Body and handling

Key Takeaways:

  • Weather-sealed body with fan to allow extended shooting
  • Tilt-out fully articulated rear screen extends without fouling ports and sockets
  • Large top-plate display with detailed video settings display mode

At first glance the S1H looks like a standard S1 but if you put them alongside one another, the differences quickly start to make themselves apparent.

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The S1H biggest physical difference is that there is a fan chamber between the back of the camera and the rear screen. As you'd expect, this fan is used to keep the camera cool, which enhances its ability to shoot video for extended periods. Although the vents at the edge of the fan chamber might make the camera look vulnerable, there's no opening between this chamber and the main body: the camera remains weather sealed.

The other obvious difference is that the 'H' model has a fully articulated screen on the back, rather than the up/down tilting version on the conventional S1 and S1R. A large catch on the bottom of the S1H reveals that the rear screen's articulated hinge is itself mounted on a tilting platform, meaning it can be extended out from the back of the camera, ensuring no clash with the ports on the camera's left-hand side.

Record buttons

The S1H has clearly been designed with cages and rigs in mind. Not only is there a large anodized [REC] button on the top plate of the camera, but there's another on the lower front corner, allowing access no matter how deeply embedded the camera is. And, if you wish, there's also the option to have the shutter button initiate recording.

Top plate display

The other major difference between this camera and the S1 is the inclusion of a much larger top-plate display. It has separate modes for stills and video shooting, with the video display closely resembling the new status display you can show on the rear screen.

It's a high-contrast panel, much like the one on Fujifilm X-H1, and can be shown as white text on a black background or the inverse. There's a backlight for working in low light conditions.

Twin SD slots

Rather than the SD/XQD pairing offered on the S1 and S1R, the S1H instead features twin SD card slots. It might sound like you're losing a high-speed slot, but it makes a lot of sense to us. For video shooting you don't want to be messing around with two media types, so it makes more sense to stick with one.

Both slots are compatible with the latest V90 cards, which guarantee 90 MB/s read and write. That's 720Mbps, which far exceeds any of the camera's output bitrates.

Tally lamps

A tally lamp is standard equipment on most video cameras. For those unfamiliar, it's a small light (typically red in color) that lets both subject and camera operator know when the camera is recording. The S1H has two tally lamps: one on the front of the camera next to the PC sync socket, and one on the rear next to the AF mode button.

Both lamps are configurable and it's possible to use them simultaneously, one at a time or to disable them altogether.

Fine details

The more you look at the S1H, the more you're likely to notice the attention to detail. Like the GH5S, it comes with an adaptor that lets you connect a BNC cable to the camera (via the flash sync socket) for timecode syncing. Then look at the bottom of the camera: there's a connector if you want to use the S-series battery grip, but there's also a hole for an orientation pin if you're using a video tripod plate.

In addition (and we wouldn't have spotted this, if Panasonic hadn't told us), there are film plane markings on both sides of the camera, and they line up exactly with the camera strap lugs. This is no coincidence; Panasonic says it's done this so that you can attach a tape measure to the strap lugs if you're measuring out your focus points.

Finally, the power on the S1H is controlled with a rotating switch surrounding the shutter button, in contrast to the top plate switches found on the S1 and S1R. It's a small thing, but we think most users will prefer it.