ARRI ALEXA Mini vs Lumix S5 IIX – Can You Guess Which is Which?

Panasonic’s first stab at full-frame mirrorless was commendable and found many fans. However, it appears their sophomore effort with the Lumix S5 IIX is the camera many people actually wanted when the camera maker went to a larger format.

New tech, including the first phase-detect AF in a Lumix mirrorless, makes the S5 IIX a compelling pick.

It has some solid specs, but how exactly does this relatively affordable system hold up compared to a fancy cinema camera? If you want to find out the Master of Camera channel actually grabbed the S5 IIX and an ARRI ALEXA Mini to compare. Can you guess which is which?

It’s always worth pointing out that the ARRI ALEXA Mini is a $40,000 camera that is going up against the $2,500 Panasonic Lumix S5 IIX. Doesn’t seem like too fair of a comparison.

It really isn’t in the grand scheme of things, but for people who are wondering if they need to shell out that much cash to get a “cinematic look” these comparisons are incredibly valuable.

The newer tech and willingness of mirrorless manufacturers to push new features do give them a slight edge on occasion. For example, while both have anamorphic open gate shooting with the entire full-frame 3:2 sensor only the S5 IIX has in-body image stabilization.

Panasonic has even tweaked that IS system to work better with anamorphic glass. You won’t be getting that on ARRI.

Image Credit: ARRI

These cameras are designed for very different rigs, however. The S5 IIX is much more of a run-and-gun style camera where stabilization is critical while the ALEXA will more often be found on traditional sets with multiple camera assistants and support systems.

For this test, they will be using Kowa anamorphics, which are rehoused vintage lenses. These ones produce a distinct, organic look. The lenses are also Super 35mm, which makes them more appropriate for the Super 35mm ALEXA Mini. Panasonic does offer Super 35mm crop modes so we can compare more directly.

He only has two lenses, so he opted for the 50mm on the ALEXA since it does offer a slightly wider field of view than the Panasonic’s crop mode. The S5 IIX is getting the 40mm to get the perspective close.

As for other features, ARRI does have some advantages with things like ARRIRAW for uncompressed, high-bitrate recording. It’ll also do ProRes internally.

The Lumix does offer ProRes support through the use of external SSDs connected via USB. You can also get ProRes RAW or Blackmagic RAW with the S5 IIX when using an optional recorder.

Panasonic Lumix S5 IIX Mirrorless Camera

Image Credit: Panasonic

Resolutions are going to be different. The ALEXA Mini tops out at 2.8K with the open gate anamorphic mode while the S5 IIX reaches 3.3K in the crop mode. Both are using a 4:3 aspect ratio. The S5 IIX using the full-frame area will allow it to record in 6K open gate.

At first glance, this footage looks very, very similar. After color grading to get them to match you almost can’t tell which is which. Considering both are using similar lenses on similar sensor areas and resolutions this isn’t a huge surprise.

There are some slight differences, but is that worth spending tens of thousands more?

What do you think? Does the S5 IIX hold up against the ARRI ALEXA Mini?

[source: Master of Camera]

Order Links:

  • Panasonic Lumix S5 IIX Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)

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