We've tested seven Panasonic cameras. Panasonic produces a range of cameras under its Lumix brand, from point-and-shoots to DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The company is known for standardizing and developing the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system of cameras and lenses in collaboration with Olympus. In 2018, Panasonic entered into the L-Mount Alliance with Sigma and Leica to begin producing cameras using the latter's L-mount standard. While Panasonic has begun to expand its full-frame offerings, it continues to offer many MFT, bridge, and compact cameras to suit a variety of styles and experience levels.
The best Panasonic camera that we've tested with a full-frame sensor is the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5. It's an enthusiast-level interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that uses L-mount lenses. It's a great option for hybrid shooters interested in both photography and video since it can capture sharp images with minimal noise when using higher ISO settings, and it's packed with advanced video features. It can shoot 4k and FHD video at up to 60 fps, though shooting in 4k at that frame rate incurs a significant 1.5x crop. Still, it has fantastic internal recording capability, as it can record 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally for more precise colors and tones. It also comes with two SD card slots and a full set of inputs and outputs, including a headphone jack, microphone output, and micro HDMI port. It has in-body image stabilization, which does a great job of reducing camera shake when taking photos or recording video without a tripod.
Unfortunately, it has a disappointing continuous shooting speed at just 6 fps in its high-speed drive mode. That should still be suitable to capture bursts of fast-moving action, but it's slower than many competitors. It also has a long buffer empty time, and its RAW photo buffer is a bit small, so your shooting may be interrupted if you manage to fill it up. While the camera has a great autofocus system that does an excellent job tracking moving subjects in photos and videos, it can be inconsistent when tracking moving objects in video. Despite its shortcomings, this is one of the best 4k cameras we've tested, thanks to its advanced video features and excellent low-light performance.
The best Panasonic camera we've tested with a Micro Four Thirds sensor is the Panasonic LUMIX GH5 II. It's an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera that has many video features while still being a capable stills camera. Its 20.33-megapixel sensor delivers excellent overall image quality with amazing dynamic range and decent noise handling capability. It offers several frame rate options in video mode, including 4k and 1080p video at up to 60 fps, so you can capture everything from more cinematic-looking footage to smooth fast action. It also supports cinematic 4k and anamorphic 6k resolutions, with a range of video recording formats and codecs to choose from and V-Log support for more in-depth color grading in post. Depending on your settings, it can also record 10-bit color with 4:2:2 subsampling internally. It delivers fantastic video quality in brighter lighting conditions and doesn't place limits on recording time.
That said, it doesn't perform as well in low light due to its smaller sensor size. Its autofocus system also isn't the most reliable, and its face-tracking performance, in particular, is mediocre. Still, it supports face and eye detection and has 225 advertised detection points. It's bulky and heavy, so it may not be the most convenient to take on the go. On the upside, it features five-axis in-body image stabilization, and it has an excellent battery life that should last through long shooting sessions. All in all, this is one of the best cameras for filmmaking that we've tested, and its robust feature set should suit a wide range of video and photo work.
If you're looking for a camera that you can easily pick up and start shooting with, the best Panasonic camera we've tested with a fixed-lens design is the Panasonic LUMIX LX100 II. This premium fixed-lens compact camera is uniquely designed with a Micro Four Thirds sensor and a smaller lens opening that allows it to crop photos down to various aspect ratios without reducing its field of view. It delivers amazing overall image quality and has great RAW noise handling capability, meaning it performs relatively well in low light, with minimal luminance noise at higher ISO settings. While its design may feel a bit cramped, with many physical controls and dials packed onto a compact camera, enthusiasts may appreciate having dedicated exposure controls for quick manual adjustments.
Unfortunately, its autofocus system is sub-par. It supports both face- and eye-tracking, but it performs inconsistently, and it struggles with keeping moving faces in focus, though it's notably better at tracking moving objects when shooting video. Some may also find its fixed screen limiting. While it doesn't have the superzoom capabilities of a bridge-style camera like the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II, its built-in lens still has a 24-75mm full-frame equivalent focal length that gives you some flexibility to adjust your framing without having to move. Overall, this is a uniquely designed compact camera with a dense feature set and excellent image quality.
The best Panasonic camera we've tested for those on a budget is the Panasonic LUMIX G100. This lightweight Micro Four Thirds camera is very portable and feels well-built. It's aimed at vloggers but offers solid photo features without breaking the bank. Even though it's small, it still comes with a fully-articulated screen and has a high-resolution electronic viewfinder with 100% advertised coverage. On top of that, when you flip the screen around to face you, the camera automatically goes into 'Self Shot' mode, which automatically enables face, eye, and audio-tracking and gives you access to various filters and background settings. It has a great autofocus system, too, although it struggles to track moving subjects consistently.
Unfortunately, it has a disappointing battery life, although this can vary with settings and usage habits. While it supports USB charging, you can't use it while it charges, which may be inconvenient. The camera also lacks in-body image stabilization, and it does a poor job smoothing out camera shake with its kit lens attached. Despite that, this is a versatile and affordable camera that's easy to use, and it should appeal to those interested in video and content creation as well as still photography.
While Panasonic has a shorter history of making cameras than some of its competitors, it's still managed to produce a variety of innovative cameras that are sometimes ahead of the curve, particularly when it comes to video specs. Although Panasonic cameras tend to have less reliable autofocus and slower continuous shooting speeds compared to Sony or Canon, the company is a mainstay in the realm of Micro Four Thirds cameras and a good fit for those who want a camera with powerhouse video features.
Panasonic offers a range of mirrorless, MFT, bridge, and compact cameras, with most models beginning with the prefix 'DMC' and its newer line of full-frame mirrorless cameras beginning with the prefix 'DC'. The following are some but not all of the most popular series in Panasonic's full lineup.
Full-Frame Interchangeable Lens Cameras
Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Cameras
Panasonic cameras are some of the best consumer options when it comes to advanced video and filmmaking features. While the brand is relatively new to the full-frame camera market, it's already become a viable competitor to brands like Sony and Fujifilm in the mirrorless market, and if you're looking to invest in the Micro Four Thirds system, Panasonic is still one of the few brands to look at. Its collaboration with Olympus in the MFT arena and its entry into the L-Mount Alliance also means that investing in one of these systems opens up your lens options, making Panasonic a cost-effective camera brand to invest in.