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First light: Panasonic Lumix S5

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#1 tim53

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 12:55 PM

HI all:

 

well this isn't much, but it's a start.  I took my new Panasonic Lumix S5 out to Cosmic Acres over the weekend for some astrophotography.  It was HOT, even at night.  Midnight temperatures were about 93F.  Daytime temps were 105-109F.  I don't yet have an adapter to mount the camera in a telescope focuser, so I experimented with the 20-60mm kit lens.  Maximum aperture is 3.5 at 20mm, and 5.6 at 60.  And yet it would saturate the sky background with much over 60 seconds at iso 3200, and 30 seconds at iso 6400.  I didn't take any darks for this sequence of 18 images, stacked here.  And my EM-500 mount is still off a bit in polar alignment.  I don't yet have an autoguider set up, as the non goto drive is replaced with a Sitech servo drive I've had for about 10 or more years, and I need to find the rs232 cable that came with it to plug into the control box.  

 

For the imaging sequence, I used Panasonic's Lumix Sync software app on an ipad to acquire and view the images via the wifi and bluetooth connections.  There's also a Lumix Tether app for Macs and PCs that seems rather nice as well, but one has to use a different app to open and display the results, which takes a bit more time.  The S5 has a built in intervalometer, but I didn't try it out this trip.  

 

This image was taken of Cygnus/NA Nebula area with the kit lens at 60mm.  It's a stack of 18 images.  No LENR (though I might use it in future) and no darks (I should have taken these, but when I first tried to take an image with the lens cap on, the app wouldn't let me! (or I was doing something else wrong).   I manually aligned the images in Photoshop, then applied a "lens correction" vignette filter to reduce the vignetting to a visually decent amount.  Finally, I applied a high pass filter with a 1000 pixel radius, and a levels adjustment to set the background close to black without exacerbating the color mottle too much.  

 

I think there's some good potential with this camera.  I forgot to mention that the S5 has a "star focus" autofocus feature that seemed to work very well with the kit lens.  I actually acquired these images before I found the "live view boost" function, so the lcd was black - I couldn't find any stars to manually focus on.  After I found the function, it worked very well for focusing with my Konica 35-100 Varifocal lens (has an 80mm aperture!).

 

One thing I had planned to try, but was too tired to, was to put ice cubes in a plastic zip-lock baggie, and rubber band that to the back of the camera with the LCD flipped out of the way.  With such low humidities in Joshua Tree (~6%), I doubt condensation would be a problem.  I'd have to be careful of leaks, though (but the camera is "splash resistant" - not waterproof).

 

Let me know what you think of my first attempt.

 

-Tim.

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • NA_neb_60mm_30sec_18stack.jpg

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#2 Jimmy462

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 02:35 PM

Hi Tim,

 

Fabulous results! I'm not surprised at the latitude from your S5 JPEG despite the resize and compression, I experience very similar behavior with my S1 files. In case you're not aware the Panasonic S-series 24MP cameras all employ a Dual-gain system so the base ISOs for your camera are 640 and 4000. Based on others testing which I encountered online one can actually test this capability for themselves and see how the noise floor changes with the gain shift. As a result I now regularly employ ISO 4000 as my standard baseline when out birding/wildlife imaging on cloudy days and is a real boon for attaining high shutter speeds on sunny days!.

 

You're clearly several steps ahead of me on astroimaging as I'm still cobbling together the gear to begin exploring my S1's capabilities for nighttime videography and imaging. Please know that your image has me, er, "stoked" at the possibilities and is encouraging to me that I'm on a good path here! Thanks so much for posting!

 

Best, :)

Jimmy G

 

ISO information found here...

