dot unit earlier this summer.

The spec sheet also mentions that Panasonic’s contrast-detection “Depth from Defocus” autofocus tech will return. We would have hoped for Panasonic to finally adopt phase-detection AF, which works better in continuous mode, especially for video, but it appears we’re out of luck there. However, it’s not too surprising that such a feature wouldn’t be introduced in an entry-level model.

Again, none of the above information has been confirmed by Panasonic. Maybe we’ll be surprised come September 2, but whatever the final spec sheet ends up being, the S5 will be a welcome addition to Panasonic’s full-frame lineup.

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