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Shooting with the Panasonic S1 in Barcelona

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For long-time GH1 to GH5 shooters like myself, loyal from the beginning, at a time everyone else was capturing Canon, the S1 is a milestone. I’ve a little bit of an emotional attachment to it already, being the first Panasonic full body digital camera. It isn’t my first L-mount digital camera although. I’ve been capturing with the Leica SL for a couple of years now and it is nonetheless the most clean, ergonomic, minimalist full frame mirrorless physique. It can’t, nevertheless, match the sheer measurement of the feature-set on the £2199 ($2499) Panasonic S1.

There’s an unimaginable depth to this digital camera, much more to explore than the four pleasant hours I had with it.

The important thing query is – does it supply something totally different or is it simply “more of the very good”?

Pattern picture (S Professional 50mm F1.four), by Andrew Reid

At the moment we’re a bit spoilt for selection aren’t we? With an embarrassment of riches with regards to mirrorless cameras, it looks like the manufacturers are falling over themselves to get a slice of the video market. For $1400 Fujifilm offers you 4K 60p 10bit. For $2000 Sony will set you up with full frame 4K S-LOG and pristine 1080/120p alongside with excellent phase-detect AF monitoring. Canon will… Offer you a Canon badge. Nikon provides you with the Z6 for $2400 but make no mistake, the Panasonic S1 is superior to the Z6 and Z7. It is a much more professional targeted system whereas the Z6 has a bit of a cut up character the place it may’t determine if it’s a shopper or professional digital camera. There are also some nice surprises on the S1’s spec sheet which make it close to being a full body GH5 in video phrases (though not quite)…

Inner 10bit V-LOG recording is coming by way of a paid firmware update, which for a stills orientated “full frame G9” is an sudden bonus. This is full-fat V-LOG not V-LOG-L, I’m informed. The color science on this digital camera could be very pleasant at first glance. It’s an enormous step ahead for skin-tones. The brand new Flat profile is straightforward to grade and provides monumental dynamic range. For anamorphic users there’s a 5K H.265 video mode in 3:2 (and I consider four:three as properly), although no devoted 24p anamorphic mode like the GH5 has. Sluggish-mo goes all the method up to 180fps, which is a first for a full body digital camera.

The S1 is usually superior to the S1R for video and of course lots inexpensive at round the similar worth as a Sony A7 III. Though the digital camera shoots full frame and not using a crop for the most part, there are some situations where the sensor goes right into a windowed mode to speed things up. So a few of the larger body price modes are a crop. 4K/60p is a 1:1 crop of Tremendous 35mm. Solely the 4K/30/25 and 24p are full frame (full pixel readout from 6K). Also a few of the 1080p slow-mo is cropped. This is pre-production firmware and issues might change in the remaining release.

Canon EOS R and Nikon Z customers will thank Panasonic for putting twin card slots on the S1. One SD and one XQD. There’s just one XQD slot on the Z6 and the EOS R makes do with one lousy SD card slot like a discount basement digital camera.

The mechanism by which the display tilts is controversial, with a Panasonic presentation at launch not taking place as an audience pleaser. The presenter, yanking at the display and dangling the digital camera by the LCD, revelled in her ploy to reveal robustness – but obviously in reality only an fool would hold a full body digital camera, with giant heavy lens, by the display. It’s disappointing to not see Panasonic keep the GH5’s tilt-out display (a minimum of on the S1, if not the S1R) – it should lose them a good portion of YouTube / vlogger gross sales. For precise filmmakers it’s not likely a lot of a problem.

The autofocus… Now, bearing in mind this isn’t the ultimate firmware, DFD contrast detect based mostly AF with Ai was inconsistent. Most of the time with the 24-105mm F4 and 50mm F1.4 (a completely unbelievable lens), focus was silent but felt much less snappy than the G9. In video mode it felt just like the GH5 with older firmware. For stills, it might be fast to pick an in depth object in the foreground but sluggish to snap onto the background. It might rack focus all the solution to close-up and then all the means again to infinity. I assumed DFD was meant to keep away from this so perhaps it’s a firmware challenge. Whatever, Panasonic have made a mistake to stay with contract detect AF. I discover the accuracy of on-sensor phase-detect AF simply positive, and efficiency to be much more constant. With Sony pushing exhausting with the latest firmware for the A7 III, A7R III and A9, Panasonic should be careful autofocus doesn’t sink the S1 and S1R versus the Sony and Canon competitors.

Interview session with Toshiyuki Tsumura, Panasonic

Common Manager, Product Planning

EOSHD: Is the autofocus efficiency ultimate? Will it enhance?

Toshiyuki Tsumura: Yes, we may have extra progress.

EOSHD: What’s the market place of the Panasonic S Professional lenses? Will these be high-end and Sigma mid-range?

Panasonic: From Panasonic’s aspect we will’t determine anything about rivals. Each company has their own philosophy in the alliance. The methods are unbiased.

