Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Resolution: 47.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 24.0mm)
Kit Lens: 4.38x zoom
24-105mm
(24-105mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 25,600
Extended ISO: 50 - 51,200
Shutter: 1/16000 - 60 sec
Max Aperture: 4.0 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in.
(149 x 110 x 97 mm)
Weight: 36.0 oz (1,020 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 04/2019
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Full specs: Panasonic S1R specifications
47.30
Megapixels
L Mount 35mm
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
Front side of Panasonic S1R digital camera Front side of Panasonic S1R digital camera Front side of Panasonic S1R digital camera Front side of Panasonic S1R digital camera Front side of Panasonic S1R digital camera

Panasonic S1R Review -- Now Shooting!

by William Brawley, Jaron Schneider and Jeremy Gray
Posted: 09/25/2018
Last updated: 08/15/2019

Updates:
09/25/2018: Initial development announcement
02/01/2019: Updated with full specs & press info
02/01/2019: Hands-on impressions added
02/20/2019: First Shots from Beta unit posted
03/12/2019: Hands-on Part II added
03/19/2019: First Shots from production unit posted
05/15/2019: Performance test results posted

08/15/2019: Field Test posted

Click here to jump to our in-depth Panasonic S1R Overview

 

• • •

 

Panasonic S1R Field Test

The Panasonic S1R expertly blends classic feel and functionality with modern performance

by Jeremy Gray | Posted 08/16/2019

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm, f/8, 10s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The Lumix S1R is Panasonic's first high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera. Compared to the company's long tradition of Micro Four Thirds cameras, the new full-frame Lumix S system is a big jump up in terms of sensor size.

A large aspect of any camera system is its lens selection, which is particularly challenging when launching a brand-new camera system, especially one which must use a different lens mount. Fortunately, Panasonic has long had a productive relationship with Leica, who has their own full-frame lens mount, the L mount. While Panasonic is making their own lenses (the S1R and S1 launched alongside three Panasonic S lenses), users can also attach existing L mount lenses from Leica. Further, Sigma has joined the newly-formed L Mount Alliance, promising to release native versions of their Sigma Art lenses in addition to offering mount and conversion options to existing Sigma owners.

When considering the intelligent design of the S1R, Panasonic's imaging expertise, and the new L-Mount Alliance, Panasonic has done a really good job of positioning themselves during the critical launch period of their new full-frame mirrorless cameras. They've jumped in with both feet and it shows when using the Panasonic S1R. Let's take a close look at how the camera performs in the field, including a look at image quality, autofocus performance, video features and more.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 70mm, f/7.1, 1/400s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Key Features and Specs

  • Full-frame mirrorless camera
  • L lens mount (developed by Leica)
  • Part of the new L Mount Alliance with Leica and Sigma
  • 47.3-megapixel MOS full-frame image sensor
  • Native ISO range of 100-25,600, expandable to ISO 50-51,200
  • Weather-sealed body
  • High-resolution electronic viewfinder
  • Triaxial tilting touchscreen
  • Dual card slots (UHS-II SD and XQD)
  • Up to 9 frames per second continuous shooting with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C
  • 4K/60p video
  • Sensor-shift image stabilization
  • High Resolution shooting mode
  • $3,700 USD for the body
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 199mm, f/4, 1/250s, ISO 1250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Camera Body & Handling: A large, but very well-designed camera

If you buy into the conventional wisdom that mirrorless cameras are always small and lightweight, the S1R will quickly make you realize that is not the case. The camera weighs 2.26 pounds (1,021 grams), which is quite a bit more than the Nikon Z7, Canon EOS R and Sony A7R Mark IV full-frame mirrorless cameras, for example. Further, the S1R is large. It is 5.9 inches (148.9 millimeters) wide, 4.3 in. (110mm) tall and 3.8 in. (96.7mm) deep, which is between half an inch and an inch larger than the Sony A7 IV in each dimension.

The S1R is a pretty stylish, angular camera. It has a large front grip, which is deep and allows the user to get a good hold of the camera.

However, this bulk comes with excellent build quality and an intelligent control layout. The S1R feels very good in the hands. Its buttons and dials are plentiful and easy to operate, and the front grip is deep and comfortable to hold. If you have gone hands-on with different mirrorless cameras and found any of them a bit too cramped, the S1R will likely be a breath of fresh air.

Another excellent aspect of the camera is its electronic viewfinder. The OLED EVF has 5.76 million dots and a 0.78x magnification. The display is sharp and works great. It is not just high resolution, but it's also smooth thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate. Further, the circular eyecup around the EVF is comfortable, which may not sound like an important consideration, but it is when you are shooting for an extended period of time. The rear touchscreen is nice too, although it's not a tilt/swivel display but rather a triaxial display. This means that it tilts up and down and about 45 degrees to the side. The 3.2-inch screen looks good, but I do miss the fully articulating display design of Panasonic's higher-end Micro Four Thirds cameras.

On the back of the S1R, there is ample space for physical controls and buttons. The dedicated autofocus joystick is a particular highlight, as is the excellent OLED electronic viewfinder. While the rear display is large and looks nice, I do wish it was a tilt/swivel display rather than a triaxial display.

The camera also has a third display, a useful, easy-to-read top-deck information display. The backlit, monochrome screen shows settings such as shutter speed, aperture, exposure compensation, ISO, battery life, image quality, white balance and remaining shots. Further, by double tapping the illumination button on the top deck of the camera, some of the S1R's buttons also light up. The buttons which light up are the playback, Q, back, DISP., and delete buttons.

In terms of button placement, I don't have much to complain about. Most controls are within reach of your shooting hand except for the playback button, which is to the left of the viewfinder and requires your left hand to press -- a mild annoyance. My favorite aspect of the design are the white balance, ISO and exposure compensation buttons located near the shutter release. They're all the same size, but to make them easier to differentiate while looking through the viewfinder, the white balance button sits higher, the ISO button in the middle has two bumps, and the exposure compensation button sits the lowest. You can easily feel the difference between the three. Another great aspect of the S1R's design is its dedicated autofocus joystick; super convenient and easy to use.

The top of the S1R has a dedicated mode dial to the left of the viewfinder. To the right, there are three exposure control buttons near the shutter release. Further, the camera has a useful top display, a feature missing from some mirrorless cameras.

