Panasonic Officially Launches S1-Series Full-Frame Cameras

11Share

Full-frame mirrorless is the next camera battleground, and now we have heavyweight Panasonic officially joining the fray with the release of the highly anticipated S1 and S1R cameras. Focused on delivering a next-level photographic experience, the S Series becomes the brand's first release as part of the L-Mount Alliance, and indicates a strong desire to appeal to professional photographers. Though both cameras share many impressive characteristics—such as the L mount, 4K60 video, and a rugged build—the use of a 24.2MP MOS sensor in the S1 and a 47.3MP MOS sensor in the S1R separates the two to benefit the needs of different types of image making. Along with that, Panasonic's history of imaging technology has evolved and some of the company's best functions will be present in this system.

These cameras were announced at photokina 2018; more info was released at CES 2019; and now we are getting the full picture as to what the S Series can do. These are serious cameras. Panasonic has recently taken to appealing to the needs of stills shooters, and this is its strongest argument yet. Moving to full-frame sensors and an updated Venus Engine image processor brings many advantages, including increased dynamic range and improved low-light performance. Sensitivity ranges prove this, with the S1 offering ISO 100-51200, extended from ISO 50-204800, and the S1R reaching from ISO 100-25600, extendable to ISO 50-51200. Benefitting image quality are Multipixel Luminance Generation, Intelligent Detail Processing, and Color Control, all using advanced processing techniques to squeeze the best quality out of your images.

Image quality is key to convincing photographers to jump on a new system, though it is all the supporting functionality that draws them in. The S1 and S1R offer 9 fps continuous shooting with AF-S or 6 fps with AF-C and they have 5-axis In-Body I.S. to prevent camera shake from affecting your shots. This stabilization system is rated to 5.5 stops and will work in conjunction with O.I.S., present in select lenses, to create a more effective Dual I.S. 2 stabilizer for stills and video that is rated to 6 stops. Another advantage is a High-Resolution mode that shifts the sensor as it captures eight images, which are then combined into a single ultra-high-resolution shot. If you want to be impressed, the High-Resolution modes can produce 187MP images on the S1R, and 96MP photos on the S1.

Another upgraded system is the Depth-From-Defocus (DFD) autofocus system. Using 225 contrast-detect areas, this system can lock focus in just 0.08 seconds. The sensor and lens can now communicate at up to 480 fps for quick operation, and there is Advanced Ai Technology to help identify and track various subjects with precision, including faces and eyes for people. Low-Light AF is another feature that enables operation in lighting conditions as dim as -6 EV.

Panasonic's mirrorless division is built on the success of its video-oriented GH Series, so I assume many of you are here to read about the video chops of the S Series. These cameras will be the first full-frame mirrorless cameras to offer 4K60 recording options. That is the significant spec of these cameras, though there is much more under their hoods. To start, much like their competitors, the lower-resolution S1 is the prime choice for photographer/videographer hybrids. It boasts full-frame full-pixel readout for UHD 4K30 with 10-bit 4:2:0 color sampling, and unlimited recording times internally using HEVC. HLG HDR recording is available, as well, for maximizing dynamic range and immediate support on many modern displays and televisions.

For those looking for 4K60, this will require a crop of the APS-C portion of the sensor and, at launch, will record at 8-bit 4:2:0 with a recording limit of 29 minutes 59 seconds. Still, this function is not available with any other full-frame mirrorless camera and dramatically expands the capabilities of the system in its entirety. In the future, Panasonic will be releasing optional paid firmware upgrades that will bring 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording and V-Log to the S1. Both cameras will record Full HD video at up to 180 fps for up to 6x slow motion, and footage can be output over HDMI in 4:2:2 8-bit via the full-size HDMI port. The S1R is being targeted more for still imaging, though can still hold its own in video. All recording options with the S1R are done in 8-bit 4:2:0 at launch.

"Built for professionals" will be another calling card of the S Series, because the body is of weather-sealed magnesium-alloy construction that is splash-, dust-, and freezeproof. The large grip is designed for comfortable operation and plenty of physical dials and controls, including a joystick and illuminated buttons, making it a pleasure to use. At the top of the camera is an impressive 5.76m-dot OLED EVF with a 0.78x magnification and a 60-fps refresh rate that can be boosted to 120 fps when needed. Supplementing this is a 3.2", 2.1m-dot LCD with a triaxial tilting design for easing composition when working at high and low angles. Additionally, a top status LCD is available for quickly checking settings.

Beyond the basic build, the camera has XQD and SD card slots. The XQD slot will support CFexpress, in the future, for added compatibility, and the SD slot is UHS-II compatible for enhanced speed. Other ports include a USB Type-C for data transfer and charging, a 2.5mm port for remotes, such as the DMW-RS2 Remote Shutter, 3.5mm mic and headphone jacks, and a PC sync port. Power is supplied by a sizeable DMW-BLJ31 Battery Pack with a 3100mAh capacity. As with any contemporary camera, the S Series will be equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity with mobile devices via the Lumix Sync app.