EOSHD: So Sigma is free to make high-end lenses as properly for the S1?

Panasonic: Sure, and in addition their very own L-mount mirrorless digital camera!

Above: The Panasonic S1 is a big skilled mirrorless digital camera, comparable in measurement to the Leica SL which was £6000 upon release. The S1 is just £2199 and packs a extra in depth feature-set.

EOSHD: I’m very interested in the viewfinder know-how – greatest on the market at the second, but I like the strategy of a hybrid viewfinder too – like on the Fujifilm X100F. It might be nice to see such an strategy from Panasonic, but obviously this must be a rangefinder design.

TT: Our digital camera is 120 frames per second (for the EVF), is that this not enough? (Laughter)

EOSHD: It’s excellent! Compared to the similar EVF in 60fps mode. Far much less smearing, far less blur. Is it an OLED?

TT: Yes, it’s OLED. [Note: The Leica SL EVF is LCOS – correction from earlier edit!]

EOSHD: My other question is about the synthetic know-how, especially computational images. I feel previously smartphones have been shopper, casual, however now the software intelligence is opening up new alternatives for lovers and even execs to control photographs. I feel there is a market opportunity to have similarly advanced AI on a digital camera like the S1… At first, very slowly launched, in the type of a larger contact display. The current contact display interface is just too small, whereas I’d wish to see a gesture based mostly interface as an alternative. That’s quite a bit simpler whenever you’re capturing, quite than aiming for a small consumer interface.

Above: The S1 encompasses a each 1:1 pixel and APS-C crop modes

Panasonic: I feel your favourite digital camera is the Samsung NX1! (I additionally had a Galaxy NX with me, featuring a Tremendous 35mm sensor and enormous Android touch display interface)

EOSHD: Sure, although the Galaxy NX, on no account is it the greatest digital camera, there are things Samsung did proper. I also assume an digital sim chipset is needed, so Instagram might be built-in into the digital camera relatively than relying on wifi pairing.

Panasonic: (Discussion in Japanese). The issue which we recognise from our experience with the CM1 (Panasonic’s smartphone digital camera) is that the know-how in the smartphone market improves yearly, so if we built in these software program [aspects]and sim-card [e-sim] know-how in the digital camera, once the software program is previous, there’s nothing we will do – the velocity between the digital camera business and the software & smartphone business is an enormous drawback for the manufacture (lengthy product cycles of smarter cameras).

EOSHD: My different concept, can be to use Bluetooth LE (low power) to transmit a continuous stream of proxy JPEGs to a locked smartphone in the shooter’s pocket, a background transmission throughout normal use of the digital camera on a shoot. Then after the sports activities match is completed (for example), the whole capturing reel is accessible immediately to add to social networks or to transmit wirelessly to a shopper (like a newspaper).

TT: We already develop Bluetooth LE (in the S1)

EOSHD: So it simply needs the software program to transmit that feed of pictures…

TT: At this moment it’s not obtainable, but we determined to develop a brand new smartphone software for the S vary. You will be able to download some new software program, however it can be improved in fact!

EOSHD: I’ve a pal who’s knowledgeable sports activities photographer, and he has developed a wireless remote for Panasonic cameras, which is beneficial for filmmakers as properly, when the digital camera is out of reach – for example rigged onto a automotive exterior. I feel this type of sensible accessory is something Panasonic ought to encourage.

[Toshiyuki Tsumura takes notes]

EOSHD: I might also like an ND filter, by the approach (in-camera) or certainly just like the EOS R ND filter adapter.

Panasonic: On the FZ1000, the ND filter might go into the lens, but on a mirrorless digital camera the flange is just so brief, so physically there isn’t any area. However as you stated, if we now have an adapter to use a longer flange sort of lens, it might be attainable.

(Editors word: Sigma will probably be bringing an MC-11 type EF adapter to L-mount later in 2019).

EOSHD: Perhaps with a PL lens adapter for cinema lenses (to avoid the giant matte-box and slot-in filters)?

Panasonic: Ahhh! Good suggestion!

EOSHD: That’ll be £200 for that concept! (Laughter).

EOSHD: I also assume there are alternatives in Playback mode, for a extra smartphone OS inspired strategy to image evaluation and RAW conversion. The consumer interface has far too many steps compared to a smartphone. It will be faster to have a gesture to swipe this manner, and that approach, to point out a shopper instantly a special grade or LUT over the footage or a photo. The velocity of the interface is necessary, clients don’t have any endurance!

(Laughter)

[Toshiyuki Tsumura takes notes]

Panasonic: Do you have got any questions about the update coming later this yr, for the S1 (V-LOG and 10bit video inner)?

EOSHD: Once I first read that info, I feel I misinterpret it as a result of I assumed it stated V-LOG and RAW video inner! My request can be RAW video, inner to XQD card (as prime priority). I even have the concept to convey the video connection into an external monitor by way of the hotshoe, to keep away from the wobbly HDMI cable.

