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 S1R 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.


Landscape

Out-of-camera JPEG from a pre-production S1R.
ISO 400 | 1/2000 sec | F4 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 75mm.
Photo by Dale Baskin

This is an area in which the S1R really shines. For starters, its 47MP of resolution gives you lots of detail, and the 187MP high-res mode gives you even more. But let's dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of the S1R as a landscape shooter's camera.

Pros:

  • Plenty of resolution in single shot mode, and 187MP high-resolution mode with effective motion correction
  • Extremely rugged, weather-sealed
  • Great image quality
  • 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:

  • Lower dynamic range than competitors
  • Heavy and will take up a lot of space in your bag
  • Battery life trails some competitors

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Travel

Processed to taste in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F5.6 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 50mm.
Photo by Carey Rose

Because of its size and weight, the Lumix S1R simply isn't our top choice for a travel camera. But, if you can live with its heft, there is plenty about its feature set that will get you stellar travel shots under a variety of circumstances. Let's take a closer look.

Pros:

  • Incredibly well-built, sealed body
  • Great out-of-camera JPEGs
  • In-camera Raw processing
  • Reliable wireless connectivity options
  • 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
  • Good video feature set

Cons:

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

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Lifestyle and people

Out-of-camera JPEG using a pre-production Panasonic S1R
ISO 100 | 1/30 sec | F2.8 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Dan Bracaglia

For more Instagram-tastic artsy-looking lifestyle and people photos, the S1R comes with a strong feature set. Let's take a look at how well it's suited to these social moments and stock photo work.

Pros:

  • Great out-of-camera JPEGs for quick uploading
  • Potential for very shallow depth-of-field
  • Fast and accurate autofocus in most lighting conditions, including reliable face-and-eye detection for single subjects
  • 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
  • Face and eye detection can be unreliable with multiple subjects in a scene
  • You may notice occasional front-or-back-focused images taken in bursts during AF-C

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Family and moments

Image processed in Adobe Camera Raw.
ISO 125 | 1/60 sec | F4 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Carey Rose

The S1R is certainly responsive enough to act as a family camera and capture important life events, but its size and weight means you may not have it when those moments occur. Here's how we think the S1R 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
  • Good low-light performance
  • Lumix S 24-105mm F4 lens provides flexibility for all types of situations
  • Good video quality

Cons:

  • It's big and heavy, you will probably not bring it with you all the time
  • 47MP may be overkill for this sort of use
  • Eye detection will sometimes focus on eyelashes, not iris or pupil
  • 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
  • No 'selfie' capable screen mechanism

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Weddings and events

Out-of-camera JPEG.
ISO 320 | 1/60 sec | F11 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 24mm.
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 S1R would handle 'the big day.'

Pros:

  • 47MP of resolution gives lots and lots of detail
  • Interface allows easy switching between stills and video
  • Excellent color and JPEG quality
  • Large grip is good for large, fast-aperture lenses
  • Extensive physical controls
  • Reliable and speedy single autofocus with DFD-compatible lenses, with good body/face/eye detection for simpler scenes
  • Dual card slots for redundancy
  • Backlit controls are a nice touch
  • Fast 1/320th sec flash sync speed

Cons:

  • Not everyone needs 47MP - will take lots of drive space
  • 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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Formal portraits

Processed and cropped slightly in Adobe Camera Raw
ISO 100 | 1/100 sec | F1.4 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Carey Rose

The S1R's full-frame sensor will help you get super blurry backgrounds if that's what you're after, while 47MP of resolution will provide plenty of detail on your subject. Plus, good eye detection with single subjects makes accurate focus a breeze.

Pros:

  • Very accurate single autofocus, with fairly 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)
  • Eye detection will sometimes focus on eyelashes, not iris or pupil
  • High-res mode incompatible with strobes

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Candid and street

Processed in Adobe Camera Raw
ISO 100 | 1/250 sec | F2.8 | Panasonic Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4.
Photo by Carey Rose

Street photography can be demanding for both camera and photographer. Responsiveness is key, 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
  • Responsive interface
  • 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
  • Most lenses are large
  • Heavy

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Sports and wildlife

Out-of-camera JPEG
ISO 100 | 1/500 sec | F4 | Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F4 @ 104mm.
Photo by Carey Rose

Panasonic's S1 series 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:

  • Great resolution gives flexibility in cropping
  • 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
  • Fast and accurate single AF for predictable motion and subjects

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
  • Some images during bursts are slightly front-or-back-focused - does not track subjects in depth as well as peers

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Video

The Lumix S1R isn't meant to be as video-centric as its lower-resolution sibling, the S1, nor the forthcoming Lumix S1H, but it packs a reasonably thorough feature set and its video quality compares favorably to some other high-res competitors. Here's what we think will appeal to those looking to capture video on the S1R, and what won't.

Pros:

  • Up-to 4K/60p capture
  • Full HD capture comes with good quality
  • 180 fps Full HD capture output as 50 or 60p footage
  • Strong customization options regarding the separation of settings from stills to video
  • Excellent image stabilization
  • Body/face/eye detection is pretty effective
  • 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

Cons:

  • 4K capture comes with a minimum 1.09x crop
  • A further Super35 crop is necessary for best 4K video quality
  • Continuous autofocus exhibits slight hunting / wobbling as it focuses and the 'Tracking' mode is currently not very effective
  • No option for HLG capture, nor 10-bit capture
  • 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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