Panasonic’s New S5II and S5IIX Cameras finally give PDAF to Lumix
Panasonic has finally upped the quality of its Lumix cameras by bringing phase-detection AF to its new full-frame mirrorless S5II and S5IIX cameras.
Previously, the brand’s camera models often suffered from weak contrast-based depth from defocus AF performance specifically because they lacked this important feature. Now that’s supposedly over.
Panasonic’s S5II and S5IIX are similar except in their video recording specs and superficial design details.
Their main divergence is in the video specs of each. Photographically though, they’re both full-frame models with 24.2-megapixel 35mm-equivalent CMOS sensors with a new imaging engine.
They’re also the first-ever Panasonic Lumix mirrorless cameras to come with phase detection autofocus (PDAF) technology built into their new Phase Hybrid AF package.
This new feature inclusion for better contrast-based depth from defocus AF quality isn’t to say that Panasonic’s Lumix cameras were previously weak devices; quite the contrary.
The Lumix line of cameras hasn’t been as flashy a success story as some of the devices released by other brands like Fujifilm, Canon or Sony, but they’ve quietly become enormously successful and even beloved among a large set of users.
With the new PDAF feature though, the brand’s latest models, the S5II and S5IIX promise to take Lumix quality to a new level.
The other general specs of these two improved editions are very similar since they’re both based on the original Panasonic S5 camera model. As we mentioned above, the main difference between them is a couple of additional video features that the S5IIX comes with.
Their general list of specs and features includes:
- Full-frame 24.2MP sensor with a 96MP high resolution mode
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- A 779-point Phase Hybrid AF system with the new PDAF technology
- 9 fps mechanical and 30 fps electronic burst shooting
- 4K video at 50p and 6K video at 30p
- Built-in live streaming abilities for the S5IIX
- Dual SH UHS-OO card slots
- L-mount Alliance compatibility for lens interchangeability among brands like Leica, SIGMA and others
Both also come with many other noteworthy specs that include improved ISO performance and a crisp 3.68-million-dot OLED viewfinder with a 1.52x magnification ratio. On the back of these cameras, Panasonic has placed a 3-inch LCD “free-angle” touch display with a 1.84-million dot resolution.
The imaging engine of the two cameras has also been strongly improved. It’s the first to be developed under the 2022 L2 Technology partnership between Panasonic and Leica for better resolution, natural description and signal procession during high bit-rate video recording.
However, the Phase Hybrid AF system of the two cameras is their single most notable improvement over previous Lumix releases.
This is where Panasonic has added the new phase-detection AF system and the impressive expansion to 779 AF points that, as Panasonic claims, should “significantly” improve the tracking performance of these new releases.
According to Panasonic, “Once the S5II and S5IIX are locked on a subject, the autofocus will continue to track the subject, even in adverse lighting conditions and when multiple objects are moving within the frame,”
The company also elaborates that “Additionally, continuous AF during zooming, AF micro adjustments, and options to decrease the size of the AF area are available.”
Both cameras also include dual native ISO for minimal noise generation. This has been designed to optimize photo processing based on light sensitivity. The maximum out-of-box ISO range of the S5II and S5IIX is 51,200.
The burst shooting modes of the two cameras let them capture up to 9 frames per second with AFS, 7 fps with AFC and 30 frames per second with both AFS and AFC using the electronic shutter. Shooting in combined JPEG/RAW works with all of these settings.
Both burst shooting and single-shot photography get helped enormously by the image stabilization system of the two cameras. This combines 5-axis sensor stabilization with the optical image stabilization found in all Lumix S-Series lenses.
The image stabilization features of the cameras work for video recording too. As Panasonic describes, “The 5-axis Dual I.S. 2 works for both photo and video recording, including 4K. In addition, Active I.S. has been added for even more stable video recording,”
Both cameras come with solid connectivity features too. These include an HDMI Type-A port and USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectivity with a cable lock holder built into the cameras for both of these ports. Inside, they both come with dual UHS-II card slots.
On a final connectivity note, they both feature WiFi 5Ghz and Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connectivity.
Physically, the S5II and S5IIX are also quite robustly designed for heavy field use according to Panasonic. The brand has given them composed magnesium allow bodies that are designed for a high splash and dust resistance.
They also have high-capacity batteries that can handle the typical drain of mirrorless camera shooting and let them shoot for extended periods.
Of the two cameras, the S5IIX differs mainly in its video recording specs. Unlike the other model, it has extra data writing capabilities that include RAW video output and All-Intra as well as ProRes shooting directly to an SSD memory attached via USB-C. The S5IIX also includes wireless IP streaming and USB tethering.
Both cameras offer 4:2:0 10-bit 6K (3:2) and 5.9K (16:9) unlimited 4:2:2 10-bit C4K/4K shooting specs for video along with a whole pile of other video specs that we’ll cover in a later review.
Panasonic will be releasing the two new game-changer Lumix cameras with their highly improved AF Hybrid system this month and in May. The Lumix S5II is retailing for $1,997.99 while the S5IIX sells for pre-order at $2,197.99. The latter camera will start shipping in May if you’d prefer its extra video recording specs.