After it was first released in 2019, Panasonic Lumix S1 quickly attracted a lot of attention from professionals and enthusiasts due to the L-mount system and superb specs. Then, in 2020, the company introduced Panasonic Lumix S5, a budget-friendly model that seems to pack all the same perks into a smaller, more compact body. So, Panasonic Lumix S5 vs S1 – which one is better?
Below, you will find the answers to the important differences between these amazing cameras:
- The dimensions of Panasonic Lumix S1 and Panasonic Lumix S5
- The comparison of their build quality and handling
- How Panasonic Lumix S5’s autofocus performance is even better than Panasonic Lumix S1
- The EVF resolution of Panasonic Lumix S5 vs S1
- The comparison of their photo and video quality
Panasonic Lumix S1: Features
Unlike the likes of Fujifilm X E4 vs X E3, which sport APS-C sensors, Panasonic Lumix S1 is armed with a full-frame sensor. Of course, it means a bigger and heavier body, but it also means enhanced dynamic range and color quality, better low-light performance, increased detail and decreased noise, and the possibility to create artistic shots with a nice background blur. Read also: Fujifilm X E4 vs X S10.
Although the resolution is relatively low for a full-frame mirrorless camera, Panasonic Lumix S1 still offers a distinctive advantage due to having a 24MP resolution. It can make uncropped 4K videos better. In fact, this is the very reason why Panasonic Lumix S1 remains one of the best full-frame mirrorless cameras in the market.
Panasonic Lumix S1 is also very attractive because it sports the L-mount system. Panasonic is a member of the L-Mount Alliance, together with Leica and Sigma, and this allows Panasonic to use the same mount found on Leica T and Leica SL. With a 51.6-mm diameter and a 20-mm flange distance, the L-mount system allows the use of moisture and dust seals, which are very useful for the longevity of your camera and lenses.
|Panasonic Lumix S5
|Panasonic Lumix S1
|7.6 x 6.1 x 5.59 inches
|9.05 x 9.35 x 6.4 inches
Panasonic Lumix S1: Build Quality and Handling
Unfortunately, despite not being a twin-grip camera, Panasonic Lumix S1 is quite large. It measures 149 mm x 110 mm x 97 mm. The weather-sealed body is also quite heavy at about 1 kg. This is one of the major differences between Panasonic Lumix S5 vs S1, with the newer model having a much smaller and lighter body while still being weather-sealed.
Nevertheless, this also means Panasonic Lumix S1 has plenty of room for bigger buttons and dials, as well as a more solid grip. It feels really sturdy in your hands. You can access various settings quickly via the front and rear dials. The touchscreen and the control wheel on the back further add on the ease of use.
The 3.2-inch touchscreen has a 2,100,000-dot resolution, and it looks sharp with a decent color accuracy. It also has a dual-tilt mechanism to allow shooting from difficult angles, but keep in mind that it can’t be flipped for front-side viewing.
One of the coolest things about Panasonic Lumix S1 is the OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF). With a resolution of 5,760,000 dots, Panasonic Lumix S1 becomes the mirrorless camera with the highest EVF resolution in the market. The image quality of the EVF is truly impressive. Everything looks very sharp and detailed. Although it does struggle a bit when the light level falls, it is still an amazing EVF overall.
Panasonic Lumix S1: Performance
In contrast with the current trend of hybrid autofocus, both Panasonic Lumix S5 vs S1 come with a contrast-based autofocus system. Note that Panasonic Lumix S1 uses a slightly older version of the AF algorithm, so it is a bit slower when tracking a moving subject or trying to lock on something small. Nevertheless, the AF performance is still enough to acquire sharp shots from moving subjects.
Shots from Panasonic Lumix S1 will never really surprise you – everything you see in the EVF or the display screen will always accurately reflect what you are going to get. The automatic white balance works very well in producing natural-looking images, but the Fine Weather option is great for creating more eye-pleasing results.
