Panasonic Lumix S1 Review | Redefining Mirrorless Cameras

Panasonic Lumix S1

MSRP $2,499.99

“The Lumix S1 is a camera constructed with out constraints.”

Execs

  • Best viewfinder accessible in the marketplace
  • Great RAW and JPEG image top quality
  • 96MP extreme resolution mode
  • Distinctive assemble top quality, administration format, and UI
  • Good subject-tracking autofocus

Cons

  • Massive, heavy
  • Intermittent autofocus errors

The Lumix S1 simply is not the camera I believed Panasonic would assemble. It is bigger, heavier, and dearer than I anticipated. Nevertheless it is also bolder, taking risks and attempting new points totally different companies shrink again from. Panasonic has written a model new recipe for a mirrorless camera, one which leaves no substances on the shelf.

However when Panasonic is an underdog, it positively isn’t showing like one. It slapped a $2,500 price tag on the S1 — $500 higher than the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z 6, which might be constructed spherical comparable sensors. It’s conscious of it has one factor specific proper right here and has faith that it will be worthwhile.

That faith is properly positioned. The S1 is probably going one of the crucial versatile and succesful cameras ever made, mirrorless or not, and it’s further spectacular for being a first-generation product. It reveals what’s potential when a camera is constructed with out the usual constraints positioned on dimension and weight, and whereas that may prohibit the breadth of its enchantment, it’s dominant for the acceptable purchaser. Backed by the vitality of two totally different companies, Sigma and Leica, throughout the heroic-sounding L-Mount Alliance, Panasonic moreover has a aggressive edge not typically afforded to new camera packages, as further native lenses shall be on the market for the S1 in its first 12 months than Nikon’s and Canon’s new mirrorless packages.

Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Design and coping with

It isn’t merely image top quality or effectivity that separates educated camera from a client model. Administration and sturdiness are equally crucial. Panasonic is conscious of this, and the S1 is constructed like a tank. At 2.25 kilos, it has half a pound on the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z 6 — in precise reality, it’s even heavier than even the Nikon D850 DSLR. Panasonic is embracing the reality {that a} mirrorless camera has way more to produce than weight monetary financial savings in relation to altering your DSLR.

Fortunately, the S1 locations that weight to good use. It is professionally weather-sealed so it might probably stand as much as rain, snow, and dirt. It has an enormous, cosy grip that feels secure in your hand. It offers twin memory card slots, one SD and one XQD (which can even be appropriate with CFExpress taking part in playing cards throughout the near future). There’s a full-size HDMI port, a USB-C port that will vitality and price the camera, and every headphone and microphone jacks.

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

The physique is completely lined in buttons, dials, and switches providing further direct entry administration than each different mirrorless camera. The button format could also be very comparable, although not an similar, to that of the Lumix G9, among the many best Micro 4 Thirds cameras we’ve ever examined. It is also the similar as a result of the S1R — you don’t sacrifice any usability by selecting the S1, no matter it being $1,200 cheaper.

I actually like how easy it is to customize the controls to your liking. Merely keep a button down until the personalized settings menu appears on the show, then select the required carry out for it. There’s no further digging by means of the menu attempting to find out which icon corresponds to which button (although, Panasonic has redesigned the menus, and that particular exercise is apparent now).

The physique is roofed in buttons, dials, and switches providing further direct administration than each different mirrorless camera.

The interface offers totally different enhancements. When you want to quickly cycle by means of autofocus modes, ISO settings, or white steadiness presets, merely faucet the corresponding button. You can press the button after which use one in all many command dials to manage the setting, as conventional, nonetheless I was shocked by how pure it felt to faucet ISO 3 instances to spice up it by a stop, fairly than having to manipulate two utterly totally different controls.

On the doorway of the camera you’ll uncover a two-position change which may be set to toggle utterly totally different settings. The options are many, nonetheless I programmed it to swap between customary single-point autofocus and face/eye-detection. This let me change focus modes on the fly to swimsuit the situation with out even taking my eye from the viewfinder.

On excessive of the camera is an LCD data present that’s crucial of any mirrorless camera. Activate the backlight, and it glows a warmth amber color — plenty of of the buttons on the once more of the camera moreover light up, although we would like all of them did.

