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herein2020

Panasonic S5 User Experience

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I own the Panasonic S5 and have been using it for about 2wks now. It is a fantastic camera and I know Matthew already did an extensive review of it, but I still thought I would share my user experience so far and there are a few nuggets in here that you won' t find anywhere else. I also briefly owned the Canon R6 and my experience with it was so terrible that I took it back within 2wks so this review is also a comparison between my user experience with the R6 vs the S5. I know there are already endless YouTube reviews, but I thought I'd share my thoughts on my experience so far; completely unbiased, unsponsored and as someone who will use this camera for everything from music videos to weddings and if all goes well I might even use it for photo shoots.

 

Since there is so much that I like about this camera I've decided to just put my dislikes first because it is such a short list.

THE BAD

The Grip - This is my biggest dislike. holding the camera is so uncomfortable. The grip is really shallow and the strap mount sticks out and digs into your hand when you are holding it in a landscape configuration. Not so much a problem with video for me since I use the back display, but using the viewfinder for images is very uncomfortable. I'm going to try getting a dual battery grip to see if that improves it. The R6 by comparison feels like it was custom molded for my hands.

The Lens Mount - I knew this going into it, but there are so few native Panasonic lenses for this camera that I will have to use an adapter which I hate doing. I know more lenses are coming but they are very expensive and everything I've read says the Sigma versions focus very slowly. I would love a Voigtlander fully manual 35mm lens for gimbal work like I have for the GH5. I have no idea yet what I will do for photography or if I will ever trust this camera for paid photo shoots.

The Battery - I don't understand the battery at all. It fits the GH5 and has contacts for the GH5 yet for the S5 the contacts are on the other side? Why didn't they do what Canon did and simply make a higher capacity battery with the same contacts?  Not only are spare batteries impossible to find right now, this means all of my GH5 batteries won't work in this camera....so annoying.

Checking Focus While Recording - it is not possible to zoom in while recording to check focus. This isn't a big deal for b-roll and gimbal work, but its definitely not a good thing when doing interview work or long form recordings such as for long events.  

Lenses - This is turning into a bigger problem than I thought. I have the L mount to EF mount adapter but it does not support continuous AF. To get continuous AF you need to buy native glass...which of course is very expensive and limited.  So if I truly want to consider this camera to be both a 5DIV replacement as well as a GH5 replacement I'll need to invest in L mount lenses since I need Continuous AF for photography. 

Lens Behavior With Adapter - With the Sigma adapter different EF lenses behave differently. With a Sigma EF lens and with some of the Canon lenses the punch in to check focus works automatically when you turn the focus ring. With some of the Canon lenses you have to manually push the zoom button. Also, the focus throw distance and speed settings only work with native L mount glass.

Ok, short list over now lets get to the stuff I care about that made me realize this was truly the camera for me. I first ordered the R6 and returned it (horrible user experience for my needs) so I am going to kind of compare my experience with the S5 to the R6 since they probably kind of are targeted to the same buyer and since it is hard to ignore the Canon hype machine even when you know about the R6's overheating issues. 

 

THE GOOD

No Overheating - Ok we all know that but I had to put it out there anyway. This was the number one reason I returned the R6. The S5 on the other hand shoots glorious 4K until the card fills up (some limitations of course for 10 bit and 60FPS but it does have unlimited modes). Even if the R6 didn't overheat you would still hit that 30min limit and every single 4K mode overheated.

Dual Slot Video Recording - The S5 gives me every option I could want and even a few I don't care about. The R6 will only record to a single slot.

Electronic Level Meter - The S5 has it....of course, and it actually stays on while recording video. For some crazy reason the R6 disables the electronic level from showing on screen while recording video; isn't when you are recording the main time you need to know if the camera is not level?

XLR Audio Module - As annoyed as I am at Panasonic for the battery situation, the XLR module from the GH5 works with the S5 so all is almost forgiven. The R6 of course has nothing for XLR. I tested the module today, the S5 recognized it instantly and the audio was perfect.

Free VLOG - Ok "Free" is a very generous term, but it does not cost extra. And this is real VLOG not some flavor that just flattens the profile, unlike the R6 which currently ships with CLOG. Canon said CLOG3 was coming in the future, but who knows if it will actually include the R6 or when "the future" really is.

Body Quality - The S5 actually feels slightly lower quality than the body of the GH5, but that could be because it is lighter and smaller. Regardless, the quality feels way better than the R6.

Sync/Desync Photo/Video Settings - It took me a long time to find, but it is possible to separate the photo and video settings and you even get to pick which ones stay synced with the other. When running and gunning you want shutter angle, VLOG, etc for video and shutter speed, Natural profile, etc for photos. You can set it so that they are completely separate, not all cameras let you do that and even the R6 did not let me pick which settings to keep in sync (i.e. keep just ISO the same between the two). 

Dial Position - It is great to have the video mode and Manual photo mode side by side on the dial. The R6 had them at literally opposite ends of the dial....very annoying.

Dedicated Buttons - There is a dedicated ISO button and a AF/MF switch on the lens. The R6 had neither. I use the AF / MF lens switch all the time, its the fastest way to be 100% certain all of the AF stuff is off, especially if you are switching between photos and video.