The 24MP sensor consistently delivers a good balance between detail and noise. The noise reduction may seem a little bit too aggressive sometimes, but in general it works just fine. You can go up to ISO 12,800 without worrying about noise, and even at ISO 25,600 the noise level is still fairly controlled. As mentioned above, Panasonic Lumix S1 is great for shooting uncropped 4K videos, but the other advantage from the low pixel count on the large sensor is the superb dynamic range.
Panasonic Lumix S5: Features
It is obvious from Panasonic Lumix S5 that the company is listening closely to their users’ critiques and suggestions. Panasonic Lumix S1 has two potential issues, the large size and the slow autofocus. Panasonic Lumix S5 has tackled both issues really well.
Despite using the same 24MP full-frame sensor as Panasonic Lumix S1, Panasonic Lumix S5 is somehow able to come in a much smaller body – even smaller than the micro four-thirds camera Panasonic Lumix GH5. It measures barely 133 mm x 97 mm x 82 mm and weighs 714 grams. Of course, it still works with the L-mount system.
There is a number of feature additions and improvements, too. Panasonic Lumix S5 now has a double JPEG + RAW capture on the 96MP high-resolution mode. The mechanical shutter can perform JPEG + RAW continuous shooting at 7 fps, and the buffer can hold about 30 shots from the burst. Alternatively, you can use the 6K-photo mode to capture shots at 30 fps for a maximum duration of 15 minutes, after which you can extract 18MP still images from the sequence.
Panasonic Lumix S5 also gets built-in V-Log enhancement options, anamorphic modes, dual native ISO, and waveform monitoring. Unfortunately, all the awesomeness of Panasonic Lumix S5 comes with a compromise on the EVF, which only has a resolution of 2,360,000 dots. It is still functional and reliable, but the reduced sharpness may feel jarring if you have used Panasonic Lumix S1 previously.
Panasonic Lumix S5: Build Quality and Handling
Panasonic Lumix S5 is definitely a better choice if you want something compact and lightweight. The fact that it is even smaller than Panasonic Lumix GH5 may make it a very attractive choice for people who travel often with their cameras. Despite the reduced dimensions, Panasonic Lumix S5 still feels solid and sturdy, and the magnesium alloy body is still weather-sealed.
The 3-inch touchscreen here is fully articulated. In other words, you can easily adjust the display for below-waist or above-head shooting, or even flip it entirely for taking a shot of yourself. There is no longer a mini display on the top, which is replaced by another mode dial that provides a quick access to the S&Q mode where you can switch between high and low frame rates.
The reduced EVF resolution is unfortunate, but at least Panasonic Lumix S5 allows you to choose between 120Hz and 60Hz refresh rates. As a result, you can eliminate the minor lag issue that may come up on the EVF when shooting in a low light environment.
Panasonic Lumix S5: Performance
In terms of image quality, Panasonic Lumix S5 is very much comparable to Panasonic Lumix S1. It uses the same image sensor, so there is no surprise that it comes with the same prowess. Images look sharp and detailed, and the dynamic range is impressive. The ISO performance is also similar, with decent noise reduction performance on the JPEG shots.
An improvement is found on the AF system. Panasonic Lumix S5 still insists on using a contrast-based autofocus, but the new DFD algorithm in this camera allows tracking of smaller subjects. In addition, it is smarter in a way, that it can track subjects even if they turn away from facing the camera.
Overall, the autofocus on Panasonic Lumix S5 feels faster, more accurate, and more reliable. It spends less time hunting and performs really well in taking still images. It may struggle a bit when used for tracking fast-moving subjects in a video, but it is still usable.
Panasonic Lumix S5 easily comes out as the winner. The improvements it offers greatly outweigh the compromise on the EVF resolution. It is more compact while still being weather-sealed and sporting the L-mount system, has a fully articulated touchscreen, and comes with a faster, more reliable autofocus system.