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Panasonic Lumix S5 review: Full-frame 4K master

(Pocket-lint) – Video-focused mirrorless system cameras have become all the rage in recent years, and the progress in the market showed no sign of slowing down when Panasonic announced its smallest yet full-frame camera: the Lumix S5.

The S5 is a lot like a Lumix GH5 with a bigger and better sensor, or the Lumix S1 with additional video smarts crammed into a smaller body. Indeed, its a potentially mouth-watering prospect that could, to some degree, end the appeal of Micro Four Thirds (MFT). After all if – like the S5 – you can cram in a proper full-frame sensor and high-end capture capabilities into a body that’s smaller than an MFT, why would you want anything else?  

We were sent the Lumix S5 to test, complete with the 20-60mm f/3.5 – f/5.6 kit lens, so all of the video samples and photos posted in this review were captured using that combination. And what a combination it is!

Compact design

  • Body dimensions: 132.6mm x 97.1mm x 81.9mm / Weight: 714g
  • 1,840k-dot vari-angle LCD; 2,360k-dot 0.74x OLED viewfinder
  • 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as in S1H)
  • Splash and dust resistant magnesium alloy construction
  • Dual SD card slot, micro HDMI out
  • Lens mount: L mount lenses
  • USB charging

There’s a lot to like about the design approach on the S5. The camera has that attractive angular design that we’ve come to expect from full-frame cameras. It’s noticeably flatter and sharp looking than the comparatively rounded shape of the GH5. Size-wise, it’s not far off being the same as its Micro Four Thirds cousin, but in the hand it does feel similarly lightweight and balanced.

It’s a similar height to the GH5 too, but has a much larger grip on the right side, which makes it easy grab hold of when shooting handheld. Thanks to the position of the red video button up top, it’s super simple to grip it with all four fingers and reach over with a thumb to press record, or even to capture a photo using the shutter key. 

Overall build feels solid, despite its relatively lightweight-ness. That’s thanks to its chassis being built from a magnesium alloy. Plus it’s sealed against splashes and dust ingress too, so you know it’s unlikely anything can get inside to destroy the electronics or get on to the sensor.  

We love little design touches, such as that bright red movie button, which matches the red-accented ring beneath the burst/photo dial on the left. The textured edges on the dials looks good and makes it easy to jog the dials with a single thumb. All of the click and feedback just the right amount to reassure that you’re using a quality piece of kit. As does the shutter button when you press it in to take a photo. 

If you’ve used a Panasonic Lumix camera before, you’ll be more than comfortable switching up to the S5, thanks to a very familiar button and dial layout. There are some differences, but none that tarnish the experience, and it soon becomes second nature. For instance, the shutter button is encircled by a rotating dial for adjusting the aperture in manual mode, rather than as a dial built-in to the top of the grip behind the shutter button (as per the GH5).

Similarly, the shutter speed dial on the back is fully external, rather that built into a slit on the back. It joins the red video capture button on the top, as well as the shooting mode switch and power switch. Then there’s the familiar trio of buttons for white balance, ISO adjustment, and exposure compensation, all positioned behind the shutter button. 

On the back, you’ll find a bunch of controls. There’s the usual menu/set button surrounded by a ring dial for controlling the onscreen interface when adjusting settings.

The small dial for switching between AC, AS and manual focus could be better designed. It lives to the right of the viewfinder lens, but we found the protruding tab (for want of a better word) a little small and hard to use. The directional joystick for moving the autofocus target is the opposite – it’s well-positioned and easy to reach with a thumb, even when staring down the barrel. 

Then there’s the vari-angle touchscreen, which has been a mainstay on Panasonic’s video-focused cameras for a good few years. This screen flips out and rotates to face the front, which means you can see yourself clearly and use it as monitor when you’re filming bits to camera. Handy for YouTubers and vloggers. It’s sharp and colourful, plus it’s touch-sensitive, so you can tap to focus on various parts of the screen to adjust the autofocus aim. 

Speed and accuracy

  • Contrast-detection autofocus with DFD (Depth from Defocus)
  • Face, Eye, Head, Body detection – to half the size of previous S series
  • AF algorithm built from the ground up (will roll out to other S series later in 2020)

Panasonic’s latest autofocus system combines contrast detection with DFD (depth from defocus), with an algorithm it says it has built from the ground up (and will be coming to other cameras later on). What’s interesting is what the autofocus algorithm can do. 

