A few months back we took a look at how the Panasonic S5 II stacked up against the Sony a7 IV. It did hold up very well. However, we ended that saying that if you wanted the best option for video it might be worth waiting for the S5 IIX. That camera has finally arrived so it is time again to put it up against the a7 IV.
This time the comparison is coming from filmmaker Troy Mairs. With the S5 IIX’s much heavier emphasis on video functionality, this should be a much more interesting set of tests and could help you make a decision on which one is right for you.
Looking at the cameras will tell you that they are very similar. Both are modern mirrorless designs with full-frame sensors that come in at similar price points.
The a7 IV is a touch more expensive at $2,500 compared to the S5 IIX’s $2,200, but those are still close enough to be stiff competition.
Similar size and weight, similar battery performance, similar EVF and display performance… It goes on for a long time. Inputs and outputs are also matched up well.
There are some slight differences. The cameras both have dual SD card slots, though the a7 IV does have a single port that can also take the faster CFexpress Type A media.
Getting into some of the other differences we can start with the sensors. The Sony uses a 33MP chip while the S5 IIX sticks with a reliable 24MP. Also, the S5 IIX offers active cooling with its built-in fan.
Overall, this is a difficult comparison to make until we get into the more serious differences.
Something that Panasonic has always done well is making some key products more video-centric than the competition.
That is the same deal here as the S5 IIX has some features that would be more common on cinema cameras than their mirrorless competitors. Shutter angle is a good example of this as it exists on the Panasonic but not on Sony.
There are some more assist functions on the S5 IIX that aren’t on the a7 IV, such as waveforms and vectorscopes. It may have slightly better in-body stabilization as well.
Add all this to the previously mentioned active cooling and for someone more interested in video this seems like an easy decision.
Sony does bring some of its own advantages. The new 33MP sensor is downsampling from a 7K area to produce a sharp, clean 4K file. It has more information to work with than the S5 IIX.
It also has focus breathing compensation to make up for using mirrorless lenses that might not be as well corrected as pricey cinema glass.
Another aspect of this decision is that there are a lot of people in the creative space, especially YouTube, who are comparing new cameras to the standards set by the Sony models. Being the standard and so popular is itself a very appealing thing.
Getting his hands on both cameras he was able to get them both in the studio to find out which camera is actually best for him.
This video also uses both cameras for the main footage and switches back so you can see the potential differences for yourself.
At first he thought that the S5 IIX was the camera for him. Once picking them both up the decision got a bit more difficult.
The Sony seemed to feel nicer and better constructed compared to the Panasonic. It also just seemed more refined, likely due to Sony have a few more generations to work with.
Autofocus may be improved with the S5 IIX, but it still isn’t quite as good as Sony and isn’t as reliable. Confidence in your gear is incredibly important for professional gear. Another irksome thing was the placement of ports on the S5 IIX.
The a7 IV seems to have figured things out and has the HDMI and headphone jack out of the way of the articulating screen while the S5 IIX has them very much in the way.
There is also a dial on the side of the S5 IIX that is too easy to bump.
Overheating was a concern since the a7 IV doesn’t have active cooling, but in the testing it hasn’t overheated. Still a little worrying, but he has enough faith.
A major win for Sony is the amount of third-party support. Being more popular does mean there are more accessory options to choose from and that can make a difference.
After testing it seems like the decision is to go with the Sony a7 IV. Interesting decision that I wouldn’t expect based on all the differences on paper, but makes sense after watching this video.
Which camera would you pick?
[source: Troy Mairs]
- Panasonic Lumix S5 II Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Panasonic Lumix S5 IIX Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
- Sony a7 IV Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
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