With the S5 mirrorless camera, Panasonic is rolling out specs so good it feels a bit confusing.
This isn't a complaint. I love it when cameras roll out with a pile of specifications that are more impressive than one would have expected. It's a great thing. But as someone who covers cameras on the regular, the confirmed specifications for the Pansonic LUMIX S5 are frankly so good it leaves me impressed yet confused.
First off, let's cover the headline specs of the S5. It's a 24.2MP, dual native ISO camera that will support 5.9K RAW external recording down the line. This is in a body price for under $2000. It supports all your favorite video assist functions like waveform, LUT preview, and likely a killer autofocus. It comes in a body not only smaller and lighter than the S1H but also smaller than the GH5. This is all wonderful.
It's confusing because, just more than a year ago, Panasonic confirmed the specs of the S1H, which sells for $3999 and features a 24.2MP sensor with dual native ISO, 5.9K RAW recording, killer autofocus, internal waveform, and vectorscope viewers.
Pretty much the one major feature missing from the S5 is internal 6K recording which the S1H does.
The S5 is limited to 4K internal recording and some of its record times are maxed at 30 minutes. But the S5 weighs 0.8 pounds less (1.5 lbs vs. 2.3 lbs), and costs half as much. That weight difference might not seem major, but it's a 30% weight savings over the S1H, and that is going to be huge for gimbal and stabilized work. It makes sense that some of the press images with the S5 are on a DJI Ronin.
The key feature leading to confusion is that both cameras support full 5.9K RAW recording to Atomos – just the Ninja V, not the Shogun currently. The S1H has it already and the S5 will support it via firmware before the end of the year. That's a huge feature to come to the S5 so quickly. As far as I know there isn't another camera offering 5.9K RAW for under $2000.
It's definitely a huge benefit for users. Instead of having to bump down to 4K for a stabilizer shot, it's still possible to set up for a full 5.9K RAW shot on a gimbal with the Ninja V setup mounted to the base for both viewing and recording high-resolution imagery.
The Ninja V only costs $600. So you can get 5.9K RAW from an S5 with a Ninja V for $2600 or so (body only), which is $1400 less than you need to spend for the body of the S1H. That pricing is very generous and is so good it likely undercuts a bit of the reasoning to buy an S1H for video shooters who also use external Atomos recorders.
It should mean we might see S1H discounts soon.
What's most likely is that the landscape has changed enough for Panasonic to feel the need to get something out at this price point to stay competitive. A year ago there wasn't the a7S III or a Canon R5, so the company could be a little higher in its S1H price since it really had 6K to itself in the full-frame mirrorless market.
Additionally, Panasonic has always done very well with its GH line of cameras that tended to be around $1500 with the smaller MFT sensor. I suspect that there was a desire to offer something full-frame mirrorless that would get close to that price point where a lot of loyal Panasonic shooters are living.
Considering the options for full-frame mirrorless and the prices, with the open platform L-mount and the specs, the S5 looks like a market changer going into the fall.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.