The first official information on the new Panasonic L Mount system, which opened the alliance with Leica and Sigma, we received at Photokina 2018. We also showed some insights into Panasonic's first Panasonic wireless cameras, those who discover the new L Mountain.
Like then, and now we're talking about the Panasonic Lumix S1 and the Lumix S1R. This time, however, I can be clearer because we had the Panasonic Lumix S1R for several hours, with which we shot more than 200 test shots in the company of two of the three goals presented to us. event.
It is very important to note that all the cameras and targets we have been interacting with are sample models, pre-production and not the final versions that will arrive in stores this spring.
At the Panasonic Digital Imaging Seminar 2019 held in Barcelona, I received the specifications for both Panasonic Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R cameras, but also for the three L-mount camera lenses:
At the same time, we have received assurances that L-Mount Alliance (Panasonic, Leica and Sigma) are working hard to provide a diverse range of lenses and accessories compatible with the new system. By the end of 2020, more than 42 targets will be in the three companies in the alliance. Here's the startup schedule (although we do not have exact line data, we can get an idea of what and when it will happen):
Now, after a lot of input and after going through the specs, I can tell you how the Panasonic Lumix S1R came along with the two goals I can attach – 70-200mm F4 and 50mm F1.4. I did not have the opportunity to test the Panasonic Lumix S1 or 24-105mm F4 lens because more than 100 photo enthusiasts from across Europe participated in the event, each nominating a particular device for a particular purpose. During the test sessions, anyone can change the goal originally received by another.
The Panasonic Lumix S1R is a super solid, gasless, full frame, built as a tank, with chassis made entirely of magnesium alloy. It is waterproof, guaranteed to withstand moisture and dust to work without even the slightest problem at -10 degrees Celsius. In addition, the manufacturer's warranty covers up to 400,000 mechanical shutters.
Panasonic Lumix S1R is the largest of the current without mirrors, but for some it is not necessarily a problem. For example, I appreciate the closest sizes of DSLR with big hands. In this way, the deep grip of my right hand allowed me to have a big outlet for a 1.1 kilogram device that also had 1 kilogram of telephoto.
From an ergonomic point of view again (almost) only well. We can move through the menu directly from the touch screen or from the joystick or the right wheel of the display. Then we have a number of programmable buttons, properly positioned and dimensioned, so I'm sure they can be pressed without problems even with winter gloves. There are also two programmable rollers, one for the pointer and the other for the opposite. The capture mode is selected from the upper left corner and the trigger mode can be selected from the switch below. The only strange button placed and harder to push, which is very close to the electronic viewfinder, is the one dedicated to starting the video.
The main screen is 3.2 inches, has a resolution of 2.1 million points and is responsive to touch. This is very good quality, nothing to reproach. There is also a secondary display, located on the top, to the trigger that provides the basic information. It is illuminated, just like the main back buttons. It inspired this solution to offer illuminated buttons suitable for shooting in low light.
The 3.2-inch display is foldable in three directions. Panasonic does not claim to make this decision to provide greater resistance to the folding mechanism. These are the maximum angles the screen can hold:
The Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R's electronic viewfinder is the best I've ever seen. It has the highest resolution on the market today, with 5.76 million pixels. Superb this LVF OLED with a 10,000: 1 contrast ratio. In addition, the refresh rate is up to 120 frames per second, so everything is as smooth and natural as possible. This is really an excellent LVF.
I would like to not extend this article further, which is ultimately a "first impression" rather than a detailed review. So I will synthesize the most important aspects I took after about 3 hours testing together with the Panasonic Lumix S1R:
- the dual stabilization system, the body of the device and the lens operating together work, for example. Absolutely unbelievable clear shots can be obtained from the hand with a shutter speed of up to 1/10 seconds. Watch perfectly sharp manual shots with 1/13 seconds with lens 70-200mm:
- the autofocus system is fast and accurate. I really liked the integration of Artificial Intelligence algorithms (AI), which manage to distinguish human or animal figures from the frame, face and even the eyes of the object. The frame shows all, the photographer just chooses the subject he wants in the focus with the joystick. You can also choose the eye you want in the perfect focus.
- Continuous autofocus works almost perfectly. When you combine it with tracking the object, it manages to keep it clear without giving up gaps. Panorama photos depend only on the user's hand:
- I did not like the fact that in the low light, especially in artificial light, the autofocus system took a long time to find a clear point. I'm talking about situations with very little light in the frame, but the expectations are high than the full-frame camera. Also in such situations, with continuous autofocus, even after autofocus, the LVF image appears slightly unstable. Most likely, these two issues will be resolved until the release of the firmware update;
- Both goals with which we interacted (70-200mm F4 and 50mm F1.4) are very good, mentioning that the first 50mm with F1.4 are sensational. Perfect sharp at the corner to the right of F1.4, with nice colors, balanced contrast and excellent contour details.
- Even with the Panasonic Lumix S1R's high resolution, image noise at high ISO sensitivity is preserved. You can even capture ISO6400 even though the images, though not perfect, are more than usable:
- The 23Wh battery (3050 mAh at 7.4V) fails to offer autonomy beyond the average rather than average. CIPA standards can capture at least 340 frames, which is not a good figure for professionals. Very high resolution for both the LCD screen and the LVF OLED requires her respect. Fortunately, an extra battery can be purchased separately from the outset, resulting in an autonomy of about 1100 frames (CIPA standard). In my case, after about 220 photos and only 2-3 minutes of 4K shooting, the Panasonic Lumix S1R camera still has 38% in the battery.
These will be my most important "breakthroughs" after the practical session with the Panasonic Lumix S1R. I repeat, it was a sample of pre-production, not a ready-to-sell model. The latest software will make this camera capable, better and better.
I assure you that I will come back with a detailed review in which I will thoroughly analyze a complete mirror-free frame that promises a lot. Not only Panasonic Lumix S1 / S1R will deserve our attention, but also the new range of L-mount lenses without which the devices can not reveal all their qualities.
Anyway, the most important thing is that a new big player enters the immeasurable full frame and that can only bring us benefits. Whether we are enthusiastic or professional amateurs, we will just be lucky.