 

PANASONIC - 16 - DC-S5_PressRelease.pdf
https://www.panasoni...ressRelease.pdf
 


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#3 tim53

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Posted 12 July 2021 - 04:42 PM

Jimmy:

 

It's good to know there's someone else out there interested in Panasonic.  I was torn for a while before settling on the panasonic.  I liked the idea of the Sigma FP-L's small form factor and the high resolution sensor (same as in the Sony A7r4), but was concerned with the limited capability for tethered shooting.  I also like that the Lumix doesn't have an AA filter in front of the sensor, and doesn't appear to do any noise filtering that "eats stars" like the sony's do.  It's also about a thousand bucks cheaper than the FP-L.

 

Another reason for going with the S5 instead of, say, the Nikon z6 or Canon EOS R is the wider choice of lenses with the L-mount alliance...  ...not that I could ever afford a Leica lens! I also have an old Lumix GF3 that, though it's supposed to be lousy for astrphotography, I find it's easy to get a boosted live view with one of the funky art settings (I forget what it's called).  It's sensor is 12Mpixels, but seems sensitive enough for me.  In 1 minute exposures of M42, I routinely capture streaks from 19th magnitude geostationary satellites with it.  It doesn't have any remote capability that I'm aware of, so I mostly used it on a tripod with a very nice panasonic fisheye lens I bought for it (that cost me more then 3x the price of the camera!).  I also have an Olympus EM5ii that is very nice for astrophotography.  The tethered software for it is really good, even better than the Lumix (though I still have a lot to learn).  I've fiddled a couple times with the High Resolution shooting mode.  it works even hand-held (in daylight).  It only goes up to 8 seconds/exposure (taking 8 of them with half-pixel offsets).  It'd be really cool if in some future upgrade that could be extended to 30-60 seconds per frame while on a tracking mount.  

 

With the Olympus, I started by shooting with LENR turned on, but stopped doing that to allow for more frames in a session.  So my initial images with the S5 have also been with LENR turned off.  But I think I may go back to running with it on.  It'll double the time required to image a target, but it should result in better-matched darks with the lights, since they're produced immediately after the lights.  I hear tell that in High Resolution mode, if noise reduction is turned on, it only takes one dark frame and applied it to all 8 of the lights.  So if only they could extend the exposure time in HR mode, that would be splendiferous.

 

-Tim.



#4 Jimmy462

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 09:46 AM

Hi Tim,

 

My experience with LENR (long exposure noise reduction, for those unfamiliar) with my S1's has been when shooting very-high-ISOs (i.e.>51,200) in deep-twilight where I'm seeing what appears to be a very-heavily-applied unsharp-mask, my guess being that Panasonic is employing some sort of blur algorithm to assist in masking the sensor noise. I've been meaning to do a series of tests using the various LENR settings at various ISO's and exposures to try and determine "where this behavior kicks in" and "to what extent" but I've yet to take the time for those tests. Instead I've simply decided to turn the filtering off.

 

Now one odd thing I've noticed with this camera when shooting in those low-light conditions is that through-the-EVF the scene is still quite viewable and reasonably clean which tells me that the sensor is capable of gathering enough light for a decent exposure in such settings, but the files produced in those situations turn out under-exposed and seemingly noisier than what the EVF was providing. Of note here, there is a different EVF in your camera (2,360K-dot 3:2 OLED) vs mine (5,760k-dot 3:2 OLED) and I'd be curious to compare the EVF-viewability-in-those-lighting-conditions differences (if any) between the two bodies and whether the S5 is employing different/variant algorithms in LENR.

 

That aside, I am prepared (once the, er, "monsoon season" abates up here in the northeast! Ha!) to get out under the stars and begin my exposure and WB (white balance) tests with the cameras. My goal here is to explore the single-frame exposure capabilities (I'm an old film-shooting kinda guy) of the camera along with it's SOOC (straight out of camera) video capabilities under starlight (and, well, light pollution!). Multi-frame image stacking is not on my menu (for either planets or faint fuzzies), though I can see myself dabbling with those, um, "arcane alchemies" (ha!) sometime along the way.

