Panasonic S1 with 24-105mm Lens

The new Panasonic S1 and S1R cameras mark a historical moment not only for Panasonic, but for the camera industry as a whole. Both the S1 and S1R cameras are the first full-frame mirrorless bodies from Panasonic. AND. AND this is a BIG AND, they share the “L” lens mount with Leica and Sigma. A partnership dubbed the L-Mount Alliance. 

The L-Mount was created by Leica for their first full-frame mirrorless camera the Leica SL. It is now shared technology between these 3 manufacturers, with Panasonic releasing 2 bodies and 3 lenses that currently utilize it. Sigma is rumored to be working on a new camera body which uses the L-Mount as well, but in the meantime they have released 11 new Art lenses that run the L-Mount all with an f/2.8 or smaller base aperture. 

Any photographer who owns a Leica SL or Panasonic S1 or S1R now has 22 native mount lenses available to them for their creative outlets. This is HUGE! 

The Panasonic S1 Box - Simple White on Black

The Panasonic S1 and LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 MACRO O.I.S.

I put the Panasonic S1 and LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 MACRO O.I.S. through the rain, sleet, and snow of a Wyoming mud season for thirty days. This setup comes as a kit. It looks like Panasonic has even taken some queues from Leica with how they box, ship, and present their new full-frame mirrorless camera to the buyer. Basically, the packaging here is part of the design process as well. 

I am testing the less expensive Panasonic S1 body. This kit ships for a little less than $3400. The S1 body is a full-frame 24MP sensor camera that shoots 9FPS. It also shoots 4K video at 60FPS with 10-Bit Recording. The Panasonic S1R is also available as a kit with the LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 MACRO O.I.S. lens for a little under $4600. The S1R boasts a massive 47MP sensor, 4K60 video, and get this, a 9FPS shutter as well! You can double your megapixels for just over a grand!

The L-Mount

I am going to bring Canon into this scenario because the S1 is more of direct comparison to Canon than they are Leica. 

While Canon is trying to make photographers think they are crossing new boundaries with their EOS R mount, The L-Mount was there 5 years ago. The EOS R mount is 54mm in diameter, to the L-Mount’s 52mm. Both Canon and Leica are using 20mm flange distances as well. Pretty sure Canon has decided to follow yet again.

Taking the Panasonic S1 for a Ride

The ergonomics of the Panasonic S1 are really well thought out, the body just falls into place in your hands. It’s also significantly lighter than my Leica SL, with a comparative 1720grams to 2065grams with lenses attached. Though Panasonic claims weather-sealed magnesium construction, that is splash, dust, and freezeproof, the camera feels more like plastic when you start tapping things. For the price-point though, it definitely matches what Canon and Sony are producing.

I will say the the overall design and looks of this camera make me a much bigger Panasonic fan than before. I know the GH5 is a great camera, but I personally feel like their design standards were off with that body.

Buttons on the top of the Panasonic S1.

More buttons on the back of the Panasonic S1.

Girls Gone Wild S1

Like mentioned before, this camera feels great in the hand, the buttons, dials, switches, and shutter release have great placement for ergonomics. However, this camera is the “Girls Gone Wild” with its buttons. Wow, there are more buttons and dials on this thing than any camera I have tested to date.

The menu structure is also, “out of control”. Panasonic did lay the menu out in a photographer-centric way, but there are menus within menus. The navigation is time consuming. It took reading the manual to figure out how to remove autofocus from the shutter release and activate it only on back-button autofocus. 

I know you are sitting there thinking, hey dummy, that’s what the manual is for. Yes, it is, but there is something you should know that I never really discuss here when testing a camera. Can I start using the camera in question without reading the instructions. Why do this? Well, I have been taking photos since 1995, if a device that I am testing is that out of the realm of a photographer’s thought process, then I think that you the reader needs to know about it. Go read my review of the Canon EOS R.

Other Features

The Panasonic S1 has two card ports—one SD XC II port and one XQD slot. It kind of annoys me that Panasonic didn’t just put two SD XC II ports into the S1. I am kind of tired of these weird and mis-matched card ports on cameras. I am hoping that at some point the camera industry just settles on SD.

The rear touch screen is a 3.2” 2.1m-Dot Triaxial Tilt Touchscreen. Yes, that all means that it articulates and has great resolution.

The Panasonic S1 Viewfinder

Finally after almost 5 years, another company has produced an electronic viewfinder (EVF) with more resolution than the Leica SL. The 5.76m-dot OLED viewfinder in the S1 is magnificent. This mirrorless viewfinder renders the scene closest to the reality of a DSLR to date. The S1  EVF has a 120fps refresh rate, .005 sec lag, and a 10,000:1 contrast ratio. It blows all Sony mirrorless cameras out of the water.