Lumix DC-S1

Lumix DC-S1R

24.2MP MOS

Image Sensor

47.3MP MOS

ISO 100-51200
Extended ISO 50-204800

ISO Sensitivity

ISO 100-25600
Extended ISO 50-51200

UHD 4K60/30/24

Video Recording

UHD 4K60/30/24

4:2:0 10-bit internal
4:2:2 10-bit internal, with optional firmware

Bit-Depth and Sampling

4:2:0 8-bit internal

HLG Photo and HLG Video

HLG HDR

HLG Photo

96MP
12,000 x 8,000 pixels

High-Resolution Shooting Mode

187MP
16,736 x 11,168 pixels

9 fps with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C
Up to 90 raw files or 999 JPEGs

Continuous Shooting

9 fps with AF-S, 6 fps with AF-C
Up to 40 raw files or 50 JPEGs

You can find the cameras available in multiple configurations, as either a body only, or as a kit with the 24-105mm lens. There are also various accessories being made available with the system, including the DMW-BGS1 Battery Grip, which you can find here.

Joining the L-Mount Alliance with Leica and Sigma, the S Series will, obviously, use the L lens mount. This standard is designed to support large full-frame sensors, with its 51.6mm diameter, and it has a flange distance of 20mm. It also means a brand-new family of lenses is coming from Panasonic, though it will support L-mount releases from all members of the Alliance. At launch, there are three lenses: the all-around Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. Lens, the fast Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Lens, and the classic telephoto zoom Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 O.I.S. Lens.

Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. Lens
Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. Lens
Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Lens
Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4 Lens

Versatility is always the key when a new system is launched, making the 24-105mm the most likely purchase for new S Series owners. Its constant f/4 aperture will deliver consistent performance, and various specialized elements will minimize aberrations. A unique function of this zoom, compared to many competitors, is 1:2 macro capability for focusing as close as 11.8". Additionally, it has an Optical Image Stabilizer that is compatible with the S Series Dual I.S. 2 system for up to 6 stops of compensation.

Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 O.I.S. Lens
Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 O.I.S. Lens

Another practical zoom is the 70-200mm. Covering many of the essential telephoto focal lengths, and using a fast, Dual AF System with linear and stepping motors, this is a solid choice for users who need a bit more reach. Also, it has O.I.S. and comes with a removable, rotating tripod collar. The final lens is the 50mm f/1.4. Though you could call it a "nifty fifty," the outstanding optics and performance of this release place it in another league. It has a fast AF system, an 11-blade diaphragm, and various specialized elements to deliver maximum image quality. All these lenses are weather sealed to match the S-Series build quality.

What do you think about the S Series now that we have a clear picture of what is coming? What lenses do you want to see next? Make sure to join and/or start a conversation in the Comments section, below!

Pre-Order Now

11 Comments

So, I have a question about the “bit depth”; It is my understanding that a higher # for bit depth equates to (ultimately—I cannot describe the physics!) a greater range of colors on the spectrum; e.g., more shades of green, purple, etc.  That being the case, it seems that a 12-bit depth is, relative to other similarly-priced FF mirrorless (Sony, for instance), not as robust.  Any comments?

Hi Cecily,

I may be mistaken (please correct me with a source if you have one), but I'm near positive that the Panasonic S Series does 14-bit raw, not 12-bit. I'd be very surprised, especially since the GH5S does 14-bit raw. 14-bit is on par with everyone else, while 12-bit is a little limiting, in practice most users wouldn't notice a huge difference unless they are pushing the files dramatically or encountering very unique situations.

Is there going to be an adapter from L mount to canon ef lenses soon for these cameras?

Hi Rodrigo,

It is possible that a third-party manufacturer will develop an EF to L-Mount Adapter. Sigma could as they already make EF to E Adapters and they are now part of the L-Mount Alliance. We will have to wait and see and we couldn't guess as to when any may become available if ever.

I have a Panasonic Lumix G7 and several lenses (including one pricey Panasonic Leica lens).   Will we be able to use the older lenses with these new S1 and S1R bodies? 

Hi Thomas,

Unfortunately, your current Micro Four Thirds lenses will not work with the new L-Mount S Series cameras. Primarily, this is because the MFT lenses will not cover the full-frame sensor. Secondly, the flange distance difference between the mounts will not support an adapter to mount the lenses to the body even if you really wanted to.

So how many stops of dynamic range?

Hi Raoul,

The S1 and S1R will have comparable dynamic range to their competition. I wouldn't expect it to be significantly better or worse than any other modern system with similar specs.

S1 will have v-log which has 14 stops

Close

Close

Close