Panasonic Lumix S5 II review: more efficient, but not yet perfect

New autofocus system: welcome to phase correlation

Pana was the only manufacturer not to have yielded to AF by phase correlation, favoring contrast detection combined with DFD (Depth from Defocus) technology. A system that Panasonic had solidly perfected, in particular on the Lumix GH6, but despite everything clearly behind phase detection.

It was particularly in terms of subject tracking that contrast detection was less effective. This new AF therefore allows Panasonic to reasonably fall into line. For these purposes, one can count on 779 selectable collimators.

daytime fast

Initially, we were a bit wary of the S5 II’s startup performance. Exceeding a second, these are below its predecessor. The youngest is even slower than the Sony A7 IV, which however was not the kind of lightning war either.

The acquisition of the day point is done in very correct values, but below what devices like the Canon EOS R6 Mark II or the Nikon Z6 II can offer, but we nitpick. At night, the AF was very efficient, a little faster than the Sony A7 IV and close to the Canon R6 Mark II. As for the sequence of images, the case is very good and fluid.

A burst mode in the nails

The burst provides more nuanced feelings. In mechanical shutter and with tracking activated, according to our measurements, it tops out at 7.6 fps, which is a little better than the 7 fps announced by Pana. You can go up to 9 fps, but sacrificing tracking. A little thin when you know that with the competition, 10 i / s seem to have become the norm.

Nevertheless, the Lumix S5 II makes up for it with its electronic shutter. If Panasonic claims that it can reach 30 fps with AF tracking, we measured 28.3 fps on our side. A difference certainly negligible when taking hundreds of shots in a burst, but which had to be mentioned.

There’s fire in the lag

Additionally, our tests revealed a shutter lag when using this high-speed burst mode. A small lag between triggering and recording is felt when launching a burst, which can be quite disturbing. During our lab or field tests, this had to be taken into account to be sure to capture the action from the desired moment. For lack of a new patch or a Pro Capture type mode to anticipate the action, you will have to be vigilant before shooting. Also, after reporting this issue to Panasonic, we were told that it would be fixed via an update when the camera actually goes on sale. We will keep you informed in case of correction.

Good AF tracking, but…

AF tracking is an important issue of this camera. If the autofocus is fast from time to time, photo tracking is a little slow, especially compared to a Sony body like the A7R V, to name only the top of the basket. It is also less sophisticated, especially in low light. If recognizing and following people from the front is hardly a problem, in profile, the S5 II will have more difficulty and will often not catch the eye, the Sony A7 IV or the Canon EOS R6 being more reliable.

At a time when manufacturers are offering to recognize more and more subjects, the Lumix S5 II is limited to recognizing human eyes and tracking certain animals. At Sony, Canon or even Fujifilm and Nikon, we now find a wide range of recognized subjects (animals or vehicles) and even if the tracking of the S5 II is very good in general – especially knowing where Panasonic is starting from – it remains a notch below.

A word about buffering

The Panasonic Lumix S5 II can take up to 200 images in a row before having to download: it’s much better than the Canon EOS R6 Mark II, which tops out at 46 or 96 fps depending on the type of raw. Notwithstanding, it’s only 7 seconds maximum burst at 28.3 fps, a bit short for a 100 m, unless an extraordinary world record.

It is therefore necessary to plan for a fairly substantial unloading time. A concern that is becoming common with boxes offering strong bursts, but are only compatible with SD cards.

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