Mike Slinn
Mike Slinn

Panasonic Lumix DC-S5* Cameras and Lenses

Published 2022-12-19. Last modified 2023-01-08.
Time to read: 6 minutes.

This page is part of the av_studio collection, categorized under Camera, Studio.

The two Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 camera bodies that I ordered a couple of weeks ago finally arrived, along with two prime lenses: the Lumix 35mm F1.8 (S-S35) L-Mount lens and the Panasonic Lumix 50mm F1.8 (S-S50) L-Mount lens. This camera body is usually referred to simply as a Panasonic S5. The L-Mount standard is defined by DJI, Leica, Leitz, Panasonic, and Sigma as the AG L-Mount.

My product suggestions for Panasonic are shown this way.

I did not purchase a Panasonic Shutter Remote Control (DMW-RS2) because it is not wireless. For $100 CDN, you would expect wireless. The wireless Sony Remote Commander (RMT-P1BT) remote costs only $10 more and also allows for focus control. Of course, the Sony remote only works with Sony cameras.

First Impression

The moment I took the camera body out of the box, I was struck by how large and boxy it was, compared to the Sony Alpha 7 Mark iii (aka Sony a7iii) that I have been using for the last year or so. All the YouTube videos I watched emphasized how small the S5 was. Whatever. These cameras will be mounted, not hand-held, so the size and weight are not important to me.

I was also struck by the inclusion of an external battery charger. The Sony a7iii does not include an external charger, and they are not cheap.

The battery charger showed the battery had 50% charge, so the first thing I did was plug it in and charge the battery.

Reading the Documentation

While I waited for the battery to charge, I read the manuals. They are mostly printed in 6 point type, with URLs shown in 4-point type. Seriously, how am I supposed to be able to read these? The camera manual contains a QR code for the online version of the document, but the lens manual does not. Even though these manuals were printed very small, they are in total over 1 inch thick for the camera and 3/8” thick for each lens.

Actually, the Panasonic documentation is split into booklets for English, French and Spanish; this is just for the Basic Owner’s Manual. I am uncertain why the Spanish documentation is only a fraction of the size of the English and French versions. In contrast, the Sony a7iii documentation is thin and seems to have been written by and for idiots.

Dear Panasonic: I spent some time trying to identify all the relevant documentation for the DC-S5 and the two prime lenses I purchased (S-35 & S-50). The impression I got was that chaos reigns supreme in the Panasonic Lumix Documentation Department.

After spending 2 hours, I wonder if the following list is complete or even accurate. (Customers should not have to spend 2 hours looking for all the relevant documentation.)

Memory Card

I had an extra Sandisk SDSQXA1-256G-GN6MA Extreme 256GB microSD UHS-I Card, rated for 160 MB/s. This card had been used with the Sony a7iii, and that camera formatted it with undocumented directories and files. Unfortunately, Sony is consistent about not documenting important things. In contrast, Panasonic documents the microSD card folder structure on page 164 of the Lumix S5 owner’s manual. Thank you, Panasonic, for doing something that seems increasingly rare: assisting interoperability through documentation.

After charging for about 2 hours, the Lumix S5’s battery was full, so I inserted it and the microSD card into the camera, then formatted the card.

Formatting

The Lumix S5 menu sequence to format a microSD card is:

Dear Panasonic: The [ square brackets ] do not provide value to the reader; they just clutter up the page. I suggest you use special fonts for text messages, and omit the square brackets when enclosing symbols. For example, the above could be shown more clearly as:
I am not a good person to suggest the choice of special fonts; please confer with a designer.

These symbols are described on page 5 of the Owner’s Manual:

The formatting process only takes a few seconds. Once complete, the camera displays No valid picture to play.

Dear Panasonic: Please employ a native English speaker who does not just do a literal translation from Japanese, but targets the audience with an understanding of how the product is used. For example, for customers in the United States and Canada, a better message would be: MicroSD storage is empty.

Firmware Update

Firmware updates for the Lumix DC-S5 are important. Desirable capabilities are provided, and bugs are corrected. 3 updates were issued in 2022, 2 updates were issued in 2021, and 3 updates were issued in 2020. I am pleased to see this level of activity; it shows a dedication to the product with attention to process.

The following includes both a good explanation and a good demonstration of how to update the firmware of Lumix S5 cameras and lenses.

Firmware Version

This is how to check the firmware version:

My camera bodies came with firmware version 2.6, which was the latest at the time of writing. The 50 mm prime lens only had firmware version 1.0, but no updates were available. Firmware downloads for all Panasonic Lumix products are here.

Dear Panasonic: Please have the camera check the firmware versions for the body and attached lens and provide an indication when an update is available. The current situation, where the user has to find out by omission if an update is available or not, is awkward and time-consuming. It would not cost anything to ship this extra feature in a future update, and all customers would benefit.

With the admittedly limited testing that I was able to do, I found that if both firmware update files are present on the same microSD drive, the camera prioritizes the camera body firmware update and does not recognize the lens firmware update. After updating the camera body firmware, delete its firmware update file.

  1. Download the DC-S5 body firmware updates here. The page also shows the improvements provided by the updates.

    Download firmware updates for Panasonic Lumix lenses here. If you do not see your lens mentioned, then it does not have firmware updates. That is what I mean by notification by omission. This is not a good method of communication with customers.
  2. The above link first shows a legal document, which I discredit here. Clicking on the Accepted button downloads a file called S5___V26.zip, which is 87 MB.
  3. Instructions for applying the firmware updates are here. I corrected the instructions as follows:
    1. Fully charge the battery.
    2. Format the memory card with a Lumix DC-S5 camera (as described above).
    3. Update the camera body firmware before updating the lens firmware.
    4. Extract the firmware file from the zip file to a directory on your computer or other device. For the camera body, the file is called S5___V26.bin; for a Lumix lens, the file is called 4001V012.plf. You have two installation options:
      1. Remove the card and copy the firmware file from the root directory of the memory card using another device.
      2. Copy via USB.
        1. Connect the camera to the computer via USB.
        2. Turn on the camera.
        3. Wait for the USB Mode menu to be displayed.
        4. Press PC(Storage) as shown above.
        5. The camera’s internal storage should now be mounted as a drive called LUMIX on your computer. For my computer, this was Windows drive H:.
        6. Copy the firmware file to the root directory of the LUMIX drive.
        7. Unplug the USB cable.
    5. Press the MENU/SET button.
    6. Select Firmware Version in the Setup menu.
    7. Select Firmware Update.

    Inadequate Autofocus

    The Lumix S5’s autofocus is unable to perform the task of tracking my face, or anything at all. I will sell the S5 bodies. When the Lumix S5-II and S5-IIX become available, I will buy one of each type of body.

    No Wireless Remote

    When working with the Lumix S5, I sorely miss having a wireless remote, like the Sony Wireless Remote Commander for the Sony A7iii.



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