Panasonic S1 Vs. S5: Better Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera

Panasonic shook up the full-frame mirrorless camera market when it released the Lumix S1 and S5 models in 2019 and 2020. These cameras offer impressive image quality and video capabilities in compact, rugged bodies. But with similar specs and features, should you opt for the S1 or S5?

In this detailed comparison, we’ll examine the key differences between the Panasonic S1 and S5 mirrorless cameras. We’ll look at sensor resolution, image stabilization, autofocus performance, video specs, design, and real-world performance.

By the end, you’ll know which model is the right fit for your needs.

A Brief Comparison Table

SpecsPanasonic S1Panasonic S5
Sensor Resolution24MP20MP
Image Stabilization5-axis IBIS5-axis IBIS
Autofocus SystemDFD, 225 areasDFD, 225 areas
Max Video Resolution4K60p4K30p
Internal Video Codec4:2:0 10-bit4:2:2 10-bit
Body DesignLarge, DSLR-styleCompact, rangefinder-style
Weight1.98 lbs1.58 lbs
Battery Life400 shots370 shots
Current Price$2000$1600

Overview of the Panasonic S1 and S5

The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and DC-S5 are both mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras with full-frame 24MP and 20MP sensors respectively. They use the L-Mount standard originally developed by Leica and share many of the same core features.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1

The S1 sits at the higher end of Panasonic’s full-frame lineup with a larger body, higher-resolution sensor, and more advanced video capabilities. It competes directly with popular models like the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z6.

The S5 is designed as a lighter, more compact L-Mount camera aimed at videographers and hybrid shooters. It has a similar sensor and processor as the S1 but with updated autofocus algorithms. The S5 hits a tempting price point for those looking to step into full-frame mirrorless shooting.

Now let’s take a deeper look at how these two cameras compare across the major specifications and features.

Also Read: Choose Between Sigma 24-70 And Sony 24-70 Gm II.

Sensor Resolution

The most obvious difference between the S1 and S5 is in the sensor resolution.

The S1 has a 24.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor while the S5 has a 20.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor.

In real-world shooting, this equates to a bit more resolution and cropping flexibility with the S1. However, 20MP is still plenty of resolution for most users, especially those primarily sharing images online or printing at standard sizes.

Both sensors provide 14+ stops of dynamic range and utilize the same Venus processing engine. Low light performance is excellent with both models topping out at ISO 51,200 (expandable to 204,800).

For most purposes, the 4MP difference in resolution shouldn’t be the primary factor in choosing one of these cameras over the other.

Image Stabilization

Panasonic Lumix DC-S5
Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

One key advantage of the Panasonic Lumix S1 and S5 is the impressive built-in 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization. This provides up to 6 stops of shake reduction with compatible lenses.

The S1 and S5 share the same Dual I.S. 2 image stabilization system. It works in conjunction with O.I.S. (optical image stabilization) in Lumix S-series lenses that have it.

Having stabilization built into the body provides smooth handheld video and the ability to shoot at slower shutter speeds in low light. This is a major bonus over many other full-frame mirrorless cameras that lack sensor-shift stabilization (like early Sony A7 models).

Autofocus Performance

Autofocus performance is an important factor for many hybrid photo/video shooters. Both the S1 and S5 utilize 225-area DFD contrast-detect AF with face/eye/body/animal detection.

However, Panasonic upgraded the AF algorithms when developing the S5. Autofocus is notably snappier and keeps up better with moving subjects.

The S5 focuses down to an impressive -6EV in low light versus -4EV on the S1. It also adds head detection AF and new tracking modes for animals, birds, and other erratic motion.

While the S1 still has fast, capable autofocus, the S5 pulls ahead in terms of speed and tracking reliability. For shooting video or photos of people and wildlife, the S5 has a definite edge.

Video Capabilities

The Lumix S1 and S5 are both designed with video in mind. However, the specs diverge when looking at the maximum video specs:

  • The S1 can shoot 4K up to 60fps and 1080p video up to 180fps. It offers 10-bit 4:2:0 internal recording and can output 4:2:2 10-bit via HDMI.
  • The S5 is limited to 4K 30fps and 1080p up to 60fps. But it can record higher quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally and output 4K 60p 4:2:2 10-bit over HDMI.

The S1 certainly wins in terms of high frame rate 4K shooting. But the S5 shoots the higher quality 10-bit 4:2:2 footage without an external recorder.

Both offer V-Log recording, anamorphic 4K support, and HLG photo/video modes. They have identical contrast detect AF systems optimized for video.