While I like the size of the camera and the overall design, I found that the directional pad on the back doesn't feel good at all. It's mushy and I found it difficult to use for menu navigation, opting instead to use the joystick. This is a small nitpick in the grand scheme of things, especially since it's by no means a required method of input when using the S1R.

Image Quality: The 47.3MP full-frame sensor delivers great images

The Panasonic S1R features a 47.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor. At the time of its original announcement and release, it was the highest-megapixel full-frame mirrorless camera. Since then, Sony has announced the 61-megapixel A7R IV, but that nevertheless leaves the S1R as still a very high-resolution option in the ever-more-crowded full-frame mirrorless market.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 105mm, f/4 1/400s, ISO 400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Sharpness and colors

Considering the 47.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor, I expected the S1R to capture highly-detailed images, particularly when considering raw files. Fortunately, the S1R has certainly met my expectations, with the camera producing very detailed images, particularly at low ISO settings.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 281mm, f/8, 1/2000s, ISO 2000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw, including default sharpening and noise reduction settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 281mm, f/8, 1/2000s, ISO 2000.
100 percent crop from the above image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw, including default sharpening and noise reduction settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 281mm, f/8, 1/2000s, ISO 2000.
100 percent crop from the above image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw, including default sharpening and noise reduction settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The above crops are from a raw file, which I processed in Adobe Camera Raw. If you are looking for the ultimate in detail from the S1R, you will certainly want to process raw files. With that said, the camera does well with its JPEG processing as well. In the crop below, we see a good amount of detail with the S1R applying moderate in-camera sharpening. I like this approach because while it doesn't produce quite as much detail as a processed raw file, it also doesn't introduce any unsightly artifacts. For comparison's sake, I have also included the same image processed to taste as a raw file, which has sharpening slightly stronger than the Adobe Camera Raw default value.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 176mm, f/4, 1/800s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 176mm, f/4, 1/800s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 176mm, f/4, 1/800s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When considering how the S1R handles colors, let's consider a few examples below. The first shows how the S1R handles pink, magenta, orange and green. The first two colors are particularly challenging for many cameras, but I think that the S1R does a nice job of capturing the natural vibrance without overdoing it or producing ugly color blocking.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 199mm, f/4, 1/250s, ISO 3200.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

In this second image, we see a different shade of green, along with nicely-rendered bright yellow sunflowers. They are saturated without appearing unnatural.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 141mm, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

In this third image, I want to bring attention to the reds in the scene. The S1R reproduces the reds well here, too, without overdoing it.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 57mm, f/8, 1/13s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

High ISO

The S1R has a native ISO range of 100-25,600 and can be extended down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 51,200. Of course, a full-frame 47-megapixel image sensor is being pushed pretty hard at ISO 25,600. With the image below, which was shot at ISO 6400, I am quite impressed by how the camera performed. Considering first the JPEG image, the camera does a decent job of retaining quite a bit of fine detail while also suppressing noise. There is still a bit of detail in the fur, although obviously some very fine details get blurred. Look in particular at the whiskers, which get blurred quite heavily. In the repeating patterns of the fur, detail is preserved pretty well. Looking at the 100-percent crop from the bottom left corner of the image, the camera does a pretty nice job of handling noise in smoother areas of the image.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop of the above JPEG image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop of the above JPEG image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When looking at the raw file, I am even more impressed. After editing the file and performing some manual noise reduction within Adobe Camera Raw, I was able to preserve detail better than the camera did with the JPEG while also maintaining better color and contrast. There is slightly more noise, but I prefer a fine-grained noisy image to a smoother, somewhat blotchy, image. I could have done additional noise reduction to really smooth the image out, but it would come at the cost of detail. For the S1R to be able to produce such nice fine detail at ISO 6400, even after making adjustments to the raw file and performing noise reduction, is impressive.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop of the above processed raw image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 389mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop of the above processed raw image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

In another example, we can more easily see the effect of in-camera noise reduction when shooting at high ISOs. In the JPEG image, seen first, there's some blurring of fine feather details. In the raw file, which does not have additional noise reduction applied, you can see more detail in the feathers.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 287mm, f/8, 1/1250s, ISO 6400.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 287mm, f/8, 1/1250s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop from the above JPEG image. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 287mm, f/8, 1/1250s, ISO 6400.
100 percent crop from a processed raw image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Raw file flexibility

When considering the flexibility of the S1R's raw files, you can make considerable adjustments to exposure, shadows and highlights while retaining a natural appearance to the image file. Consider the image below, which is shown first in its original JPEG form and then shown with raw processing adjustments. In the original image, the camera does a pretty nice job of capturing some shadow detail in the foreground while not blowing out the sky and building in the back. When processing the raw file, I was able to pull out a lot more detail from the dark foreground and also bring back some finer details from the sky by reducing highlights.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 63mm, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 63mm, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 63mm, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from the above processed raw image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 63mm, f/8, 1/80s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from the above processed raw image. This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

This example also brings to light the dynamic range of the S1R. While I did choose to make adjustments to the raw file, it is worth considering that the S1R did a nice job with this challenging scene. If we look at data from Photons to Photos, we see that the S1R performs quite nicely, maxing out at about 12 EVs of dynamic range at its minimum ISO of 50. At its base native ISO of 100, the situation remains very good, with the S1R producing 11.4 EVs of dynamic range. These results are comparable to those the Sony A7R III and Nikon Z7.

High Resolution Shooting Mode

The Panasonic S1R includes a High Resolution Shooting mode, which can create a 187-megapixel raw image. This mode has some restrictions worth considering. For one thing, you really need to use a tripod in order to minimize camera shake and capture the best quality image possible. The camera can also take a while to create such a high-resolution image, so it's certainly a slower shooting process. Also, the ISO's top limit is capped at 3200. With all that said, being able to produce a 187-megapixel raw file, which can then be easily opened in editing software such as Adobe Lightroom and Camera Raw, is really cool.

To enable High Resolution Mode, you simply go into the camera's menu, head to the Image Quality 1 menu, which is the very first page in the menus, and head down to High Resolution Mode. From here, you can start the mode and adjust settings, including simultaneous recording of regular shots, setting a shutter delay and selecting your motion blur processing mode. There are two motion blur processing modes to choose from. The first (default) setting gives priority to resolution, which just keeps subject blur in the shot. The second mode reduces afterimage from subject blur by deferring those sections of the image to regular shooting resolutions. The camera analyzes the frame for blur and leaves areas which are sharp in the composite image while replacing blurry areas with data from a single image capture.

