Video Performance

Pending the arrival of the video-focused S1H, the S1 is the currently the most video-friendly camera in Panasonic's L-mount lineup. It offers 4K/60p shooting from an APS-C crop of its sensor or oversampled 4K/30p from its full width. Its video specs don't come close to the video-centric GH cameras, but it has some clever options that have been inherited from them.

Key takeaways

  • Oversampled 4K/30p video from full sensor with or 4K/60p from APS-C region
  • 1080 capture at up to 180 fps, output as 50 or 60p footage
  • HLG video capture as 10-bit HEVC files
  • Video footage looks good, particularly in full-frame 4K mode
  • Autofocus is fairly dependable and can be tuned to suit your subject. It won't keep your subject in focus for every frame but it won't do anything silly, either. Face Detection is most effective.

By default, the S1 is pretty strong but there's also a paid upgrade available for high-end videographers wanting more out of the camera. Early adopters may have received this upgrade for free.

Out of the box, the standard S1 will shoot 4K video at up to 30p, or up to 60p in Super 35/APS-C mode. In 30p and 24p modes the camera will shoot until the card is full but there's still a 29:59 minute restriction applied in the 50 and 60p modes.

Sensor region Format Resolution Frame rate Bit-depth Bitrate
APS-C /
Super 35
MP4 3840 x 2160 59.94p / 50p 4:2:0 8-Bit 150Mbps
Full width 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p 100Mbps
1920 x 1080 59.94p / 50p 28Mbps
29.97 / 25p 20Mbps
MP4 HEVC 3840 x 2160 29.97p / 25p / 23.98p 4:2:0 10-bit 72Mbps

The 4K/30p mode makes use of the sensor's full width, so you get no further crop of the angle of view. It also uses the whole 16:9 region of the sensor, which means it's generating footage from many more pixels than its outputting. This oversampling approach lets it give a more detailed stream than would otherwise be possible. You can opt to shoot 4K 30p or 24p from the Super 35 region if you like.

Out of the box, the camera doesn't offer a Log gamma curve for those users with a color-grading step as part of their workflow. It does, however, offer Hybrid Log Gamma mode. This is captured as 10-bit 4:2:0 in the H.265/HEVC format at 72Mbps. And, although this is intended as a means of shooting footage for display on high-dynamic-range TVs, it is also a usable substitute for Log capture for non-pros.

1080/180 fps

In addition, the S1 will shoot full-frame 1080 video at up to 60p, and up to 180 fps from an APS-C region. The high frame-rate capture is output at 1/6th speed as 29.97p footage. There's also an option to shoot 150 fps footage, which produces 1/5th speed footage. PAL-region cameras will also offer 5 and 6x slow-mo from 125 and 150 fps shooting, respectively.

The camera doesn't offer the full 'Variable Frame Rate' function from the GH cameras, instead just letting you choose from a handful of specific multiples. There's also the option for 1/2-speed slow-mo 4K/30p and 24p (from 60 and 48 fps capture).

In 1080 mode, as well as a full-frame and APS-C option, the S1 also has the ability to capture footage from a 1:1 pixel region. This uses 1920 x 1080 pixels to capture the video but means the imposition of a

Linear Focus Response

As with Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds lenses, all its L-mount lenses will be focus-by-wire. However, this doesn't mean they have to offer the speed-sensitive response that can make by-wire lenses so awkward for video focusing. The S1 and S1R will offer the option to provide a linear response. Some lenses will have a focus clutch, on which you pull back the focus ring to reveal a distance scale and get a linear focus response by default.

However, the new cameras take this further by letting you define the amount of throw necessarily to rack from close-focus to infinity. The options range from 90 to 360 degrees, in 30 degree increments, meaning you can tune the lens response to give you sufficient precision to make the focus pull you need to make.

Mic inputs

The S1, like its higher-res sibling, has both headphone and mic sockets and is compatible with the DMW-XLR1 adapter if you want to use higher-end microphones. Or, if you choose to use the internal mic socket, you have a choice of whether it should expect a mic or line-level signal and whether it should provide phantom power to the external mic.


Handling

The S1 has extensive direct control points and is cleverly designed to let you choose how you want it to behave, if you regularly switch from stills to video shooting and back.

At its most basic, you get the choice of what exposure mode the video is shot in, if you simply hit the [REC] button while in the stills-shooting P,A,S,M modes. By default it uses auto exposure settings, but you can set it to match the exposure mode you're currently using.

But the separation of stills and video can be made more extensive, if you want to take fine-grained control over both. AF Custom settings differ between stills and video mode, as do the limits of Auto ISO mode, but beyond that, you get to choose whether they are common to both shooting modes.

The 'CreativeVideo Combined Set.' menu option lets you choose which of the following settings are carried-over from stills shooting and which you wish to set separately for video shooting.

  • F-number / SS / ISO / Exposure comp
  • White Balance
  • Photo Style (color mode)
  • Metering Mode
  • AF Mode

This means you can have separate exposure values if you want. Or go further and have video mode set to a fixed white balance and, for instance, Log color mode, without those settings then interfering with your stills shooting.

Performance

The S1's 4K footage is pretty impressive, showing a good level of detail without much in the way of aliasing. The 60p footage from the APS-C region doesn't look quite so good.

In comparison to the Nikon Z6, the S1's footage is less sharpened, which makes aliasing look less pronounced. The Sony a7 III appears to outdo both: with fine-radius sharpening making the best of the footage but nothing too distracting in the finest detail.

Autofocus settings

The S1 depends on Panasonic's Depth from Defocus system, which assesses the distance to the subject by comparing images shot at different focus distances and combining this information with an understanding of how each lenses' out-of-focus characteristics change. The downside of this system is that it requires more lens movement while focusing and need to occasionally move the focus to re-confirm focus. This means it's not ideally suited to video work, since you end up seeing some these hunting efforts in your footage.

In video mode you can specify the AF speed and sensitivity (the degree to which the camera delays before checking for a change in distance). We tested both the AF tracking mode and the face detection mode, to see how dependable the focus is.

Autofocus performance

This testing of the S1's video AF uses updated firmware that will be publicly released in July.

With updated firmware the camera's video AF works pretty well, both in subject tracking and Face Detection modes. The results aren't necessarily dependable enough for professional work but it's pretty good at refocusing smoothly and neither jumping out of focus nor hunting too obviously.

Increasing the AF sensitivity (here set to +2 on a +/–3 scale) seems to slightly improve the camera's reaction to the subject's distance change. We didn't want to undermine the smoothness of the focus by increasing the AF speed, too.

Subject tracking was usually good at staying on the chosen subject, though we had very occasional trouble getting the camera to identify and track the subject or part of the subject we wanted it to focus on. The Face Detection mode, which actually focuses on bodies, faces or eyes, depending on the subject's proximity, was much more dependable: finding and following the subject unwaveringly.