Panasonic Lumix S1H Review: Still the Video Champ | Digital Trends

    Panasonic Lumix S1H evaluate: Still the video champ

    “It looks like a still camera, but the S1H is a cinema camera in disguise — and a very good one.”

    Full-frame 4K and 6K video

    5.9K RAW output

    Exceptional construct high quality

    Unlimited recording

    In-body picture stabilization

    Continuous AF typically sluggish, inaccurate

    4K/60 is cropped

    Big, heavy

    A yr into its life, the Panasonic Lumix S1H is now not alone when it comes to skilled mirrorless video cameras. Recently, the 8K-shooting Canon EOS R5 and 4K/120p Sony A7S III have stolen headlines, however the world of professional video isn’t nearly excessive resolutions and body charges. The Lumix S1H stays distinctive in its position as a real workhorse video digital camera.
    In a technique, the S1H truly stands out extra immediately because of the presence of youthful opponents from Sony and Canon. Its comparatively modest efficiency — full-frame 6K/24p or 4K/30p, cropped 4K/60p — is definitely a sign of Panasonic’s concentrate on reliability. Sure, there are issues the S1H can’t do, however for the filmmaker who simply wants detailed, clear, 24p footage, this digital camera is the apparent selection. In each bodily design and software program performance, it’s constructed to carry as much as the calls for of an actual manufacturing.
    In truth, I might argue the S1H is much less of a hybrid mirrorless digital camera and extra of a small cinema digital camera, regardless of having the shape issue of the previous. As such, it’s positively not the digital camera for everybody — however the $4,000 price ticket most likely made that clear.
    Designed for actual life, not a spec sheet
    The S1H is constructed on the identical platform as Panasonic’s different S1 cameras such because the Lumix S1 and S1R with a cumbersome, though ergonomic, design. Physically, it differs in a single key space over the S1 with the addition of a cooling fan sandwiched between the again panel and the LCD display screen. This fan, greater than anything, is what makes the S1H particular. Where different mirrorless cameras can shortly overheat when capturing high-resolution or high-frame-rate video, the S1H can carry on ticking indefinitely.
    The LCD display screen can be distinctive, resting in a double-hinged mechanism that lets it immediately tilt up and down or flip out to the aspect. The additional flexibility makes it simpler to maneuver round microphone and HDMI cords or anything plugged into the digital camera. The high LCD can be bigger and reveals extra info than its counterpart on the S1 and S1R.
    Of course, all of this does make the S1H even greater and heavier than its cousin, the Lumix S1. At 2.56 kilos, it’s not precisely in the identical league because the 1.35-pound Sony A7S III. The S1H is a digital camera that may finest serve you atop a sturdy tripod. Again, it’s higher to think about it as a miniature cinema digital camera somewhat than a hybrid mirrorless digital camera. Yes, you possibly can take nice photographs with it — however you most likely received’t wish to.

