Panasonic’s New Lumix S1H Is The Full-Frame Camera Filmmakers Have Been Waiting For

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Panasonic has announced the latest addition to its range of compact mirrorless system cameras with the launch of the Lumix S1H, a new model featuring a full-frame image sensor, which combines professional-quality video in a light and compact form factor. Panasonic claims the S1H is the world’s first camera to be capable of recording video at 6K/24p in 3:2 aspect ratio, 5.9K/30p in 16:9 aspect ratio, and 10-bit 60p in 4K/C4K. The launch of the S1H means Panasonic now has three full-frame mirrorless cameras in its product range. The Lumix S1H is designed and developed especially for film production.

Panasonic has built a following in the film and TV industry thanks to the broadcast-quality video and lightweight bodies of the Lumix GH series. The GH cameras were the first Lumix models to offer ultra-portability with high-quality video performance; that same technology has now been incorporated in the new Lumix S1H alongside the advantages offered by a full-frame images sensor, bring excellent low-light performance alongside shallow depth of field, and an extended dynamic range. 

The Lumix S1H is fitted with a new 24.2-megapixel full-frame image sensor with more than 14 stops of dynamic range. Uniquely, the S1H boats unlimited recording time in every recording mode thanks to Panasonic’s special heat dispersion technologies. The HDR (High Dynamic Range) in HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma), 4:2:2 10-bit HDMI output and Anamorphic 4:3 modes are also available with a variety of practical tools for filmmaking, such as tally lights, a waveform monitor and a V-Log View Assist function. 

The Lumix S1H is especially suited to hand-held use and incorporates image stabilization built into the camera body as well as the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The combination of the two methods of image stabilization means the S1H can compensate for virtually any type of blurring, enabling the camera operator to use a shutter speed that’s up to 6.5-stops slower than when used without any image stabilization. 

The entire Lumix S Series of full-frame mirrorless cameras use the L-Mount system. There are now more than 46 interchangeable L-Mount lenses currently available from manufacturers including Panasonic, Leica, and Sigma, plus there’s a variety of mount adapters/converters available for an even wider choice of optics. 

To make the new S1H tough enough to withstand professional use, the main structure of the body is made from a magnesium alloy. Every joint, dial and button on the body is weather-sealed to make the camera splash-resistant, dust-resistant, and freeze-resistant down to -10 degrees Centigrade. The shutter unit is equally as rugged and good for approximately 400,000 cycles.

The body of the S1H is also equipped with two SD Card slots, compatible with high-speed, and high-capacity, UHS-II and Video Speed Class 90. Users can choose from various recording methods including Relay Recording, Backup Recording or Allocation Recording which enables the user to save videos and photos on separate cards. The 7.4-V 3,050 mAh high-capacity battery offers up to two hours of recording time in all shooting modes. 

Two compose shots, the Lumix S1H has a choice of three large and high-resolution displays. Firstly, there’s a tilting-and rotating 3.2-inch rear monitor with a 2,330K-dot resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio. The screen’s luminance is 150% higher than the monitor on the Lumix S1R/S1, GH5, and GH5S, making it ideal for use in strong sunlight. Live View Boost is another feature that makes it possible to check composition even in total darkness by boosting the sensitivity of the sensor just for live view. There’s also a Night mode that provides a lower level of backlighting, enabling the user to watch comfortably, even straight after viewing the monitor in a dark environment for some time. 

The Lumix S1H has the world’s highest resolution of Real View Finder with 5,760k dots. The 0.78x magnification ratio can be switched to 0.7x or 0.74x according to the shooting situation. The responsive and precise OLED display used in the LVF offers a smooth display that’s switchable between 60 and 120 fps with a minimum lag time of approximately 0.005 seconds, as well as 10,000:1 high contrast for exceptional visibility.

The S1H features a status LCD that measures 1.8-inches and uses MIP (Memory In Pixel technology) so that it consumes minimal power and is ideal for always-on use, even when the camera power is turned off. The status LCD shows the recordable time for video, the number of images and remaining battery, and it has a black/white switchable background with backlight. The response of the status LCD is fast enough to display time code counter and audio monitoring.

The Lumix S1H has multiple Fn (function) buttons on its body front enabling fast access to the designated functions, as well as a touch control system. There’s also a sub video button on the front of the camera body so the user can reach the button from the left-hand side. Most of the buttons can be customized to assign individual functions depending on usage. 

Images can be shot on the S1H in 14-bit RAW format that can capture highly realistic RAW images. Eight consecutive images are automatically shot while shifting the sensor using the Body IS (Image Stabilizer) mechanism which the camera then uses to create a 96-megapixel equivalent (12,000 x 8,000-pixel) image. This exceptionally high-resolution mode is ideal for shooting natural landscapes, fine art, or any still subject where very fine details must be captured. 

The Lumix S1H has ultra-high-speed and precise autofocus with a speed of approximately 0.08 seconds. The camera has a high-speed burst shooting mode of 9 fps (AFS) or 6 fps (AFC). With its high subject tracking performance, Panasonic claims the S1H will never lose focus of the target subject even in light levels as low as -6EV. Face and eye detection technology even detects the pupil of the eye and precisely focuses on it for ultra-crisp portraits. The S1H also incorporates Advanced AI Technology that can detect specific subjects such as humans and fast-moving animals, including cats, dogs, and birds. The camera can continue tracking the subjects even when they turn their back to the camera.

For very high burst shooting, the 6K PHOTO mode makes it possible to capture scenes at 30 fps and then extracts the frame with the best timing out of a 6K burst file (in 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio) which it then saves as an 18-megapixel equivalent high-resolution photo. The 4K PHOTO mode enables 60-fps high-speed, capturing still images at the equivalent of 8-megapixel resolution.

With the HLG Photo mode, Panasonic is suggesting a whole new style of photography by providing a wider dynamic range image to capture highlights and shadow details with more natural contrast. HLG Photos can also be produced as an HSP file with compressed high-brightness signals in its full resolution in addition to JPEG/RAW files. Users can playback these wide dynamic range images on the latest Panasonic HLG-compliant 4KTV via HDMI cable connection or other HLG-compliant devices. 

The high-precision shutter unit in the Lumix S1H offers shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second for capturing fast-moving subjects and for using with high-speed lenses opened at their maximum aperture, even in bright light. The external flash can be synchronized with a maximum shutter speed of 1/320th of a second.

Comment: This is the third mirrorless Lumix camera body produced Panasonic that features a full-frame image sensor. The Lumix S1H should be ideal for both TV and movie production thanks to its range of high-resolution capture modes and the high-dynamic-range offered by the new 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor. There are lots of great innovations on offer including the dual image-stabilization feature that makes shooting crisp and steady video in low light levels much easier. This is a camera aimed at producers of documentaries and natural-look films, thanks to the camera’s compact form factor and low weight. The responsive autofocus, even under extremely low-light conditions, should make the S1H perfect for recording video even without a lighting rig. The Lumix GH series has already been well received by filmmakers, but the Lumix S1H with its two hours of continuous recording time in all video modes, alongside the advantage offered by a full-frame image sensor, means this camera should be shooting a lot of movies in 2020.

Pricing and availability: The Panasonic Lumix S1H body will be available from the end of September for $3,999.99.

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