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Detailed Panasonic S1R camera review

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Panasonic Lumix S1R review

Using the 47MP full frame mirrorless camera


Recently, Panasonic UK kindly lent Keith a Lumix S1R full frame mirrorless camera and some lenses, to try out.

These are Keith’s review notes from using the camera for a few weeks. They are from the point of view of a day to day 50MP Canon 5Ds using architectural and industrial photographer, who doesn’t shoot weddings or portraits…

It is quite deliberately not a full camera review, but covers areas of photography that interest Keith personally and professionally. So there is a lot about the S1R 187MP multishot mode and using adapted lenses, but nothing about video…  Fortunately, there are plenty of detailed ‘general reviews’ about the S1R underway (DPReview etc.)

panasonic lumix s1r

Buying an S1R
(any purchase at all via our links helps support the site)

US sales: Amazon US | B&H | Adorama

UK sales: Park Cameras

park S1R info

This is a long article with lots of images – most can be enlarged considerably by clicking on them. This is especially important if you want to appreciate just how much detail is in the 187MP multishot high resolution examples.

The Panasonic Lumix S1R

The S1R was announced in February 2019 and immediately caught my attention as a 47MP full frame mirrorless camera.

It uses the ‘L-mount’ originally developed by Leica, and now supported by Panasonic and Sigma. Having tried out the Hasselblad X1D-50C [review] last year, and just purchased Canon’s 26MP EOS RP as a backup camera [review] I was keen to try the S1R, when invited by Panasonic. My day to day camera is the 50MP Canon 5Ds, so the 47MP of the S1R is essentially the same resolution.

In making this review I’ve tried to get a feel for how I’d use the S1R for personal and work photography. I’ve few direct comparisons with other cameras, since they are difficult to do in a rigorous or meaningful way, however, I’ve gathered together my impressions and opinions in the conclusions of the article.

If you’ve specific questions, please do ask in the comments or feel free to email me – likewise if you’re an experienced S1R user and spot I’ve made a mistake, please do let me know. It is potentially a very complex camera system and I doubt I’ve settled on optimal usage in only a few weeks…

What do you get

The camera and lenses are nicely packed – the camera body and charger.

s1r-kit

It has a distinctly solid feel with crisp angular design elements that I quite like, even if they do collect a bit of dust.

The assorted L mount lenses I’ve been sent:

24-105mm f/4 | 50mm f/1.4 | 70-200mm f/4

s1r-and-lenses

Almost the first job when getting any new camera – fitting the strap.

strap for S1R

You get a proper paper manual for the camera.

s1r-manual

That’s great, but unfortunately the text is so small that I need my strongest reading glasses to read it.

Fortunately I was able to get the PDF version, which I can read much more easily.

Controls

Since I tend to use cameras in fairly basic modes a lot (fully manual, no AF) I’ve a relatively limited number of essential functions to learn with any new camera. Once I’m past the basics, I start experimenting and finding out what different buttons/dials/levers do.

Then comes the interesting bit – how many of these features are of use or interest to me, and which do I want to change/customise.

This view of the rear screen and shooting info gives a feel for the vast array of options.

basic screen

Your reaction to this will be different to mine, depending on what kit you have experience of and how you use it.

In a previous career I did ergonomics and usability research, so I’m always interested in user interface solutions. The more I used the camera, the more I appreciated some of the little design touches and use of tactile feedback. I’ve not used a new camera yet where it’s not taken several weeks to decide how I want to use it.

Much as I generally dislike videos, there are some excellent short ones from Panasonic [Youtube link] that cover many specific aspects of camera use. Take time to read the manual – you will find a lot of useful stuff…

The screen

The screen is mobile with a range of tilting options.

screen tilt 1

Both good if you’re looking down on the camera.

screen tilt 2

There’s also this tilt mode, that I found more useful for use in portrait orientation.

screen tilt 4

And, for holding the camera up high…

screen tilt 3

The screen is easily visible in daylight, although my preference is to have it off for most of the time.

