Seven reasons why the new Panasonic S1 and S1R will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!

Seven reasons why the new Panasonic S1 and S1R will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF!

By Steve Huff

It’s here and official. The Panasonic S1R and S1 cameras (high res pro and standard res enthusiast bodies) have been announced and of all cameras announced this year, for me, this is the best most exciting one and I will tell you why I feel the way. In fact I will give you five reasons why this system will rock your socks off in the years to come.

Before I get to the list….let’s chat about Panasonic and this new camera. 

First of all, Panasonic has always been creating wonderful cameras ever since the early days of Micro 4/3 and I have owned a few of them. Wonderful lenses as well have come from Panasonic in collaboration with Leica Camera and just from Panasonic alone.

Panasonic has led the way with their GH5 and GH5s for video and cinema as well with many enthusiast filmmakers who still use these cameras today to help make short films, and many choose these over full frame models like the Sony A7 series.

Panasonic for me, has always had something but I outgrew the 4/3 sensor about a year or two ago. As I started to shoot more and more in low light I gravitated more and more towards only full frame shooting. I will say that if I did not go to low light scenarios often I would still be shooting Micro 4/3 quite a bit. In good light it is a great system with great lenses but to be prettily honest, dynamic range these days is a big deal and this is also where M 4/3 lags behind.

When I heard Panasonic may be making a full frame camera it drew my interest. When I heard they would be collaborating with Leica and Sigma my eyes opened wide. When I heard it would use Leica’s own L mount (SL, T, TL, CL) I became excited. I mean REAL excitement like I have not had in quite a while.

Sure we have had the Canon EOS R announcement. It drew interest from me but nothing like this. The Nikon Z, not for me. The Fuji XT3, I just received one today for review. I will have it for 3-4 weeks to test out and my review will come soon, a full real word review. BUT I have handled it and tested it briefly and while I feel it may be the best Fuji option going, it doesn’t excite me like this news from Panasonic.

The Panasonic S1R IS exciting and DIFFERENT! 

S1R Specs (The higher end pro model) – 

47 MEGAPIXEL Panasonic designed full frame Sensor

Dual IS (In body and lens)  – BEST IS you can get today.

Dual card slots. (Bingo)!

4K video at 60P!

Tilt LCD (no swivel out but we can’t get it all)

HIGH res EVF (think Leica SL or better) – AMAZING!

Also, Panasonic will be making their own lenses in L mount which opens up many possibilities to not only new S1R owners but Leica SL owners. These will be more affordable than Leica’s native SL lenses, and probably lighter.

I see this body from Panasonic as an SL on steroids. BUT, and this is a big but… I will NOT ditch my SL as there is nothing quite like that body for me. The build, feel, control, style, sensor , everything about it is what I love about a camera. Physically the Panasonic doesn’t do that for me but in every other way it does! Will I buy the Panasonic?

Maybe, to add to my SL, if the performance matches the hype. With the S1R we can use SL lenses, T lenses, M lenses via adapter, and well, just about any lens via adapter. It appears to have a huge porthole EVF much like the SL and I believe this will have much of what many have been waiting and asking for. It looks bad ass, I admit.

The body looks nice, with great controls and appears to be made for the Photographer and even Video guys.

FIVE REASONS WHY THE PANASONIC S1R and S1 WILL ROCK YOUR SOCKS OFF

  1. A full ALLIANCE with Leica and Sigma! This means the L mount will now be growing and what a mount it is. For me, I love this mount as it is the best mount out there for converting Leica M mount lenses (besides the M itself). But now Panasonic will be making lenses, as will Sigma. This means smaller options for AF lenses, lighter options and cheaper options. The world of L mount is going to explode. Three giants working towards one photographic goal cannily mean good things.
  2. The S1R has 47MP and no, this is not medium format but 35mm full frame! This is amazing and Panasonic has done it here with their own sensor. I expect this sensor to produce lovely images AND video. They also offer a 24MP version in the S1 model.
  3. DUAL IS – This is the king of Image Stabilization. In body 5 Axis AND in lens. We have seen what this can do in the GH5 and it was and is amazing, best there is. I think we will be blown away by what it does in the S1 and S1R
  4. L MOUNT – I love the L mount but it has been sort of limited UNTIL NOW. With this mount we have a perfect platform for Leica M mount glass, from any manufacturer, we have the Leica SL lenses and NEW Lenses from Panasonic and soon, Sigma. So lenses will be flowing out soon after this body is released.
  5. VIDEO USE. Finally a full frame camera from Panasonic and with great video specs. 4K 60 is here and I expect Panasonic will continue with their fantastic hybrid ways with these two bodies.
  6. BUILD and CONTROL – The S1 and S1R are larger than a Sony, Canon EOS R or Nikon Z. More like the Leica SL in size and feel, which IMO is good. I have never companied about the SL size because it feels so good in the hand. With a similar size here, I feel the S1R and S1 will feel mighty good in the hand to lots of photographers. The controls seem wonderful as well.
  7. EVF – Boasting a super high res EVF with a HUGE porthole viewfinder in the back (much like the SL) this camera will have an EVF AT LEAST as nice as the SL (still the best today as of this writing in the EVF world) but I think even better. So I do not think there will be any other camera like it when it comes to EVF.

