Every once in a while, a camera turns up that has me in awe. One of these is the Panasonic LUMIX S1H.
Awe for what it can do, awe for the cleverness of it, and awe because of its pedigree.
You see, in order to design what the S1H would become once a new LUMIX was mooted by the Panasonic engineers, they spoke to users of the GH5, EVA1 and VariCam models, visited sets worldwide and gathered idea and comments in order to form a picture of what was wanted.
And as Yosuke Yamane, Director, Imaging Business Unit, Panasonic Corporation, Japan then states, “We developed the S1H to include customer needs and the virtues of a single lens/LUMIX system, and created a camera that we trust will offer new value. We believe that S1H became a camera that creates new value by combining these video production needs with the value of LUMIX and mirrorless.”
To achieve this, the LUMIX S1H has a newly developed 24.2-megapixel full frame sensor with dual native ISO and this in conjunction with Panasonic’s VENUS Engine which processes the signal, gives super high sensitivity but with minimum noise.
The dual ISO lets you switch between 640 and 4000 ISO without raising any noise levels.
There are 14+ stops of dynamic range giving it a range as wide as many cinema cameras out there, and the V-Log / V-Gamut is compatible the VariCam Look Colourimetry Panasonic says.
You can shoot a full 6K / 24p along with 5.9K/30p and 4K/60p with 4:2:2 10 bit internal recording.
For stabilisation, you have 5-axis in body using Panasonic OIS lenses, support for twin SD cards and unlimited recording time.
You can shoot anamorphic with a de-squeezed preview and there is both variable frame rate (VFR) and high frame rate (HFR) video shooting options.
The LCD screen is fully hinged and articulated, and the body is fully weather sealed with a fan chamber between the back of the camera and the rear screen. This lets you shoot for extended periods. In bright sunlight the top mounted LCD is eminently readable, and the rear LCD is usable. The viewfinder is fixed.
For the full specifications of the LUMIX S1H, see https://www.panasonic.com/au/consumer/lumix-cameras-video-cameras/lumix-cameras/lumix-s-cameras/dc-s1hmkit.html
When I was at the official launch of the S1H, the demonstrator had the camera body in a cage / rig. And not surprising. The S1H weighs (with the standard 24-105mm supplied lens) nearly 1.2kg. I would not like to have use this handheld for any period of time.
And you’ll need someing like a RONIN- S as a gimbal.
Thankfully. realising this, Panasonic has designed the body of the LUMIX S1H with this in mind and placed not one but two anodized recording buttons in strategic places: one on the top plate and one on the bottom front left. Similarly, there are two tally lamps (recording indicator lights) – one at front and one next to the AF mode button.
As you can see from the images, the design of the controls on the s1H otherwise conforms to normal practice with a selector dial also on the top plate at the left and ancillary controls on the rear right back and handgrip.
And here is a nice touch (I didn’t notice this directly I admit but read it elsewhere), there are film plane markings on both sides of the camera, and they line up exactly with the camera strap lugs so that you can attach a tape measure to the strap lugs if you’re measuring out your focus points.
The attention to details like this shine through on the S1H.
Other reviewers I note have said the S1H is just like a big GH5 and existing GH5 users should have no problem adapting to the bigger camera. I concur with this.
Having said that, a price difference of $3299 to $7499 means you would want a lot more camera.
And that you get. I promise.
If you can get a chance to do a test drive, by whatever means, I suggest you do so. I am sure the serious potential buyer would be allowed some physical time with the camera in-store and even if only for a few minutes, be allowed a quick (accompanied) sojourn outside to grab some test shots / video.
To my mind, the gap between the LUMIX S1H and anything else around at the moment is like the difference between a Holden Commodore SS and a Lamborghini Gallardo. They are both cars, both perform brilliantly and, in their classes, the top of their game.
But in real life, they are chalk and cheese.
There is no doubt in my mind the Panasonic LUMIX S1H is the best mirrorless I have used to date by a country mile.
Shame it has to go back hey?
Here is Panasonic’s “Sizzle reel” showing off the capabilities of the LUMIX S1H.