___________________________

 

As for the journey which led me to Panasonic...I first started with digital (though I never gave up film) with a Casio QV-8000SX back at the-turn-of-the-century and found the ease of shooting-and-directly-importing-images-into-my-computer both novel and fascinating at the time! lol.gif Though my first true-foray into digital imaging began with the original Canon EOS Digital Rebel (the cheaper consumer version of the 10D at the time) which eventually graduated to a 30D then 5D Mark II and a 7D, by which time I had amassed an formidable arsenal of EF-mount glass (mostly Sigma) ranging from 14mm all-the-way-through-to 800mm. Displeased with the unpredictable behavior of the Canon AF system over those years, and having found great interest in videography, I began seeking out a 4K camera solution around 2015. This led me through a variety of Sony bodies (EF-adaptable!) from the a6300, to the a7R and a7S II, though somewhere in there I had snagged a Panasonic FZ1000 for a grab-and-go. Sony left me totally frustrated with their ergonomics, poor EVFs and disappointed with their 8-bit video-file quality, but there was "something" about the results with that FZ1000 that proved promising to me, especially their system gestalt and the quality of their 4K files.

 

Enter, the PDN Photoplus Expo in NYC in 2017 where me and my sweetie are shopping for a lighter-weight solution for her to replace her Canon 70D and Tamron 150-600mm. I'd done some homework on Micro Four Thirds (M43, henceforth) and we both explored the offerings from Olympus and Panasonic. At the Panasonic booth the rep handed me a newly-released G9 with their 100–400mm (200–800mm full frame equivalent FOV) Dual-IS lens attached. I must tell you that I was flabbergasted, hand-holding that combo provided a rock-steady view in the viewfinder and I had to pull the eyepiece from my view and ask the rep, "Is that for real?! Am I truly looking at an 800mm equivalent FOV?!" to which he replied with a grin, "Yes." to which I said, "Well, that's just ridiculous! That's a rock-steady view!" To which I then reared-around to point at the Sigma 300-800mm on display at the Sigma booth and told the Panasonic rep, "I have to lug that beast around on a tripod to shoot that close and you can "do that" with this combo handheld?!" They simply nodded and continued to smile. And the EVF was simply gorgeous...bright and detailed and as close to anything approaching a true through-the-viewfinder-view of a DSLR I'd ever encountered with an EVF, in fact the brightness and ability to zoom the view was just jaw-dropping to me. I found myself rethinking my "nothing beats the view through a DSLR" stance I'd so firmly held up to that point. Well, after comparing the ergonomics and system gestalt and seeing that one could easily move between our already-familar FZ1000s and the G9...we'd found a new system for my sweetie! And I almost went down that road for myself until I caught wind of Panasonic going full frame! So I bided my time and jumped in feet first as an early adopter with their S1 (EF-adaptable! Ha!)

___________________________

 

With apologies for the long-winded tale, the TL,DR (too long, didn't read) is I'm finally "at home" now (well, for the foreseeable future! Haw!) with Panasonic...their much-maligned AF is perfectly fine and extremely accurate for my shooting style, the ISO performance is on par with the a7S II, and their 10-bit VLOG video is making the film-lover in me quite content! (My hope here was that my above comments might prove valuable to any fellow CNers looking for their own DSLR/MILC solutions.)

 

Anyhoo, I'll be sure to post results as I progress, and I'll be keeping an eye on what you're doing with image stacking!

 

Best, smile.gif

Jimmy G


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#5 whwang

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 01:40 PM

Hi Tim,

Nice image. I kind of wonder if you see any hints of star eater?

Cheers,
Wei-Hao
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#6 tim53

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Posted 13 July 2021 - 05:04 PM

Hi Wei-Hao:

 

Good question!  I will have to explore these images in order to be sure, but I don't think Panasonic does any in-camera raw processing, unless you turn on noise reduction or something.  My image processing above is actually pretty primitive.  Since I mostly deal with planetary images from the Mars rovers, there aren't a lot of image processing routines that are very similar to what I need to learn and practice doing on DSOs.  Been watching some of Nico Carver's youtubes about imaging with DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras, and there are a lot of steps he uses in photoshop that I've never had call to, in the more than 30 years I've been using photoshop!

