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: Image quality
With its 24-million-pixel full-frame sensor, it should come as no surprise to find that the S1 delivers image quality that’s broadly comparable to its similarly specified peers. It produces crisp, highly detailed images and high ISO noise is extremely well controlled: I wouldn’t hesitate to use images shot at sensitivities as high as ISO 12,800 at least.
Special mention has to be made of its Lumix S 24-105mm F4 Macro OIS standard zoom which delivers excellent cross-frame sharpness at pretty well any focal length and aperture setting, even at its 30cm minimum focus distance.
Panasonic Lumix S1: Resolution
Tested using the 24-105mm at 70mm and f/5.6, the S1 delivers around 3900 lines per picture height in raw, which is as much as we could theoretically expect from its 24MP sensor. Aliasing patterns at higher frequencies suggest that like the 47.3MP S1H, it does without an optical low-pass filter. Resolution initially decreases very slowly as the sensitivity is raised, with around 3600l/ph registered at ISO 1600. Even at ISO 12,800 we can measure over 3100l/ph, and almost 2,600l/ph at the top ISO 204,800 setting. Panasonic’s JPEG processing prioritises suppressing image artefacts, but gives lower resolution as a result.
Panasonic Lumix S1: ISO and noise
Examining our test images shot in raw and developed using Adobe Camera Raw, we see that the S1 is capable of very fine image quality, with plenty of detail and strong colour. There’s barely any drop in quality on raising the sensitivity to ISO1600, but at higher settings noise starts to creep visibly into images and degrade fine, low-contrast detail. However even at ISO 12,800 files are eminently usable, especially with a touch of extra luminance nose reduction over Adobe’s conservative defaults. But there’s something of a step-change at ISO 25,600, with noise becoming more pronounced and colour visibly suffering (in contrast Panasonic’s JPEG processing maintains colour, but smears away all fine detail). The top standard setting of ISO 51,200 is about has high as I’d go, but the two extended options are there if you need them to get the shot.