New Panasonic Lumix S1H Takes the Lead in Full-Frame Mirrorless Video

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New Panasonic Lumix S1H Takes the Lead in Full-Frame Mirrorless Video

Video has never been this good in a full-frame mirrorless camera. The now officially released Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H is the new leader in full-frame video and once again proves that Panasonic is willing to give filmmakers the features they need. Part of this is accomplished through the development of a new 24.2MP full-frame MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor to handle full-width video, including full 3:2-ratio 6K recording at 24 fps and DCI 4K at 60 fps with 10-bit. These options merely scratch the surface. This release is, of course, a part of the S Series and will benefit from being a member of the L-Mount Alliance for expanded lens support, which leads us into the other release today of a brand-new zoom: the Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8.

Cinema-Quality Video from Full-Frame Mirrorless

Panasonic has always leaned into its video skills when developing mirrorless cameras—it made the GH Series a powerhouse—and the S1H is perhaps the best example of this yet. Besides claiming to be the first full-frame mirrorless camera to offer DCI 4K at 60 fps internally, the S1H can push up to 5.9K (16:9) video at 30 fps and even 6K (3:2) at 24 fps—an impressive set of specs. Resolution alone will never make a camera, however, and so the list of supporting features in the S1H is what is going to push the camera onto many filmmakers’ wish lists.

Available immediately from the camera is Panasonic’s full V-Log gamma and V-Gamut profile, allowing for 14+ stops of dynamic range and easy integration with VariCam systems. There is also Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) for instant HDR workflows. Built-in LUT View Assists will make it easier to monitor on the back of the camera while still saving footage in the versatile log and HDR formats. The newly developed sensor incorporates Dual Native ISO technology, improving image quality in a wider range of environments and lighting conditions. An internal fan then helps keep things cool and allows for unlimited recording times. Another unmatched part of this system is the ability to record at these greater resolutions and frame rates internally at 10-bit, providing outstanding flexibility and quality for post-production.

"It is effectively a compact cinema camera and a powerful stills camera, all in one durable body."

Now, it’s time to delve into all the different frame rates and recording options offered by the S1H. There are many. Starting at the top, imagists can make use of nearly the entire sensor to record 6K (3:2) footage (5952 x 3968) at 23.976 or 24.00 fps at 200 Mb/s in 4:2:0 10-bit HEVC. Obviously, being able to shoot in 6K is a standout feature among mirrorless cameras, especially full-frame ones, but it goes far beyond just giving us bigger and better numbers. Dropping down to 5.9K (16:9) or 5.4K (3:2) shooters can reach up to 29.97p or 25p for NTSC and PAL regions. The S1H gets even better once we get to the more conventional resolutions. It can record both DCI and UHD 4K at up to 59.94p and, if you decide to make use of the HDMI output, the camera can send a 4:2:2 10-bit signal for these settings. If you are shooting at 29.97p or lower, you can access 4:2:2 10-bit for internal recordings at up to 400 Mb/s. Also along for the ride is anamorphic 4K (4:3) at 3328 x 2496 at up to 48 fps or 50 fps for PAL.

This barely scratches the surface of potential resolutions, frame rates, and bit rates. To simplify matters, Full HD recording can hit up to 180 fps when using the Variable Frame Rate function, making it quite suitable for slow motion. Also, the S1H can make use of either the full-frame area (necessary for options such as 6K) or a Super 35mm area that provides a pixel-by-pixel readout with up to 4K resolutions. Of course, Full HD options can take advantage of nearly any of these options.

Having all this power in a relatively affordable and lightweight mirrorless camera is incredible. Making things even better was the reveal that Panasonic is working with Atomos to enable raw video over HDMI. More information on this feature will be coming later.

Built for Filmmakers

Alluded to earlier was the point that resolution and numbers don’t mean everything. A cohesive, intuitive design is essential for effective filmmaking. Panasonic wants the S1H to be a complete package for filmmakers of all types and has incorporated numerous standards and changes to make this model the best option for mirrorless video. You should notice the big red recording button right away—perhaps the biggest indication of its video-centric design—and once you start looking closer, you should see how much thought was put into making an ideal hybrid model.

Video shooters have long relied on the rear screen over viewfinders for their work, and the revamped tilting/free-angle mechanism is one of the most useful yet. During normal use, it is a standard flip-out screen and can be rotated to make it useful for vlogging and other similar applications. A little switch on the bottom will make the entire mechanism tilt upward, providing low-angle shooting capabilities without needing to extend the LCD out past the body. The LCD also boasts excellent specs, with a 2.33m-dot resolution and large 3.2" dimensions. In the event you do want to use the electronic viewfinder, say, on a bright day or working handheld, this is among the best, as well, with 5.76m-dot resolution and up to 120 fps refresh rate for the OLED screen.

