Lumix S5 timelapse mode review

Is the Lumix S5 a good timelapse camera? If we go buy my previous review of the Lumix S1, this one shouldn't come as a surprise.

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Lumix S5 timelapse review cover photo

The Lumix S5 is Panasonic's latest full frame mirrorless camera.

In this video and article I review the S5 for timelapse photographers, and talk about what I would change.

If you are interested in buying the Lumix S5 you can do so via my affiliate links here (B&H) and here (Amazon).

1. Timelapse specifications

As always I start my reviews with showing the specifications that are relevant to timelapse photography.

  • The Lumix S5 is a full frame L-mount mirrorless camera.
  • It has a 24.1MP CMOS sensor which produces JPG, RAW and HLG or Hybrid Log Gamma photos.
  • It has dual SD card slots and it can be charged via USB-C PD while shooting. 
  • It holds a 2200 mAh battery which is rated for 440 images however my battery test prove that is simply wrong!
  • It has a 3 inch free angle TFT LCD touch screen and an OLED viewfinder with about 2.36 million pixels which refreshes at 60 or 120 Hz.
  • It has contrast AutoFocus which works up to -6EV.
  • The iso ranges from 50 to 51200 and is expandable to 204800.
  • It has dual native iso at 100 and 640. EDIT: Not sure how I messed this one up, dual native iso is at 640 and 4000.
  • The sensor stabilises on 5 different axis which is great for handheld hyperlapse photography.
  • Shutter speeds for mechanical shutter go from 60 seconds down to 1/8000th of a second for stills and 1/16000 for motion pictures.
  • It features a 2.5mm jack input for remotes however you need a special cable for this, more on that later.
  • The S5 can shoot a sequence of RAW stills and can then render that out to a high resolution video file in a range of frame rates.
  • It’s got wifi and bluetooth and is dust and splash resistant.
  • The body alone weighs 630 grams and that’s enough for the specifications, here’s a spoiler: I absolutely bloody LOVE this camera. It is the camera I wish the S1 was when I first got it.

It is almost the perfect timelapse camera, let’s find out why.

2. How to set up a timelapse

2.1 Timelapse photo mode

The S5 has a dedicated mode dial for timelapse. 

Flick it to timelapse mode then go into the menu to set up your shot. Choose Timelapse shot and select whether you want an interval or not. If you don’t set an interval the camera will just shoot as fast as it can, which allows you to use a 1 second exposure with a 1 second interval etc, it’s not exact but it’s closer than a 1 second interval. When you do set an interval you can go from 1 second to to 99 minutes and 59 seconds with an image count from 0 to 9999, which when combined at the extremes would result in a timelapse spanning just over 694 days!

I really love that it shows you the end time of the shot which is useful to set an alarm and saves you from calculating it yourself.

You can set a start time which is how I’ve recorded literally every single sunrise you’ve seen on my channels over the last few months, it’s absolutely fabulous.

And then you can set exposure levelling on or off. This will gradually adjust the shutter speed and ISO when shooting in Aperture Priority mode for holy grail shots. I recommend setting your max auto ISO to 3200 or 1600 so that it starts ramping the shutter speed before it gets too noisy. The shutter will top out at 1 second in this mode by the way!

Then finally back to the top of this menu you can select Stop Motion Animation. I’ve made a video about that for Lumix UK which I’ve linked here. I also used it recently to create my first stop motion ad for a big brand, more on that in a future video!

2.2 Timelapse video mode in S&Q

Instead of shooting photos the camera only records video frames at a slower or faster (hence slow and quick) frame rate.

Up to 4K25 8bit video where you can select the following recording frame rates: 1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 30 and 60 etc. You can set the camera to record this as a MOV or an MP4 file.

2.3 Using external remotes

This is one thing that annoys me, the camera has a standard 2.5mm input port for remotes however if you don’t use the right cable it will only trigger video recording, not photos! I had to order a special cable for this which has one extra ring on the jack to get it to work with the LRTimelapse Pro Timer 3.

This is for when you want interval ramping for example, or to trigger the camera from a motion control device.

That being said, all of the timelapses you’ve seen have been shot using the internal intervalometer.

3. Dynamic range

I’m far from the best person to talk about dynamic range as I don’t do any specific testing for this, all I can say is that I’ve personally found no limitations whatsoever with the dynamic range of this camera. Here’s a contrasty sunset shot where I’m adjusting the highlights and shadows and as you can see this looks pretty good!

I think it’s safe to say that any sensor that’s come out in the last year or so will have very satisfactory performance.

