CES: Panasonic’s First Hybrid Autofocus Mirrorless Cameras

Panasonic has unveiled two new hybrid full-frame mirrorless cameras — the Lumix S5II and S5IIX — that use a new autofocus system that will potentially make them competitive with similar offerings from Canon, Nikon and Sony. Coming in the spring and winter, these updated models feature a new 24.2-megapixel sensor with 779 phase-detect AF and 315 contrast points. The new chip also has Dual Native ISO with an ISO range of 100-51200 (50-204800 expanded). The models are powered by Panasonic’s new L2 Engine, said to process at twice the speed of its predecessor, improving overall performance and reducing rolling shutter distortion.

While Panasonic’s previous mirrorless cameras have been popular with videographers, they’ve run second to competing models due to their autofocus systems, according to Engadget, which says the new full-frame L-Mount S5II and S5IIX are “designed to make focus ‘wobble’ and other issues a thing of the past, while also introducing improved video and photography features.”

The new autofocus also improves on previously problematic issues, including backlit conditions, tracking, multiple people, and low light. The new imaging engine was developed by “the L2 Technology partnership formed by Leica and Lumix,” reports ProVideo Coalition (providing video demos for both models).

“Once the S5II and S5IIX are locked on a subject, the autofocus will continue to track the subject, even in adverse lighting conditions and when multiple objects are moving within the frame,” Panasonic says in an announcement, adding that “continuous AF during zooming, AF micro adjustments, and options to decrease the size of the AF area are also available.”

The image stabilization system, the 5-axis Dual I.S. 2, works for both photo and video recording, including 4K, and Panasonic has also added something called Active I.S. “for even more stable video recording,” explaining “Active I.S. optimizes the horizontal, vertical, and rotational correction ratios by determining the status of camera shake.”

“As a result, the performance of the image stabilizer can account for a larger amount of camera shake at approximately 200 percent, compared to conventional image stabilization.” The enhancement is touted as “highly beneficial in adverse situations, such as handheld filming or telephoto fixed-frame shots.”

Real-time LUTs and 6K recording are sure to please video shooters. “If that’s not enough, once May rolls around Panasonic will also sell a $200 software update that enables Apple ProRes RAW video recording to an external Atomos Ninja V recorder,” The Verge writes, noting that those who wait for the winter release of the S5IIX will get that software update built-in for $200 more than the $2,000 S5II, along with “some other small improvements like USB tethering to a smartphone and wireless/wired IP streaming.”

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