It not only recognises faces, eyes and heads automatically, but can even stay focused on the person’s body. That means if you’re recording a video of a person, and their head turns away from the camera, it automatically switches its focus to be on the person’s torso/body and remains locked on.


Looking at the system do its thing through the viewfinder or on the screen and you can see it generating little rectangles around eyes and faces as you shoot video/stills. It works reliably and consistently.

As we’ve mentioned already, you can use a joystick on the back of the camera if you want to manually select an area of focus. This works well if you’re shooting close-ups of objects if you’re in auto mode, looking through the viewfinder and the automatic focus setting isn’t exactly where you’d like it to be. A quick jiggle of the joystick and a half-press of the shutter is enough to set it where you want it, and quickly too. You’re not left waiting or hunting for focus, even in low light.

When we tested shooting a 10 minute part to the camera, with the focus set to automatic, it was interesting to see how well the focus remained on our face, even with our inevitable movements forward and back while talking and close to the camera lens. The camera never seemed to be focus hunting much, which is great for the resulting footage.

Video capture

  • Maximum capture: 4K at 60p 10-bit 4:2:0 (write to SD card; 4:2:2 via HDMI)
  • Anamorphic 4K available: 50/30/25/24p, 1.3/1.33/1.5/1.8/2.0 desqueeze
  • PAL/NTSC switch, Time Code, Zebra Pattern, Luminance Spot Meter
  • Maximum recording time: 30min in 10-bit, unlimited in 8-bit
  • Uses LongGOP (not ALL-INTRA codec), HEVC H.265
  • 3.5mm mic/headphone jack, Wave Form Monitor
  • V-Log included (no additional cost incurred)
  • Dual Native ISO (Auto only, not manual)

Panasonic has gained a huge number of fans in the world of YouTubers, creators and videographers, thanks to its selection of relatively affordable and compact 4K cameras. It was arguably the GH4 Micro Four Thirds camera that kicked it all off, but the Lumix S5 feels like a culmination of all that evolution.

We could rattle on for days about all the various shooting codecs, resolution, bitrates and frame rates available, but instead, have a look at this chart instead, which covers all the details: 

Full-frame (MOV) 4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 8-bit 100Mbps H.264 30/25/24p No time limit
APS-C crop (MOV) 4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 10-bit 200Mbps HEVC HLG 60/50p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
4K (3840 x 2160) 4:2:0 8-bit 100Mbps H.264 30/25/24p No time limit (30min for 50/60p option)
S35 (MOV) Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) 4:2:2 10-bit 150Mbps H.264 HLG 30/25/24p 30min maximum
Anamorphic (3328 x 2496) 4:2:0 10-bit 200Mbps HEVC HLG 50p 30min maximum

What it means you get a lot of flexibility in how you shoot. If you want top-quality 4K video at 60 frames per second, you can have it. Although, there’s a slight caveat here in that it crops into the sensor to get its highest resolution and frame-rate offering. That immediately becomes apparent when you switch between 4K60 and 4K30 within the camera’s menu system. It crops into the image quite a bit – from using the full width of the sensor to a space the size of an APS-C camera sensor. 

Still, if you want full-frame video, switch it to 30/25/24p and you’re good to go. Plus, with the HLG/HDR mode switched off, you can record for any length of time without worrying about hitting the 30-minute limit you get on some of the more processor-intensive modes. 

To use for shooting products in our office for the Pocket-lint YouTube channel, the S5 has been fantastic. For the most part it’s simply not lacking anything that we’d need. Plus, there’s the advantage that it’s small enough and light enough to carry around and – with the in-body stabilisation enabled – it’s a decent run and gun camera with fast focus and smooth footage. 

That flexibility and versatility extends to audio too. You can use the 3.5mm input for microphones or wireless kits, plus there’s an option to adjust the mic settings so that it uses the camera’s power, in case you have a mic that isn’t self-powered. That’s more useful when using the XLR input adapter. 

Like the photography mode – which you can read about below – we found it a strong low-light performer, even with the lens added to the front. That’s because of its Dual ISO feature. While you can get up to the heights of ISO 51,200, pushing it that high does lead to some pretty mushy results lacking in detail, but crank it down a notch and the noise suppression is quite strong. 

For those who enjoy colour-grading – or need to, if they’re using the Lumix as a ‘B’ camera alongside more expensive professional-grade cinema cameras – you can even shoot in V-Log. Those who aren’t so happy with colour grading will find plenty of other picture profiles available, as well as the ability to create their own. For the most part, we stick with CineD, which offers that natural, well-balanced look without too much contrast.


