Panasonic Lumix S1H Review: Nonetheless the Video Champ

Panasonic Lumix S1H review: Nonetheless the video champ

MSRP $3,999.00

“It appears to be like like a nonetheless camera, however the S1H is a cinema camera in disguise — and an excellent one.”

Professionals

  • Full-frame 4K and 6K video
  • 5.9K RAW output
  • Distinctive construct high quality
  • Limitless recording
  • In-body picture stabilization

Cons

  • Steady AF typically gradual, inaccurate
  • 4K/60 is cropped
  • Large, heavy

A yr into its life, the Panasonic Lumix S1H is not alone when it comes to skilled mirrorless video cameras. Lately, the 8K-shooting Canon EOS R5 and 4K/120p Sony A7S III have stolen headlines, however the world of professional video isn’t nearly excessive resolutions and body charges. The Lumix S1H stays distinctive in its position as a real workhorse video camera.

In a technique, the S1H truly stands out extra at present due to the presence of youthful opponents from Sony and Canon. Its comparatively modest efficiency — full-frame 6K/24p or 4K/30p, cropped 4K/60p — is definitely a sign of Panasonic’s give attention to reliability. Certain, there are issues the S1H can’t do, however for the filmmaker who simply wants detailed, clear, 24p footage, this camera is the plain alternative. In each bodily design and software program performance, it’s constructed to carry as much as the calls for of an actual manufacturing.

In truth, I might argue the S1H is much less of a hybrid mirrorless camera and extra of a small cinema camera, regardless of having the shape issue of the previous. As such, it’s positively not the camera for everybody — however the $4,000 price ticket most likely made that clear.

Designed for actual life, not a spec sheet

The S1H is constructed on the identical platform as Panasonic’s different S1 cameras such because the Lumix S1 and S1R with a cumbersome, though ergonomic, design. Bodily, it differs in a single key space over the S1 with the addition of a cooling fan sandwiched between the again panel and the LCD display screen. This fan, greater than anything, is what makes the S1H particular. The place different mirrorless cameras can shortly overheat when capturing high-resolution or high-frame-rate video, the S1H can carry on ticking indefinitely.

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The LCD display screen can also be distinctive, resting in a double-hinged mechanism that lets it instantly tilt up and down or flip out to the facet. The additional flexibility makes it simpler to maneuver round microphone and HDMI cords or anything plugged into the camera. The highest LCD can also be bigger and exhibits extra info than its counterpart on the S1 and S1R.

In fact, all of this does make the S1H even larger and heavier than its cousin, the Lumix S1. At 2.56 kilos, it’s not precisely in the identical league because the 1.35-pound Sony A7S III. The S1H is a camera that may greatest serve you atop a sturdy tripod. Once more, it’s higher to consider it as a miniature cinema camera slightly than a hybrid mirrorless camera. Sure, you possibly can take nice pictures with it — however you most likely gained’t need to.

In any other case, the S1H carries over just about of all the design options of the S1, together with climate sealing, plentiful bodily controls, and the gorgeous 5.7 million-dot digital viewfinder. There’s one extra distinction: The place the S1 and S1R have one SD card slot and one XQD/CFexpress slot, the S1H makes use of twin SD playing cards. Excessive-speed V90 SD playing cards are completely nice, even for 6K video, however this does imply you miss out on the insanely quick switch speeds of CFexpress on the subject of offloading footage to a pc.

A medley of resolutions and body charges

Panasonic has graced the Lumix S1H with a wealth of decision and body price decisions, lots of that are nonstandard and all of which include distinctive limitations. It’s a little bit of a large number, however I’ll do my greatest to clarify every and the way it is perhaps used.

Let’s begin with 6K. The best-resolution the S1H can provide with its 24-megapixel sensor, 6K is recorded as 5952 x 3968 pixels, a 3:2 facet ratio that makes use of the total sensor space, a recording mode often known as “open gate.” Which means you’ll must crop the footage in put up to attain the usual 16:9 facet ratio, however you’ll have just a little room to regulate the framing. If outputting to 4K, you’ll even have some flexibility to crop.

Regardless of these freedoms, 6K isn’t the automated alternative. It’s restricted to 24 frames per second (24p) and makes use of the h.265 codec, with 10-bit 4:2:2 colour and a knowledge price of 200 megabits per second (Mbps).

Subsequent is 5.9K (5888 x 3312), the closest you will get to 6K in a 16:9 facet ratio. This makes use of the identical codec as 6K, however the barely decrease decision permits for body charges as much as 30 fps. In case you’re capturing a 24p mission, it’s your decision the additional flexibility of the three:2 6K footage, however for 30p initiatives, 5.9K is your restrict.

Then there’s 5.4K (5376 x 3584), one other 3:2 possibility. Not like 6K, this data a cropped area of the sensor and permits for body charges as much as 30p.

Two flavors of full-width 4K can be found, normal Extremely HD (3840 x 2160) and DCI (4096 x 2160). Each will be shot at 24 or 30 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 colour at 400Mbps. You may as well shoot cropped 4K as much as 60 fps from an APS-C, or Tremendous 35, area of the sensor. This tops out at 200Mbps. There are additionally 4:3 anamorphic 4K modes (3328 x 2496) that may be de-squeezed to cinematic facet ratios when utilizing anamorphic lenses. All of this makes 4K the sweet-spot decision for the S1H.