4. Resolution

6000*4000 pixels gives you 24 megapixels.

I really like this resolution.

It’s just that little bit more that I was missing on the 20MP Canon R6 and gives you plenty of room to reframe for 4K content or to create 6K video files out of your photo sequences.

5. Usability

The S5 has decent ergonomics and the buttons are slightly improved compared to the S1. It is still slightly slow when you hit play for example compared to a Canon but I find I enjoyed using the S5 more than the S1.

6. Low Light

I would use this camera very comfortably up to 6400 ISO, after that you might need to denoise for which I highly recommend Neat Video.

7. Storage

Dual SD card slots, one rated up to UHS-II, the other UHS-I.

As much as I hate SD cards this is fine because I have many and they are cheap and easy to come by.

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8. Weather Sealing

The S5 is dust and splash resistant. I don’t know what that means. It’s been rained on a few times and still works like new so I guess that’s good! It’s also gotten totally fogged up from shooting in foggy conditions and from bringing it inside the flat after being out in the cold and there have been no issues there at all.

9. Battery life

As always this is interesting. The spec sheet states that the 2200mAh battery allows you to take 440 images on one charge, which might be the case for when you’re walking around shooting photos on the street with image stabilisation on etc, but when you mount this camera on a tripod and let it just click away you can get waaay more!

I ran a ton of battery tests as you can see on screen, and most of them were in quite cold conditions which is bad for the battery life, so I’m quite pleased with this.

It doesn’t come close to a DSLR because this sensor has a near constant readout but it’s still pretty darn decent. I think you can get way more out of this if you shoot faster intervals too, most of these tests were shot with a 10 second interval.

Battery life tests

  • 1300 ish photos for two sequences and some playing in between on one charge
  • 1774 ish photos in one charge in one shot (sunset)
  • 420 photos on one charge (in the very cold)
  • 1000 photos and a third battery left
  • 1305 photos on a full battery (cold)
  • 1095 photos on a full battery (cold)
  • 1248 photos on a full battery (cold)
  • 1305 photos on a full battery (cold)
  • 1388 photos on a full battery (sunset, 7s intvl)
  • 1735 photos on a full battery (cold)
  • 1628 photos on a full battery (cold)

This gives us an average of 1386 photos per full charge (keep in mind this is in cold conditions).

Charging time

It takes one hour to charge the battery to half capacityvia USB C Power Delivery.

When you put the battery in the charger even if it’s disconnected it gives you a quick status using the LEDs which is useful.

The camera doesn’t display battery level in percentage, very annoying.

10. Rendering in camera

One of my favourite things about the Lumix cameras! A total delight. Whether you’re shooting RAW or JPEG photos you can select multiple resolutions, frame rates and playback frame rates to render a video internally. I often render a HD video to have a quick preview of what the shot looks like. You can even choose to render in 8 or 10 bit.

The resulting video is an MP4 file and is good enough to share on social media. This is extremely useful for fast turnaround projects like the ones I’ve documented in my timelapse production vlogs.

11. Bugs I've found

I noticed an inconsistent interval at a sunrise shot, starting around 10 seconds, then switched to 20 or 30.

This may be due to power saving settings set to sleep as fast as possible? A later sleep time may fix it? More testing needs to be done!

12. What would I change?

I would make it so that you can use the standard 2.5mm jack cable that you use for other cameras. I had to buy a £10 cable just for this review to confirm that you could actually use external remotes. This seems like it could be fixed by firmware, just allow us to set video shooting or photo triggering from that input.

When shooting in Aperture priority mode for a holy grail the shutter speed tops out at 1 second. This is something I didn’t realise when making the S1 review and it should have been included. This one second is fine for cityscapes but it is far from long enough if you want to do a shot that goes from day to milky way. Luckily this seems like it also would be an easy fix.

Just like on the Sony cameras I’d love to be able to adjust the speed of ramping for holy grails.

13. Conclusion

The S5 is exactly the camera I thought the S1 was going to be. 

It’s small, sturdy, full frame, full of options and performs amazingly.

I see no reason to keep my S1, and would much rather have the S5 instead.

That being said, this camera is on loan from Lumix, so it’s likely going back very soon.

One final thing I would like to point out, Lumix has been incredible with their firmware upgrades. They keep adding functionality to their camera lineup, even to older models and they listen to their users. A lot of brands can learn from this approach and I really want to commend Lumix for this once again.

And that’s all, thanks for watching or reading and remember to check out my e-book passive income for creatives!

If you are interested in buying the Lumix S5 you can do so via my affiliate links here (B&H) and here (Amazon).

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