Home L-Mount The Panasonic Lumix S5 range is attracting younger customers to the expanding...

The Panasonic Lumix S5 range is attracting younger customers to the expanding L-Mount system.

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The Panasonic Lumix S5 and S5II models are attracting buyers in their 20s and 30s, providing an injection of younger talent into the L-Mount system. This will eventually benefit all participants in the L-Mount Alliance, including Leica. Because of its pricing, Leica occupies an older demographic. As such, it would especially benefit from an infusion of younger users. The appeal of the L-Mount system to Generation Z means that Leica stands to benefit most as the pre-eminent aspirational brand in the system.

Panasonic has disclosed that younger customers are increasingly choosing one specific series in the Lumix range. The relatively lightweight, 24MP S5II and S5IIx cameras are proving a hit with technically aware Generation Z buyers. These are individuals born between the late nineties and early 2000s. Toshiyuki Tsumara, vice-president of Panasonic’s Imaging and Business Unit, has said that the S5II twin-lens kit is the big seller. So much so, in fact, that it is temporarily out of stock. He disclosed details of the changing market scene in an interview published by Phileweb on December 5. It was also shared by Digicame-info and PetaPixel.

Two-lens kit wins

Mr Tsumara points out that the younger generation finds it natural to shoot with a smartphone. As a result, they are enjoying opportunities for self-expression, including increasingly in the form of vlogging. But many are now looking to mirrorless cameras to enhance that experience. And consumers are coming to believe that the better the quality, the better the response from viewers.

At a “Touch and Try” event in Osaka before the release of the new G9II micro-four-thirds camera had attracted many young people. Mr Tsumaru was surprised to find junior high-school students bringing their S5II cameras with them. Many, he said, were also considering the G9II as a “sub-device” for their photographic arsenal.

During the Covid-19 disaster, he said, there had been a marked increase in demand for live-streaming. This continues to be an important factor in the industry. New ways of using streaming are also spreading. The demand for cameras has completely recovered following Covid, which is a very encouraging development. And, despite fears that the mirrorless market would become centred on expensive full-size cameras, the demand for products in the lower price range has increased more than expected.

L-Mount starter kit

Panasonic’s view of the 55II is very much in line with my opinion of the range. It offers high-quality and excellent results at a very attractive starting price. The mount-system system needs such a “starter offer” if the L-Mount is to achieve consistent growth and a higher market share. I am sure this possibility was a major motivating factor behind the alliance.

While Leica could fear cannibalisation of its market by the cheaper (but good quality) Panasonic (or Sigma) offerings, it decided that the long-term benefits outweighed any temporary setbacks. The more customers invested in the system, the more likely is there to be a market for Leica’s premium range in the future. Without the L-Mount Alliance, I do not think the SL system would have had a strong future. Now, however, that future seems assured.

The Panasonic Lumix S5II in kit form, with the Panasonic Lumix S 50mm F/1.8 prime and Panasonic Lumix S 20-60 mm F/3.5-5.6 zoom, is the ideal starter pack for anyone wishing to enter the L-Mount world. In any world, not just the Leica-Panasonic-Sigma system, because it is an outstanding camera.

The two kit lenses are both excellent — with the 50mm f/1.8 being a lighter-built version of the well-regarded Leica 50mm f/2 and (whisper…) capable of very similar performance. The little 20-60 mm zoom makes a congenial carry-around lens on any L-Mount camera, whether Panasonic, Sigma or Leica and has been vastly underrated simply because it is slow (shades of the Leica X Vario). But once you get used to having the ultra-wide 20 mm field of view at your fingertips, it’s difficult to go back to zoom lenses starting at 24 or 28mm; you tend to feel a little hemmed in, especially in an urban environment.

Panasonic Lumix S5II or Leica SL2S

When it comes to cameras, the Panasonic Lumix S5 is similar in specification and capability to Leica’s SL2-S. The control ethos is vastly different, of course. The Panny is all buttons a go-go, while the Leica is minimalist with a minimum of physical controls. It’s all a matter of preference, but don’t overlook the S5 cameras for that reason alone.

The real clincher, though, is the price. At £2,100, the S5II kit provides these two first-class lenses and gives you all you need to start your L-Mount ride.

Choose the Leica alternative kit, the Leica SL2-S with the 24-70 mm Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70 f/2.8 ASPH and you will pay £5,850. Or, alternatively, the kit with Leica Summicron-SL 50 f/2 ASPH is £5,300. You are still one lens short of the Panasonic offering, however. More to the point, these prices are way beyond the typical Generation Z buyer unless they have a rich dad. Without Panasonic to feed off at the lower end, the Leica system is restricted to the well-heeled Leica aficionado.

The L-Mount Alliance Matures

We should not overlook the fact that the L-Mount system is now mature. It is six years since the founding of the grouping between Leica, Sigma and Panasonic. It offers an unrivalled roadmap of lenses, from budget to top-end. And it is a system with more potential than any other, possibly being a candidate for the first universal mount.

When selecting a system, the mount is the anchor point and, in most cases, is firmly attached to one manufacturer. With the L-System, however, there is currently a choice of three camera manufacturers and, I expect, this will grow over time. From a buyers’ perspective, then, entering the L-Mount world is the ticket to a lifetime of photography. It’s a versatile, highly competent and, above all, aspirational system.

