Archive for March 3rd, 2011

Canon S95 vs Panasonic LX5 for video

The previous versions of the Panasonic LX series featured 24p video, but terrible manual controls and video formats. With the LX5, we see a much more useful video support (full manual control), but now with… wacky frame rates.

The Canon S95 on the other hand, at the same price category of $400, has no full manual control. It has just the essentials (exposure compensation/lock) to get you going, and “clean” 24p support.

I don’t own any of the two cameras, but seeing some comparison clips (e.g. this one), both directly out of the camera and re-encoded, and reading the specs, I have a few thoughts about the two cameras.

Advantages of the LX5 over the S95:
– Manual control for video. This is a big deal.
– Much better image stabilization in video mode than Canon’s “dynamic” IS.
– Visibly better in low light.
– Optical zoom and continuous autofocus available when recording video.
– Wind Cut for audio.
– AVCHD-Lite a bit easier to edit than MOV files on most editors, even if internally they both use h.264. [I don’t consider its MJPEG option serious.]

Disadvantages of the LX5 over the S95:
– WAY more CCD purple artifacts on the LX5. You have to constantly be careful where you point the camera, and use ND filters and sun-glare protectors.
– Lower bitrate at 17 mbps, compared to S95’s 21 mbps VBR. From directly-out-of-the-camera samples, I found that the S95 has more detail.
– Completely retarded frame rate: 30p with double useless frames, to make it look like it’s 60p. Just enough to confuse some video editors.
– No cinematic 24p option.
– No sharpness setting.
– 192 kbps AC3, compared to S95’s uncompressed audio.

At the end of the story, for video, it all comes down to if you don’t mind the CCD artifacts and the doubled frame rate. Sony Vegas should be able to handle its frame rate properly, if you force your project properties at 30p for example, and hopefully it won’t mess up any slow-motion either. Not much you can do about the artifacts though. Regarding artistic videos, e.g. for slightly slow-motioned (30p to 24p) music or non-vocal videos, the LX5 is the better choice when you shoot with full control of the lighting and exposure.

The S95 on the other hand keeps the reigns for its clean 24p frame rate, for those who shoot run-and-gun short movies and family videos, or non-slowed music videos. Also its higher picture quality with limited CCD artifacts is a plus.

Verdict? The LX5 has the advantage, IF used with enough care.