Is it right for you?

Cameras can serve different purposes for different photographers; the right tool for one person might be the wrong one for someone else. With that in mind, we'll be taking a look at how the Panasonic Lumix S1 stacks up for a variety of common uses, based on its specifications, our lab testing and the time we've spent with it in the real world.


Travel

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/125 sec | F4.5 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 38mm.
Photo by Jeff Keller

The Lumix S1 has a lot going for it as a travel camera, provided you're not the type of person who travels light: it is a big, heavy camera, after all. Let's look at what will come in handy, and what might hinder you if you take the S1 with you on your next trip.

Pros:

  • Incredibly rugged, well-built body
  • Excellent out-of-camera JPEGs
  • In-camera Raw processing if you want to tweak your files
  • Reliable wireless connectivity options for sharing on-the-go
  • Supports charging over USB-C
  • High-quality 24-105mm F4 zoom provides excellent flexibility
  • Dual card slots allow for redundancy if you don't pack a hard drive for backups
  • Strong video feature set

Cons:

  • Big and heavy, even with the lightest of lenses
  • Less battery life than some rivals

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Video

Though the Lumix S1 isn't meant to be as video-centric as the forthcoming Lumix S1H, it packs a really strong feature set into its full-frame body. Here's what we think will appeal to those looking to capture video on the S1, and what won't.

Pros:

  • Oversampled 4K/30p capture, and 4K/60p capture from a Super35 crop
  • 180 fps Full HD capture output as 50 or 60p footage (Super35 crop)
  • Incredible customization options regarding the separation of settings between stills and video
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Body/face/eye detection is pretty effective
  • Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) capture with 10-bit HEVC files
  • Good internal microphone pre-amp plus a headphone port, also compatible with Panasonic DMW-XLR1 XLR mic adapter
  • Excellent battery stamina
  • Options to customize manual focus response
  • Option to add 10-bit capture and output, Log function, waveforms and lift 29:59 recording limit.

Cons:

  • Continuous autofocus exhibits slight hunting / wobbling as it focuses and the 'Tracking' mode is currently not very effective
  • Paid upgrade required to access extended video capability
  • Some users will prefer a more traditional articulating screen mechanism
  • Size and weight may put off some 'run-and-gun' video shooters

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Family and moments

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 1000 | 1/125 sec | F1.8 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Wenmei Hill

The S1 is certainly capable enough of acting as a family camera and capturing those important life events, but its size and weight means you may not have it when those moments occur. Here's how we think the S1 stacks up as a family camera.

Pros:

  • 'Intelligent Auto' mode makes it easy to hand the camera off to a more novice user
  • Good body / face / eye detection, though it may 'see' faces in non-human objects, or lose and quickly regain a subject, making it difficult to reliably switch between subjects
  • JPEG images look great out-of-camera for quick sharing over Wi-Fi
  • Great low-light performance
  • Lumix S 24-105mm F4 lens provides flexibility for all types of situations
  • Excellent video quality

Cons:

  • It's big and heavy, which may prompt you to leave it at home
  • Autofocus hunting in AF-C will sometimes result in missed focus during bursts
  • Battery life is a bit short, best to keep a USB-C cable handy for charging on the go
  • There's no 'selfie' screen, but it's pretty heavy for selfies anyway

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Landscape

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/2000 sec | F4 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 105mm.
Photo by Jeff Keller

Although the 24MP of resolution the S1 offers may look a little low in this world of 40-50MP options, it is still plenty of resolution for most people, and for printing at moderate sizes. Oh, and if you want, you can enable the camera's high-res mode, which combines a series of images to create 96MP files. That's probably enough for just about everyone. Let's see how the pros and cons lists shape up for the S1 for landscape work.

Pros:

  • Extremely rugged, weather-sealed
  • Excellent image quality
  • 96MP high-resolution mode with very effective motion correction
  • Strong lens selection when you factor in Sigma Art options
  • Tilting LCD is great for tripod work
  • Backlit buttons and top-plate LCD
  • USB-charging
  • With a powerful enough charger, the camera can run on USB power

Cons:

  • Heavy and will take up a lot of space in your bag
  • Battery life trails class leaders

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Formal portraits

Out-of-camera JPEG
ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F1.8 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Wenmei Hill

Even posed portraits benefit from fast, accurate focus, and the full-frame sensor in the S1 will help you to get buttery-smooth blurry backgrounds if that's your thing. There's a lot more to it than that, though - let's take a closer look.