As you can see in the comparison images below, High Resolution Mode produces an image size of 16736 x 11168 pixels. In contrast, the 47.3-megapixel sensor in its normal shooting mode captures an image size of 8368 x 5584 pixels.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 146mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
Full High-Res Mode image processed with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 146mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from above processed raw image. Full High-Res Mode image processed with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 146mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from above processed raw image. Full High-Res Mode image processed with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click here for the RAW file.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 146mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from processed raw image not shot in High Resolution mode. This image have been converted and processed with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click here for the RAW file.
Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 146mm, f/8, 1/100s, ISO 100.
100 percent crop from processed raw image not shot in High Resolution mode. This image have been converted and processed with Adobe Camera Raw default settings. Click here for the RAW file.

When the situation is well-suited to the mode, such as when photographing a stationary (or primarily stationary, at least) subject and when you can use a tripod, the High Resolution shooting mode produces good results. If there was more movement from objects in the frame (i.e. leaves or trees, etc.) and I was using Mode 2 to remove afterimage artifacts, I found the compositing process would take longer. The S1R's High Res Mode is somewhat limited, but overall, it works well within its limitations. The S1R does a great job of producing sharp 47-megapixel raw files in its normal shooting modes, of course, but who doesn't want more megapixels on occasion?

Overall

Overall, I am very impressed with the Panasonic S1R's image quality. The sensor produces highly detailed images with pleasing colors and smooth tonal transitions. The S1R also performs well in low light. Further, the camera has impressive dynamic range and produces very flexible raw files. The High Resolution shooting mode is a neat feature, too, and works well in certain situations.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 52mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Shooting Experience: Impressive usability highlighted by strong performance

The S1R delivers a very positive overall shooting experience. The camera is easy to use thanks to its straightforward design, array of shooting modes, and its built-in sensor-shift image stabilization. The 5-axis IS system works well and is rated for up to 5.5 stops of image stabilization. It can also work with Panasonic's Dual I.S. 2 technology when using compatible O.I.S. lenses, such as the 70-200mm f/4 S lens, combining optical lens stabilization with sensor-shift IS.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 400mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 3200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When considering shooting modes, like Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras, the S1R offers 4K Photo modes. This allows you to capture 8-megapixel still images at 30 or 60 frames per second and comes with a few different burst modes. The S1R also offers 6K Photo, which can capture 18-megapixel still images at 30 fps.

For photographers who want to tweak the appearance of JPEG images with the S1R, this is easily achieved. For starters, the camera has a variety of Photo Style modes, which can be tweaked. These include: Standard, Vivid, Natural, Flat, Landscape, Portrait, Monochrome, L. Monochrome, L. Monochrome D, Cinelike D, Cinelike V, HLG and more. Personally, I like Natural and Landscape styles. Additionally, you can record in different aspect ratios: 3:2, 4:3, 1:1, 16:9, 65:24 and 2:1, with the lattermost two being panorama image formats.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 49mm, f/8, 6s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Autofocus: Depth from Defocus system works well in most situations

A large aspect of the S1R's positive overall shooting experience comes down to its autofocus system. The S1R relies upon Panasonic's tried-and-true Depth from Defocus (DFD) autofocus system, which utilizes contrast-detect autofocus rather than phase-detect. In many situations, I found that the DFD system worked very well, delivering quick and accurate autofocus performance, even when shooting in low light. In fact, the camera is rated to focus down to -6 EV when using Low Light AF.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 399mm, f/8, 1/640s, ISO 6400.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

An area of some weakness with the S1R is with respect to continuous autofocus performance. Like many contrast-detect autofocus systems, the S1R produces some wobble. This means that the camera is hunting to lock on and can focus too far or too close, making regular minor adjustments. This is a bit distracting when shooting and does result in some missed focus when shooting a moving subject using burst shooting modes.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/4, 1/1000s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Back to the positives, the S1R offers numerous interesting autofocus modes and features. It has body and eye-detect autofocus, for example, and allows you to switch between faces if multiple are detected in a scene. Like other Panasonic cameras, the S1R also allows you to create your own autofocus point pattern from its 225 autofocus points. If you prefer traditional autofocus area options, the camera has a full multi-area mode, vertical and horizontal zones, square and oval zones and single-point area modes. There is also a pinpoint autofocus mode, which allows you to focus on very small objects in the frame.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 105mm, f/8, 3.2s, ISO 1000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

While autofocus is important, how a camera handles manual focus matters, too. The S1R performs nicely here as well, offering features such as adjustable focus peaking as well as 3x and 10x zooming options. Further, you can also change how the electronically-controlled focus ring behaves on compatible lenses. The default option is "non-linear," which means that the change in focus speed corresponds to the speed with which you rotate the focus ring. However, there's also a linear option, which changes focus based upon the rotational angle of the focus ring, which makes it behave more like traditional, mechanically-focused lenses, rather than modern focus-by-wire mirrorless lenses. I prefer the linear option. Further, the camera's focus peaking works well, as it is not overly sensitive.

Overall, the S1R delivers good autofocus performance in many situations, although it is not particularly well-suited to photographing fast-moving subjects. It can certainly succeed in that type of shooting scenario, just not quite as well as some other mirrorless cameras I have recently used.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 400mm, f/8, 1/500s, ISO 2000.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Performance: The S1R mostly stays out of your way, but is not an action camera

The S1R is equipped with Panasonic's latest Venus Engine Image Processor, resulting in very good overall performance. For starters, the camera is quick to power on, and it's fast when switching between shooting and playback modes. Further, the camera delivers fast continuous shooting in AF-S mode (9 frames per second). Burst shooting with continuous autofocus is a bit slower, however, at 6 fps, and there are some buffer clearing issues. In our lab, and in my own experience in the field, the S1R took nearly 20 seconds to clear a full buffer when shooting raw + JPEG (my preferred setup when doing Field Tests), with both a fast SD card and with XQD. This is a bit sluggish when you are in an action-shooting situation, but you need to keep in mind that the camera is capturing 47MP images!

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 257mm, f/8, 1/800s, ISO 1600.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

When considering battery life, the situation is fine although not particularly impressive. The S1R is rated for 340 shots when using the EVF and 360 shots when using the LCD. With that said, the S1R has a Power Save mode that automatically puts the camera to sleep when you haven't used it for a set period of time. With this mode enabled, the camera is rated for over 1,000 shots. When in the field, battery life seemed a bit better than the CIPA rating, but that's pretty typical for me.

