Panasonic S5 IIx boasts the best stabilisation on the market
When Panasonic introduced the Panasonic S5 II (buy here) in January, a big deal was made about its autofocus system. And for a good reason. The S5 II marked Panasonic’s entry into the world of phase-detect autofocus, finally putting them on par with just about all of the mirrorless competition. Announced alongside the photography-focused S5 II was the S5 IIx (buy here), a more video-centric offering, but how exactly is it different?
At NAB 2023, we headed to the Panasonic booth to check out the S5 IIx in person and find out what makes it so special. In doing so, we discovered that it holds some unique features, including open-gate video, also introduced with the Panasonic GH6 (buy here), and what Panasonic says is the best video stabilisation in the mirrorless camera market.
Panasonic S5 IIx – Anamorphic IBIS
Panasonic’s boast of superior IBIS in the S5 IIx doesn’t seem to be a matter of marketing hyperbole. In speaking with Panasonic Business Development Manager Matt Frazer, we learned that it offers unique features over the IBIS systems found in other companies’ cameras. Specifically, its compatibility with anamorphic lenses, which overcomes anamorphic shortcomings in more traditional IBIS systems.
As Matt explains, IBIS systems in mirrorless cameras work by not only shifting the sensor up and down to compensate for movement but also by rotating it. This rotation can cause some strange artifacts in the footage when it comes to the traits anamorphic lenses exhibit. The oval bokeh and horizontal lens flares can appear to twist and distort across the frame. Panasonic’s new IBIS system it the S5 IIx overcomes these issues.
Matt didn’t reveal the specifics of how the S5 IIx stabilisation system works but says that it has “optimisations for the stabiliser, for 1.30x, 1.33x, 1.5x, 1.8x and 2.0x anamorphic lenses” to stop your stabilised anamorphic footage from becoming “wobbly and weird”. He went on to say that this is currently the only camera in the world with in-body anamorphic stabilisation.
Phase Detection Autofocus
Both the S5 II and S5 IIx both offer phase detection autofocus. This is the first time a PDAF system has been implemented into a Panasonic mirrorless camera – something that Panasonic shooters have been asking about for years. While Panasonic’s Depth-From-Defocus (DFD) AF system found across their mirrorless range works quite well for stills, it’s reportedly pretty terrible for video. As someone who owns six Panasonic mirrorless cameras that were purchased specifically for shooting video, I can confirm these reports first-hand.
Phase detection autofocus brings Panasonic’s mirrorless camera system in line with all of its major competitors – Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji – to provide great autofocus when shooting video as well as stills. Since the release of the S5 II and S5 IIx, Panasonic has confirmed that PDAF tech will also be coming to its Micro Four Thirds mirrorless lineup in the future, too. How soon we might see a hypothetical GH7 or GH6s, though, is currently unknown.
No slouch for stills
Despite being geared heavily towards video, the Panasonic S5 IIx is no slouch when it comes to stills, either. It offers a 24-megapixel sensor with a 96-megapixel high-resolution sensor-shift mode, 7fps continuous shooting, live view composite for long exposures and “the best possible timelapse you’ve seen in a photo camera”. The S5 II is still geared more towards photography, and the S5 IIx is geared more towards video, but both can hold their own when it comes to either task, for the most part.
The Panasonic S5 IIx supports open-gate filming. In a digital world, this means it’s using the entire 3:2 sensor to record video. This offers a number of potential advantages. For a start, it allows you a little more room in post for repositioning and cropping your composition vertically in your timeline. It can also provide more resolution and detail when shooting with certain anamorphic lenses.
But the big benefit of open-gate for most people these days is that by its very nature, you’ve got more height for vertical cropping. This means you can create both standard 16:9 horizontal video for platforms like YouTube while also getting more resolution when editing vertical video for social media. With more headroom above and below your subject, you’re able to reframe that footage a little wider than you’d be able to if it were standard 16:9 footage – which often loses horizontal context and doesn’t give you much wiggle room on composition.
Panasonic S5 IIx Specs
|24-megapixel full-frame CMOS
|6000 x 4000
|100 to 51,200 (Extended: 50 to 204,800)
|6K (5952 x 3968) up to 29.97fps
|4K UHD (3840 x 2160) up to 59.94fps
|Full HD (1920×1080) at up to 180fps)
|Auto (PDAF) and manual focus
|3.68m-dot OLED viewfinder
|1.84m-dot 3″ touchscreen TFT LCD
|Dual UHS-II SD
|2.4 / 5 GHz Wi-Fi (802.11b/g), Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), Bluetooth 5.0
|1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS Headphone/Mic Microphone Input
|1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRRS Headphone/Mic Headphone Output
|13.44 x 10.24 x 9.02cm
|658 g (Body Only)
Price and Availability
The Panasonic S5 IIx is available to pre-order now for $2,197.99, and begins shipping towards the end of May.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.