Panasonic has announced it is developing two full frame mirrorless cameras: the 47MP S1R and the 24MP S1. Both will be built around Leica's L mount, allowing their use with existing Leica lenses as well as lenses promised by both Panasonic and Sigma.

"We want to suit the needs of the professional photographer"

We've been shown fairly advanced-looking but non-functional prototype cameras, and have been able to squeeze a few details from Panasonic. The company says the 'S' represents cameras that are 'Specialized' for professionals. The launch will be accompanied by Panasonic's professional support service being built-up. "Out of the gate, we want to suit the needs of the professional photographer," the company says.

Specifics are scarce but Panasonic says both cameras will be weather-sealed and will feature 'high resolution' electronic viewfinders. Both feature top-plate settings LCDs and feature both an XQD and SD card slot. They include the dual-hinge tilting rear LCD panels that Fujifilm has used on its recent high-end models. These tilt up or down, then have a second hinge along one side to allow tilt in a third axis.

A system of lenses

Panasonic unveiling the first three lenses available for its new full-frame system at Photokina.

Alongside the two cameras, Panasonic has announced it will introduce three lenses: a 50mm F1.4, a 24-105mm zoom and a 70-200mm 2.8. It has also says it will introduce more than ten lenses before the end of 2020.

Panasonic says it will introduce more than ten lenses before the end of 2020

The cameras come as the latest fruit of a long-running collaboration between Panasonic and Leica but are accompanied by the news that Sigma will join the club and make L-mount lenses. As well as making lenses under its own name, Sigma acts as OEM for other brands, so it has a history of close collaboration.

Panasonic Technologies

Panasonic will bring a number of its existing technologies, including Dual IS (the combination of in-body and in-lens stabilization to provide a greater level of correction than either could provide alone). And, while Panasonic says it isn't especially focusing on video shooters, both will be able to shoot 4K60p video.

Both cameras will use Panasonic's Depth-from-Defocus system for autofocus. This takes information about each lens's out-of-focus characteristics to help the camera assess the distance to the subject, to support its contrast-detection AF system. Perhaps tellingly, this description closely matches the way Leica discusses the autofocus in its SL.

Who's it for?

The unveiling of the S1 and S1R full-frame Panasonic mirrorless cameras at Photokina.

The company says the 24MP S1 is expected to be used around 70% for stills and 30% for video, targeting people such as wedding photographers and photojournalists. The S1R will be "purely for photographers," the company says, with landscape, commercial and portrait photographers being explicitly named.

"Leica designed the original 35mm camera: they know what they're doing"

Following the decision of Canon and Nikon to use short, wide mounts, it's interesting to see Panasonic opt into a mount that's considerably narrower (around 50mm, rather than the 54mm of Canon's R mount). We asked Panasonic about this and were told: "Leica designed the original 35mm camera: they know what they're doing."

Panasonic announced the development of three 'L' lenses alongside the two camera bodies.

Panasonic stressed that it will continue to sell and develop the Micro Four Thirds system in parallel with its L-mount system, which will be targeted at high-end users.