Overall, the S1R delivers strong overall performance. The camera feels quick in every way, save for perhaps the buffer clearing times. When considering continuous autofocus performance and the buffer clearing times, however, it becomes evident that the S1R is not the perfect action camera. Being able to shoot between 30 and 40 raw/JPEG frames and needing to wait nearly 20 seconds or the buffer to clear could be limiting for some photographic applications.

Overall

The Panasonic S1R delivers a very good overall shooting experience. The camera's menus are easy to navigate, the controls are designed well, autofocus is generally fast and precise, and the camera's performance is very good overall. It may not deliver the ideal shooting experience in every situation, particularly if fast action is your specialty, but for most types of photography, the S1R excels.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm, f/8, 1/60s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Video: 4K/60p capable, but video is not the focus of the S1R

Alongside the Panasonic S1R, Panasonic also has the 24MP Lumix S1. The S1 is the more video-centric of the two cameras, although they are both more geared toward still photography than many of Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras. Nonetheless, the S1R includes a lot of impressive video features and offers strong 4K video performance.

Panasonic S1R 4K Video #1
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/7.1, 1/60s, ISO 800.
Download Original (183.7 MB .MP4 File)

The S1R can shoot 4K video at up to 60 frames per second (as well as 24p and 30p, of course) and can record Full HD video at up to 180 frames per second, which results in up to 6x slow motion. With that said, the S1R does lack HLG video recording, doesn't do 10-bit video and its full-frame 4K video performance is only okay. When considering frame area, the full-frame 4K has a slight 1.09x crop, and there are also APS-C and pixel-for-pixel 4K area options, which crop in further. Further, the S1R only records 4K video in MP4 format and has limited continuous 4K recording time of just 15 minutes.

Panasonic S1R 4K Video #2
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/16, 1/60s, ISO 100.
Download Original (268.5 MB .MP4 File)

When considering autofocus performance while recording video, I found the S1R to do pretty well. In the example video below, I rotated focus between the three sunflowers in the frame by using the touchscreen. Focus was not super quick, but it was pretty smooth and was able to lock onto the selected subject without any hunting.

Panasonic S1R 4K Autofocus Test Video
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/4, 1/400s, ISO 100.
Download Original (303.3 MB .MP4 File)

At lower ISOs, the 4K quality is impressive. As you increase the ISO, performance remains fairly good. The ISO range during video recording is 100-25,600, and the S1R offers auto ISO which has user-selectable minimum and maximum settings. The video below was captured at ISO 6400, and while there is certainly visible noise, performance overall is alright and there's still good detail.

Panasonic S1R 4K High ISO Video
3840 x 2160 video at 29.97 frames per second. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/16, 1/60s, ISO 6400.
Download Original (497.5 MB .MP4 File)

As mentioned earlier, the S1R can also record Full HD video at up to 180 frames per second, which is then played back at 30p, resulting in a 6x slow-motion video. This mode is restricted to manual focus and automatic exposure, however, but overall, it's a neat feature.

Panasonic S1R High-Speed Test Video
1920 x 1080 video recorded at 180 frames per second and output at 29.97 fps. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/4, 1/200s, ISO 1000.
Download Original (337.5 MB .MP4 File)

When considering usability and other video features, there's quite a bit to like about the S1R. When in the dedicated movie mode, you can start and stop recordings using the shutter release, which is nice. Otherwise you must use the dedicated movie record button on the back of the camera. Another nice feature is that the S1R has a full-size HDMI port (Type A), which you can use to record externally. The camera also includes 3.5mm microphone and headphone jacks.

Panasonic S1R 4K Video #3
3840 x 2160 video at 59.94 frames per second. 70-200mm f/4 lens, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 160.
Download Original (126.3 MB .MP4 File)

Overall, the S1R is a solid video camera. Its 4K quality is pretty good, autofocus works well in many situations and the camera offers quite a few nice usability features. The lack of more advanced features such as unlimited 4K recording time, full-width (and non-lineskipped) 4K, 10-bit video and HLG could be a concern for some users, and particularly video-oriented photographers may want to look closer at the Panasonic S1 or even the Panasonic S1H, as that is the S-series camera more targeted at video.

In the Field

Landscape photography with the Panasonic S1R

Landscape photography is my favorite genre, so I regularly evaluate cameras from that perspective. This means that there are aspects of performance or features I consider differently than someone who is primarily a portrait photographer, for example. I also think about the design of the camera somewhat differently. A camera being large is not necessarily a major drawback for me, meanwhile it being rugged and weather-sealed is critically important. The S1R does well here. The large camera feels very solid in the hands and appears built to last. Further, its tilting display works well for shooting on a tripod.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm, f/8, 1/4s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Image quality matters a lot to me, and the S1R fares well here, too. Its 47-megapixel raw files look good, offer nice resolution and handle a variety of colors well. The S1R also offers its 187MP High Resolution shooting mode, which is good for some types of landscape photography. Further, raw files have pretty good dynamic range and are malleable during processing.

Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 lens at 24mm, f/8, 2s, ISO 100.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Photographing wildlife with the S1R

While landscape photography is often done slowly and with stationary subjects, wildlife photography can be much more chaotic. The S1R still does well here but is hindered somewhat by autofocus performance. The contrast-detect DFD AF system works well in many situations but can struggle to keep up with erratic subjects. Further, the camera is limited to 6 fps shooting with AF-C and its buffer can take a while to clear, meaning it's not a great choice for repeated burst shooting.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

With that said, the high ISO performance of the S1R is pretty good, as is its low-light autofocus. Even when using the 2x teleconverter on the Panasonic 70-200mm f/4 OIS lens, which produces an effective aperture of f/8, the S1R was able to focus pretty quickly, which is impressive.

Overall, it is not the best action camera, which means it's not the best wildlife camera either, but the S1R is no slouch for the most part.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 373mm, f/8, 1/250s, ISO 3200.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

The state of the Panasonic S-series system and my overall thoughts on the Panasonic S1R

There have been numerous new camera systems in the last few years, including new full-frame mirrorless camera systems from Canon, Nikon and now Panasonic in the last year or so. The market is seemingly flooded with great options, especially when you also consider the mirrorless stalwart, Sony, which has the most robust mirrorless full-frame camera and lens lineup in the industry. Where does this leave Panasonic, who are the most recent competitor to enter the fray?

