Conclusion

What we like: What we don't:
  • Excellent video performance
  • Broad feature set and comprehensive tools for shooting video
  • High-resolution viewfinder and convenient LCD articulation
  • Tools to support specialized HDR or anamorphic shooting
  • Extensive customization and option to save/recall personal settings
  • High quality 24MP images if you need to shoot stills
  • Can accommodate a wide range of microphones
  • Adaptors available for EF and PL lenses
  • ProRes RAW output promised
  • Autofocus performance doesn't match the impressive quality of the footage
  • Rolling shutter can be noticeable in some modes
  • Battery life is variable (possibly dictated by fan workload)

The Lumix S1H is by far the most capable video camera we've ever tested. It's no coincidence that it's also the first camera in our realm to have been approved by Netflix for shooting 4K content.

To a great degree, it's a full-frame GH camera, offering a large number of specialist tools from those cameras (waveforms, LUT-based Display Assist mode, HDR preview modes, anamorphic desqueeze, shutter angle reporting and frame markers), as well as their high-bitrate capture modes.

The larger sensor offers potential for higher image quality in circumstances where you can tolerate shallower depth-of-field. But, depending on which color/gamma modes you use, you may experience this difference as wider dynamic range with more gentle highlight roll-off or greater grading flexibility, rather than a noise or tonal quality improvement over the GH5S.

It may be large by stills camera standards but the S1H is usefully small and light, compared to anything else that shoots video to the same standard.

Rolling shutter is moderate, depending on which mode you shoot it. In full frame mode it's significant enough that you'll need to take it into account when shooting. It improves significantly in Super35 mode but the camera gives away much of its benefit over the GH5S at that point.

Even if you choose to focus on just the video side, the S1H is a camera with an extensive feature set. Trying to cater to shooting styles such as HLG capture, open-gate or anamorphic shooting has meant adding a host of support features for each, adding considerable complexity. Thankfully the menus are well organized, with icons to help you find the option you're searching for. Extensive customization is supported with the ability to save and load pre-established custom settings.


What we think


Jordan Drake
User of red buttons

The Panasonic S1H sets a new standard for professional video capabilities in a mirrorless camera. While the image quality is absolutely stellar, it's the customizability, assist tools, and gorgeous displays that have most impressed me. Unless your work requires reliable continuous autofocus, professionals and serious enthusiasts owe it to themselves to take a long look at the S1H.


The biggest limitation of the S1H is its autofocus performance. Like previous Panasonic cameras it can tend to wobble as it finds focus, and we experienced instances where it lost focus mid clip. Whenever you are shooting with shallower depth-of-field, this imprecision will be more visible. This may not be an issue for anyone with good follow-focus skills, or precisely blocked scenes but, simply put, the quality of the autofocus isn't consistent with the professional quality of the footage, which is likely to discourage its use.

If you need to shoot stills, the S1H is essentially a match for Panasonic's very good S1, but with a low-pass filter to reduce the risk of aliasing. Matching the performance of a less expensive camera may not sound that impressive, but it's much more stills capability than you'll get from any other pro-grade video camera.

In use, the S1H is superb, giving you almost everything you need to capture genuinely pro-quality video. The only factors users may potentially find off-putting are the camera's autofocus, its rolling shutter and its somewhat variable battery endurance. The importance of each of these factors will depend heavily on what and how you shoot, but are worth being cognizant of.

Overall, the S1H offers a lot of pro-grade capture capability in a small, comparatively affordable package. If you don't recognize what's so compelling about fitting this feature set into a camera of this price and size, then it's probably not for you. But if you're an ambitious filmmaker or independent production team, it makes a higher-than-ever level of performance significantly more accessible.


Scoring:

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H
Category: Professional Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The S1H brings the features and feel of Panasonic's GH series to the L-mount full-frame system. It's a compact and affordable package if judged according to the standard of its broadcast-grade footage. The rolling shutter figures are worth being conscious of, and the autofocus isn't as impressive as the rest of the camera, but overall it's a superb video tool that will address a wide range of needs.
Good for
Productions and production teams requiring a small, affordable camera with impressive quality
Not so good for
Run-and-gun shooting requiring perfect autofocus. Enthusiasts looking to dabble in video
90%
Overall score