  • 5 stops built-in image stabilisation (6.5 stops in combination with lens IS)
  • 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO: 100-51,200 (Dual Native ISO Auto)
  • 4K Photo / 6K Photo burst shooting
  • 96MP High-Res Mode

Full-frame cameras are becoming a hit in the mirrorless market – primarily because that larger sensor gives you that bit more quality and greater depth of field. They’re better in low-light conditions and offer great dynamic range, and so as well as being a strong video camera, the S5 takes great photos too. 

Shooting in good daylight produced detailed shots with strong colour reproduction. There’s no over-saturation of some colours over others. Greens look vibrant and yet natural, as do blues and yellows. 


As we mentioned at the beginning, all of our photos and video were shot using the 20-60mm kit lens which – for a kit lens – is surprisingly capable and versatile. Shooting at 20mm gives a wide field of view – which is great when you need to grab a bit more of the surrounding scene while shooting something close up, or just grabbing an impressive landscape. 

We found at 20mm it was also capable of focusing while very close to a subject – well, when choosing to shoot manual. Plus, we found it was able to create some lovely, soft bokeh background blur, giving that extra depth.

In low-light conditions the S5 is strong. We tested it through sunset/dusk, adjusting the ISO sensitivity and shutter speed to see what the impact would be, all completely handheld. Of course, once the ISO goes a bit higher (over 2500 or so), the image does tend to get a tad noisy. Dark blues in the skies look a bit grainy, but not terribly. It still retains its colour. 


Shooting some light trails with the shutter speed set between 0.25-1 second, we were pleasantly surprised at the camera’s stabilisation capabilities, which killed any blur from our shaky hands. 

Once you really start to crank up the ISO sensitivity, there’s a bit of mushiness evident. Shooting at ISO 25,600 led to some impressively bright shots at night, but at this point you start to see more image noise in the skies, and details within the image start to get a bit lost. But you still get a good amount of colour and the end result is more than passable.


The Panasonic Lumix S5 is a compact full-frame camera that doesn’t cost a whole lot more than the Micro Four Thirds video champ: the GH5. And it’s cheaper than its larger-scale full-frame sibling: the Lumix S1. So, whichever way you look at it, the S5 is fantastic value for money.

Yes, it’d be nice if both the SD card slots were the same speed, and it would be lovely if the 4K capture at 60fps was available across the whole sensor (rather than cropped) – but those two points are our only real complaints, as the S5 is really absent of any major compromises.

Our time shooting with the Lumix S5 has been an absolute pleasure. No doubt: it’s the easiest full-frame camera at this price point to recommend for any video-maker. It’s a true enabler.

Also consider


Nikon Z5


As mirrorless cameras go the Nikon is easy to use, has a wonderful viewfinder, and introduces improved autofocus features. Despite a low burst shooting speed and video capture that’s outclassed by the competition – namely the Lumix S5 – that still all adds up to a very strong photo-focused entry-level full-frame camera.

Writing by Cam Bunton.

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Panasonic G100 tracks faces & isolates voices in audio first

As the vlogging world gathers momentum, traditional camera makers are setting their sights onto the portable video camera market. The Panasonic Lumix G100 is one such product – but a camera with many points of difference that help set it apart from its competition.

The G100 comes with OZO Audio by Nokia – it’s the first time this technology has been used in a consumer camera – which can utilise the three on-board cameras to isolate audio. It’s even clever enough to use face-detection tracking and isolate audio to that specific area – matching face to voice for the best possible quality without interference.

Principally the G100 is part of the Lumix G range, meaning it’s an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. You can switch out lenses as you wish, adjusting the camera’s capabilities as a result. Primarily, however, we suspect most will use this small-scale package with the 12-32mm ultra-compact zoom lens – which comes as part of the kit package – for its wide-angle capabilities.


While most G series cameras aren’t huge by any means, the G100 is considerably smaller than its G series cousins. This isn’t a replacement for anything that already exists in the range – it’s Panasonic’s answer to other small-sensor alternatives, such as the Sony ZV-1 and Canon PowerShot G7 X III

The Lumix G100 comes with a vari-angle screen which can be maneuvered to the side of the camera for self shooting. If you’d rather use a viewfinder then a high-resolution one in built-in – it offers 3,680k dots, which is more than many pro-grade digital cameras – which will be great for shooting when in bright sunlight.

