Panasonic’s general-purpose full-frame mirrorless camera is very capable, says Andy Westlake, but bulkier and slightly less refined than its competitors

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Panasonic Lumix DC-S1

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • + Superb viewfinder and screen offers an unparalleled experience composing images
  • + 5-axis in-body stabilisation helps keep every image sharp
  • + Well-designed control layout places all key settings at your fingertips
  • + Comprehensive feature set
  • + Excellent video specification and 4K output

Cons:

  • - Large and heavy: as big as a high-end full-frame DSLR
  • - Extremely expensive native lens system
  • - Not quite as refined as its main competitors
  • - Slightly uninspiring JPEG output

Product:

Panasonic Lumix S1 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£2,200.00 (Body Only)

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.

The 24-105mm f/4 is great for close-ups. 105mm (cropped), 1/500sec at f/10, ISO 3200

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 Resolution: Raw, ISO 100

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 100

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 400

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 400

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 12800

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 12800

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 25600

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 25600

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 51200

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 51200

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 102400

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 102400

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 204800 Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 204800

Panasonic Lumix S1 Resolution: Raw, ISO 204800

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.

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 100

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 100

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 1600

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 12800

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 12800

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 25600

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 25600

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 51200

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 51200

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 102400

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 102400

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 204800

Panasonic Lumix S1, RAW ISO 204800

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Panasonic Lumix S1: Features
  3. 3. Panasonic Lumix S1: Build and handling
  4. 4. Panasonic Lumix S1: Viewfinder and screen
  5. 5. Panasonic Lumix S1: Performance
  6. 6. Panasonic Lumix S1: Image quality
  7. 7. Panasonic Lumix S1: Verdict
  8. 8. Panasonic Lumix S1: Specifications
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