I am not in any way suggesting that the Panasonic rig is likely to be better than Leica’s offering. Except in price, that is. Leica boasts sturdier construction (at the cost of weight), simpler and more intuitive operation, optical excellence and, of course, a higher resale value in percentage terms. But, the two “budget” lenses discussed, the 24-70 mm and the 50 mm are more similar to products from Sigma (in the case of the zoom) and Panasonic (with the prime) than immediately meets the eye. I have no doubt that the SL2-S the superior camera if you have the money.

You pays your money…

Nevertheless, the Panasonic S5II alternative, at under a third of the price, is definitely with considering. And from Panasonic’s own marketing assessment, this appears to be the case. The L-Mount is not just a system for the rich, it is attracting an increasing market among younger customers. Yet, I believe everyone already invested Leica’s interchangeable-lens mirrorless cameras should at least consider an S5 or SII as a second body. With the 20-60 attached, it is a worthy successor to the Leica X Vario and, with a Panasonic wide-angle prime on the front, it is a worthy competitor to the Leica Q in terms of light weight and suitability for travel.

Via Petapixel


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17 COMMENTS

  1. This site constantly demonstrates an unsettling ability to read my mind. I’m an SL2-s user and, although I love it, I need a backup that I don’t need to feel precious about. I’m booked on an expedition to the Azores, in April, to collect data on whales, dolphins & turtles. Being the worst kind of fussy Leica user (I was never this neurotic about my old Nikons) I’m not going to subject my SL2-s to the knocks and buffeting it will get on a crowded, working boat in the Atlantic. On the other hand, a lightly used Lumix S5 might fit the bill perfectly. I’d already been thinking that my Sigma 100-400 (for the whales) and a couple of my i Contemporary primes for a bit of travel & street photography, in Lisbon, on the way home, would be a decent & cost effective solution for me. Thanks for giving me the nudge I needed.
    Cheers,
    Chris.

      • I would be happy to report back, Mike! And I’ll try to produce something that’s worthy of a Macfilos article – it would be a privilege to be able to contribute something to this great website. I’d better start by getting an S5 bought, then! 😂
        Watch this space…….

        • Chris, we can help and advise on putting an article together. It easy, really, and we can often find solutions to make more impact.

  2. Good article – I was just looking at WEX and you can buy an S5IIx with the 20-60, the 50 f1.8 and the 85 f1.8 for £2599, which is a cracking deal (especially when body alone is £2,300!). I’m almost tempted!
    all the best

    • I got that kit for £2,150 in May last year. I already had the 20-60 (from the earlier S5 kit) but the price was so good. I now have two 20-60s… cracking little lens for the money. And that 50mm f1.8 “is not dissimilar” to Leica’s f/2. It’s not as solid or as well-built, of course, but I bet there isn’t much difference in the results.

      • Ah! you have the ‘x’ version – is the difference just in the video or elsewhere as well? My Sony A1 kit wasn’t quite so economical!

        • As we discussed earlier, I have the standard S5II. I do believe the x is aimed mainly at videographers, so probably not important for me. But I do like the stealthy SL2-S-like appearance of the S5IIx. When I got the S5II the x version was not available.

          It is a mystery why the S5II isn’t falling off the shelves. Panasonic makes excellent products but I believe the marketing division lets the side down. .

          • Perhaps a few things that come to mind: 1) Perception. Panasonic by a lot of people is mainly seen as an electronics company. I e.g. use one of their electric beard & hair trimmers. 2) Brand Loyalty. A lot of people are (sometimes inexplicably) very loyal to Canon, Nikon, Leica, etc. Quite honestly not always sure why… 3) Panasonic is seen as being more focused on video than on stills.

          • These are all valid points, Slow Driver. And, as I said to Jono, marketing and press relations skills could do with polishing. For instance, despite many approaches over the years, we are not on the press distribution list, so our information comes from other published sources. And to get to cameras you have to go through hair driers and televisions. More focus on the camera market would work wonders.

  3. In my case Panasonic Lumix S5II attracted much older customer as a backup to my SL2S.
    Since I’ve purchase it some eight months ago my Leica SL2S has not been used much at all.
    Lumix is smaller and lighter as a travel camera. What has not been mention in this article is far superior AF system that will be hopefully implemented in SL3 in a few months’ time. Also, I do like three buttons WB ISO +/- near shutter. Image quality, I see no difference between SL2S and Lumix using SL 24-90 zoom, Sigma primes and M lenses via adapter.

    • I don’t think we intended to overlook the attraction of the S5 among older users. Many owners have had the same experience as you, finding that the Lumix S5 cameras offer similar results to the SL2-S (given equivalent lenses) and are benefiting from the lower weight. But it is encouraging that this entry level L system is attracting new blood.

  4. Interesting appraisal though I think the original S5 (Mk 1) should also have included as it offers pretty much exactly the same image quality, albeit with fractionally slower AF for almost half the price, even less than that if bought second-hand.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Don. The original S5 is a screaming bargain now for what it provides. It is still and excellent, compact and fast camera. The only downside is the 2.36MP electronic viewfinder. That’s the standard from more than a decade ago. But if you can handle that, it is a very good choice, and you can invest your money in good lenses (which will outlive the camera). For example, the 24-105 is very good, or think of the Sigma primes. Their 24-70 was even knighted by a Leica branded sibling…

    • Excellent point, Don. I own both the S5 and S5II (there didn’t seem much point in selling the S5 at the sort of prices I was quoted) so can make a direct comparison. You are right, of course, that the S5 is a real bargain and, if you don’t need the fancier hybrid focus or better viewfinder, then it does much the same job. It’s also subtly smaller and a bit lighter. John Shingleton is preparing an article on his experiences with the original S5 and that will appear here in a few weeks.

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