Video Footage - The footage out of the camera so far to me in with my very limited testing is incredible, I didn't think Panasonic had it in them. The colors are perfect to my eyes, the codecs are super easy to play back in VLC and actually easier to edit in Davinci Resolve than the GH5's footage. Both 4K60FPS and 4K30FPS play smoothly even after color grading. So far the footage grades as easily as the R6 footage with the added benefits of not needing proxies.

Codecs - You get to pick H.264 or H.265 and still get to shoot in VLOG and 4:2:2 10bit. For some crazy reason Canon with the R6 forces you to shoot in H.265 if you want to use CLOG. I will happily sacrifice a little storage space to never have to try to edit H.265 again.

Manual Focus Features - I hated the focus rings on the Panasonic MFT lenses, they were non linear which made manual focusing nearly impossible. I ended up getting manual Voigtlander lenses instead. Panasonic has fixed that big time; not only can you now pick linear you can even pick how many degrees to go from stop to stop. I think the R6 let me pick linear but not the focus throw. I do miss Canon's 3 little triangles when manually focusing, to me that's still the best MF guide in the industry. On my S5, focus peaking doesn't seem to work; its on but I can't see it so I have to play with that some more.

Timelapse Photography - Ok I had to throw this one in there. Maybe other cameras have this, but this is literally the first camera I have ever owned that lets you do a time lapse in body without an intervalometer AND that lets you take more than 99 images. That's always been a pet peeve of mine for most cameras. For 5 seconds of video at 30FPS a camera needs to take 150 images....a limit of 99 images never made sense to me.

Wireless Flash Control - Another pet peeve of mine answered by Panasonic, it can wirelessly control up to 4 flashes without needing an additional transmitter. Of course I'll never use this feature since I already have a complete flash system, but for someone starting out this means even less gear to lug around and to buy.

Big Red Recording Box - Who hasn't thought they were recording when they weren't? I turned on the big red box right away (as soon as I found it). This is great, and will definitely help in the future. The R6 of course didn't have this.

LVF Button - I didn't understand how important this was until I shot with the R6. It was so annoying in the R6 to have to  pick view finder or back screen display. If you picked view finder you had to go into the view finder and navigate back to the setting to change it back. If you picked auto, the screen kept shutting off on me when the camera got to close to my hand or body. Maybe you could map a custom button but I like leaving all of them at their defaults. For the S5 if you want to turn off the viewfinder sensor just press the LVF button...switch to just the VF press it again, switch to auto press it again. So easy to disable/enable one or the other. Auto mode is terrible, switches off the screen all the time if anything gets near the sensor.

BASE / RANGE Zebras -  There is a  pretty cool feature in the S5 which is the BASE/RANGE option which lets you set a zebra pattern based on  F stop which maps to a VLOG percentage. So from now on when exposing for people with no gray card I'm going to turn that one on until there are zebras on the people's faces which means they are properly exposed. 

Vertical Video - I found by accident that the S5 even does vertical video. So if you are shooting something that you only plan on showing on Instagram...something like a quick BTS for a shoot, you can film it vertically and it will play full screen on Instagram.

Gimbal Setup - I combined the S5 with the Canon EF 24mm F2.8 and I now have a smaller lighter gimbal setup than I did with the GH5 and the lens itself cost less than my Voigtlander manual lenses. The downside is the manual focus ring doesn't feel anywhere near as good as it did on the Voitlanders.

Aspect Guides - Finally....someone has put this in. It wasn't a big deal back in the day, but now with Instagram, Facebook, Etsy, etc. aspect ratios are very important. Instagram needs a 4:5 aspect ratio otherwise you get boxes on the sides or you have to cut off some portion of the original image. This awesome feature will let you compose in camera the composition that you will use on Instagram and Facebook without having to guess or leave tons of crop space.

Here is my neutral list, either I don't really have an opinion yet either way, or I haven't tested the camera enough to feel good or bad about it.

Photography Capabilities - I'm still kind of neutral on the photography department. The lens situation is a real issue for me, and losing continuous AF when using the EF adapter is a real concern. If the image quality can match the R6's and my 5DIV it may convince me to get a few dedicated L mount lenses for photography.

Auto Focus - I never used it in the GH5 but this time around it is different because I want to try the photography features as well. In my brief testing, the AF worked fine for photography as long as continuous AF wasn't needed. It still has the hybrid AF option where you half press the shutter button for the initial focus then can fine tune it using the focus ring so that's good enough for me for video.

Menu System - It is improved a bit over the GH5 but still nowhere near as intuitive to me as Canon's menus. I have set up my custom menu so that makes it way easier but some of it is still confusing especially since some settings are still shared between the photo and video profiles; for example if you turn on the mic level meter it is still there even when you are in photography mode.

CONCLUSION

Final Thoughts - This camera makes me wish I was a travel photographer/videographer. It has so many uncompromised features that would be so useful when traveling that you could practically literally bring just this camera, a wireless flash, XLR module, a few lav mics, variable ND filters, a small video light, travel tripod, and shoot just about anything photo or video. I'm already thinking about projects that I want to shoot with this camera vs the R6 where all I could think about was if it would even make it through the shoot.

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