Pros:

  • Very accurate single autofocus, with reliable face and eye detection
  • Excellent color and skin-tones right out of camera
  • Strong selection of portrait lenses with the Sigma Art series, Leica SL series lenses
  • Fast 1/320th sec flash sync speed

Cons:

  • Limited Panasonic flash options (but third parties like Godox are compatible)

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Lifestyle and people

Out-of-camera JPEG, cropped slightly.
ISO 100 | 1/200 sec | F1.4 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Wenmei Hill

For more artsy-looking lifestyle and people photos, the S1 comes with a strong feature set. Let's take a look at how well it's suited to 'Instagrammable' moments and stock photo work.

Pros:

  • Excellent out-of-camera JPEGs for quick uploading
  • Potential for very shallow depth-of-field
  • Fast and accurate autofocus in most lighting conditions, including eye detection
  • Body/Face/Eye AF minimizes distracting focus wobble in viewfinder
  • Great overall image quality, flexible Raw files
  • Decent choice of lenses for such a new system

Cons:

  • Using continuous autofocus with moving models and a moving photographer will show noticeable 'wobble' in the viewfinder when not using face detection
  • Somewhat awkward to select between multiple recognized faces
  • You may notice occasional front-or-back-focused images taken in bursts during AF-C

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Candid and street

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 100 | 1/1250 sec | F4 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

Shooting on the street can be a demanding form of photography for both camera and user. Responsiveness is paramount, of course, but there are a number of other considerations to take into account.

Pros:

  • Tilting touchscreen for shooting from the hip
  • Pretty reliable face detection and autofocus
  • Option for fully silent electronic shutter
  • Plenty of physical controls to quickly change settings
  • Ability to fine-tune manual focus

Cons:

  • Very big and conspicuous
  • Lenses are universally large
  • Heavy

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Sports and wildlife

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F6.3 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 149mm.
Photo by Jeff Keller

Panasonic's S1 series is the only full-frame lineup on the market that foregoes a phase-detection autofocus system, opting instead to use the company's Depth-from-Defocus technology in a contrast-detection system. That has some serious implications for shooting sports and action - let's take a look.

Pros:

  • Sizable grip makes handling large lenses easier
  • Huge viewfinder
  • Highly customizable AF system
  • Tons of external controls
  • Deep buffer with XQD card option
  • Autofocus controls on back plate are thoughtfully laid-out
  • Excellent JPEGs out of the camera
  • Generally accurate autofocus, even in bursts

Cons:

  • DFD focus will hunt and wobble constantly in continuous autofocus, and the viewfinder resolution drops as well, can be hard to follow action.
  • Maximum 6 fps burst speed with autofocus is on the slow side
  • Black-out times during bursts aren't bad, but aren't great
  • You may find some images during bursts are slightly front-or-back-focused

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Weddings and events

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F8 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 33mm.
Photo by Carey Rose

Wedding and event photography incorporates a lot of aspects of some of the other types of shooting we've covered here, bundling them up and requiring a high degree of competence from both camera and photographer. Here's how we think the S1 would handle 'the big day.'

Pros:

  • 24MP resolution is a good 'sweet spot'
  • Interface allows easy switching between stills and video
  • Excellent color and JPEG quality
  • Large grip is good for large, fast-aperture lenses
  • Plenty of fast-aperture primes from Sigma's Art series
  • Extensive physical controls
  • Reliable autofocus, including face and body detection
  • Dual card slots for redundancy
  • Backlit controls are a nice touch
  • Fast 1/320th sec flash sync speed

Cons:

  • Limited own-brand on-camera flash options (but there are third party ones)
  • On-camera flash AF assist lamp is a bright LED which can be distracting for subjects
  • Continuous autofocus wobble and EVF resolution drop are distracting for the photographer when not using face detection
  • Somewhat fiddly to select amongst multiple faces in a scene
  • 6 fps burst shooting with AF might be too slow for some users, and watch out for occasional missed focus in AF-C

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