At the top of the camera, next to the Record button, is a large 1.8" status LCD to provide a quick glance of your settings. The best part is that it will switch to different information depending on whether you are shooting stills or video, providing a more useful appearance for each mode. Also, the camera does feature an internal fan, meant to help keep heat down during longer takes and to facilitate unlimited recording times when needed.

An interesting change is the use of two SD card slots, as opposed to the XQD/SD combo of the other S Series bodies. These are speedy UHS-II V90 slots and having them matched will make media management easier for filmmakers desiring to use simultaneous recording or automatic switching settings.

Another addition to the S1H body is the implementation of tally lights on the front and rear so you can be certain you are rolling. And, just like the smaller GH5S, the Panasonic DC-S1H will support timecode in/out via an included BNC conversion cable to the PC sync terminal, has a 3.5mm mic jack with line input support, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size HDMI port. Enhanced audio recording is available through the optional DMW-XLR1 XLR Microphone Adapter.

Durability is another selling point of the S Series, with splash and dust-resistant construction. Finally, the last thing to discuss is the in-body stabilization system. Using 5-axis sensor-shift technology and Dual I.S. 2.0 with supported lenses, the Lumix DC-S1H can compensate for up to 6 or 6.5 stops of camera shake. This is useful for video and stills shooting and will help ensure sharp imagery.

Stills and Video Tech Brought Together

The obvious focus of the Lumix DC-S1H is video, though we can’t forget it comes from a still-camera heritage and remains a very good camera for general photography. Its 24MP resolution is respectable and allows for high dynamic ranges and minimal noise through a wide native sensitivity range of ISO 100-51200, expandable to ISO 50-204800. It can also shoot continuously at up to 9 fps. As a still camera, it takes a lot from its predecessors, including a 225-area contrast-detect autofocus system with DFD technology and the ability to work in lighting conditions as dim as -6 EV.

"...once you start looking closer, you should see how much thought was put into making an ideal hybrid model."

A variety of functions from the rest of Panasonic’s stills cameras has made its way into the Lumix DC-S1H. This includes the High Resolution mode, which can be used to create a 96MP image by combining eight separate images. Lumix Tether makes an appearance here for using the USB-C connection to transfer images immediately to a computer as you shoot, as well as controlling the camera remotely. A blending of photo and video worlds has brought us 6K and 4K PHOTO to capture stills at up to 60 or 30 fps, depending on the resolution desired. And, HLG Photo will help improved playback of your still images on compatible displays and televisions.

As for design, the camera is relatively lightweight, given the feature set. It is effectively a compact cinema camera and a powerful stills camera, all in one durable body. While certainly on the larger side of the mirrorless spectrum, it still maintains a portable form factor that can be handheld for long periods of time and makes it even more useful for specialized cinema applications. Using the Lumix DC-S1H as a mounted B or C camera on larger sets is another extremely valuable option for filmmakers, while amateurs will appreciate that it can serve as their main stills and video shooter, eliminating some extra bulk from their bag and kit.

Finally, the camera is equipped with the L lens mount. This permits the use of a wide range of lenses from the L-Mount Alliance, with Leica and Sigma, and its short flange distance makes adapting lenses easier. This means you can adapt some classic lenses from your old SLR and DSLRs or even get adapters to work with professional PL-mount cinema lenses. It is the final piece that makes the Lumix DC-S1H an effective tool for stills and video.

A Top-Tier Standard Zoom

Briefly mentioned above, the Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens is the new standard in Panasonic’s growing L-mount lineup. Already a common fixture in photographers’ bags, this lens has been optimized for stills and video. Also, the f/2.8 aperture is a staple of professional kits, providing a good blend of portability and light-gathering technology. Using aspherical, extra-low dispersion, and ultra-high refractive index glass, the lens will keep aberrations and distortion to a minimum. There is even an 11-blade aperture to help ensure smooth, rounded bokeh.

Being made for dual duty, stills and video, the lens is packed with technology. A fast double-focus system uses linear and stepping motors for smooth, quiet focusing, and a manual focus clutch makes it easy to switch between AF and MF at a moment’s notice. Snapping the clutch into manual focus mode reveals a physical focus distance and depth-of-field scale for consistent moves—a very helpful tool in filmmaking. The rubberized focusing ring does not have hard stops, however.

The lens also has minimal focus breathing. As for build, it matches the S Series’ dust/splash/freeze-resistant construction and has an 82mm filter thread.

Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens - Sample Photos

Sample Photos from the Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens

What do you think about its official list of features? Anything you want added? Anything about which you have questions? Please be sure to leave a comment with your thoughts and questions below!

2 Comments

How does the shutter handle movement ? Is it a global shutter? 

It is still a rolling shutter and it is noticeable with very quick movements much like other current mirrorless cameras. In good news, we have come a long way from the first DSLRs and mirrorless cameras to shoot video.

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