As camera tech gets better and better, the differences between gear seems to get smaller and smaller. But every so often something comes along that takes such a huge leap forward it raises the bar for all the other manufacturers. For us, in 2019 that camera was the Panasonic Lumix S1H
And I was skeptical at first, with a mirrorless/hybrid form factor and a hefty price tag, I assumed it would merely be a step up from the GH5, and very quickly I was proved wrong.
Now after a month of having it (and sadly having to send it back to Panasonic!) I wanted to revisit my first thoughts and give you a rundown of what I learnt about it, the drawbacks of it and also why I believe it’s a camera that will change the game for good!!
First those drawbacks, and it does have some!! The time we learnt the most about this camera was when we took it out of the studio and on location, shooting for our most recent short film, linked below. And like any camera, in the field is where it shows it’s true colours.
Firstly the autofocus is as bad as they say. The DFD autofocus system is slow, really slow and also likes to do a lot of wondering in and out during recording. I’m hopeful this will get addressed in future firmware updates, but not entirely convinced as the DFD system maybe beyond help. For us, this isn’t huge as we tend to shoot in manual, but for content creators using this camera it will be an issue.
I did find the camera a little cumbersome to use, especially when any shots where rushed or time sensitive. The menu is huge, and it needs to be as the camera can do so much. But that did create a hurdle to shooting. I’m pretty sure that this may just be a learning curve thing, but it was a noticeable issue for us.
Finally, it is a data hungry monster. This can’t be understated, the 4k files are huge at 400MB/s – Firstly you will need to the faster UHS2 cards to get the best out of the camera and they’re uber pricey. That in itself isn’t an issue, but that 400mb/s 4k bit depth will eat up harddirve space and processing in editing. You will probably have to work with proxies and will have to heavily invest in storage if you’re planning on filming long term with it.
Now onto the positives… and I could go on and just write a 15 minute love letter to this camera, as truly that;s how I feel about it.
The versatility of all the frames size and rate options is insane. I normally struggle to justify anything bigger than 4k, but the S1H actually opened my eyes to the potential of 6 & 5.9k shooting, and interestingly despite that huge frame it really maintains detail and sharpness in the image rendered. This in that h.265 codec actually makes it a really efficient way to capture footage.
The 4:2:2 10bit 4k still leaves me breathless. It’s just gorgeous and more than justifies that price tag and harddrive space it takes up. And whilst I think about the price it’s worth talking about the value the camera actually represents.
For sure 3.5 grand is a lot of money, but you have to consider that you’re getting a miniaturised professional production camera here, that will likely last you for years both in terms of build quality and technology. Pound for pound, this may well be the best value investment you could make in a camera to come out in 2019, it is certainly one of the few that will truly represent the money you sink into it.
One area that truly blew me away, was the low light performance. Of course being full frame and having a dual native iso system, you know that on paper it’s going to good. But nothing prepares you for how good it really is. Clean & detailed even in challenging environments and higher iso’s.
A camera in truth is just a tool for filmmaking and more often than not, they’re all pretty much the same. However, the S1H is the kind of tool that’s so exciting to use and create with that it actually inspires you to film. It raises the bar as to what’s possible and almost encourages you to try new things or at least just to get out and film for the love of it. And really I can think of no higher praise for a camera than that.
🛒 Panasonic Lumix S1H: https://geni.us/X0sTjR
🛒 Panasonic Lumix S-Pro 50mm F/1.4: https://geni.us/G3lX
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Filmmaking Gear We Used In This Video:
Canon C100: https://geni.us/XVRbQt
Canon XC10: https://geni.us/A3ATLM
Canon 80d: https://geni.us/P8vF8U
Canon 16-35mm F/4 USM L: https://geni.us/nu1t
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Aputure LED Panels: https://geni.us/T248zkX
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Tiny Rode Mic: https://geni.us/4G5n9
Best Budget Video Tripod: https://geni.us/ixeVBx
Best Small Handheld Tripod: https://geni.us/W8WAbZK
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Awesome mobile lenses: https://geni.us/cvRMFm
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