Video quality is 4K at 30fps maximum (the frame crop is 1.47x though), while slow-mo options are also available. Vlog-L is included if you wish to grade content.

There’s also built-in electronic image stabilisation (EIS) which combines with lens optical image stabilisation (OIS) to produce a 5-axis system that can negate the ‘bounce’ when walking and counter handshake that’s often magnified when shooting one-handed.


Designed with the social media minded as its users, there’s also a Frame Marker feature which permits vertical video or puts coloured borders on the screen to show you, say, the 5:4 ratio for Instagram. Then there’s a dedicated Send Image button to push footage to a smart device via the Lumix Sync app with ease.

The Panasonic Lumix G100 will be available from the end of July 2020, priced £589 body-only, £679 with the 12-32mm kit lens. Order either before 31 August 2020 and you’ll get a free DMW-SHGR1 tripod grip to use with the camera.


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Best vlogging camera? Panasonic G100 v Sony ZV-1 v Canon G7 X 3

Traditional camera makers are shooting to become king for an expanding market sector: vlogging cameras. Where YouTube is king, more makers are looking for better ways to capture themselves and their surroundings in better quality.

We pick three of the best options out there – the Panasonic Lumix G100, Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1, and Canon Powershot G7 X III – to help you decide which makes best sense to buy and why.


Size & Portability

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 115.6 x 82.5 x 54.2mm; 412g (with 12-42mm lens)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 105.5 x 60 x 43.5mm; 294g 
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 105.5 x 60.9 x 41.4mm; 304g

Small is sometimes mightiest. While all three of these cameras are small, it’s the Sony that will most likely feel lightest and most portable. There’s not a huge amount in it.

Sensor Size & Lens

  • Panasonic Lumix G100
    • Sensor: 20MP Micro Four Thirds
    • Lens: Interchangeable lens mount
      • 12-32mm kit lens (24-64mm equivalent)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1
    • Sensor: 20MP 1.0-inch Exmor RS CMOS
    • Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3
    • Sensor: 20.1MP 1.0-inch stacked CMOS
    • Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 equivalent

However, there’s a big reason for the variance in size: sensor size and each lens’ focal length.

Both Sony and Canon models have fixed-in-place zoom lenses, while Panasonic’s G100 is a system camera with interchangeable Micro Four Thirds lenses – which makes it potentially much more versatile (and a bit larger and heavier by comparison).

All three of these cameras house sensors that are larger than an entry-level compact, which bodes well for quality. The Sony and Canon both use stacked 1-inch size CMOS sensors. The Panasonic has the larger scale sensor, however, which ought to mean greater potential when it comes to background blur and overall quality.

The kit Panasonic G100 comes with a 12-32mm pancake zoom – which delivers a 24-64mm equivalent zoom. That’s the same on the wide-angle as the 24-70mm of the Sony ZV-1 and the 24-100mm of the Canon G7 X III. Note that the Canon can zoom the furthest – i.e. make farther away subjects look closer-up in the frame.

Audio, Mic Input

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: OZO Audio by Nokia (audio tracking / positioning), 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out, deadcat wind-shield included
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 3.5mm mic input, micro HDMI out

A big reason to buy a dedicated camera for video is for its audio abilities. All three of these cameras offer a 3.5mm microphone input, so you can connect an accessory microphone as you please – whether that’s a directional shotgun mic, a wireless mounted mic, or any other number of possibilities.

However, you won’t necessarily always want to use a microphone. It’s here that Sony comes up trumps by including what’s called a deadcat in the box – a fluffy microphone cover that sits up top and stops wind noise from creating those ‘tearing’ sounds.

The most advanced of the lot, however, is Panasonic’s Lumix G100. For the first time in a camera this includes OZO Audio by Nokia, which utilises the three onboard microphones to record in a directional format – you can define whether you want behind, in front, or subject tracked to be sound isolated. That’s the real big winner: the system’s autofocus includes face detection which can be audio synched, so as the subject moves through the frame the OZO tech will use the right proportion of microphones to channel that audio isolation. Very clever.


Screen & Viewfinder

  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 3-inch 1,840k-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD; built-in 3,680k-dot EVF
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 3-inch 921k-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD; no EVF
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 3-inch 1,040k-dot vertical tilt-angle touchscreen LCD; no EVF

Traditional cameras aren’t great for vlogging on account of their fixed screens. All three of these cameras, however, offer mounted LCD screens that can be repositioned: the Canon’s flips forward vertically; the Sony’s and Panasonic’s are side-mounted and therefore offer even more versatile position potential. 