Toshiyuki Tsumura: At Panasonic we regularly communicate with Atomos, and we are discussing about find out how to enhance in future.

A word on lenses

The launch lenses are the Panasonic 24-105mm F4 Macro, the 70-200mm F4 S Pro and 50mm F1.4 S Professional. The zooms each have O.I.S. for stabilisation. The prime depends on in-body stabilisation alone.

The S Pro lenses are Leica certified.

The Macro functionality of the 24-105mm was impressive, but I used to be most taken with the 50mm F1.four. It has an absolute cut-glass sharpness extensive open and delightful rendering.

Unfortunately these lenses are usually not fairly as reasonably priced as the S1, with the 50mm prime costing more than the digital camera physique itself. Is a lens that can solely be used on one system worthy of that sort of funding?

The 50mm F1.4 has a clutch-engage mechanism for guide focus, mechanically coupled fairly than fly-by-wire mode. That’s just like a few of the Olympus Micro 4 Thirds primes and nice to see it return here. In addition you possibly can set the focus ring travel to linear, making the Panasonic lenses appropriate for use with a comply with focus.

Above: the Panasonic 24-105mm F4 “kit lens” is tac-sharp, and pretty mild as properly

First impressions

Execs

  • Spacious body design, skilled ergonomics
  • Incredibly customisable controls
  • Comparable video quality to Sony A7 III and Nikon Z6
  • Additional bonuses over the competition embrace 4K/60p in Tremendous 35mm mode and 180fps 1080p
  • Very satisfying skin-tones and dynamic range
  • Photograph Types embrace numerous video optimised settings, together with CineLikeD, Like709 and a brand new Flat profile
  • Extra in depth Photograph Fashion customisations together with Knee
  • Unimaginable 5,760k-dot EVF – big, but with out the distortion of the G9. Highest decision panel on the market. Higher distinction than Leica SL EVF.
  • Very giant capacity battery (giant bodily measurement as properly)
  • The Panasonic 50mm F1.four S Pro is their greatest but, on any system whether L-mount or Micro Four Thirds. Simply beautiful.

Cons

  • Though good, in-body stabilisation is not to GH5 commonplace in video mode
  • Autofocus efficiency is inconsistent, but will benefit from future firmware updates
  • Triaxial display will disappoint vloggers, YouTubers, but nice for most mavens and filmmakers
  • Small launch lens-range and costly pricing especially of the 50mm F1.four

Under no circumstances is that this a definitive “review” (it’s a pre-production digital camera in any case) – just a chance to get my palms on the digital camera earlier than I buy one. Because of Panasonic for the probability to try this. I feel there’s quite a bit left to explore in the menus, which I didn’t have time to dig into. It’s a pity about the AF and the lack of RAW video functionality, now that Nikon has announced ProRes RAW with Atomos on the Z6 and Z7. I feel Panasonic have carried out a great job for filmmakers though general, in bringing some of the unique advantages of Micro 4 Thirds into an all-new full frame system (measurement advantage apart), even when it’s not a direct video-oriented alternative for the GH5 (or a Blackmagic) there is a clear want to pack in the video features. There are things here that simply aren’t in a Sony rival, like the sensor-shift high-res mode for stills and 6K Photograph mode. HDR stills and 4K/60p are different firsts, as is the extraordinarily high resolution viewfinder.

There’s a transparent want to go away the measurement advantage to Micro 4 Thirds and permit the S1 to go giant. That has execs and cons in itself. It’s not a light-weight system and will weigh as a lot as a high-end DSLR. Wasn’t that imagined to be considered one of the benefits of going mirrorless? Whereas the Sony A7 III body is a bit bit too cramped, the S1 is as giant as a DSLR and the lenses far larger than Leica M glass. I feel there’s a cheerful medium in there somewhere, perhaps the Samsung NX1 in terms of physique measurement and more smaller primes. Even the extra reasonably priced Leica M lenses from Voigtlander show you don’t have to sacrifice fast apertures like Nikon have completed, take a look at the measurement of the 35mm F1.2 and 50mm F1.2 Aspherical vs Nikon’s Z collection 35mm and 50mm F1.8! Panasonic will argue that the 50mm F1.four is so massive and heavy for the advantage of the image, and certainly it’s, especially to scale back vignetting and improve nook sharpness but all that tumbler can also be mega costly. Why wouldn’t you  let clients choose between a smaller, decrease efficiency, inventive, more reasonably priced set of primes, as well as the costly leading edge stuff? Why launch a mid-range priced fanatic digital camera with just one commonplace quick prime that prices more than the digital camera itself? No less than this can be a short-term drawback, and I am excited to see what autofocus lenses Sigma convey to L-mount. In all probability the whole ART range and then some.