    Otherwise, the S1H carries over just about of all the design options of the S1, together with climate sealing, considerable bodily controls, and the gorgeous 5.7 million-dot digital viewfinder. There is one further distinction: Where the S1 and S1R have one SD card slot and one XQD/CFexpress slot, the S1H makes use of twin SD playing cards. High-speed V90 SD playing cards are completely high quality, even for 6K video, however this does imply you miss out on the insanely quick switch speeds of CFexpress relating to offloading footage to a pc.
    A medley of resolutions and body charges
    Panasonic has graced the Lumix S1H with a wealth of decision and body charge selections, lots of that are nonstandard and all of which include distinctive limitations. It’s a little bit of a large number, however I’ll do my finest to clarify every and the way it may be used.
    Let’s begin with 6K. The highest-resolution the S1H can provide with its 24-megapixel sensor, 6K is recorded as 5952 x 3968 pixels, a 3:2 side ratio that makes use of the complete sensor space, a recording mode referred to as “open gate.” That means you’ll have to crop the footage in publish to realize the usual 16:9 side ratio, however you’ll have somewhat room to regulate the framing. If outputting to 4K, you’ll even have some flexibility to crop.
    Despite these freedoms, 6K isn’t the automated selection. It is restricted to 24 frames per second (24p) and makes use of the h.265 codec, with 10-bit 4:2:2 shade and an information charge of 200 megabits per second (Mbps).
    Next is 5.9K (5888 x 3312), the closest you will get to 6K in a 16:9 side ratio. This makes use of the identical codec as 6K, however the barely decrease decision permits for body charges as much as 30 fps. If you’re capturing a 24p mission, you might have considered trying the additional flexibility of the 3:2 6K footage, however for 30p tasks, 5.9K is your restrict.
    Then there’s 5.4K (5376 x 3584), one other 3:2 possibility. Unlike 6K, this data a cropped area of the sensor and permits for body charges as much as 30p.
    Two flavors of full-width 4K can be found, customary Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) and DCI (4096 x 2160). Both could be shot at 24 or 30 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 shade at 400Mbps. You may shoot cropped 4K as much as 60 fps from an APS-C, or Super 35, area of the sensor. This tops out at 200Mbps. There are additionally 4:3 anamorphic 4K modes (3328 x 2496) that may be de-squeezed to cinematic side ratios when utilizing anamorphic lenses. All of this makes 4K the sweet-spot decision for the S1H.
    But Panasonic didn’t cease there. Nearly a yr after its announcement, the S1H obtained a firmware replace including 5.9K RAW video output over HDMI (and sure, the S1H contains a full-size HDMI port). With an Atomos Ninja V or one other suitable recorder, footage is saved within the Apple ProRes RAW format. RAW video isn’t for the faint of coronary heart, however this function has made the S1H much more useful for skilled clients.
    Interestingly, that very same 5.9K RAW output can be coming to the newer, and less expensive, Lumix S5.
    Shooting expertise and video high quality
    I shot a mixture of full-frame 4K/24 and cropped 4K/60 and was actually impressed with the outcomes of each. The S1H gives Panasonic’s “true” V-Log profile, not the V-Log-l of the GH5 collection, which suggests it ought to match as much as a Panasonic VariCam cinema digital camera. The firm claims 14 stops of dynamic vary, which is solely improbable for inside, non-RAW recording. From pores and skin tones to vibrant particulars, I actually like the colours that come out of the S1H. Note: I used to be unable to get an Atomos recorder in time for this evaluate so haven’t but examined the RAW output — though I’m undecided if my 8-year-old laptop would even be as much as the duty.
    Strictly talking, I don’t assume many individuals can have a necessity for the 6K mode. It’s overkill for many of us. But I’m glad Panasonic included it. For one, some clients will love the crop and reframe skill of 6K open-gate recording. Additionally, by outputting the complete 5.9K as an alternative of 4K for RAW, Panasonic can keep away from the issues that come up from line-skipping that plague the Nikon Z 6, one other 24-megapixel digital camera with RAW output however which is restricted to 4K decision. Requiring simply 8 megapixels, outputting 4K from a 24MP sensor means many pixels merely get ignored, resulting in a softer picture than what 4K is definitely able to.
    Internally, the S1H makes use of the identical codec because the GH5, however its bigger sensor, and the usage of the complete V-Log profile, assist you to get extra out of it. Assuming you began with a halfway-decent publicity and white stability, you’ll don’t have any downside grading the footage to get the look you need.
    I stated the S1H is finest used atop a sturdy tripod, however I truly shot it handheld for probably the most half. Thanks to the in-body stabilization, handheld footage is clean and pure, however the weight of the digital camera — particularly outfitted with the massive Lumix S 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, supplied for this evaluate by Lensrentals — will definitely make you wish to restrict handheld use as a lot as potential.
    The massive, high LCD and the position of the controls make for an amazing consumer expertise. Buttons can simply be reprogrammed just by holding them down and choosing a brand new possibility from the ensuing menu. The consumer interface is likely one of the extra intelligently thought-out designs of any digital camera, and makes navigating the S1H’s many settings and sub-menus a breeze.
    If there’s one potential crimson flag, it’s autofocus. Panasonic’s distinctive focusing system, known as Depth from Defocus, merely can’t maintain tempo with the phase-detection techniques of Sony and Canon. A pending firmware replace will convey the enhancements launched within the Lumix S5, which is actually welcome, however I nonetheless discovered that digital camera to lag behind the competitors.
    To be clear, I don’t assume the kind of quick, correct, eye-tracking autofocus required by one-person YouTube crews is known as a make-or-break function on this planet {of professional} video and cinema Panasonic is concentrating on with the S1H. Still, it’s one thing to concentrate on because it does restrict the conditions through which the S1H could be efficient.
    Our take
    The Lumix S1H is a digital camera that solely Panasonic would construct. Like the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GH5S, the S1H has a narrowly outlined goal buyer within the video skilled, and but nonetheless carries over all the nonetheless picture performance of a high-end hybrid digital camera. That makes it a little bit of an oddity, and a few filmmakers will undoubtedly marvel why they shouldn’t simply put money into a cinema digital camera — however the place will you discover a full-frame, 5.9K RAW cinema digital camera with picture stabilization for $4,000? You received’t. Even after factoring in the price of an exterior recorder, beginning at about $600, the S1H is a discount for what you’re getting.
    There’s a motive Panasonic hasn’t dropped the value of the S1H after being available on the market for a yr, even with the Sony A7S III coming in under it at $3,500. No different hybrid digital camera has put a lot emphasis on reliability and practicality, nor combined that with such quite a lot of customary and anamorphic body sizes. I want 4K/60 could possibly be recorded with out the crop, and Panasonic’s autofocus leaves room for enchancment, however these received’t be points in most manufacturing environments for which this digital camera is meant.
    If I had been to start out a YouTube channel, I’d attain for the A7S III — but when I had been to supply a movie, then there’s no digital camera I’d somewhat have on my set than the Lumix S1H.
    Is there a greater various?
    Some creators might choose the Sony A7S III in the event that they want higher-frame charge 4K or extra dependable autofocus, however probably the most intriguing various comes from Panasonic’s personal camp. The Lumix S5 will obtain RAW 5.9K output later this yr, which ought to give it equal video high quality to the S1H for many who don’t thoughts utilizing an exterior recorder. You’ll should make do with its pitiful Micro HDMI port, however with a price of simply $2,000, that’s not a foul deal.
    How lengthy will it final?
    The S1H is an expert machine constructed to carry as much as the calls for of such clients. While 8K cameras are on their manner — and no, you don’t want one but — 4K and 6K will proceed to be greater than sufficient decision for the foreseeable future. There’s no motive the S1H received’t stay viable for a few years to return.
    Should you purchase it?
    Yes. Buy the Panasonic Lumix S1H should you want a video digital camera that doesn’t simply ship excellent picture high quality, but additionally skilled reliability and adaptability.

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