In terms of screen resolution the Panasonic is far and away the most resolute – although at arm’s length we doubt you’ll notice a huge difference in this, and actually more dots on screen is just more of a battery drain.

Of the three cameras only the Panasonic has a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is more for shooting still images or shielding from sunlight to better judge exposure and composition – so certainly has its use cases.

Video Credentials

  • All models: Up to 4K at 30fps
    • Panasonic: Up to 9mins 59secs
    • Sony: Up to 5mins due to avoid overheating
    • Canon: Up to 9mins 59secs
  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 1080p at 60fps (29m 59s maximum)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: 1080p at 120fps (29m 59s maximum)
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 1080p at 120fps (29m 59s maximum)

Being vlogging targeted, all three cameras cater for 4K resolution at 30fps maximum (and with 100Mbps in all cases, ensuring there’s enough data for optimum quality). However, the Sony can only record for half the time compared to the other two to avoid overheating – and even then the Canon and Panasonic max out at 10 minutes at this resolution.

If you’re looking for Full HD recording to up your recording time, save on bandwidth, storage space, and editing processing pressures then all three cameras can cater for that too.

Slow-motion is best handled by the Sony, with Full HD at 240fps/480fps/960fps available. The Canon offers 120fps slow-motion. The Panasonic’s spec sheet says 120fps sensor output is possible too – but that in-camera capture is 60fps.


  • Panasonic Lumix G100: 5-axis hybrid stabilisation (4-axis for 4K video)
  • Sony Vlog Camera ZV-1: Steadyshot for Movie hybrid stabilisation
  • Canon PowerShot G7 X M3: 5-axis Advanced Dynamic IS & Auto Level

Stabilisation is important when it comes to video. Although you may wish to buy a handheld gimbal for extra stabilisation for those ultra-smooth video results.

All three cameras offer hybrid stabilisation systems – that’s to say there’s optical lens-shift working in tandem with electronic stabilisation (using a portion of the sensor as a buffer to counter motion). We’ve not tested these three side by side so can’t say which is best of the bunch.



The big question: which one to choose? Well, if price comes into the equation then the Sony is the priciest of the lot. That might be a bit of a surprise when the Panasonic offers a more advanced audio isolation system, has a larger sensor size, and interchangeable lenses.

If size is your biggest concern then the Sony is the lightest of the bunch, which helps in terms of portability. It’s also got the most muscle when it comes to slow-motion options – although its 4K capture is more time-limited than the other two.

The decision, as they say, is yours.

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Panasonic cameras can now be used as webcams

With the world in lockdown, more people are relying on video conferencing apps to keep in touch with friends and colleagues.

Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet are proving incredibly popular, but people are also discovering that their laptop webcams aren’t cutting the mustard. 

Sure, you can upgrade your webcam, but there may well be a better way. You could potentially employ your camera instead.

This is already possible with an additional purchase of something like Elgato’s Cam Link (a great bit of kit for streamers) but now camera manufacturers are making it possible in other ways. 

Canon recently released its EOS Webcam Utility to allow people to use some of its DSLR, Mirrorless and PowerShot cameras as webcams. Now Panasonic is following suit. 

Panasonic has released a free piece of software that allows you to use some Panasonic cameras for live streaming.

Lumix Tether for Streaming (Beta) is a free download for Windows that allows a “Live View” mode which can be used for streaming after the camera is connected to a PC with a USB cable. 

There are a few provisos though. Firstly, it’s worth keeping in mind that the software is in beta and still in development. Secondly, it only compatible with these Panasonic cameras:

  • DC-GH5
  • DC-G9
  • DC-GH5S
  • DC-S1
  • DC-S1R
  • DC-S1H

It’s also only available for Windows at the moment, not macOS and you’ll need to hit these requirements:

  • OS: Windows 10 (32bit/64bit)
  • CPU: Intel CPU of 1 GHz or higher
  • Display: 1024 x 768 pixels or more
  • RAM: 1GB or more (32bit),2GB or more (64bit)
  • HDD: Free space of 200 MB or more for installation
  • Interface: USB 3.0/3.1

If you tick all the right boxes though, the Lumix Tether software is certainly a great way to upgrade your visuals and improve your calls or live streaming endeavours!

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