The Finest Video-Centric Mirrorless Camera from Panny Yet!
The new Panasonic S1H is the company's latest mirrorless camera and it is heavily geared towards film-makers. It comes with segmented 6K 24P recording, simultaneous C4K 10-bit 60p recording, dual SD card slots, dual native ISO, 5-axis, in-body image stabilisation, fully articulating screen and unlimited recording times! What's not to like?
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H Early Preview
It has to be said that the features on the Panasonic S1H are outstanding for filmmakers. However, stills shooters should also take a good look!
As a filmmaker myself, the usability of this camera looks superb. Panasonic seemed to have really listened to feedback and produced the goods this time.
I have knocked half a mark off for price because I think all cameras are being slightly over-priced right now. Saying that, I'd still buy one (and I did)
Overall rating : 4.9 / 5
Lately, not many mirrorless cameras have been catching my eye but this latest offering from Panasonic certainly has. At this stage, and without using one, it is difficult to find anything bad from the specs so far. If this can produce the goods and the quality that it promises then it will almost certainly replace my ageing GH5 at some point!
Video Review from PROAV
Ok, so as a filmmaker and stills photographer, what do I think? I have used Nikon film cameras, Canon DSLR's and Panasonic mirrorless cameras. I am quite picky so I tend to research a lot before spending out thousands on a camera (or any kit come to that).
The Canon 5D Mark IV was a stills purchase for me. Having owned the Mark 1 and 2 previously, I knew I would always buy the Mark IV. However, for filmmakers, it isn't the best. Image quality is superb but the features are seriously lacking for pro video use.
My Panasonic GH4 and GH5 mirrorless cameras are still being used all the time. I really haven't felt the need to upgrade as yet despite the Panasonic S1 and S1R looking so tasty. I must say, I am still waiting (along with millions of other people no doubt) to see if there will ever be a Sony A7S Mark III).
So, let's go through a few features in a little more detail...
24.2mp Sensor/Full Frame 6K/24p Recording
I guess the first thing to mention is the fact that the S1H can record in 6K at 24 frames per second. For true filmmakers, the 24p limit isn't a deal-breaker but the 6K means a hell of a lot of lovely cropping options. Especially if outputting to 1080p!
The full frame mirrorless sensor should also please stills shooters with its 24.2mp, full frame (35mm equivalent) CMOS sensor. Sadly, for me though, it has an OLPF (optical low pass filter) to reduce moire which in my experience also softens the images a touch.
Dual UHS-II SD Cards and Dual Output
Rather than having one SD card slot and one XQD slot like the S1 and S1R, the S1H simply has two SD card slots. This gives you the choice of:
- 1Relay Recording
- 2Back Up Recording
- 3Allocation Recording
The slots are also hot-swappable so you can record until the cows come home (or battery dies).
There is also another trick up the S1H's sleeve, and a very welcome and powerful one too. It will allow you to record to an internal SD card AND an external recorder such as the Atomos series simultaneously. However, doing this means that whilst you can record externally at 4:2:2 10-bit, you can only record internally at 4:2:0 8bit*...
Let's put that into perspective. 4:2:2 10-bit has approximately 128 times the information of 4:2:0 8-bit and is capable of expressing over 1 billion colours! This gives editors huge leverage when it comes to adjusting and tweaking colours to match projects or other cameras.
Dual Native ISO
This is still relatively new to mirrorless and DSLR cameras. However, it is still something to consider when upgrading as it is incredibly useful for low light video especially!
The dual native ISO's on the Panasonic S1H are:
...but what does this mean? Well, typically, digital noise or grain is introduced when increasing ISO's on any camera, especially the higher you go.
However, the new full frame sensor on the S1H claims to minimise noise by first choosing the optimum circuit to use before processing any gain. Of course, this depends on the ISO that is set.
Basically, each pixel is split into two analogue circuits before reaching the gain amplifier. This then gives you the choice of a low ISO circuit or a high ISO/low noise circuit.
In a nutshell, this means that the noise levels at 100 and 640 should be the same. The same goes for 640 and 4000 (amazing) and 400 and 2500. Wedding videographers can shoot ISO in a church at ISO 4000 and get the same image quality as that shot at 640...lovely!
Unlimited Recording Times
In the not so distant past, most cameras with video functionality were restricted to just under 30 minutes continuous filming. This was due to both EU regulations (tax in Europe) and the fact that cameras overheated after too long.
The beauty with the Panasonic S1H is that you can film as long as you like using the hot-swappable SD cards or external recorder. However, to combat the issue with heat dissipation, the S1H has its own internal fan which you can see on both sides at the rear of the camera body!
Panasonic S1H Fan
You can operate the fan speed from the menu system and choose between "normal" and "slow". There are also two auto modes:
- 1Auto 1 - Switches between normal and slow depending on the temperature of the camera
- 2Auto 2 - Does the same but tries to limit the fan use as much as possible for quieter filming
Unless you have a microphone right next to the in/out vents, you won't hear any noise in your audio. With a mic placed in any normal position on the camera, you won't hear a thing.
Fully Articulating Rear Screen
I absolutely love the look of this screen. It takes the screen from cameras such as the GH5 series and adds to it. Not only does it pull out and twist around like the GH5, the main "placeholder" for the screen will also tilt downwards.
This not only gives the user way more flexibility, it also prevents cables being snagged when using the screen pulled out. This happens to me all the time with the GH4/GH5.
Panasonic S1H Pros and Cons
With its hefty price tag, are the specs enough for you to upgrade/buy one?
* via Atomos external recorders
Top all of the features outlined above off with the usual slow motion frame rates, 5-axis in body stabilisation, inclusive V-log, excellent weather sealing, 14bit RAW stills, eye focus and a raft of other options and you have one incredible camera!
As I said before, there's not much to dislike (on paper anyway) and the Panasonic S1H looks to take top spot in the mirrorless market aimed at filmmakers.
Buy the Panasonic S1H at B&H
On sale now for $3997.99 (body only)