For some photographers, Panasonic will likely become one of the better options, despite being the newest player. The S1R is a really good camera, with great image quality, solid features and impressive overall performance. As part of the new L-Mount Alliance, it will also quickly deliver a lot of great lens options, including an array of Sigma Art lenses.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens with 2x teleconverter at 399mm, f/8, 1/1000s, ISO 1250.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

However, the S1R has some weaknesses. For starters, the barrier to entry is quite high with this camera body priced at $3,700 USD by itself. That's quite a lot, and then you need to consider lenses. Currently, there are only three Panasonic lenses available for the S1R right now, the 24-105mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4 and 50mm f/1.4. Per Panasonic's roadmap, users can expect 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8 and 16-35mm f/4 lenses to arrive this year with additional lenses, including super telephoto, prime and macro lenses to arrive in 2020. Of course, this lack of lenses is not as big of an issue when you consider that Sigma is releasing L-mount versions of its Art lenses this year. And there's Leica's existing lineup of L-mount lenses -- although beware the high price tags!

There are so many excellent cameras out there and if you are looking to buy into a full-frame mirrorless camera system for the first time, you won't be going wrong with the Panasonic S1R. If you are after a small, lightweight camera, then the S1R is not for you. However, some photographers prefer a large, solid-feeling camera, and some mirrorless cameras can feel too small and cramped in real-world use. This is an area of particular strength for the S1R, as its robust body feels great in real-world use.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 800.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Another strong suit is the S1R's image quality. The 47.3-megapixel sensor is very good, and the camera produces really nice images, both in terms of straight-from-the-camera JPEG files and with respect to flexible, versatile raw files.

Simply put, I really enjoy using the Panasonic S1R. I liked it a lot when I went hands-on back in February and I like it just as well now. The camera feels modern in terms of performance and features but feels sort of classic in terms of build quality and the controls.

Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm f/4 lens at 200mm, f/4, 1/640s, ISO 160.
This image has been converted and processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw. Click for the full-size image. Click here for the RAW file.

Panasonic S1R Field Test Summary

A great way to kick off Panasonic's new mirrorless camera system

What I liked:

  • Very good build quality
  • Excellent electronic viewfinder
  • Impressive image quality
  • Reliable autofocus in most situations
  • Good overall performance

What I didn't like:

  • Camera will be too large and heavy for some
  • Struggles a bit with some action photography situations
  • Quite expensive

The Panasonic S1R is a really good full-frame mirrorless camera. The image stabilization and reliable autofocus help make capturing high-quality images with the S1R very easy. The electronic viewfinder is excellent as well, helping to make shooting with the S1R an enjoyable experience. Further, image quality is impressive across the board. It's not the best choice for every photographer, but for those who emphasize a well-built, rugged camera body and high-end image quality, the S1R should absolutely be considered.

 

• • •

 

Panasonic S1R Review -- Overview

by William Brawley

Well, well, well, look what we have here. Another fighter enters the fray of full-frame mirrorless cameras!

As one of the co-developers of the Micro Four Thirds mirrorless standard, Panasonic has been a leader in developing a compact ILC system centered around this fairly small sensor size. Back in 2008, Panasonic unveiled the world's first digital single-lens mirrorless camera, the Lumix G1, and now over ten years on, they are starting a new chapter -- with a new sensor size. Among pros, Panasonic's GH-series MFT cameras have been extremely successful, especially for videographers; the latest GH5 and GH5S cameras, in particular, offer a slew of professional-level video features, and the image quality and performance to match. With the new full-frame Lumix S series, Panasonic is aiming to take the photo and video expertise of their Micro Four Thirds system to the next level, offering an even higher-end, truly professionally-focused camera system.

In the run-up to Photokina 2018, Micro Four Thirds powerhouse Panasonic announced the development of not one but two professional-level full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Lumix S1R and Lumix S1. And now, as we enter February 2019, Panasonic finally takes the wraps off their first pair of full-frame mirrorless cameras. Although there were a few specs and features mentioned last year, we now know in-depth details about what the high-res Panasonic S1R (and its 24MP sibling, the S1) is all about.

Image Quality

Following a similar pairing strategy to Sony's A7R and A7 models, the Panasonic S series so far comes in two different flavors: one high-resolution body that's designed more squarely for still photographers, and one with more modest resolving power but that's aimed at being more of a photo/video-hybrid camera.

With both models powered by an all-new Venus Engine image processor (more on that in a bit), the Panasonic S1R sports a 47-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, while the Panasonic S1 comes with a more manageable 24-megapixel sensor. However, Panasonic did clarify that despite the Lumix S1 being the more photo/video-hybrid model of the two S series cameras, it is still more photo-centric than the GH5/GH5S cameras. The S1 offers more video features than the S1R (although the latter is no slouch itself for video), so head over to our Panasonic S1 preview for info on that model.

As for the imaging pipeline of the S1R on its own, as mentioned, the camera is powered by all-new, Panasonic-designed 47.3-megapixel CMOS sensor that offers a native ISO range of 100-25,600 (expanded ISO range of 50-51,200) and is capable of capturing 14-bit raw files (and 12-bit video output). The new sensor sports an anti-reflective coating and lacks an optical low-pass filter for maximum image resolving power.

Despite the high-resolution sensor, Panasonic claims the S1R's sensor features an excellent signal-to-noise ratio, allowing the camera to produce impressive high ISO image quality performance. The microlens array utilized on top of the sensor are aspherical lenses and are designed for more efficient peripheral light collection. Other technical advances for increasing light-gathering efficiency include optimizing how light travels to each of the sensors' photosites as well as having a deep photodiode structure for improved light capture of longer wavelengths of light, such as reds. All this is combined with fast parallel A/D (analog to digital) conversion results in fast sensor readout.

Paired with the new sensor is also a new Venus Engine processor, providing both advanced image processing as well as agile performance. On the image processing side, the focus of the Lumix S1R is all about accurate, natural-looking fine detail and colors across the camera's ISO range. The new Venus Engine's Intelligent Detail Processing creates images with natural-looking fine detail as well as improved suppression of color moiré artifacts. Additionally, there are enhancements to color rendering, with a focus on accurate color reproduction for both bright and shadow areas.