It’s this consideration to ingredient that makes the S1 an unbelievable camera. Even the shutter button has been angled barely to the acceptable to larger fit your index finger. The one nagging degree is the flexibility change, which is positioned in an ungainly place merely behind the shutter launch, nonetheless in any case it’s on the acceptable side of the camera.

Individual experience

Elevate the S1 to your eye and the very very first thing you uncover is how pretty the view is through the expansive digital viewfinder. Colors are rich, you probably can see ingredient throughout the highlights and shadows. It’s so sharp, you probably can’t make out specific particular person pixels anyplace.

Take a picture, and the following issue you uncover is how whisper-quiet the shutter is. Such a fragile noise coming from such a hefty camera is sophisticated at first; making an attempt on the S1, you depend on the fwap-clang! of a DSLR, and as a substitute you get one factor further identical to the muffled click on on of a point-and-shoot. In precise reality, it’s so quiet that the first time I shot the S1, I wrongly assumed it was set to digital shutter mode, and the sound I was listening to was solely a simulated noise collaborating in by means of the camera’s speaker. I double-checked the settings to confirm the mechanical shutter was on; it was.

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Adore it or hate it, there isn’t any such factor as a getting spherical how loads the S1 weighs. It’s a heavy camera, and the trio of Lumix L-mount lenses in the intervening time on the market should not any lightweights, each. The two zooms, a 24-105mm f/4 and 70-200mm f/4, are every well-made and actually really feel good throughout the hand, nonetheless even with their comparatively gradual f/4 apertures, they’re nonetheless pretty big. The S Skilled 50mm f/1.4 — which is a stunning lens — weighs over 2 kilos by itself. (It moreover costs $2,300 — yikes.)

Once you’re looking out for a lightweight system, look elsewhere. In precise reality, look away from full physique absolutely. Panasonic will luckily promote you a Micro 4 Thirds camera, in any case.

Nevertheless whatever the burden, or possibly as a result of it, the S1 provides a satisfying capturing experience. It feels purposeful, determined. It’s a pickup truck; it exists to do a job. You don’t buy it to deal with journey. You spend cash on it to do work.

Choices and specs

If the expert administration format doesn’t promote you on the S1, the digital viewfinder merely might. We’ve seen good EVFs sooner than, nonetheless none pretty like this. The OLED panel packs in some 5.7 million pixels, 2 million higher than the already superb EVFs of the Nikon Z 6, Fujifilm X-T3, and Canon EOS R — and over 3 million higher than the Sony A7 III. It would moreover refresh at each 60 or 120 frames per second.

Pushing that many pixels that quickly spells disaster for the battery, however. Even with an enormous functionality of 3050mAh, battery life is rated for merely 380 images per price. In my experience, I made some 250 exposures sooner than the indicator dropped to about 50 p.c. It’s not a scientific measurement, and battery life varies considerably counting on use, nonetheless I might depend on to get spherical 500 images per price. (An affect saving mode extends this to over 1,000, in response to Panasonic, nonetheless I did not check out this.)

You’ll love the attractive view by means of the expansive digital viewfinder.

At any worth, it’s a small value to pay for probably the greatest EVF accessible in the marketplace. It’s practically unimaginable to detect specific particular person pixels, even when making an attempt on the top quality textual content material throughout the publicity meter, for example. It’s an outstanding piece of engineering and should ease any lingering concerns {{that a}} diehard DSLR particular person may have about giving up their optical viewfinder.

Feeding that EVF is a 24-megapixel sensor with no anti-aliasing filter, providing sharper particulars on the potential worth of moiré. That’s slightly bit higher than half the choice of the Lumix S1R’s 47MP, however it’s higher than ample for a lot of photographic duties.

It moreover helps for regular capturing. Every cameras can churn out 9 frames per second (6 with regular autofocus), nonetheless the S1 can preserve that for for for much longer. In our testing, we captured 75 images at 9 fps sooner than the buffer stuffed up, compared with merely 32 for the S1R, when using the XQD card.

And if 24 megapixels aren’t ample for you, place the camera on a tripod and activate Extreme Determination Mode to create a 96MP image. The S1 is principally two cameras in a single, supplying you with lower resolution whilst you need velocity, and ultra-high resolution whilst you need ingredient for landscapes or nonetheless life subjects. (When you actually wish to maximise ingredient, the extreme resolution mode on the S1R outputs a staggering 187MP.)