Ultimately, the S1 is better suited for cinematic slow motion while the S5 provides better internal color for color grading. The S5 is also Netflix approved for 4K streaming content creation.

Also Read: Differences Between Akaso Brave 7 And Brave 7 Le.

Design & Ergonomics

In terms of design and handling, the S1 and S5 diverge quite a bit:

  • The S1 has a larger body reminiscent of a DSLR with a pronounced hand grip. It weighs 1.98 lbs.
  • The S5 has a more compact, rangefinder-esque body that tips the scales at just 1.58 lbs.

The S1 certainly feels like the beefier, higher-end camera. The heavy magnesium alloy body is extremely durable with extensive weather sealing. Controls are logically laid out with lockable dials and a top status LCD.

The S5 ditches the monolithic DSLR-style body for something more portable. It’s not quite pocketable but should fit in most bags without issue. The body construction still feels solid with ample sealing against the elements.

Those with larger hands may prefer the chunkier grip on the S1. Travel and hiking photographers will likely appreciate saving those extra ounces with the S5.

Battery Life

The smaller body of the S5 comes with one disadvantage – reduced battery life.

The S1 is rated for 400 shots per charge using the included 3025 mAh battery. It can be charged via USB-C.

The S5 is rated for only 370 shots per charge with its smaller 1860 mAh battery. It relies on USB-C charging.

Real-world battery life will vary quite a bit depending on your shooting style and camera settings. But the S1 should eke out a few more shots between charges, especially when recording a lot of 4K video.

Having spare batteries is never a bad idea. But you may go through them faster with the S5 with all else being equal.

Native Lenses

The Panasonic S1 and S5 share the same L-Mount lens system in conjunction with Leica and Sigma. This provides access to over 40 native lenses from ultra-wide to telephoto.

Highlights of the Lumix S lens series include:

  • 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. – Versatile short telephoto zoom
  • 50mm f/1.4 S Pro – Fast prime with superb optics
  • 70-200mm f/4 O.I.S. – Compact telephoto zoom
  • 24-70mm f/2.8 S Pro – Professional workhorse standard zoom

There are also several Leica-branded L-Mount lenses that work extremely well but come at a premium price. Choosing the S1 or S5 does not limit your lens selection in any way.

Price & Availability

The S5 clearly occupies the more affordable segment of Panasonic’s lineup.

At launch the S1 retailed for $2500 (body only) while the S5 came in at $2000.

Currently, you can find the S1 for around $2000 and the S5 for roughly $1600 (body only).

Deals can be found by buying the cameras bundled with lenses or accessories. But expect to pay a 25% premium for the S1 over the very capable S5.

Both cameras have strong global availability. Finding either model from online authorized dealers shouldn’t pose an issue these days. Also watch the video!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Panasonic S1 better than S5?

The S1 has a higher resolution 24MP sensor, larger more ergonomic body, and faster 4K/1080p frame rates. But the S5 has improved autofocus, smaller form factor, 10-bit internal video, and costs several hundred dollars less. For most users, the S5 represents better value and balances size, price, and performance.

Is the Panasonic S5 a professional camera?

Yes, the S5 contains the same core imaging components as the S1 in a more compact body. It has a proven 20MP sensor, speedy processor, 5-axis stabilization, weather sealing, and video features galore. The S5 can readily handle professional work from wedding photography to corporate video production. Its smaller body does mean shorter battery life though.

Is Panasonic S5 Netflix approved?

Yes, the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 is certified by Netflix for 4K video production work. It meets their technical standards and sensor capabilities for shooting content destined for streaming platforms. The inclusion of 10-bit 422 internal recording makes the S5 a great affordable option for video creators.

Who is Lumix S5 for?

Also Read: Is Canon EOS M50 Mark II Better Than Rebel T7?


So which is better, the Panasonic S1 or S5? In truth, there is no universal winner. The right camera depends on your specific needs:

The S1 makes sense if you want:

  • Higher resolution 24MP sensor
  • Sturdy, ergonomic body with great controls
  • Faster 4K 60p and 1080p 180fps video
  • Slightly better battery life

The S5 is preferable for:

  • Compact, lightweight mirrorless design
  • Improved AF speed and subject tracking
  • Higher quality 10-bit 4:2:2 internal video
  • Lower cost and amazing value

Any way you slice it, both the S1 and S5 are extremely capable full-frame cameras. The choice ultimately depends on your budget and intended use. For most hybrid shooters, the S5 offers nearly everything its bigger sibling can do at a tempting price point.

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