amazon Panasonic Lumix S1R reviews
187 megapixels. That was the number that popped into my head when I was asked about the full-frame Panasonic Lumix S1R. It’s not the most important specification – nor is it all useful to most photographers – but it is the most interesting. What makes this camera different from the competition, you ask? Oh sure, many things, but mostly: 187 megapixels.
No, the S1R doesn’t have a 187MP sensor. It achieves that insane resolution by taking eight exposures, shifting its high-resolution 47MP sensor by half a pixel in width between each, and stitching them together into a single image (this requires a tripod). That quadruples the spatial resolution while capturing full RGB color information at every pixel position for more accurate color, bypassing Bayer’s filter design limitations. The resulting RAW file is over 300 megabytes.
If I have a practical complaint about the high-resolution mode, it doesn’t work with flash. Some cameras have a burst mode that allows you to program a delay between each exposure to give the flash or studio flash time to recharge, but there is no such setting on the S1R. Panasonic could add the feature via firmware. Still, for now, the lack of the feature could significantly reduce the S1R’s appeal to studio photographers who could benefit from it.
The real problem is practicality. Just like cars want horsepower they’ll never use, the high-resolution mode on the S1R feels like a party trick for affluent photography enthusiasts. The latter want Something to brag about at the local camera club. It’s not Something most people will need, and even experienced professional photographers won’t use it often.
Panasonic has poured in technology with the S1R, doing everything it can to prove itself as a top player.
Is there a practical application for it? Take a macro photo of the circuit board, maybe. Reproduce large works of art with pixel-accurate colors, perhaps. Or maybe there are uses we don’t even think photographers would discover or invent.
There are plenty of other great things about this camera, but if you don’t need the resolution, you can get the rest of the great features of the S1R for a lot less with the standard Lumix S1. It’s $2,500, has a 24MP sensor, has better video specs, and is identical to the S1R. It also has its high-resolution mode, which turns those 24 megapixels into 96 — not too shabby.
Design and handling
Built on the Leica L mount, the Lumix S1R, along with the S1, represents Panasonic’s first foray into the full-frame market. That’s an impressive offer. With a rugged, weather-sealed body, a huge electronic viewfinder, SD and XQD card slots, and as much direct access control as you’d find on a professional DSLR, the S1R is bigger and heavier than its predecessors with its mirrorless cameras. In fact, at 2.25 pounds, it weighs more than even the mighty Nikon D850 DSLR — and $200 more than at launch.
It amazes me how much more natural it feels to tap the ISO three times to raise it to a halt.
The S1R, then, isn’t quite a direct competitor to the Sony A7R III or the Nikon Z 7, two other high-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras that cost hundreds of dollars less. Panasonic is pushing a tier on these cameras – or at least, is trying – and looking to appeal to working professionals who haven’t found a mirrorless solution to their DSLR replacement yet.
It was a bold plan. Cameras may be heavy, but Panasonic’s Lumix brand doesn’t carry the same weight as Nikon and Canon’s professional shooters. Perhaps because of this, Panasonic has poured into technology with the S series, doing everything it can to prove itself as a top player. Panasonic has even launched a new professional services division to handle repairs worldwide, like Canon, Nikon, and Sony.
There’s no doubt that the Lumix S1R feels more professional than other mirrorless cameras. The large handle provides peace of mind, although those with smaller hands may find it uncomfortable. The control layout is effective in the placement of the individual buttons, dials, and levers and their number (except for the power switch, which is awkwardly placed behind the shutter button instead of surrounding it, like on the Lumix G9 ). The almost endless customization options let you set up the camera as you see fit.
To set a custom function for a button, hold the button until the custom settings menu appears on the screen. No more digging into menus and figuring out which icons correspond to which buttons (though Panasonic has revamped its menu system, that process is clear).
If you want to cycle through autofocus modes quickly, ISO settings or white balance presets, press the corresponding button. You can also press the button and then use one of the command dials to change it, but to my surprise, it feels more natural to tap the ISO three times to raise it instead of having to manipulate two different controls.
Small touches like these provide a refined user experience, which I like better than every full-frame mirrorless camera I’ve tried. None of this is unique to the S1R – the cheaper S1 has the same design and control layout.
Features and Specifications
While the high-resolution mode is the headlight, the S1R takes many technologies a step further than the competition. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) uses an OLED panel with 5.76 million pixels, one million more than the best EVFs from Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The individual pixels are all but invisible, even in the small text of the metering display. It also has an amazing 0.78x magnification and can refresh at 120 frames per second.
As a Lumix, the S1R also integrates 6K and 4K Photo modes, which shoot at 30 and 60 fps, respectively, allowing you to extract a still frame of the perfect moment. That enables the Post Focus feature, which captures each frame at a different focal distance, allowing you to effectively change focus after the fact or perform focus stacking to increase the depth of field.
Like the S1, the S1R uses a 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization system, which works in sync with lens-based stabilization to provide up to 6 stops of shake reduction. (This is the same system that supports high-resolution mode.) That’s fine, although it’s not quite as good as the Olympus OM-D E-M1X’s 7.5-stop stabilization system.
In practice, handheld shooting can be reduced to 1/10th of a second, but there is a caveat. At 47MP, each pixel is very small, and the blur is more pronounced than with lower resolution cameras. If you want to take advantage of all those pixels, keep your shutter speed higher than you think; otherwise, your photo may not look perfectly sharp when viewed at 100 percent magnification.
Panasonic made the controversial choice of phase-detection autofocus in favor of its DFD technology.
The S1R can maintain an impressive continuous shooting rate of up to 9 frames per second (or 6 with continuous autofocus) for such a high-resolution camera. That is the same review as the lower resolution S1; instead of adjusting the shutter speed, Panasonic chose to keep it that way on the models and instead just let the S1R fill its image buffer sooner. We got 32 RAW photos in a single 9fps burst before the camera slowed down in our testing. That compares to 75 RAW images with the S1. Both tests were performed with a high-speed XQD card.