Panasonic Lumix S1Daven Mathies/Digital Tendencies

Extreme resolution mode works by taking eight images and mixing them into one, however it shifts the sensor by microscopic portions between each. Not solely does this seize further spatial resolution, however it moreover cancels out the affect of the Bayer filter by recording full RGB color info at every pixel location. Moreover, it dramatically reduces the prospect of moiré.

It’s made potential as a result of 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization system throughout the S1. Previous extreme resolution mode, this offers as a lot as 6 stops of shake low cost when paired with an optically stabilized lens. That’s 1 to 1.5 stops decrease than what you get throughout the Olympus OM-D E-M1X, however it nonetheless makes an infinite distinction in real-world conditions, for every stills and video.

Autofocus

The one controversial line the S1’s spec sheet is contrast-detection autofocus. Panasonic opted in the direction of the faster phase-detection autofocus in favor of its private Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology, which is principally hyper-advanced distinction detection. Half-detection is the gold customary of autofocus, as a result of it not solely is conscious of when an image is in or out of focus, however moreover whether or not or not an out-of-focus image is front- or back-focused. That means it’s conscious of which path to point out the lens to comprehend focus, dashing the strategy up and often eradicating the principle goal “looking out” that occurs in contrast-detection packages.

DFD closes the outlet between distinction and part detection by repeatedly evaluating two images at barely utterly totally different focus positions, then analyzing the change in blur between the two to search out out which path, and by how far, to maneuver the principle goal. This runs at a blazing 480 frames per second on the S1, good for a claimed focusing velocity of 0.08 seconds — inside hanging distance of probably the greatest phase-detection packages.

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It actually works properly about 90 p.c of the time. Evaluating it side-by-side with a Canon EOS RP (which makes use of phase-detection), I couldn’t inform a distinction in velocity the least bit, even when quickly focusing forwards and backwards between near and distant subjects. On this example, it was flawless.

Nonetheless, in several circumstances the autofocus would usually hunt sooner than locking in, inflicting a significant delay sooner than I’ll snap the picture. It felt practically random. Autofocus would work for a while, after which unexpectedly start on the lookout for no apparent trigger. This may occasionally very properly be a problem in case your photos requires a fast response time.

The S1 moreover will get superior subtract monitoring as a result of deep learning. It would acknowledge people, each full our our bodies or just the faces and eyes, and some animals. This perform works even at prolonged distances. As you probably can see throughout the video on the excessive of the online web page, which was shot on the S1, it moreover works in regular mode. Even with out a 180-degree flip show, I’ll perception the camera was preserving me in focus. Nonetheless, you probably can uncover some “respiration” throughout the background highlights — that’s the DFD system barely adjusting focus to create these comparability images it desires.

Image top quality

Whereas S sequence purchasers attainable skew in the direction of expert and may shoot in RAW, it’s worth noting the S1 produces plenty of the best out-of-camera JPEGs I’ve ever seen. Panasonic’s color science is mainly dialed in proper right here. Pores and pores and skin tones look implausible, with good color and tonality that softens shadows in your matter with out eradicating an extreme quantity of distinction. It’s a look that is robust to repeat when working with the RAW file. (All RAW images have been remodeled to Adobe DNGs, as third-party RAW assist for the S1 wasn’t on the market on the time of this review. Image top quality may change barely when the data are formally supported.)

The truth is, the JPEGs acquired’t keep as a lot as manipulation in postproduction. That is the place the RAW info can be found in, and the S1’s are every bit as malleable as these from Sony and Nikon, and even maybe further so. That’s the place the camera benefits from its DFD autofocus system. By not layering phase-detect pixels over the sensor, you probably can push exposures loads extra with out working into banding.

Extreme ISO effectivity will be robust, with good noise ranges by means of ISO 25,600. The best ISO of 51,200 is usable at diminished image sizes, nonetheless does current a significant leap in noise in darkish areas. That’s the place the S1 has an edge over the S1R, which tops out at ISO 25,600 and divulges barely further noise all by means of the ISO range. You can improve the S1’s ISO even elevated, to 204,800, nonetheless depend on heavy noise at that setting.

