Better late than never. For some reason, the Panasonic S5 kit I ordered in September has just arrived at Macfilos Towers, at least a month late. Some readers, including contributor Narain Jashanmal, have had theirs for several weeks.
Since today is the start of the second national Lockdown in England, I dashed up to Milton Keynes yin advance to take delivery of the Panasonic from John Murphy, the manager of Wex Photographic’s new store in the Central Shopping area. This is a spacious store and one where you can actually park very easily. I didn’t have to pay to park, of course, because I was able to hook up Oskar the I-Pace to a convenient charging point outside the store. The joys of electric motoring…
First impressions of the S5 are very positive. And the small and light 20-60 S (at 350g) shows a great deal of promise, at least in the choice of focal-length range.
After five years using 28 mm on the Q and Q2, I’m more than ever comfortable with wider lenses. I always had a soft spot for the 28 mm Elmarit-M as an everyday lens. But 24mm is now taking over as the starting point for standard zooms (as with Panasonic’s impressive but inexpensive 24-105 mm zoom) and having an even wider 20mm at your disposal is now a bonus.
The 20-60 range is unusual (not sure if it is unique but no doubt someone will know) and I hope to find it very useful. My old friend Don Morley bought the Panasonic 20-60mm and has been delighted with it, particularly when twinned with the Leica CL where the focal length range moves up from 20-60 to 30-90. It’s not the fastest of zooms, ranging from f/3.5 to f/5.6, but that’s an acceptable tradeoff for size and weight.
The S5 is everything I had hoped for in terms of size and weight. Even with the (kit) 20-60 lens attached, the rig weighs just over a kilogram. The body alone tips the scales at 714g.
Unlike the majority of modern mirrorless cameras, the S5 adopts a more traditional approach, foregoing the favoured top-plate function screen and a minimal of soft controls in favour of compact dimensions and intuitive direct control operation.
Indeed, I already love that control layout, and I expect to find it very easy to get used to. I particularly like the ability to reverse the screen, something I have always enjoyed on Panasonic’s micro four-thirds bodies.
In fact, talking about MFT, this camera feels more like, say, the Panasonic G9 in use. It’s little more than 50g heavier and is of very similar size. It’s only the extra weight of full-frame lenses you have to worry about. And even that is becoming less of a problem as more lightweight primes (not to mention this 20-60 zoom) are being introduced.
So far the S5 hasn’t had a serious outing, except for a couple of test shots, but I’m looking forward to using it over the winter, comparing it with the more bulky full-frame offerings from both Panasonic and Leica. One thing I do know, the S5 with that 20-60 lens is more likely to be picked up and carried around all day than the heavier opposition.
The only major drawbacks of this camera are the relatively low-resolution viewfinder (but it’s actually quite good) and the “old” 24MP sensor when everyone else is edging to 50MP and over. Many photographers, however, don’t worry about this and can actually make a virtue out of fewer pixels in return for reduced storage needs.
But watch this space. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find a 47MP version of the S5 coming within the next twelve months. Physically there’s nothing to stop this, provided heat considerations in the smaller body can be dealt with.