I will report more when I know more but so far so good. THIS Panasonic appears to be just what the Dr. Ordered in full frame mirrorless land. Has the dual IS which is AMAZING. Has dual slots, woohoo! Has that beautiful HIGH RES EVF (though details not known yet, if you know leave a comment) and I suspect will have nice AF speed as well. It is a larger camera so will be larger than the Sony A7 and Canon EOS R. I like this as I love the SL size and I believe it will be about equal in size to the SL, which is a bit larger than a Sony A9.

Also, Sigma just announced they will make a full frame L mount with a full frame FOVEON sensor! It’s just getting started and this alliance between Leica, Panasonic and Sigma is going to make a huge boom in the digital mirrorless world. It’s just now getting good, hold on!

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32 Comments

  1. Hi Steve, First time I’ve responded to one of your posts but have enjoyed reading many of them. Big question is will M glass be able to resolve the 47m? I’ve been using phaseone and Rodenstock for years and have had to keep upgrading my glass with each new generation of digital back. Stopped now thank God.

    • Well, no way I could answer that but I shoot M glass for the character and rendering not so much resolution. For me, resolution past 24MP is not important, even if I wanted huge print. I find that kind of res is good for crops if needed though. Will the M lenses take advantage of all of that? No idea, as Leica has capped their cameras to 24MP so far. I do know the 50 APO would have no problem!

  2. Hi Steve – placing my request early for some, “crazy comparisons”, with/when the FF Foveon comes out!

    I’ll bet that thing will be astonishing

      • Ya I’d guess the same…but if one really gets off on the best possible IQ regardless of speed and other considerations, this thing can be the ultimate extravagance,(the one ya don’t need but want for the one thing it does so well). Kinda’ like the really old bottle of Scotch you open for that exclusive occasional taste/experience.

  3. If smaller and lighter AF lenses are possible with the L mount, why are current L lenses so big? I’m excited about the S1, but I’ve handled an SL in the store, and I’m not looking forward to huge lenses. I mean, a 50mm Summilux-M is tiny and optically one of the best out there–how can AF add like ten times the size and weight?

  4. Always thought the GH5 was a great piece of industrial design, those sloping shoulders, and an LCD that reverses, that’s a very cool feature when you accept the EVF experience. But why this new angular/retro, same as everyone else design on the S1?

    It looks like only one company bucked the retro trend again (remember the 1980’s EOS) and that’s the new Canon EOS R.

    Note to self, the fastest and easiest camera to actually work with has been the EOS 1D, no fiddly top dials.

    Why all these dials? Reminds me of high-end watch designs, cool to look at, nice jewelry, but the average smart watch takes the prize for functionality and daily use.

  5. I agree Steve! Great article. Panasonic IBIS, AF, Controls, and Video are top notch. The partnership with Sigma and Leica will ensure good lens development and choices. As a Sony and Leica shooter like yourself, I still find this system is incredibly exciting and can’t wait for some hands on reviews in the future.

  6. Who’s next? Olympus i hope. They have no DSLR product line to protect and could be the final full frame killer. Except they are a bit slow in releasing their camera.
    This year we only saw an EPL body, and we can imagine they will not stay without reacting to this avalanche of news.

    • Nicest camera I’ve ever held was the Olympus E1, the original *four thirds* pro-body, it was a masterfully sculpted body that felt as if the designer had taken a piece of clay and squeezed it into shape. At the same time I was running the Canon 5D, better in every image metric, but it felt like a rubber covered lump of wood by comparison. Olympus have always been forward thinking in functional designs.

  7. The L-Mount Alliance is great for Panasonic. It remains to be see how good it is for Leica. If people buy cheaper Panasonic body, and pair with cheaper Sigma lenses, there are very little to do with Leica.
    IMHO, Leica’s value and prestigious come from it’s M Lenses, M body in some extend, and Leica color. it remains to be see if and how much these will be inherited in L-mount.

    • Well, there will always be those, and always have been those who just want a Leica. So regardless of the lower cost of the Panasonic there will be an SL2, and some will buy it. It’s a different vibe and experience, even with a body like the SL. But mostly, some want the name, the brand, and to support the brand.

  8. Personally more interested to see what Sigma can put together. Love the idea of Foveon. As a b&w only shooter who is currently limited to the Leica Monochrom, I really dislike Bayer filters. That said, Sigma’s cameras so far have had just a few too many drawbacks to take seriously. Maybe Panasonic will work with them on sensor tech?