12 Frame Autofocus Sequence w/ Panasonic S1.

Autofocus on the Panasonic S1

I was really surprised with the autofocus on the S1. It’s incredibly fast and accurate. Tracking my son and puppy running was a piece of cake. The S1 has 225 AF areas, supports low light performance down to -6EV. It took a dark room and trying shoot our Samoyed under the couch to really confuse the camera (see noise example below). Panasonic uses a bunch of big-boy terms like Depth-From-Defocus and Advanced AI Technology, but the autofocus built into the S1 is basically contrast-detection autofocus.

Couple the super-fast autofocus with a 9 frames per second shooting rate in single shot auto focus (6 FPS with continuous AF) and you have the makings of an amazing sports camera. Add the 24MP sensor in and you cover the rest.

The S1 also has a dual image stabilization in play, both in the body and the lenses. This dueling system provides the photographer with 6-stops of camera shake compensation. 6-stops! That translates into you shooting a photo that needs 1/250 of second using only a shutter speed of 1/4 of a second. That’s pretty amazing.

Panasonic S1 Sensor Noise - ISO 12,800 with 28 Points of Luminance Reduction in Lightroom Classic CC.

Sensor Noise

Sensor noise is really well controlled with this camera. ISO 12,800 looked amazing after just 28 points of luminance noise reduction in Lightroom Classic CC. That is from a RAW file as well—not a jpeg. The RAW files out of the Panasonic S1 are proprietary .RW2 files. These appeared underexposed with most of the photos that I shot. This could be how the file is structured or how Lightroom was interpreting it during import.

Import Issues

I had problems every time that I imported files from the S1. Probably because Lightroom hadn’t caught up with the camera in Adobe Camera Raw. Lightroom wouldn’t recognize the RAWs unless I manually put them in a folder on my computer and imported that folder into Lightroom Classic. Once they were imported, the software recognized the files though.

The RAWs Themselves

I feel like the color of the RAWs out of the S1 are a bit off. I don’t think the color renders to my taste. Maybe this is part of the translation on import into Lightroom, the way the sensor reads them or the way the Venus Engine Processor produces them. The photos out of this camera feel very black heavy and I found it hard to make the photo look like I wanted. 

This issue could resolve itself as I got to really know the camera though.

Final Thoughts

It’s very clear to me that Panasonic has entered the full-frame mirrorless market at full throttle with the nitrous engaged. The build and image quality out of the S1 is superb.

The Panasonic S1 is a well priced camera for what it offers up. My immediate thought was to compare it to the Leica SL because well, it uses the same lens mount. That was the wrong approach though. What we have with S1 is a camera that shares many features of the Leica SL including lenses, but it is a quality performer at a reasonable price. 

It seems to be built to compete, well destroy, Canon’s first real foray into mirrorless with the EOS R. The Panasonic S1 is leaps and bounds above the Canon EOS R. While Canon has pumped up the EOS R to be something that it is not, Panasonic has quietly entered the arena and stolen all of the trophies.

In addition, by being part of the L-Mount alliance they have opened the doors to a complete working system right from the start. Canon isn’t going to tell you that your 70-200 f/2.8 EF mount lens will be obsolete in the near future. Why? Because you would be pissed. Maybe that’s a bit of fortune teller mumbo jumbo, but if I am right, you have chosen poorly with the big C.

The Leica SL2 Rumor Factory

Every once in a while I read the rumor pages. I can tell you that what I am reading about the forthcoming Leica SL2 seems completely wrong. One person went to the extent to take a photo of the Panasonic S1 and add Leica badging to it. All these types of signs point to link bait and uneducated guessing.

I know a lot of people. I can tell you that even my people don’t know what Leica has in store for the SL2. I can say that if the sensor in the S1 finds its way into the SL2 Leica users will rejoice. I cannot see the Leica SL2 being a 24MP camera though, that is the current Leica SL. I can see the 47MP S1R sensor becoming integrated into the Leica SL2 though.

From a build standpoint, I think many of the features of the S1(R) will be encased in a modern Leica design package. Leica’s history highlights that. Their S body has become more and more refined from version 1 to the latest version 3. Same with the Leica Q to Q2, minor design improvements, with a few substantial technical adds. 

So my take on the Leica SL2 is—47MP sensor like the Panasonic S1R and recently released Leica Q2. At least 10FPS shooting speed, with a much faster autofocus system, and an even higher resolution viewfinder. You can call bullshit when the future unfolds.