In addition to regular 47.5-megapixel still images, the Panasonic S1R also features a multi-shot High-Resolution Mode. Like some other recent cameras with body-based image stabilization systems, the Panasonic S1R features a high-resolution shooting mode that quickly captures multiple (8) frames, with the sensor repositioned ever-so-slightly between frames, and stitches them together automatically for a final image with some truly impressive resolution. With a high-res 47MP sensor, the Panasonic S1R takes High-Res Mode shooting to the next level, creating an incredibly high-detail image with 187 megapixels. Yes, 187MP. Better start stocking up on high-capacity memory cards and hard drives now!

Like most High-Res multi-shot shooting modes, the S1R's version requires a tripod and is designed mainly for static subjects, such as architectural, landscape and product photography. For landscapes, in particular scenes with trees and other foliage, it's difficult or nearly impossible to have everything in your scene remain perfectly still during the High-Res capture period. Luckily, the Panasonic S1R has a setting for this which helps combat and reduce the motion blur seen when capturing High Res images of subtly-moving objects like foliage. High-Res images are captured in RAW mode, but can be converted to high-res JPEGs in-camera.

The Panasonic S1R has yet another interesting image capture mode, called HLG Photo Mode. In a sense, it's similar to an HDR-type capture mode, but the camera instead records an 8K image with a compressive brightness and in a unique HDR filetype (.HSP - "HDR Still Photo" filetype). Then, when you plug the S1R (or its SD card) into HLG-compliant 4K TV television, the resulting image is displayed back with an expanded dynamic range appearance.

Other new image capture modes include a new "Flat" Photo Style with reduced contrast and saturation; new aspect ratio options of 65:24 and 2:1; a new Highlight-weighted Metering Mode that helps prevent blown highlights; and an additional Auto White Balance mode, dubbed AWBw, that skews on the warm side in order to preserve warmer, redder tints such as in skin tones even under fluorescent lighting.

Autofocus & Performance

Much like Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic S1R uses a contrast-detect autofocusing system with DFD technology; the S series cameras do not have on-sensor phase-detect pixels like most other full-frame mirrorless cameras. Nevertheless, Panasonic claims some pretty spectacular AF performance for the S1R, with a 0.08s AF acquisition speed and excellent low-light and low-contrast focusing capabilities. In terms of speed, the camera body and lens work together, with the lens' focusing element(s) and the image sensor communicating at 480fps, while the Venus Engine processor analyses image data and performs the necessary DFD calculations, all in order to achieve focus quietly and accurately in only 0.08s. The camera is also able to autofocus in conditions as dim as -6EV (AF-S mode at f/1.4 and ISO 100), and on dark, low-contrast scenes down to -3EV. So, whether you're shooting at night or in the misty, early-morning fog, the S1R should be able to acquire focus without issue.

When it comes to subject tracking performance, the Panasonic S1R has some interesting tricks up its sleeve. The camera incorporates an artificial intelligence-based subject and scene recognition system that uses not only DFD information and Facial/Eye Detection but also a new Deep Learning system that lets the camera recognize both human bodies as well as animals (cats, birds, dogs, etc). To develop this human/animal recognition system, Panasonic trained a deep learning system with a huge dataset of images.

Much like its "smaller" Lumix G9 sibling, the Panasonic S1R offers a similar array of 225 selectable AF areas, with various AF point grouping options to choose from. The new A.I.-based subject recognition system can be enabled or disabled manually depending on your shooting style. Enabled, the subject tracking system will continuously track the subject across the frame, thus letting you put more focus into your composition rather than trying to keep your AF point(s) over the subject.

The Leica SL, another full-frame mirrorless camera that happens to share the same lens mount as the Lumix S series (more on that below), also uses DFD technology for its autofocus. In our review, we found the Leica SL's AF performance to be excellent for still subjects but it struggled somewhat to keep up with fast-paced subjects. On the other hand, the Lumix G9, Panasonic's photo-centric flagship MFT camera, also uses DFD technology, and our Field Tester found its continuous AF performance to perform rather well, even on small birds and with long telephoto lenses. We can't wait to test out the S-series' C-AF chops once we get a shootable sample!

When it comes to still photo performance features, the S1R offers some impressive continuous burst shooting specs, despite its high resolution. It's not the fastest full-frame camera on the market, but the S1R isn't intended to be a sports- and wildlife-centric camera. With single-shot AF, the S1R shoots at up to 9fps at full resolution, but if you flip into continuous focus, the burst rate drops to 6fps. Given the resolution, the burst speeds themselves are respectable for this class of camera, comparing quite similarly to the burst rates of the rivaling Nikon Z7 (the Z7 can shoot faster with C-AF only, but if you want C-AF and AE, the burst rate drop to around 5.5fps).

Buffer depth is quite good even with its high-resolution sensor, though the lower-res S1, understandably, offers much, much deeper buffer depths. Panasonic states the S1R can capture up to 40 full-resolution raw files, 50 JPEG images, or 35 RAW+JPEG pairs -- regardless of AF shooting mode/burst rate. If you don't mind a drop in resolution, the S1R offers both 6K PHOTO and 4K PHOTO burst shooting with at 18MP and 8MP image sizes, respectively. 6K PHOTO captures images at 30fps, while 4K PHOTO mode is offered in both 30fps and 60fps. 6K PHOTO mode can continuously capture up to 10 minutes, while 4K PHOTO mode goes up to 15 minutes.

The camera's highly durable shutter mechanism offers up to 1/8,000s shutter speed, is rated for 400,000 actuations and offers the world's fastest flash sync speed of 1/320s (for a full-frame mirrorless camera), though that's at reduced flash power (similar to what some high-end Nikon DSLRs can do). We've asked Panasonic for the maximum x-sync speed at full flash power, and will update this section once we find out. In electronic shutter mode, the top shutter speed increases to 1/16,000s, but electronic first curtain shutter (EFCS) mode top out at 1/2,000s. Bulb mode exposures as long as 30 minutes are possible with mechanical or EFCS shutter, and up to 60 seconds with the electronic shutter. While recording movies, the electronic shutter speed range is 1/25s to 1/16,000s.

Image Stabilization

A long-time maker of optically-stabilized lenses, Panasonic debuted in-body image stabilization with the GX8, creating Dual I.S. in which lens stabilization worked in combination with sensor-shift stabilization. Since then, Dual I.S. and Dual I.S. 2 have made their way into the most of Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras. With the S1R and S1 cameras, Panasonic brought their Dual I.S. technology to full frame.

