Lumix S1R Review
I had the chance to test out the Panasonic Lumix S1R for 24 hours last week. During that time I was able to shoot in a variety of conditions with 3 lenses, the 70-200mm F4 O.I.S., 24-105mm F4 O.I.S,, and the 50mm 1.4 prime.
The sensor on the Lumix S1R blew me away, especially its handling of shadows and highlights. I don’t have the official specs on the dynamic range, but it retained sharp detail in shadows, and can be pushed pretty far into the highlights before they blow out. The gradation between shadows and highlights is also superb.
I shot the camera up to ISO 10,000 at night, the low light capabilities were the most impressive I’ve seen out of a mirrorless system so far. I did not have any noise in the black tones whatsoever.
High Resolution Mode was interesting, They had this feature on the G9, which when I tested it out on that body, I wasn’t impressed, so I was curious on how it would stack up with a full frame sensor. The High resolution mode on the S1R combines 8 47.3 megapixel images into a single 187 megapixel raw image. As one might guess, this creates a massive file. However, unlike the G9, the images coming out of the S1R are much sharper, and retain a crazy amount of detail. There are two modes for doing this. Mode 1 is when there is no movement in the background. Mode 2 is when there is something moving, like a flag or a tree. Both modes are done in camera, and require a tripod to be used. Mode 1 will simply combine everything, whereas mode 2, will pinpoint the area in the image that is moving, and will use 1 of the images (upscale it) for just that specific area. Everything else will be combined.
Stabilization - This was awesome, read more about in under the “Lenses” heading.
Sharpness - Detail out of the standard 47.3 megapixel shots were impressive for both jpegs and raw files. Lumix decided to omit the low-pass filter on the S1R, which resulted in super sharp edge detail.
The 50mm 1.4 and 70-200mm F4 are both Leica certified Lumix S Pro lenses, but I ended up using the 24-105mm the most since I was “street shooting” and needed the versatility. The 24-105mm is a standard Lumix S lens, but it includes a macro function and image stabilization. The sensor stabilization combined with a lens with optical image stabilization, (70-200mm or the 24-105mm) can achieve insane results . I was able to handhold this shot for 2 seconds at 86mm using the 24-105mm! All three lenses were incredibly sharp. Combined with the 47.3 MP sensor (with no low-pass filter), I was able to get extremely detailed images. Also, both the 70-200mm and 50mm feature a focus clutch for quick switch between manual and automatic focusing.
This thing is massive. It definitely does not feel like a mirrorless camera. It’s like a full size DSLR and a medium format camera had a baby. A square baby. It’s also heavy. That being said, it felt very comfortable in hand. All the exposure related buttons seemed to be in the right place, and didn’t feel ‘crowded’. The only button that was somewhat hard to reach was the video record button on the back. However, when shooting in “video” mode, the camera switches the shutter button to be a a start / stop record button instead. This effectively resolves this problem and makes recording video feel more like photography. Although the camera feels great in hand, I dropped the ergonomic score down to 8 because I feel that the size hinders the ability for this camera to be travel-friendly. It’s really more suitable for a studio photographer.
The S1R retains some pretty good dynamic range in standard video mode (I didn’t try any of the advanced video modes besides slow motion). I was impressed at the sharpness, and color replication at both 4K and standard 1080P. Both bodies are capable of shooting up to 60 FPS at 4K (which is awesome!) and up to 180 FPS at 1080P. Even in slow-motion, 1080P looks solid. Edges remain sharp and I didn’t see any “muddy-ing” with the colors. The larger body size also dissipates heat better, which allows unlimited continuous recording with the S1 (4k 24FPS or 30FPS).
All in all, I fell in love with the capabilities of the sensor. Ergonomically it was comfortable, but too large for my workflow and shooting style. It’s a really solid choice for a studio photographer, or location shooter who’s not packing equipment in very far.
Overall rating: 9/10
Here’s a short video I produced in collaboration with Pictureline where I walk through the major points of the camera