Positives

Great Ergonomics

Low Sensor Noise

Fast Autofocus

Fantastic Viewfinder

Great Price

Part of the L-Mount Alliance

Negatives

Menu has too many steps

Body has too many buttons

Build feels less than bomber

Get You Some of This.

Panasonic S1.

Get your very own Panasonic S1 from B&H Photo/Video.

*Update*

All New Panasonic LUMIX S1H

Panasonic Announces the New LUMIX S1H Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera With Cinema-Quality Video and the World’s First 6K/24p*1 Recording Capability

Newark, NJ (May 31, 2019) – Panasonic Corporation is proud to announce the newest addition to the LUMIX S series, the LUMIX S1H, a new Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera equipped with a full-frame image sensor. As the world’s first camera capable of video recording at 6K/24p *1(3:2 aspect ratio), 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio), and 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K.*2 *3, it combines the video quality of a professional camera and the high mobility of a mirrorless camera. The LUMIX S1H will be released to world markets in fall 2019.

The main features of the new LUMIX S1H are as follows:

High resolution up to 6K for multiple formats.

Maximizing the use of the pixels in the full-frame image sensor, the LUMIX S1H, as a digital camera, has achieved 6K/24p (3:2 aspect ratio) or 5.9K/30p (16:9 aspect ratio) video recording for the first time in the world.*1It is also the world’s first full-frame digital interchangeable lens system camera*1to enable 10-bit 60p 4K/C4K *2*3video recording. It accommodates a variety of recording formats like 4:3 Anamorphic mode, to meet professional needs. Its high-resolution data can also be used to create 4K videos with higher image quality or to crop images in 4K.

Rich gradation and a wide color space virtually equal to those of cinema cameras.

The LUMIX S1H features V-Log/V-Gamut with a wide dynamic range of 14+ stops, which are virtually the same as those of the Panasonic Cinema VariCam, allowing it to precisely capture everything from dark to bright areas. So much so, that the color and even the texture of human skin are faithfully reproduced. Designed under consistent color management, the S1H’s recorded footage is compatible with V-Log footage recorded by VariCam or the LUMIX GH5/GH5S.

High product reliability that allows unlimited video recording.*7

In every S1H recording mode, video can be recorded non-stop under the certified operating temperature so the user can concentrate on shooting.

Since the 1990s, Panasonic has been a leader in the development of video recording technologies for digital cinema, and has produced a host of innovative technologies for impressive cinematic imagery, such as 24p video recording, slow motion video using a variable frame rate, and the wide dynamic range and color space of V-Log/V-Gamut. By working with film creators for more than 25 years, Panasonic has successfully designed a number of cinema cameras that exhibit stunningly high video performance. The LUMIX GH1 made its debut in 2009 as the world’s first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera capable of full-HD AVCHD video recording. *4The LUMIX GH4 was launched in 2014 as the world’s first Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera*5capable of 4K video recording. Next, the LUMIX GH5 was released in 2017 with the world’s first 4K/60p, 4:2:2 10-bit 4K/30p recording capability.*6The LUMIX GH5 is highly acclaimed by film creators for its high performance, excellent mobility, and superb versatility in film production. And now, in 2019, the LUMIX S1H joins as Panasonic’s newest cinema camera.

Panasonic now offers three innovative models in the LUMIX S Series of full-frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras – the S1R, the S1, and the new S1H. The LUMIX S1R is ideal for capturing high-resolution images, while the LUMIX S1 is an advanced hybrid camera for high-quality photos and videos, and the LUMIX S1H is designed especially for film production. With this lineup, Panasonic is committed to meet the demands of every imaging professional by challenging the constant evolution of the photo/video culture in today’s new digital era.

The LUMIX S1H prototype will be exhibited at the 2019 Cine Gear Expo.*8

*1 As a digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of May 31, 2019 (U.S.). Panasonic research.

*2 As a full-frame digital interchangeable lens system camera, as of May 31 May, 2019 (U.S.). Panasonic research.       In Super 35mm-equivalent size.

*3 Corresponding to 4K (4096×2160) as defined by Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI).

*4 As of March 25, 2009, as a digital interchangeable lens system camera. Panasonic research.

*5 As of March 25, 2014, as a Digital Single Lens Mirrorless camera. Panasonic research.

*6 As of January 25, 2017, as a digital interchangeable lens system camera. Panasonic research.

*7 Recording time varies depending on the battery capacity and memory card capacity. When the camera’s temperature rises above the specified operation temperature, the camera may automatically stop video recording to protect it from heat damage.

*8 Cine Gear Expo 2019 is the premier annual event for professionals engaged in the technology, entertainment and media industry to be held at Paramount Studios in Los Angles, U.S., through May 30 to June 2.

·Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.

###

Leave a Comment