Now, according to Panasonic, the inclusion of Dual I.S. is a "world's first" for a full-frame digital interchangeable lens camera. But, it should be noted that Sony's had their 5-axis SteadyShot sensor-shift technology for some time now, starting with the A7 II, which can work in conjunction with optically stabilized E-mount lenses. But, when it comes to full-frame cameras with Panasonic's "Dual I.S." brand of image stabilization technology, then yes, the S1R and S1 cameras are a first.

In terms of capabilities, the new Panasonic S1R is pretty impressive when it comes to image stabilization. Panasonic designed a stabilization algorithm based not only on info from a gyro sensor but also data from both the image sensor and an accelerometer. The 5-axis IS system in camera body itself offers up to 5.5 stops. The in-body IS mechanism is about 2x heavier than that of Lumix Micro Four Thirds cameras, housing four larger voice coil motors for increase speed and precision. When using an optical stabilized lenses, the two stabilization system work together for even better stabilization correction; this Dual I.S. 2 system can produce up to 6 stops of correction, and it works for both stills and video (including 4K).

Video

As mentioned, the S1R is more of a still photographer's camera than it is a video shooter, but the camera nevertheless offers some healthy video chops. For starters, much like the S1, the S1R, too, offers 4K UHD video up to 60 frames per second, making them the world's first full-frame DSLM cameras with 4Kp60 video. Panasonic was the first to introduce 4K video to a DSLM (in the GH4), and then the first DSLM with 4Kp60 (in the GH5). Panasonic made a huge splash with their GH-series for videographers, so it's exciting to see them push the envelope here with their full-frame mirrorless cameras.

In addition to 4Kp60, UHD video can also be recorded in 30p and 24p (as well as 50p and 25p for PAL regions), and at a high 150Mbps bit rate and in 4:2:0 8-bit. Despite the large sensor and high native resolution, the S1R produces a small crop for 4K recording, at 1.09x, and uses pixel binning. The S1, however, does not crop for 4K video (in 30p, 25p, 24p; it does in 60p). Further, the S1R only records 4K video in MP4 format and has a fairly limited continuous recording time at just 15 minutes for 4K (all frame rates) and 10 minutes for high-speed (slow-mo) 4K, whereas the S1 offers unlimited 4K recording in sub-60p frame rates (4Kp60 is limited to 29:59 and high-speed can be shot for a little longer at 15 minutes).

Full HD video is also offered, in a similar array of frame rates, as well as high-speed recording option at up to 180fps. The bitrate for Full HD video in the S1R is capped at 28Mbps, whereas the optional paid upgrade for the S1 bumps this up to 100Mbps in that camera. Recording time for the Full HD is unlimited, in both MP4 and AVCHD formats, however, High-Speed mode is again limited to just 10 minutes of continuous recording.

Like many of the Lumix Micro Four Thirds models before it, the S1R offers a number of cinema-focused video features, including Cinelike D, Cinelike V and Like709 Photo Styles, adjustable Luminance levels, Zebra overlays, focus peaking, clean HDMI output (only 4:2:0 8-bit, whereas the S1 with the optional upgrade can gain 4:2:2 10-bit). There's also a Type-A HDMI port, a 3.5mm mic jack, a headphone jack and support for an optional XLR microphone accessory.

Design & Ergonomics

Despite the differences in image resolution for these two models, the S1R and S1 cameras are identical in shape, styling and ergonomics. The Panasonic S1R (and S1) looks and feels like a larger brother to the Lumix G9. The camera offers a deep, comfortable handgrip, ample room for numerous physical controls and dials, as well as a large top-deck info display. The rear LCD design is new, however, compared to the G9, offering a handy three-way tilting design much like that of the Fuji X-T3, for example, allowing for easy viewing in both portrait and landscape orientations.

The 3.2-inch, 2,100K-dot LCD screen itself offers touchscreen functionality like most modern mirrorless cameras, features adjustable brightness levels, and uses an RGBW LCD panel for high brightness and improved visibility in sunlight.

The LCD is certainly nice, but EVF is the big talking point when it comes to looking through the camera. Not only is the EVF itself physically large with a deep eyecup, up to a 0.78x magnification ratio (adjustable with three magnification levels) and a 21mm eyepoint, but the EVF display is extremely high-res. The OLED EVF is the world's highest resolution viewfinder screen in a mirrorless camera to date, at 5,760K-dots of resolution. According to Panasonic, the EVF in the S1R offers an image resolution that's very close what's seen with the naked eye, and when you factor in the 0.005s lag and the 60/120Hz refresh rate, the S1R offers an EVF experience that's extremely close to what DSLR users are accustomed to with an OVF.

Much like large DSLR cameras, the Panasonic S1R includes a top-deck info display screen, which offers a quick glance at critical shooting settings as well as battery life and card(s) capacity. What's more, even if you power off the camera, you can still see the battery life indicator and the number of shots remaining. Handy!

Both S series models are fully weather-sealed, as we'd expect given their professional, flagship nature. Panasonic claims both cameras are "100% sealed," though we certainly don't wouldn't consider them "waterproof," but they should safely withstand a healthy dose of dust, moisture and freezing temperatures (down to -10 degrees C/14 degrees F). According to Panasonic, the S series cameras are weather-sealed to the same degree as the Lumix G9 and similar in ruggedness as the Canon 1D-series or as Nikon's flagship D-series DSLRs.

One physical design feature that's sure to please professionals, advanced users, and many other serious photographers and videographers is the inclusion of dual memory card slots -- one UHS-II SD and one XQD (and the option to accept physically similar CFexpress card with a future firmware update). Both Canon and Nikon's full-frame mirrorless models offer just a single card slot, SD for Canon, XQD for Nikon. Not only do dual card slots provide the ability to expand your storage capacity and save media to the spare card once the primary one is filled, but they can also be configured to offer on-the-fly backup (recording media to both cards simultaneously), saving you from potential disaster should one card fail and become corrupted. Many professional flagship cameras, such as the Canon 1D X Mark II, Nikon D5, the Sony A9 as well as Panasonic's own GH5 and G9 cameras, offer dual card slots. Seeing as the Lumix S1R and S1 cameras are designed with the professional photographer and videographer in mind, it makes sense to see dual card slot support offered in these cameras.