Input/output

There are two card slots – I only had SD cards to use, but the fast 128GB ProGrade card I use with my 5Ds worked well

card slots

The main i/o ports are well sealed.

connections

The two holes beside the USB/HDMI sockets are for the cable strain relief – a very useful accessory when shooting tethered.

cable-strain-relief-clip

Customisation

I didn’t use the camera for long enough to give any certain opinions about customisation of controls, and anyway, my usage is almost certainly going to be different from yours…

However, like almost all cameras, I first turned off annoying beeps and noises.

no beep

I have a suspicion that these are enabled by default to ‘encourage’ new users to visit the settings screens and read the manual. It’s the sort of thing I’d do ;-)

I also want to record RAW and JPEG files to the card (both for testing and backup). With dual cards I often send one to each card – I’ve never had problems losing files, but I’m often in shooting situations that I can’t re-visit.

raw and jpeg

The menus are set out fairly logically, although several times I found myself hunting round for something ‘that I knew was there somewhere’.

If you find this happening, make a note of what you were looking for – if it happens more than once, consider setting up a custom menu item or custom camera setup.

custom-modes

If you use the camera for distinctly different types of photography, it’s worth sitting down and writing a list of the types of work and what settings you use, and what you want to change/set when using them.

However, if you’re completely new to the camera I’d suggest holding off on this until you had a few weeks use of the S1R.

Oh, and once you go to all this trouble, save your settings to a card, or at least keep the bit of paper with them written down.

One quick example from my own use of the camera.

controls 5

The top button here was set to activate the multi-shot 187MP mode.

The middle button DOF preview and the bottom one… that’s the lens release.

The lock switch can be customised to turn off selected functionality – I didn’t come across anything I’d use it for, but different people handle cameras different ways.

controls 1

Powering the camera

The camera comes with a USB C power supply which is used to power the charger via its USB C socket.

s1r-psu

The battery (7.4V 3050 mAh) is held in place by the small white lever.

battery 1

All removable base covers (for grips) seem well sealed against moisture and dust ingress.

battery 2

The camera will also charge the internal battery from the USB socket when powered off.

usb-charging

I only had the one battery for testing, but was able to use the USB powerbank I keep for my Canon EOS RP to keep the camera battery topped up. The powerbank is in a side pocket of my bag and a USB C lead runs through to where the camera is.

This meant that several occasions where I was out all day, I had no concerns for battery life – it does however mean I can’t reliably answer the ‘How many shots’ question, other than ‘several hundred at least’.

The L-mount lenses

24-105mm f/4 | 50mm f/1.4 | 70-200mm f/4

First up, this isn’t a lens test article, so no resolution charts and the like. My main interest in the relatively limited time for testing was using some specialist lenses that are not available in L mount (nor likely to be I’d suggest).

However, the three native lenses I had all performed well, with the image stabilisation in the two zooms complimenting the sensor stabilisation really well. Throughout my testing any blur I saw was due to poor focus or subject movement.

The 50/1.4 is a nice lens to use and balances well in the hand. It’s quite hefty though and with the weight of the body might soon feel tiring to carry. Then again, if you want any of the modern higher quality fast 50mm lenses, this is going to be an issue.

I’m not a great user of this focal length, so apart from noticing a quite pleasant feel to OOF areas, I’d want to refer potential purchasers to a proper review.

50 and 24-105

The 24-105 is a more manageable size and more than sharp enough even wide open for the 47MP sensor.

This shot is at 105mm and f/4, showing the sort of DOF and look to OOF areas you can expect.

[click to enlarge to 25% of original]

24-105-f4

A crop at 100%, with no additional sharpening or correction applied.

fluffed-up

The  70-200 f/4 is a bit smaller than my old Canon 70-200 F2.8L IS.  If I used my 70-200 a lot, I’d have no doubt updated it, since my 2004 lens, good as it is, definitely looked weak against the Panasonic S1R.

