After making Micro Four Thirds cameras for over a decade, Panasonic has entered the full frame market with a bold statement. Michael Topham got to test the Panasonic Lumix S1R
Panasonic Lumix S1R: Autofocus
Panasonic have once again put faith in their Contrast AF with DFD system, which during our testing demonstrated excellent accuracy, with no sign of hesitation when asked to focus in favourable lighting conditions on static subjects in AFS mode. But what about its performance in low light or when asked to track moving subjects?
Using the S1R in a gloomy bar where contrast was lacking was a much tougher test. Here, focus lock on wasn’t instantaneous and signs of hunting were observed. Though a majority of the time it would find focus, occasionally requiring a second attempt, it relies heavily on the help of its bright orange AF assist beam in this type of environment.
Switch the camera across to continuous AF (AFC) and you’ll also become aware of a certain pulsing as the AF system constantly attempts to focus. Despite capturing some pleasing high-speed action shots, a couple of opportunities were missed when it either failed to lock-on fast enough or struggled to keep up with the high speed subjects it was asked to track.
The AF mode is changed between single AF (AFS) and continuous (AFC) using the switch that surrounds the AF area button, but as previously mentioned this is somewhat plasticky and would have been better had it been machined from metal. Pinpoint AF is great for extremely precise focusing and face/eye/body/animal detection works well provided the person, people or animal you’re photographing aren’t too distant or appear too small in the frame.
There are tracking and 225-area AF modes too, with the S1R’s 1-area AF mode letting users define the position of the AF point in up to eight sizes with the two zone modes being a good option for moving subjects in combination with AFC mode. You can choose from a vertical/horizontal arrangement of AF points or an oval setting, with the option to enlarge the coverage and change its position using the control dial and AF joystick. After receiving criticism about the position of the Lumix G9’s joystick, I’m glad to report the S1R’s joystick is better placed at the rear of the camera.