Further usability features include numerous physical controls and dials, as one would expect on a professional-level camera. There are front and rear controls dials, a rear-facing 4-way directional control with an additional scrolling dial functionality and a joystick control for fast AF point adjustments. Furthermore, there are dedicated white balance, ISO and exposure compensation buttons along the top deck of the camera. As expected, the controls are all highly customizable, and there's even a lock lever on the back that lets you disable a number of buttons and dials to prevent accidental operation. The rear buttons on the camera are also illuminated to improve usability in dark conditions. If you happen to own or move between multiple S1R or S1 camera bodies, you can even save all your camera settings and customizations to the memory card and load up your personalized settings onto a different S1/R body.

Panasonic has not only refreshed their menu system UI for improved usability but the Quick Menu GUI gets an update, too, offering customization and easier access to frequently used settings. The primary menu system isn't entirely overhauled, so those familiar with Lumix MFT cameras won't be totally thrown for a loop, but the menu navigation is revamped, which Panasonic claims is more systematic and makes it easier to access frequent settings.

Lastly, the battery life. Mirrorless cameras have notoriously struggled to keep pace against DSLRs when it comes to sheer battery life -- powering shooting functions in addition to an EVF and/or the rear screen takes its toll. However, recent advancements in batteries have started to shift that balance, and larger camera bodies, too, often mean larger battery backs and longer battery life. The Panasonic S1R uses an all-new lithium-ion battery pack compared to the previous Lumix MFT cameras, such as the GH5 or G9. The larger battery gives the S1R a CIPA-rated battery life of 360 images/charge (LCD) or 340 (EVF) when using the XQD card. Battery life is slightly longer with the SD card, at 380 (LCD) and 360 (EVF). Overall, that's not fantastic battery life compared to professional DSLRs, however if you use the Power Save LVF (EVF) Shooting mode, which puts the camera to sleep automatically if you take your eye down from the viewfinder, you can seriously extend the shooting capacity out to over 1,000 images per charge -- 1,150 for the SD, 1,100 for the XQD. Plus, you can an add a second battery with the battery grip accessory, thus doubling your battery life. Furthermore, the S1R features a USB 3.1 Type-C port which supports USB Power Delivery, letting you charge your camera on the go, with your laptop, iPad, external battery pack, etc., without needing the dedicated battery charger. And you can even operate the camera while it's recharging. Very handy!

Wired & Wireless Connectivity

As is typical with most modern cameras, the Panasonic S1R offers the standard array of wireless communication features, including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies (802.11ac for 5GHz, 802.11b/g/n for 2.4GHz), making image transfers quite fast. You can even wirelessly transfer camera setting between multiple S1/R bodies. Bluetooth supports the v4.2 Low Energy standard, which enables constant, low-power connections to paired smartphones or tablets. For studio shooters or other photographers requiring wired connections, the S1R supports tethered shooting via USB, including image transfer and camera control.

As mentioned earlier, the camera features Type-A HDMI and USB Type-C ports as well as microphone and headphone jacks. It also provides a 2.5mm remote jack.

Panasonic S1R Pricing & Availability

The Panasonic S1R will be sold both body-only and as a kit with a 24-105mm f/4 OIS ens. The S1R is slated for pre-sale in the US market starting on February 1st for a retail price of US$3,699 (body-only) or US$4,599 (kit). The DMW-BGGS1 (Battery Grip) is compatible with both S1R and S1 bodies will sell for US$349. Availability is estimated for early April.

 

New L-series Alliance with Panasonic, Leica and Sigma

One of the major stories around these new Lumix S1R and S1 camera is the lens mount; they utilize the Leica L mount -- the same mount that's on the Leica SL. Panasonic and Leica have long had a strategic partnership, not only on lens designs and manufacturing but also sharing certain camera models. They've now taken the partnership to the next level, not only incorporating Leica's L mount into their cameras and lenses, but also bringing on famed lens manufacturer Sigma to form a new L-series Alliance.

It's a pretty strategic move on Panasonic's part. In launching an all-new camera system with a "new," or rather a different lens mount than their already-existing lens products (MFT), Panasonic isn't fresh out of the gate with a new camera system with little to no lens support, both natively or from third parties. By using the L-mount, the Lumix S1R and S1 camera can already take advantage of the current selection of Leica L-Mount lenses.

As mentioned, Panasonic will also design and build their own native L-mount lenses, starting with a 50mm f/1.4 prime, a 24-105mm f/4 standard zoom, and a 70-200mm f/4 telephoto zoom. They've also announced a broad lens roadmap, expanding the native S series lenses to more than ten different models by 2020.

As for Sigma's role in this new L-mount Alliance, we don't yet have specifics, but the company plan to release their 14 E-mount lenses in L-mount, as well as develop new ones.

 

 

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Panasonic S1R Hands-on Part I

by Jaron Schneider |

I don't think it would be unfair to say that the S1 and S1R are two of Panasonic's most anticipated cameras ever. Though the world has had only a few short months to get hyped and excited about them as Panasonic did a very good job keeping their development under wraps until they were ready to share with the world, expectations are high for this newcomer to the full frame mirrorless game. But with that excitement comes expectation, so how well do Panasonic's cameras hold up to the hype?

As a note before you continue, the S1 and the S1R are nearly the same camera in just about every regard, from body design to autofocus functionality. With the samples we were able to spend a short time with, even the video features were largely the same (the more advanced video functionality of the S1 will require a paid firmware update after launch, and those functions were not available to test during our short hands-on session). As such, my hands-on for each camera will be the same, with side notes in select sections branching off to discuss major differences.

Also, the cameras we were given to test for a very short time were pre-production builds, and as a result we won't be diving too deep or offering detailed opinions on image quality and other features. Raw files will also not be made available at this time. Click here to see our beta S1R gallery images and stay tuned for more!

 

Panasonic S1R Hands-on Part II

by Jeremy Gray |

While I have been unable to use the a production-ready S1R camera, based on the time I have had with the camera (and lenses), I think that there is a lot to be excited about as we approach the launch of Panasonic's new full-frame mirrorless camera system.

The usability of the S1R is excellent. It may be large and heavy, especially compared to other full-frame mirrorless cameras, but is remarkably well-designed. The build quality is very good, and the electronic viewfinder is one of the best on the market.

Not only is the camera comfortable and easy to use, it also performs well. Image quality, at least so far based on JPEG files, is really good, and I'm hopeful that raw image quality will follow suit. Autofocus and continuous shooting performance are impressive as well.

First impressions are important and the Panasonic S1R has delivered positive impressions in spades. I'm excited to see how the S1R performs in our lab and more broadly, how Panasonic continues to develop their new system.