UKIYO - a photographic experience with Panasonic S1R

Started Nov 18, 2019 | User reviews thread
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Ionut Ignat
Ionut Ignat Junior Member • Posts: 35
UKIYO - a photographic experience with Panasonic S1R

How a camera should be like?

Bulky, tiny, light, white, black, fast, inconspicuous, expensive, cheap, silent, with a big sensor, with a small sensor, with many megapixels, with additional features, just photography specifications?

How the photographer using the camera should be?

Should I be able to see things unseen, to catch a moment’s life and death, to place my inner darkness and light into my work, to seek inspiration in everything I see and feel, to seek originality in a time when the wheel has been long invented?

Should I be able to experiment through what I am the world I live in without getting distracted by my camera?

A tailor crafts the clothes to perfectly match the person wearing them. More, there is a symbiotic relation between these two organisms and at that moment they are the same. No more, no less, but a beautiful marriage of desires and actual experience. And only then I can fully trust my companion. My camera.

The following photos have been taken in October 2019, in a two-week test session of Panasonic equipment kindly granted me by Panasonic Romania.

The setup used consisted of Panasonic Lumix S1R and Panasonic Lumix 50mm f1/1.4.

Panasonic Romania has been a partner of a photography two days workshop organized in Iasi by a fellow photographer, Urban Identity Shift, and this is the Making Of.

For two days I have used Panasonic photographic equipment, S1 and S1R and I have created images that combined fashion and product photography (clothing). Everything has been set up by a whole creative team coordinated by an art director.

While I was getting to know the camera – I used the Lumix S1 during the workshop – I remembered an old wish I have related to the backstage photography I am taking at the ”Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre from Iasi which are gathered under the project called Intimate Scene. I have been curious, for some time now, about the results I would get while using a bigger sensor in the near pitch-black conditions from the backstage. As a result of the interactions I’ve had with the team from Panasonic Romania I had the pleasure to have been offered the Lumix S1R and Lumix 50mm f/1.4 for two weeks so I could see how the combination would perform in the photographic situations I am interested in.

I have an interested in all the technical details when it comes to a camera, especially if it is a camera I didn’t use till then, but they are not the main focus to be considered when decided to use it. Nowadays, almost all the cameras from the same category, no matter the manufacturer, offer similar functions and image quality. Adapting to the menu’s structure and the buttons’ layout is also quite fast and I think all the experienced photographers manage to cope with the initial reaction when confronted with something new. Finally, exploring is a defining feature of the whole photography.

That being said, after two days of usage, an article that describes all the menu options and an autofocus system guide I was ready to embark in a short adventure with my new partners, the S1R and the 50mm. I packed light since we all know that the bias is the one that weights the most, especially when starting a new relationship 😉.

At first, I acted as a guide for my travelling companion throughout the streets of my town. The festive atmosphere was still lingering about so, it was a perfect moment. The field of view of the 50mm lens is a bit restrictive for me considering that I am mostly using 35mm and 24mm lenses for this type of photography. Therefore, not to start with the wrong foot, I have put aside any felling I had towards the 50mm and we started to explore the world together.

The text says "holy water"

Since I used a Blackrapid strap and I have been well accustomed to photo equipment from the same range (camera, SD card, battery, lens – 1971 grams), I didn’t feel any inconvenience. Another decisive factor that eliminated the discomfort was the great balance of the S1R together with the 50mm lens.

It is rather difficult to remain unnoticed when you start taking photos, but the smile, the tilting display and, most important, not to be perceived as if you have stolen something and you are making a run for it, can lead to good photos.

After the light shower during the day we decided to attend a jazz concert where Trio Elf would perform and we made arrangements to increase the level of the difficulty. I am not scared of high sensibility values, especially when they are needed is such circumstances. So, ISO values between 2000 and 5000 have been easily accepted by my partners and here we are, again in the “photographic state of mind”.

I have been most impressed by the sound of the mechanical shutter. In such of a situation the electronic shutter is highly recommended in order not to disturb the concert’s atmosphere. Nevertheless, before the concert started, I tested the mechanical shutter, curious if I could use it.