The one issue to watch out for with the S1 is moiré. With out an anti-aliasing filter, positive top quality patterns — identical to the threads in garments — can create interference with the pixels, leading to a rainbow-like affect (that’s demonstrated throughout the video on the excessive of the online web page). I solely noticed this as quickly as all by means of my review, however when {{photograph}} a great deal of portraits, considerably fashion the place garments itself is the subject, this would possibly set off a problem.

To be truthful, that’s no utterly totally different than totally different cameras of comparable resolution that lack anti-aliasing filters — identical to the Nikon Z 6 — nonetheless it is one trigger why some photographers should go for higher-resolution fashions. With virtually twice the pixels, the 47MP S1R shall be loads a lot much less susceptible to moiré. As soon as extra, for nonmoving subjects, extreme resolution mode offers one different reply.

Video top quality

The S1 might be not the GH5 of the full-frame world, however it packs a punch in relation to video. It would shoot 4K at 24 and 30 frames per second from the whole width of the sensor, or at 60 frames per second from a cropped space of the sensor. It would moreover produce in-camera gradual motion using a extreme framerate mode. It doesn’t have the 400-megabit-per-second codec of the GH5, nonetheless it might probably nonetheless output a transparent signal over HDMI (which makes use of a full-size Variety A connector). Ultimately, a paid firmware change will unlock V-log and 4:2:2 10-bit recording.

Video top quality in 4K at 24 fps is kind of good. There’s a great deal of ingredient and color, and it’s positively ample for the nonetheless photographer who should shoot video on the side. Extreme framerate mode does reduce top quality, and is much extra vulnerable to moiré, as you probably can see throughout the sample video. That isn’t good, however it’s moreover common — most cameras drop top quality significantly in extreme framerate mode.

For now, the S1 is a succesful video camera that finds itself among the many many higher of its mates throughout the full-frame world, even when it doesn’t pretty match the smaller-format GH5. It’s going to moreover get larger throughout the near future, in any case for patrons who don’t ideas shelling out an as-yet-unstated value for the V-Log change. Nevertheless with Nikon shortly offering RAW video output on the Z sequence, Panasonic may should work more durable to win over hybrid nonetheless/video shooters. Given the S1’s extreme starting value, okay isn’t okay.

Our Take

Panasonic is taking an infinite hazard with the Lumix S sequence. Not solely is it stepping into full-frame territory for the first time, it’s doing so with a camera that throws out commonplace information about what a mirrorless camera should be. It’s big, it’s heavy, and it’s magnificent. Whether or not or not Panasonic can win working professionals away from the additional established producers of Nikon, Canon, and Sony stays to be seen, nonetheless the S1 is unquestionably up for the issue.

The S1 isn’t good, however. Autofocus errors, as intermittent as they’re, are a set off for concern. Softness and moiré in slow-motion video might make the perform unusable. On a $2,000 camera physique, these might be significantly forgivable; on a $2,500 physique, purchasers are going to be further vital.

That talked about, from the perspective of every image top quality and choices, the S1 stays in all probability essentially the most spectacular mirrorless camera I’ve used so far, and it’s solely going to get larger. Sigma not too way back launched it may carry 11 of its high-end Paintings lenses to the L-mount, and naturally Leica already makes plenty of (not that the majority people might afford them). This may occasionally pace up the maturation of the S sequence at a tempo Canon and Nikon merely can’t match.

How prolonged will it remaining?

The S1 is sturdy and professionally local weather sealed. It ought to keep up as a lot because the requires of working photographers for years. It’s a new system, so we don’t however know what Panasonic’s enhance schedule shall be, nonetheless it could actually attainable be 2 to a few years sooner than a substitute camera hits the market.

Is there a higher totally different?

There isn’t anyone camera that’s definitively larger than the S1, nonetheless plenty of have specific choices which can matter to you. To ensure that you a smaller camera with out giving up the full-frame sensor, the Sony A7 III is an environment friendly various — it’s moreover cheaper and makes use of phase-detection autofocus.

No totally different camera can match the S1’s combination of choices, image top quality, sturdiness, and administration format. It moreover has probably the greatest EVF throughout the enterprise.

Do you must buy it?

Positive. For people who want probably the greatest at any worth, the Lumix S1 makes a sturdy case to your money.

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