Interview with S5II/S5IIX Developers
Pursuing uncompromising perfection down to the tiniest detail not shown in specifications
Norikazu Kaneda (Exterior Design)
─ Tell us about the exterior design of the LUMIX S5II.
Kaneda: To improve the grip of the LUMIX S5II compared to the LUMIX S5, we improved areas such as the part that cuts into your middle finger and the part that makes your thumb bend back. This resulted in increasing the mass a little, but you don’t feel the weight thanks to the better grip.
We had used a triangular ring to attach the strap before, but some users expressed concern that it would cause noise in video, so we switched to a flat eyelet. We were also worried that the triangular ring would get in the way when holding it. One small revision we made to increase operability was tilting the shutter button toward the index finger so the button would be in the position the finger naturally touches.
─ Tell us why you placed the cooling fan at the ‘pentaprism’
Kaneda: The cooling fan is placed at the ‘pentaprism’. The viewfinder is in the back and the cooling fan is in the front. The fan is directly above the sensor. Previous LUMIX cameras had the cooling fan in the back. The idea was to dissipate the heat to the back with a big fan, but there was a considerable loss because it was so far away. The main circuit board was between the sensor and the fan, which was inefficient because the heat had to go around the board, so we placed the fan directly above. This reduces loss because it dissipates heat from the shortest possible distance. We also adopted a structure that directly dissipates heat from the sensor. Since the LUMIX S5II features a body image stabilization (B.I.S.), the sensor—the part we want to cool the most—is always moving. Normally you cannot put a heat dissipation component in contact with the sensor since it would interfere with the movement. But after conducting test after test for the LUMIX S5II together with B.I.S team members, we were able to successfully add heat conducting material within a scope that would not interfere with the movement of the sensor and placed a fan directly above to establish a system for cooling at optimal efficiency.
Some may worry about water seeping in from the air intake and outlet, but the cooling fan is treated as being completely outside the camera. The components that are deeper inside are protected with dust- and splash-resistant sealing. Instead of blowing air inside, the fan pushes heat to the outside for cooling, so there is no need to worry.
─ Why was the HDMI port changed to a USB Type-A port?
Kaneda: One reason is that many users had requested it. Another is that USB Type-A is less likely to break and has a more reliable connection. Changing the port size made the back side about 2 mm thicker, so we configured the inner structure and made the front side lower to reduce the extra thickness. The thickness between the front side and the LCD is the same as the LUMIX S5. This resulted in making the distance between the front and the tip of the grip longer, thus helping improve the grip as well.
Operability and design suited for a hybrid mirrorless camera
Katsuhiro Kitade (Product Design)
─ Was there anything you struggled with in the design of S5II?
Kitade: Our concept for the LUMIX S5II is a “hybrid mirrorless camera,” so rather than directly flaunting the fact that we installed a cooling fan, we strove for a design that would also appeal to still photographers. A cooling fan requires an air inlet and outlet, but we really struggled to design it so these would not stand out. When I heard that engineering wanted to install the cooling fan at the ‘pentaprism’, I was totally surprised [laughs].
Were there any other things you prioritized in particular with the design?
Kitade: Changing the internal structure meant we also changed the position of some of the controls, but we made adjustment after adjustment with engineers to ensure it could be used along with the LUMIX S5 without issue. When I tried using it myself, there were some things I noticed from the user’s perspective—like maybe we could improve the joystick control more. The LUMIX S5 joystick was a four-way joystick, but the LUMIX S5II joystick is eight-way. We also changed the shape of the joystick. We assumed users would move the joystick by putting their thumb on the edge, but some commented that using it for a long time hurt, so we changed the shape on the LUMIX S5II to use the pad of the thumb for more natural control.
You also released the black edition LUMIX S5IIX. What was the design concept behind that?
Kitade: When developing the LUMIX S1R/S1, the first models in the S series, we made “Shaping Emotions” our design philosophy. When interviewing creators and accompanying them on shoots, we found that many considered the camera as a “tool” and would rather forget about it and concentrate on the subject when shooting. Our design philosophy for LUMIX was for it to be a tool that enables users to absorb themselves in shooting.
Actually, when designing the LUMIX S1R and S1, we even had the idea of removing the logo from the camera completely, but this wasn’t adopted. This time, in addition to LUMIX S5II as the basic model, we created the black edition LUMIX S5IIX, which is the ultimate manifestation of our philosophy to make it like a behind-the-scenes stagehand for creators.
Interview with S5II/S5IIX Developers