Most of you will wonder why thinking of it just now since I used the camera during the day when the excellent light conditions should have led to its usage. The explanation is simple at least for me and it can be irrelevant to others. After all the years spent photographing, I started to fancy the results I get at ISO 800, even in broad daylight. The reasons are beyond science and they came from inside me and I feel good at ISO 800. On a technical side, I feel that ISO 800 produces the best results for me in terms of image quality and of rendering the shadows and highlights. Again, this is a method with a purely sensation background and it has no scientific testing to sustain it.

Now, getting back to the concert and the mechanical shutter, after testing its sound I ended up using it for the whole duration of the event. The one word I can describe the sound with is „soft”.

These two experiences were the foundation for the final test within the place where the light and darkness are constantly dancing and the clear zones are, most of the time, engulfed by the indistinct ones. At this point, if I would want to test the focusing system and the image quality of a camera, the backstage from a theatre is the only place I would conduct the tests.

As always, I have fully experienced the dynamics of the equipment-photographer symbiosis, going through multiple AF modes (1-Area, 1-Area +, zoom on the AF area, Face/Eye/Body Detection, Tracking + Continuous focusing) and changing the ISO values from 1000 to 10000.

The play offered a bonus and unexpected situation when I saw that it will start with a heavy, dense smoke sea. We looked at each other, communicated perfectly and we have promptly reacted and managed to successfully overcome the unforeseen 😊.

The image quality at high ISO values is very good, but I recommend you try it out for yourself since I have yet been proved to be a universal barometer.

During the two weeks I have spent with the Panasonic S1R and Panasonic 50mm f/1.4 I have come across a discovery that increased my level of “playfulness”. Even more, it is a situation which forces us to change the way we see the world and find different means of composing an image.

While exploring the menu, I reached the ratio setting. The S1R’s sensor is built with the 3:2 ration, but, as the rest of the cameras, allows you to use other proportions as well. Browsing through all of them I saw the 65:24, a never seen before ration in all the cameras I have owned or used so far. Of course, the ration makes no difference when we think that we can crop however we want during post-processing. Anyway, I prefer to “see” straight in the format I want, because it makes me think more about how to create an image. And I saw the 65:24 and I realized that it is the anamorphic one and all was good 😊, extremely good. And I’ve had a really great time, and it’s all about sensations and feelings and about the enthusiasm who took over me.

To sum up the two weeks of testing:

  • S1R is a well-built camera and offers a very good grip. Also, it makes you feel confidence in terms of toughness;
  • With the right lenses, an excellent balance can be achieved;
  • The EVF is extremely bright and it’s a pleasure to use it;
  • The camera offers you the possibility to tailor the shape of focus area to your needs. If you didn’t get it yet 😊, you can literally define ANY AF zone that would match the things you are going to take photos of. This is a whole new level in customizing your camera and I have never seen it in any cameras I owned or used. My favourite example is of the flamingo birds. So, let’s say you plan to take photos of flamingo birds. Before leaving home, you set up your camera so you can gain some time on the field. When you reach the AF area settings, you can “draw” a “flamingo shape” out of the focus zones and by doing so, you define a specific AF shape zone in order to maximize the usage of the camera’s AF system. The option looked very interesting to me and I’ve created this small CLIP about how you can perform the above-mentioned AF customization;
  • The image quality is very good and I loved the rendering of the colours;
  • The sound of the mechanical shutter is „delicate”. You can still be noticed in a perfect silence environment, but it is usable in most of the situations when the electronic shutter is required;
  • The AF system is fast and precise, especially in low light situations. It is enough for the way I am taking photos, but I wouldn’t mind if Panasonic would constantly improve it.

I bring many thanks to Panasonic for creating this camera and to Panasonic Romania for their availability!

 Ionut Ignat's gear list:Ionut Ignat's gear list
Canon PowerShot G1 Canon EOS 40D Olympus E-M5 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm F1.8 +2 more
Panasonic Lumix DC-S1R
47 megapixels • 3.2 screen • Full frame sensor
Announced: Feb 1, 2019
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Panasonic S Pro 50mm F1.4 Panasonic S1
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