Panasonic LUMIX S1 on black background

Panasonic has just introduced a new LUMIX S Series line of cameras — its first full-frame Digital Single Lens Mirrorless cameras, with a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor.

This is a big step up from Panasonic’s current LUMIX G series of Micro Four Thirds (MFT) mirrorless camera line. With the S series, Panasonic has bypassed the intermediate APS-C format and moved directly into full-frame professional cameras.

Now with the LUMIX S full-frame cameras, Panasonic is focusing on full-up professional photographers and videographers, with an emphasis on advanced picture quality and extensive creative control.

The S series is launching with two cameras and three lenses, with the cameras very clearly distinguished.

Panasonic LUMIX S1R on white background

  • The LUMIX S1R is designed for professional photographers. It has an astounding 47.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor to ISO 25600, plus High-Resolution mode for 187-MP photos. It also has extensive video capabilities, as expected from Panasonic cameras. Both cameras shoot video to 4K 60p/50p.

Panasonic LUMIX S1 on black background

  • The LUMIX S1 is designed for hybrid use by professional videographers, combining advanced photo capabilities with a 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor to ISO 51200. It has more cinematic features, including support for MP4 HEVC and 4:2:2 10-bit 4K.

Picture Quality

Both cameras use a new Panasonic Venus Engine image processor to capture images in high quality and sharp focus.

For steady shots, the cameras provide a 5-axis Dual I.S. (Image Stabilizer), combining the 5-axis Body I.S. with the 2-axis O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) in the LUMIX S lenses, allowing better shooting in low-light or one-handed, with a 6-stop slower shutter speed. An I.S. Status Scope display also provides real-time feedback of shaking.

Both cameras also support a High Resolution RAW mode that automatically captures eight consecutive images while shifting the sensor to composite a 187-MP equivalent image (16,736 x 11,168-pixel) for the LUMIX S1R and 96-MP equivalent image (12,000 x 8,000-pixel) for the LUMIX S1.

Panasonic LUMIX S1 on black background

Panasonic also has implemented a new proposed HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) photo mode for wider dynamic range. The resulting images can be saved to a new HSP file format (HDR Still Photo) in up to 8K resolution (7,680 x 4,320 in 16:9) for the LUMIX S1R or full resolution (5,888 x 3,312, in 16:9) for the LUMIX S1.

The AF (auto-focus) system combines processing between the lens, sensor and imaging engine, with the lens and sensor communicating at a maximum 480 fps. The cameras provide high-speed, high-precision AF at approximately 0.08 sec. With low-light AF, they can accurately focus to -6EV (down to starlight).

The face detection technology also detects the pupil of the eye, giving more precise focus for portraits. Additional AI-based body detection (for humans and fast-moving animals) tracks subjects, even when facing backward.

For continuous burst shooting, 6K PHOTO mode at 30 fps (up to 10 minutes) extracts 18-MP equivalent high-resolution photos (6000 x 3000 effective pixels), and 4K PHOTO mode at 60 fps (up to 15 minutes) captures in approximate 8-MP equivalent resolution.

Video Recording

Both LUMIX S series cameras support up to full-frame 4K 60p video recording. High Speed Video can record slow-motion video in 4K (to 60 fps) and FHD (to 180 fps).

As a camera for professional videographers, the LUMIX S1 adds support for MP4 HEVC format for 4K video. And it has no recording time limit for 4K 30p/25p/24p (as long as the ambient temperature does not get too high).

Panasonic also plans a near-term firmware update for the S1 including 4:2:2 10-bit 4K 30p internal video recording and 4K 60p/50p HDMI output as well as V-Log (pricing undetermined).

Both cameras have HDMI Type A video output, plus a 3.5-mm microphone jack for Line input and a 3.5-mm headphone jack that supports XLR input.

Design and Controls

The S series cameras feature a rugged design for heavy field use, with a magnesium alloy full die-cast front/rear frame. The cameras are splash and dust resistant and freeze-resistant down to -10 degrees Centigrade.

Panasonic has reworked the controls and interfaces for more effective use. Though the buttons and dials are clustered together, each has a distinct feel to the touch and can be operated while looking through the viewfinder. Illuminated buttons (optional) also assist with use in low light.

The high-resolution (5,760k-dot) OLED electronic Real View Finder displays at up to 120 fps, with a time lag of 0.005 sec and 10,000:1 high contrast.

The 3.2-inch Rear View Finder has 2,100K-dot resolution on a rugged triaxial tilt mount. In addition to direct touch control, a new 8-directional joystick also can be used to navigate the interface.

Panasonic LUMIX S1R on white background

And a large Status LCD on the top of the body allows quick checking of camera settings, including monitoring battery power and remaining shots even when turned off.

The cameras have a double memory card slot compatible with SD (UHS-II / V90) or XQD memory cards (up to 440 MB/s write), with CFexpress expected in the near future (up to 1400 MB/s).

The large battery charges over USB-C, or the cameras can run continuously while using the power adapter. The cameras go to sleep when not in use, turning on instantly when the shutter button is touched. Sleep mode provides around three times the battery life (from approximately 360 to 1100 images).

Lenses

Panasonic also is introducing three lenses along with the LUMIX S series cameras. These use the L-Mount system, permitting cameras to share lenses from Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma. The L-Mount design supports both APS-C and full-frame cameras and includes both the physical design and the lens-to-camera communication interface to permit more intelligent focusing and stabilization.

https://l-mount.com/

  • The LUMIX S PRO 50mm F1.4 is a large-aperture fixed focal length lens. The S PRO designation indicates that the optical performance has been certified by Leica.
  • The LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm F4 O.I.S. is a versatile telephoto zoom lens with 23 lenses in 17 groups. The O.I.S. lenses support Panasonic’s 5-Axis Dual I.S. that combines information from the lens and the camera body.
  • The LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 MACRO O.I.S. is a standard zoom lens with macro shot capability, covering wide-angle to medium telephoto. The macro function works directly with the lens movement; there is no need to manually switch into a different mode.

All three lenses have a rugged dust/splash-resistant design, for use even in 10 degrees below zero.

Panasonic states that it will release 10 or more S series lenses by 2020, with a focus on LUMIX S PRO, including teleconverters, wide-angle zoom, super telephoto, and macro lenses.

Pricing and Availability

The DC-S1 camera is priced at $2499 (body only), or $3399 with the 24-105mm lens kit.
The DC-S1R camera is priced at $3699 (body only), or $4599 with the 24-105mm lens kit.

The LUMIX S PRO 50mm F1.4 lens is priced at $2299.99, the LUMIX S PRO 70-200mm F4 O.I.S. is $1699.99, and the LUMIX S 24-105mm F4 MACRO O.I.S. is $1299.99.

Pre-orders opened on Feb 1, 2019, with availability in early April. Learn more on Panasonic’s website.

Panasonic LUMIX S1R on white background

Bottom Line

The new LUMIX S series cameras are a big step forward for Panasonic, from the smaller and lighter MFT G series to bigger, heavier, and more rugged full-frame cameras designed for professional use. With its 47.3 MP sensor, the S1R targets photographers. The S1R with the 24.2 MP sensor is a “hybrid” camera for more balanced use for video and photos. And both continue to extend Panasonic’s impressive technology for improved image quality and creative control.

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Douglas Dixon is a developer and writer who covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.

Douglas Dixon is a developer and writer who covers digital media at Manifest-Tech.com.