Panasonic Lumix S1H One Month On

Panasonic Lumix S1H One Month On Review. After having this 6k Full Frame Mirrorless for a full month it’s now time to give our final verdict and to see if we still think that this is the best filmmakers camera of 2019?

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!! 

Panasonic S1H The Drawbacks

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. 

Lumix S1H The Positives

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.

In Summary

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. 

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  1. All in all a solid review. Just wanted to address some things I've noticed from my time with the camera (I bought mine back in November, so I'm about a month in as well.) SD Card wise- The Sony 128GB SF-M/T2 cards work, as well as Delkin V90 cards. The Sony's are only $55 for a 128gb card, and the Delkin's will run a little higher at around $80 per card. This camera, like the GH5 before it, is actually less picky about SD Cards than the EVA1 (even though all three use the same codec). It's so weird. The autofocus thing… well… it's such a mixed bag. The majority of my lenses are old Leica-R's, so I've never really used autofocus that much on any of my cameras. That being said, we have a C300 Mark II at work, and DPAF is pretty freakin dope. Especially for interviews or talking heads where people have a tendency to lean or sway. The VLog is lovely to grade, I actually kind of prefer to Canon Log at this point. And feature set wise, this camera is everything that I wanted out of a mirrorless camera and captures much of the feeling I had when I got my original A7s. The only that's a little bit of a downer is the latency on the HDMI output, but it seems to be a mirrorless processing issue because my GH5 and a7s have the same problem. On the monitoring side, that's where something like the EVA1 spoils you, especially on larger crew shoots because you get so many output options and the HDMI processing doesn't seem to suffer from that issue. But all in all, that's a damn fine camera and works great as an A or B camera in a variety of environments.

  2. You found the camera cumbersome and the menu system difficult to use? The memory cards are pricey? The files are difficult to edit? I disagree with so much that was said in this video. People aren’t buying this camera because of its ease of use and low price tag. lol. If you want a run and gun camera, buy a cheap camcorder. This is a cinema camera, the only reason why so many people like you are making videos about it, is because of its low price tag compared to others in the same range that cost upwards of $20,000. This is a camera for the experienced filmmaker, not a regular guy that casually uses a camera on vacations. lol. Also, the SD cards are not expensive! I laughed when you said that. Check out some of the other media you’d need for a comparable cinema camera. We’re talking sometimes more then double the price of the most expensive SD card with less storage! Your complaints seem forced to be honest. It appears you had to say something bad about this camera just to seem unbiased. Simple fact is, its a cinema camera for professionals. Its not cheap and cinema cameras will never be cheap. The files require a fast computer to edit as does all cinema footage. Again, no one is going to casually use this camera, transfer the files to their $600 laptop and color grade v log footage. LOL! The camera is perfect for the audience its made for and people know that. Not everyone as this video demonstrates. But for the professionals. We’re not complaining. We’re celebrating.

  3. Barely six likes??? This was a great review of this camera and watching these reviews helps me to think about what my future purchases will be. Especially as I truly dive into 4K. 😉

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