Interview with S5II/S5IIX Developers
The Real Value of LUMIX S5II and S5IIX, in the Words of the Developers
The LUMIX S series of full-frame mirrorless cameras has evolved to the next stage. The LUMIX S5II and S5IIX condense advanced innovations like Phase Hybrid Autofocus (a first for LUMIX), a new engine, and robust image stabilization into a compact, lightweight body. The new models will satisfy the insatiable creative desires of creators who continue to take on the challenge of new expressions in photography and video.
We want people to experience the ever-evolving S series system
Shinji Watanabe (Product Planning)
─ Tell us about the background of the S series.
Watanabe: The first LUMIX full-frame mirrorless cameras were the LUMIX S1 and S1R. Our goal in development was to make them as fully featured as possible, in part because of our late entry to the category. After launch we received high praise for their outstanding performance and reliability, but we also received some negative feedback on aspects such as size. That led to the development of LUMIX S5. LUMIX S1R and S1 targeted advanced professional users, but LUMIX S5 was developed based on the concept of fully condensing the same functionality and performance into a compact, lightweight body to accommodate a wider range of users.
─ What kind of people do you want to use S5II?
Watanabe: LUMIX S5II’s basic target users are those switching from competitors and those using mirrorless cameras for the first time. The biggest evolution in LUMIX S5II is that it is the first LUMIX camera with Phase Hybrid AF. It is also capable of burst shooting at 30 frames per second. These features meet the needs of LUMIX users who had experienced some dissatisfaction photographing moving objects before.
─ You developed the new engine in partnership with Leica Camera.
Watanabe: The engine in LUMIX S5II is an image processing engine developed jointly by LEICA and LUMIX. Both companies have expertise in image processing, so we combined that expertise along with each other’s strengths, such as accuracy and high-speed arithmetic processing.
─ Video performance was enhanced as well.
Watanabe: LUMIX S5II is capable of 4:2:2 10-bit C4K 60p/50p unlimited recording, and of 4:2:0 10-bit 6K 30p/25p recording. Thankfully, users associate LUMIX with video. Today the market has changed and compatibility between stills and video has increased. More users want to use both seamlessly. We spared no effort in incorporating a full range of features for video—LUMIX’s strong suit—to offer a product that meets the needs of still/video hybrid users.
─ LUMIX S5IIX was released at the same time. What is the difference between that and LUMIX S5II?
Watanabe: The LUMIX S5IIX that we released at the same time has more advanced video specifications in particular. The difference from LUMIX S5II is in the video performance and all black exterior design. Specifically, LUMIX S5IIX has high-grade video capture capability, including high-quality ProRes video recording that is ideal for video editing and All-Intra video recording that can record video at a high compression ratio. It is also equipped with features for video streamers such as USB tethering and the capability for wired or wireless live streaming of video directly from the camera.
We gave it a completely black exterior design for creators pursuing high quality video, based on the LUMIX design philosophy “Shaping Emotions,” which gives the creators the lead role in visual expression and views the camera and lens as creative tools.
We want to bring LUMIX to the next phase with users
Noriaki Shiomi (Marketing)
─ Tell us what was well-liked about the previous LUMIX S5 model.
Shiomi: LUMIX S5 was the most all-round, compact, lightweight camera in the S series, but two features were rated especially high among users.
The first was image quality. It received particularly high acclaim for its expression of colors and gradation. Since the development of the Micro Four Thirds camera LUMIX G9, we established the picture-making philosophy of “Capturing it all.” LUMIX S5 took everything users loved about LUMIX G9 and incorporated these into a full-frame camera. The full-frame camera delivers the outstanding colors you would expect from LUMIX. It also adds a bokeh effect and increases the information from the sensor, so it has received high acclaim for expanding users’ creative expressions. In addition, those for whom LUMIX S5 was their first experience with LUMIX say they were astonished by the color science that produces the pre-processed shots and praise its ability to edit in such a wide variety of formats, including Log and RAW.
The other feature was image stabilization. LUMIX come equipped with Dual I.S. body-lens coordinated control technology as standard, and LUMIX S5 earned high acclaim for having precise image stabilization even though it is a full-frame camera.
─ Who are the target users?
Shiomi: Besides having better image quality than LUMIX S5, LUMIX S5II features improved real-time recognition autofocus with phase detection and enhanced image stabilization. With the previous model, users were at times hindered by the constraints of the camera when creating works: sometimes they were forced to select manual focus due to the idiosyncratic behavior of autofocus, use accessories like a gimbal for image stabilization, and so on. LUMIX S5II lets you leave much of the work of autofocus and image stabilization to the camera. This helps the users focus on what they want to demonstrate most—creativity.
Therefore, in addition to amateurs with high camera literacy, we are also targeting entry-level users who want to create works or record memorable moments with a full-frame camera for the first time.
─ What about the price?
Shiomi: We are targeting customers buying a full-frame mirrorless camera for their first camera. In the past, people would start with an APS-C camera and move on to a full-frame camera after improving their skills. But now that there are affordable full-frame cameras on the market, usability has improved, and they are not difficult to operate, so the number of people going straight into full-frame cameras has increased.
Our other target is those considering a second camera. When buying one’s first camera, most talk to friends or look at online reviews first since they don’t have any experience. Then, after using it for a while they realize what they really want to do or express with it. We conducted a user survey and found that people considering a second camera don’t decide based on the manufacturer, but first look at all equally.
Besides specs, another important factor in purchasing a camera for people like this is cost effectiveness. LUMIX S5II is a great camera for both beginners and those considering a second camera who don’t have an extensive lens collection yet. We are offering it at a reasonable price so people like that can purchase it. We also offer a double lens kit that includes the best lenses to start with—a standard zoom lens and 50 mm fixed focal length lens.
─ How will LUMIX S5II change photography styles?
Shiomi: As I mentioned, in addition to LUMIX’s acclaimed image quality, LUMIX S5II features autofocus and image stabilization that the camera handles for the most part, so users can try out new forms of expression they were hesitant to try or gave up on before. LUMIX S5II will take users’ range of expression to the next phase, and we want to move on to the next phase with users as well.
Interview with S5II/S5IIX Developers