However Panasonic didn’t cease there. Practically a yr after its announcement, the S1H obtained a firmware replace including 5.9K RAW video output over HDMI (and sure, the S1H encompasses a full-size HDMI port). With an Atomos Ninja V or one other appropriate recorder, footage is saved within the Apple ProRes RAW format. RAW video shouldn’t be for the faint of coronary heart, however this characteristic has made the S1H much more beneficial for skilled clients.

Apparently, that very same 5.9K RAW output can also be coming to the newer, and less expensive, Lumix S5.

Capturing expertise and video high quality

I shot a mixture of full-frame 4K/24 and cropped 4K/60 and was actually impressed with the outcomes of each. The S1H gives Panasonic’s “true” V-Log profile, not the V-Log-l of the GH5 sequence, which implies it ought to match as much as a Panasonic VariCam cinema camera. The corporate claims 14 stops of dynamic vary, which is solely incredible for inside, non-RAW recording. From pores and skin tones to vibrant particulars, I actually like the colours that come out of the S1H. Be aware: I used to be unable to get an Atomos recorder in time for this review so haven’t but examined the RAW output — though I’m undecided if my 8-year-old laptop would even be as much as the duty.

Strictly talking, I don’t assume many individuals can have a necessity for the 6K mode. It’s overkill for many of us. However I’m glad Panasonic included it. For one, some clients will love the crop and reframe potential of 6K open-gate recording. Moreover, by outputting the total 5.9K as an alternative of 4K for RAW, Panasonic can keep away from the issues that come up from line-skipping that plague the Nikon Z 6, one other 24-megapixel camera with RAW output however which is proscribed to 4K decision. Requiring simply 8 megapixels, outputting 4K from a 24MP sensor means many pixels merely get ignored, resulting in a softer picture than what 4K is definitely able to.

Internally, the S1H makes use of the identical codec because the GH5, however its bigger sensor, and the usage of the total V-Log profile, can help you get extra out of it. Assuming you began with a halfway-decent publicity and white steadiness, you’ll haven’t any downside grading the footage to get the look you need.

I mentioned the S1H is greatest used atop a sturdy tripod, however I truly shot it handheld for probably the most half. Because of the in-body stabilization, handheld footage is easy and pure, however the weight of the camera — particularly outfitted with the big Lumix S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, supplied for this review by Lensrentals — will definitely make you need to restrict handheld use as a lot as doable.

The massive, high LCD and the position of the controls make for an excellent consumer expertise. Buttons can simply be reprogrammed just by holding them down and deciding on a brand new possibility from the ensuing menu. The consumer interface is among the extra intelligently thought-out designs of any camera, and makes navigating the S1H’s many settings and sub-menus a breeze.

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If there’s one potential purple flag, it’s autofocus. Panasonic’s distinctive focusing system, known as Depth from Defocus, merely can’t hold tempo with the phase-detection methods of Sony and Canon. A pending firmware replace will convey the enhancements launched within the Lumix S5, which is actually welcome, however I nonetheless discovered that camera to lag behind the competitors.

To be clear, I don’t assume the kind of quick, correct, eye-tracking autofocus required by one-person YouTube crews can be a make-or-break characteristic on this planet {of professional} video and cinema Panasonic is focusing on with the S1H. Nonetheless, it’s one thing to pay attention to because it does restrict the conditions by which the S1H will be efficient.

Our take

The Lumix S1H is a camera that solely Panasonic would construct. Just like the Micro 4 Thirds Lumix GH5S, the S1H has a narrowly outlined goal buyer within the video skilled, and but nonetheless carries over all the nonetheless picture performance of a high-end hybrid camera. That makes it a little bit of an oddity, and a few filmmakers will undoubtedly marvel why they shouldn’t simply put money into a cinema camera — however the place will you discover a full-frame, 5.9K RAW cinema camera with picture stabilization for $4,000? You gained’t. Even after factoring in the price of an exterior recorder, beginning at about $600, the S1H is a cut price for what you’re getting.

There’s a cause Panasonic hasn’t dropped the value of the S1H after being available on the market for a yr, even with the Sony A7S III coming in under it at $3,500. No different hybrid camera has put a lot emphasis on reliability and practicality, nor blended that with such quite a lot of normal and anamorphic body sizes. I want 4K/60 may very well be recorded with out the crop, and Panasonic’s autofocus leaves room for enchancment, however these gained’t be points in most manufacturing environments for which this camera is meant.

If I had been to begin a YouTube channel, I’d attain for the A7S III — but when I had been to supply a movie, then there’s no camera I’d slightly have on my set than the Lumix S1H.

Is there a greater various?

Some creators could choose the Sony A7S III in the event that they want higher-frame price 4K or extra dependable autofocus, however probably the most intriguing various comes from Panasonic’s personal camp. The Lumix S5 will obtain RAW 5.9K output later this yr, which ought to give it equal video high quality to the S1H for individuals who don’t thoughts utilizing an exterior recorder. You’ll should make do with its pitiful Micro HDMI port, however with a value of simply $2,000, that’s not a foul deal.

How lengthy will it final?

The S1H is knowledgeable machine constructed to carry as much as the calls for of such clients. Whereas 8K cameras are on their approach — and no, you don’t want one but — 4K and 6K will proceed to be greater than sufficient decision for the foreseeable future. There’s no cause the S1H gained’t stay viable for a few years to come back.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. Purchase the Panasonic Lumix S1H for those who want a video camera that doesn’t simply ship excellent picture high quality, but additionally skilled reliability and suppleness.

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