 

I was wrong about my Konica 35-100mm lens.  It's f/2.8, not 3.5.   Here's some specs on the lens, that I find pretty informative.  I bought mine used in about 1976.  I think I paid $350 for it at the time.  They seem to be rare enough that they're still worth about that:  https://www.buhla.de...e35-100_28.html



#7 starblue

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 05:54 AM

I also have an old Lumix GF3 that, though it's supposed to be lousy for astrphotography, I find it's easy to get a boosted live view with one of the funky art settings (I forget what it's called).

Hi Tim. Can you remember or search out which art filter it is? I have a Panasonic GX8; it has a great (Sony) sensor for AP but it's impossible to focus on stars through the EVF because there's no "boost". When the G9 came out it had the same problem, but then Panny issued a firmware update that added EVF Boost, and suddenly, it's easy to focus on dim stars. I thought adding that feature would require a hardware change (hence a new camera model), so I was rather shocked at the transformation in the existing camera's capabilities for AP via firmware. I wish they'd do a similar firmware update for the GX8 but it's such a disparaged camera that it'll never happen. So if it takes an art filter to activate boost behind the scenes, I'll take it.

 

Just a note. The Panasonic FZ200 superzoom P&S camera's EVF has an implicit boost mode, and it turns out to be a great camera for AP work. With the FZ300, however, they took away boost and replaced it with Constant Preview--yes, that feature shows dim stars but not in real time like the boost did. The result is the FZ300 is a comparative dud for AP. With the FZ200 I could nail focus each and every time; with the FZ300 focus is rolling the dice.
 



#8 tim53

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Posted 14 July 2021 - 09:06 AM

I had to pull up a user manual online to remember what the feature was called.  It's the Creative Control shooting mode.  On the gf3, it's indicated in the menu with an artist pallete and paintbrush icon.  I don't have the camera in front of me at the moment, but there is probably some setting under that mode that produced a gaudy display that was bright enough to focus on stars.  I haven't used the camera much because I don't think there's any way to control it remotely, so you have to use the "hat trick" when setting up a bulb exposure, so pressing the shutter button doesn't jiggle the telescope.  Now that my machine vision cameras are getting to be less compatible with the most recent operating systems on my Macs, I may investigate using this camera to take planetary video.

 

-Tim



#9 tim53

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 11:31 AM

So, this, about Olympus High Resolution modes:  https://www.dpreview...-res-shot-modes

 

The article says that the individual exposures can be up to 4 seconds, but I think my EM-5ii's manual says 8".  Also, the new "hand held" and "tripod" modes are for the EM-1iii and EM-1x.  The handheld high res (HHR) mode also seems to align and stack the images in camera at the end of the shoot.  I've been meaning to try the high res mode in my EM-5ii and now with my Lumix S5 - which also has a high res pixel shift mode with up to 8" long subs.  Probably at Oregon Star Party in a couple and a half weeks.

 

-Tim.



#10 tim53

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Posted 17 July 2021 - 11:34 AM

Both the Oly EM1iii and EM1x and the Panasonic Lumix S5 also have a "star focus" feature that works fabulously with their lenses, but I would hope that manual focus would also work as well (but I haven't tried these modes yet).



#11 tim53

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Posted 09 April 2022 - 01:46 PM

Been a while since I posted on this thread, but I wanted to note something about my Oly EM5ii and Panasonic S5, when mounted on the Tak Epsilon 130 on the EM-1 mount (predates autoguider ports):  I never use the finder to find my targets.  I just watch the live view on my laptop, compared to Sky Safari on my ipad or iphone screens to find and compose my shots.  This way, I leave the tripod legs collapsed on the EM-1 and the camera viewfinder (which can be rotated at many angles on both cameras) can be oriented in a position where i can view it comfortably from a comfy folding chair.  The EM-1 mount has a push-button RA hand controller for guiding, and a manual dec.  But when accurately polar aligned using the excellent polar finder, I never need to guide my 1-2 minute exposures.

