The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H and S1 models have a lot in common on the hardware side of things but with the S1H offering considerably more video features. Panasonic also offers an upgrade for the S1 that expands its video capabilities, though. So which one is right for you?

Panasonic says the S1H is aimed at professional videographers and cinematographers, and may be 'over-specced' for amateur of hobby videographers. So what are the differences?

In terms of stills cameras, they're incredibly similar. The S1H includes an anti-aliasing filter on its sensor, which reduces the risk of false color and aliasing (especially valuable for shooting things like wedding dresses), but giving the S1 a slight advantage in terms of apparent detail. As you'd expect, it's on the video side of things that the differences add up.

More extensive video modes

Even with the upgrade, the Panasonic S1 cannot capture DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) footage. The S1H can capture this slightly wider aspect ratio either from the full width of its sensor or in Super35 crop mode.

The upgraded S1 can't shoot 400 Mbps All-I footage, like the S1H can, instead shooting Long Group of Frames (LongGOP) footage at up to 150Mbps. This is absolutely fine for most work but makes editing the footage slightly more processor intensive.

S1 S1 (with DMW- SFU2 upgrade) S1H
4K resolution options
  • 3840 x 2160
  • 3840 x 2160
  • 4096 x 2160
  • 3840 x 2169
System frequency
  • Region dependent
    (non-switchable)
  • Region dependent
    (non-switchable)
  • 59.97Hz
  • 50Hz
  • 24Hz
LUT-upload?
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
Waveforms?
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
Log gamma options
(10-bit modes only)
  • HLG
  • V-Log
  • HLG
  • V-Log
  • HLG
4K bitrate options
(up to 30p)
  • 10-bit 4:2:0
    72Mbps Long GOP (HLG mode only)
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    150Mbps Long GOP
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    400Mbps ALL-I
    150Mbps Long GOP
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    100Mbps Long GOP
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    100Mbps Long GOP
8-bit 4:2:0
100Mbps Long GOP
4K bitrate options
(up to 60p)
  • -
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    HDMI output only
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 (H.265)
    200Mbps LongGOP
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    150Mbps Long GOP
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    150Mbps Long GOP
8-bit 4:2:0
150Mbps Long GOP

The S1 can't capture 10-bit 60p footage, even with the upgrade. It'll output 10-bit UHD/60p over HDMI to an external recorder, but if you want to internally capture Log or HLG footage of high-speed action or want to produce 2.5x slow-mo footage, you'll need the S1H.

Panasonic has also said it is developing firmware to allow the S1H to output its 5.9K/29.97p and DCI/59.94p footage out as a signal that can be recorded as ProRes RAW using an Atomos Ninja V external recorder. This is not yet available.

The differences between the cameras are significant, even if you only intend on shooting in 1080p, with the S1H again being alone in offering All-I compression.

S1 S1 with SFU2 upgrade S1H
24p -
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    150Mbps Long GOP
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    200Mbps ALL-I
    100Mbps Long GOP
25, 30p
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    20Mbps Long

  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    100Mbps Long GOP
50p, 60p
  • 8-bit 4:2:0
    28Mbps
  • 10-bit 4:2:2
    100Mbps

The S1H also includes a series of more specialized modes that might sway the decision. If you have to check what they mean, you probably don't need them:

Better interface

The large number of video modes on the S1H has prompted Panasonic to add the ability to create a customized 'My List' set of modes. This not only makes it easier to get to the modes you want but also reduces the risk of you accidentally selecting the wrong mode and shooting the second half of your project in the wrong bit-depth or aspect ratio.

The S1H has gained an Arri-style display, by way of Panasonic's Varicam line

The other major difference is that the S1H has a new settings display mode. This is borrowed from Panasonic's Varicam models (which appear to have learned a lot, in turn, from Arri's professional cameras). It's essentially mimicked on the camera's top-plate and gives you at-a-glance confirmation of your shooting settings.

Better tools

The S1H looks a lot like the S1 until you compare them side-by-side. It's actually a rather larger camera with a host of little changes to make it more videographer friendly. These differences start to add up when you press one of the large red record buttons on the S1H to start capturing video. Those buttons are themselves significant: they're easy to find and there should be one that's easy to access, no matter how rigged-up your camera is.

The S1H is full of these details. The most obvious of these is the more extensively articulated rear screen. The S1 has the Fujifilm-style dual-hinged display that flips up and down and can also hinge along its right edge. The S1H has a fully articulating flip-out screen that's mounted on a plate that can itself be tilted out from the body, ensuring it stays clear of any cables you have plugged into the camera's left flank.

The fully articulating screen is better for shooting video and is mounted on a platform that lifts it away from the camera's connection ports.

The S1H also has a larger, more detailed top-plate display, that can be configured to give you more information about your current shooting settings. There are also features such as tally lamps to indicate that you're recording, along with the ability to connect a timecode sync cable to the camera, that only the S1H possesses.

The S1H is designed to work well with a wider array of microphones than the S1. As well as letting you adjust the record volume, it also lets you select a lower gain setting, ensuring you can subtly control the volume when working with really sensitive microphones.

Consistent media

The S1 features one XQD slot and one UHS-II SD card slot, allowing the use of a mix of media. The S1H is more consistent in its approach, letting you stick to fast SD media, so that you don't need to have to buy multiple card types or end up with a project split across different types of media.

The S1H uses twin SD cards, rather than mixing-and-matching its media formats.

The latest, V60 and V90 rated cards are guaranteed to be able to maintain 60 and 90MB/s writing, respectively, so should both exceed the S1H's maximum output bitrate, so there's no real need for the potentially faster XQD cards anyway.

Explicit Dual Gain modes

Make no mistake, both the S1 and S1H have dual gain sensors. As such, the S1 will also benefit from improved noise performance at higher ISOs, just as the S1H does.

The S1 and S1H both have dual gain sensors

The difference is that the S1H makes the distinction more overt: letting you see which sensor mode you're in and letting you restrict the camera to one of its two underlying gain modes if you wish. For instance, you can fix the S1H in its higher gain mode and reduce the ISO by up to 1EV below the upper 'base' setting, rather than have the camera automatically drop down to its lower gain step, as the S1 would.

Shooting endurance

If you're not going to use all these extra features, the main difference between the two cameras is that the S1H has better thermal management, thanks to its fan. This means it's able to reliably shoot for extended periods of time, in a way that the S1 can't.

The vents on the side of the S1H are the most obvious outward sign of its capability: indicating the cooling fan that helps ensure the camera can just keep rolling.

If you're not sure whether you need the extra features the S1H brings, then you almost certainly don't. But if you're used to using high-end video cameras, the S1H is much less likely to present obstacles that you have to work around: you're far less likely to find yourself frustratedly asking 'why hasn't this camera got...?'


Read our full S1H review:

To learn more about the Panasonic S1H, what it offers and how its quality compares to the Panasonic Lumix GH5S:

Click here to read our full review