The S1R and the S1 are the first full-frame camera that can shoot 4K at 60 frames per second when it comes to video. All video is recorded from one sensor (1.09x) of the sensor. 4K/30p has a maximum recording time of shy of 30 minutes, while 4K/60p is limited to 10 minutes. The S1 would be a better choice for camcorders, as it has no crop and no time limit in 4K/30p (but 1.5x crop in 4K/60p). The S1 may also receive V-Log and 10-bit 4:2:2 recording via a future paid firmware update, features not available in the S1R.
Part of the camera’s weight is thanks to the large 3,050 mAh battery. That’s twice the battery capacity in my Fujifilm X-T2, but the S1R’s battery life is hardly any better, rated at just 360 exposures. The high-resolution EVF is certainly taxing on the battery, but that rating still seems low. As with all cameras, real-world performance will always be better – I hit the 50% mark after taking around 250 shots, so expect at least 500. (The camera also has a Power Saver mode. volume, which boosts battery life to over 1,000 exposures, but I didn’t test it.)
Autofocus: The good, the bad, and the ugly
Panasonic has made the controversial choice of directional detection phase-detection autofocus in favor of its Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology. Phase detection is more or less the gold standard of autofocus, as it knows when the image is in or out of focus and whether the out-of-focus image is in front or back focus. That means it knows which direction to rotate the lens to focus, speeding up the process and generally removing any focus when hunting, which happens in slower contrast-detection systems.
The DFD is based on contrast detection, but Panasonic threw some witchcraft at it to make it work better. The camera continuously makes small back-and-forth adjustments in focus. It analyzes the change in a blur, comparing this with the lens profile stored on the camera containing all possible blurring patterns at any time aperture, focus distance, and focal length. On the S-series, the DFD does these comparisons at 480 frames per second. That gives the camera all the information to adjust focus in the right direction, like phase detection.
When I first tested pre-production versions of the S series cameras, I noted that they often had trouble finding focus when starting from a very dim (i.e., blurry) position. The problem seems to have been cured with the final production software. It did not appear in any of my tests for this review.
That is a very good sensor; the only reason to pay $3,700 for the S1R is over $2,500 for the S1.
DFD is still not without problems, however. In the video, the constant back and forth adjustments distract from the breathing of the image when using continuous autofocus, most notably in the out-of-focus highlights.
In still photography, despite the DFD wizard, focus hunting can still be an issue and, in rare cases, can take a few seconds to lock in. In many cases, I missed the shot because of this. This problem is rare and cropped out at random times with no apparent cause, but it cannot be worth the risk for those working in uncontrolled environments, like photojournalists and wedding photographers.
That is a shame, as the S1R’s autofocus is impressive. Face and eye detection work from a much longer distance than some other cameras, like the Canon EOS RP, even if it sometimes mistakes a random subject for a person. When it’s working properly, DFD will be as fast as phase detection. With sensitivity down to -6 EV, it’s also (almost) capable of seeing in the dark. That number sounds questionable, but I tested it indoors with the lights off, curtains were drawn, and it didn’t skip a beat.
With third-party RAW support yet to arrive, I converted S1R RAW files to Adobe DNG to open them in Lightroom. Image quality may vary slightly with official RAW support, but most things look great. I’m not sure that the conversion is working correctly for images taken in high resolution, as some 187MP DNGs appear out of place, with jagged edges. The others look perfectly fine.
Panasonic chose DFD over phase-detection because the latter can introduce a “bandwidth pattern” for images taken at high ISOs or when exposures are pushed too much in post-production. The S1R has no such problem, and the RAW files look very clean. Even with the Exposure and Shadow sliders turned on in Adobe Lightroom, detail and color can be recovered from the darkest areas of the image while creating only a moderate amount of noise. That equates to a very good dynamic range, which is especially important for landscape photographers, but useful in any scenario where you need to capture detail from a wide tonal range, with highlights and highlights dark.
The picture is even cleaner in high-resolution mode. A typical photo taken at ISO 400 shows a small but visible noise – the same photo in high-resolution mode, also at ISO 400, with almost no discernible noise. Even so, the maximum ISO is limited to 1,600 in high-resolution mode.
That is a very good sensor; the only reason to pay $3,700 for the S1R is over $2,500 for the S1. But the S1 sensor also impressed us. It has at least the same dynamic range and even better noise levels thanks to fewer but larger pixels.
Both sensors lack an optical low-pass filter, which increases sharpness at the potential cost of increased moiré, rainbow-like false colors that can show up when capturing fine samples. While rare, we did come across an example of a significant hiss on the S1 – but never on the S1R. Its higher pixel count, which can resolve finer detail in samples, is all but immune to it.
Since moiré is most commonly found when photographing clothing, due to the textures in the subjects, this gives the S1R an edge for portrait and fashion photography. (For still-life subjects, you can use the high-resolution mode on either camera to greatly reduce the chance of moiré.)
Panasonic’s in-camera processing is also quite good. Saturation and contrast are handled well, and JPEGs look great straight out of the camera. The Portrait profile does a great job rendering skin tones, which are difficult to recreate manually in post with RAW files.
where can you get a Panasonic Lumix S1R online
Panasonic LUMIX S1R Full Frame Mirrorless Camera with 47.3MP MOS High Resolution Sensor, L-Mount Lens Compatible, 4K HDR Video and 3.2” LCD – DC-S1RBODY: Buy it now
Panasonic LUMIX S1R Mirrorless Camera with LUMIX S 24-105mm f/4 O.I.S Lens – Open Box: Buy it now
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