 

And either camera with a kit or similar lens piggyback on a telescope can supplant the viewfinder.

 

-Tim



#12 jspjohn

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Posted 22 January 2023 - 10:18 PM

I just got my Panasonic Lumix S5 and went out last night to give it a try.  It was cold (15 F) but I don't think that was causing me the issues.  

1. The starlight function never worked.  I did get the little light in lower left saying low illumination AF but the Starlight AF never activated or at least, I was never able to see STAR icon in the display.   There were stars in the sky but not a lot.  I could definitely see Orion.

2. I had it set up for a 2 sec shutter delay and was manually pushing the shutter release but it wouldn't take the pics.  The aperture and shutter speed were flashing to tell me it didn't like my exposure setting so I guess that is why it wouldn't take the pic.  I held the button down for a long time and also tried pushing it repeatedly.  I did get it take some pics but I have no idea why.  Sometimes it worked randomly and other times it didn't.  I had one exposure at 60 sec, F 3.5 and ISO ~3200 and it still didn't like it.  I did get it to eventually accept that exposure and the pic was all washed out.  I was in 'M' mode.  

thoughts or suggestions??  I REALLY want to get it to work.  My wife and I are planning a trip to Iceland and I want to shoot some Aurora.  

I'm going to do some experimenting in a dark basement; not sure what that will tell me.  



#13 tim53

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Posted 23 January 2023 - 10:51 AM

Hi.

 

I've had problems like that from time to time myself.  Usually it's because I didn't RTFM.  I still don't like reading manuals, but I do find that there are several youtube video tutorials that are helpful.  there's also a facebook page, but it's mostly terrestrial photographers rather than astrophotographers.

Lately, I've been trying to figure out the best way to control the camera during astrophotography.  I bought a wireless remote trigger for it that works very well, but doesn't seem to get along with Lumix Tether.  For example, I can take long bulb exposures with the remote, but I can't use the remote and the Lumix Tether at the same time.  So settings on the remote don't get translated to the software (so I can go in the house where it's warm and keep shooting).

 

The Starry AF (I always read that in my head as "starry as f*k") seems to work fine with the kit lens, which is the only modern lens I have so far for this camera.  Usually for astrophotography, I'm I'm using adapters to mount the camera on one of the telescopes.

 

-Tim.



#14 urbanMark

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Posted 01 March 2024 - 05:05 PM

Is there a way to control/interface Lumix cameras with standard Astro software? Looks like there is an ASCOM driver on Github, anyone tried it? I'm not seeing native support in any of the software packages I currently use.

 

I own a few M43 Lumix cameras that I use for video and travel photography, and was considering an S5ii.....looks like there is a huge sale on these for the next day or so (ends March 2nd). I could just stick with my D750, but I've grown really fond of my Lumix cameras and now the Nikon seems clunky. 



#15 vidrazor

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Posted 03 March 2024 - 02:08 AM

Is there a way to control/interface Lumix cameras with standard Astro software? Looks like there is an ASCOM driver on Github, anyone tried it? I'm not seeing native support in any of the software packages I currently use.

I own a few M43 Lumix cameras that I use for video and travel photography, and was considering an S5ii.....looks like there is a huge sale on these for the next day or so (ends March 2nd). I could just stick with my D750, but I've grown really fond of my Lumix cameras and now the Nikon seems clunky. 

Your Nikon has plenty of astro software support however. Unfortunately I haven't seen much of any support for Lumix MFT cameras other than the GH5 and GX8 on Linux/Mac via INDI/libgphoto2. No S5 support tho, which at this point in time is a bit surprising. There may be third-party ASCOM drivers for your MFT bodies on Windows, you may want to look around. I use INDI to control my Olympus E-M5 Mk II on Astroberry running on a Raspberry Pi4, and Stellarmate on a MeLe Quieter3C.




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