Panasonic’s general-purpose full-frame mirrorless camera is very capable, says Andy Westlake, but bulkier and slightly less refined than its competitors
Panasonic Lumix S1: At a glance
- £2200 body only
- 24MP full-frame sensor
- 5.76m-dot OLED EVF
- 3-way tilting touchscreen
- 5-axis in-body stabilisation
- 4K video at 60fps
When Panasonic announced its entry into the full-frame mirrorless sector in September last year, it re-affirmed the firm’s ambition to be taken seriously in the high-end photography market. Its Micro Four Thirds GH-series cameras have long been appreciated by videographers, but the perceived image-quality disadvantage of the smaller sensor has clearly limited their appeal to enthusiast and professional still shooters. So teaming up with Leica and Sigma to form the L-mount Alliance, with all three firms making full-frame cameras and lenses based around Leica’s mirrorless mount, looked like a logical step.
When the firm unveiled its initial product line-up earlier this year, it also looked perfectly sensible, at least on paper. Panasonic has adopted a similar strategy to Sony and Nikon in offering twin cameras with the same body design but different sensors, with the 24.2MP S1 playing the all-rounder to the 47.3MP S1R’s high-res specialist. These are joined by an initial lens line-up comprising a 24-105mm f/4, 70-200mm f/4 and a 50mm f/1.4. The big surprise, however, is the system’s high price and sheer bulk, exemplified by the 50mm f/1.4, which weighs 955g and costs a staggering £2300.
The first thing you notice when you pick up the S1, too, is its size and weight. Fitted with its 24-105mm f/4 standard zoom, it’s just as large and heavy as a high-end full-frame DSLR, such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with its equivalent lens. Compared to its main mirrorless competitors, the Nikon Z 7 and Sony Alpha 7 III, which offer the same resolution at a similar price point, it’s considerably bigger. In a market where one of the key advantages of mirrorless is considered to be reduced size and weight, does Panasonic’s approach really make sense?