    • Chris,(sorry a little off topic) the Leica M Monochrome is truly in its own league. The files straight out of the camera are like medium format B&W. I compared them with the m10 files (great but to my eye monochrome was a no contest) I really want them to make an m10 Monochrome body though.

  9. I can’t tell you how pumped I am when I read about this the other day. This announcement totally breathes new life into my Leica SL investment. The idea that I will be able to buy native L mount lenses with full functionality and not have to spend $5k for one lens is just awesome.

    Also, the Leica SL glass I do own has just become more valuable as there undoubtedly will be some new Panny S1R owners who will want the Leica glass to get the utmost from their sensor.

    Last but not least I can finally buy a backup camera to my SL without dropping $7k on a camera. This is just incredible news.

    The only thing I wonder is whether the Panny S1R will play nicely with M glass; in other words does it have microlenses optimized somewhat like the SL for M glass or is that going to be the differentiator between the S1R and the SLii down the road???

  10. Mirrorless but not far from dslr look. Probably the M system is a thing of the past, but let’s see if it’ll fill that void successfully. L system bodies are by the moment rather divergent: T, SL and this one seem lack of a solid system idea

    • I see it as the opposite! The SL doesn’t at all feel like a DSLR as it is thin and has an amazing feel. It’s not fat or thick feeling like a DSLR and has an astounding EVF. This new Panasonic and also a new SL2 which I feel will come next year along with a new Sigma full frame Foveon using the L mount will all be different brands using the same mount which means more lenses, more choice and taking that mount to more variety of cameras. Want foeveon and have L glass? Bingo, buy a Sigma. Want the video features of a Panasonic with 5 Axis Dual IS? Buy a Panasonic. Want that Leica look and feel? Go SL. All will use the same glass. It’s a very good system idea, and that can offer a wide variety of shooters an option that need while not needing to change system lenses. It’s genius IMO. For example, If I have 4 L mount lenses but want to switch to Sigma or Panasonic, no meed to sell off my glass as it can be used natively on multiple bodies that offer different things.

      • I completely agree with you Steve…I think this announcement breathes all new life into the Leica SL system. This takes it from a super exclusive niche system to something very flexible and more inclusive from a price perspective.

  11. My respect for you honest opinion, Steve.
    Lack of dynamic range and low light ability always made me wonder about the excitement for M43.
    I mean, in good light almost all camera systems are able to produce excellent pictures, so maybe its about size and quality of the lenses?
    The only lens i really want is the extremely versatile Olympus 12-100 which may be the reason to buy a body and that lens.

    • I personally think that the dynamic range issue is overstated with m43. I use that format exclusively and shoot mainly landscape. I can get more than acceptable results. Sometimes I will shoot a bracketed sequence (easy at 60fps on the E-M1ii) and stack in LR – but that’s adding 5+ stops which not even a Nikon D850 would give me over the E-M1ii. It’s not the camera which is holding me back.

      • Well said. Too often, we think it’s the hardware that limits us but these days all of it is so advanced that there isn’t a bad camera out there. Obviously some models will suit a particular photographer or task better than others, but nothing performs poorly these days.

    • How about the f/1.2 Olympus lenses? With the great ibis on the Oly II you can photograph a black cat in a coal mine, and without going to crazy iso numbers. More specifically, how often do you make 16 x 20 inch prints? If you only view your pictures on a computer, it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans!

      • m43 can make 16×20 prints easily

        I think the advantage of the ff has become dynamic range, (perhaps not really a big difference to 99% of eyes looking), low light performance, (although you have to get to extremes or not have any light on the subject), or if you just want to print REALLY big.

        For me, the appeal of these new ff cams is just the old gotta’ have it factor.

        I LOVE my m43s and the Oly Pro lenses will be buried with me, but I dig these great ne ff options as well.

        I’ll grab either the SR1 or an SL this year. The Foveon is intriguing.

        What I’d like to see is the new Olympus m34 have an off-the-hook huge EVF. I think the future for any brand or format will be USER EXPERIENCE, because all new cams already offer great IQ.

  12. I share your excitement, Steve. Not only selfishly because it will give me cheaper autofocus options for my Leica T but also because the possibilities to expand our photography will be so good. Use my 55/1.2 with a Foveon sensor? Interesting. Use my 15mm lens as a true super-wide? Easy. Use a longer lens with the crop factor of a smaller sensor? Yup, can do. I currently use M-mount Leica and Voigtlander, Leica screw mount, Pentax screw mount and Canon FD lenses with this mount and they work perfectly. This is going to be even more liberating. And it should mean Leica will continue with the SL, which means I may get one eventually. Nice.

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