70-200

There was a regatta on the River Soar when I was out testing, and this gave me a good chance to see how the camera’s AF system performed.

rowers

Autofocus

I should perhaps note that I’m hardly the best photographer to quantify autofocus capabilities, since I tend to shoot static subjects, and often with manual focus lenses.  That said I can read a manual and I can spot poor focus…

The s1R will shoot at 9fps continuous in AF-S (fixed focus mode), or 6fps with AF-C (continuous focus mode).

AF-settings

The AF controls (and joystick below) are easy to reach, with good tactile features making them easier to use without looking.

The camera focus has 480fps AF control, as well as Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology designed to speed up focusing. It is using contrast detection AF rather than the phase detect system widely used elsewhere and is supposed to work down to -6EV. I never encountered any problems in this area.

Additionally, the AF system recognises faces, eyes, human bodies, and various animals.  I tried the face detect out on large numbers of football fans, walking along the canal towpath towards a match (Leicester City).

face-detect

Like most of these things, once you get the hang of it, it’s quite easy to switch between the faces it’s picked up.

It even had no difficulty with this guy looking round to see where they were going…

directions

Smaller people in the frame lose the face lock, so I quickly went back to localised groups of AF points.

boats

One problem with using too may focus points is shown in this shot.

It may look fine at this size, but zoom in and you can see that the contrast AF has locked onto the ripples on the water rather than the swan.

focus-miss

I’d not criticise any aspects of the performance of the AF system. It takes considerable use before the likelihood of user ineptitude is reduced.

I was quite deliberately using wide apertures to show up focus issues and after an hour or so photographing people in boats swans and passers by, I felt a lot more comfortable with the AF and could much more readily decide which mode or setting for AF points would work for the subject.

Just for completeness, I photographed several cyclists in burst mode and continuous AF.

cyclists

It worked just fine, but if I’m honest this isn’t the sorts of stuff I photograph, other than testing AF performance.

A guide to AF

After the camera went back, I found this excellent guide to AF from Panasonic [PDF]. It’s info that can be found in the manual, just in a more accessible form.

Manual focus

Something I found useful is the focus peaking assistance. If I had one complaint, I’d like the  peaking indication to be shown at a higher resolution if I wanted. If this was an option, I’d even accept slightly slower EVF response, since I’d tend to be using it in static situations.

The electronic zoom option was handy for precise focusing.  Given my need for my strongest reading glasses for optimal use of the rear screen, the ability to do all this from the viewfinder was appreciated.

The MC-21 adapter

The three Panasonic lenses are very good, and worked well, but for my day to day work I frequently use tilt/shift lenses such as the TS-E17mm F4L [review] and TS-E24mm F3.5L II [review]. They are Canon EF mount lenses, so an adapter is needed.

Fortunately Sigma have produced the MC-21 adapter

adapter and foot

The front EF mount

It’s shown here with the tripod foot removed. This foot bolts on very firmly.

adapter rear

The rear L-mount end.

Whilst I mainly used the manual focus TS-E lenses, all my native Canon EF lenses worked just fine in terms of focus and aperture setting. Sigma have had a lot of experience working with Canon EF lenses and their communications protocols, so I was not surprised that ‘it just worked’.

Here’s the S1R with TS-E17mm attached.

with TS-E17

Below is the TS-E50mm F2.8L Macro [review] mounted in a TSE Frame [review] for parallax free stitching of shifted images.

s1r-and-TS-E50

Any old lens…

One thing I found when testing the EOS RP was how well the focus peaking in the EVF let me use wide lenses like this Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/1.2.

oly-50-and-adapter

The lens is mounted using a simple OM->EF adapter.

with olympus 50 12

The large bright viewfinder gives an excellent feel for the razor thin DOF at f/1.2.

This photo (of the Panasonic 50/1.4) was taken at f/1.2 whist I was shooting some of the images in this review (the camera is Karen’s EOS 100D + EF-S15-85mm)

The focal length of attached lenses can be set if needed.

set focal length

The adapter gives full EXIF info – here for the TS-E24mm.

ts-e24-meta

Macro and tethering

Although the camera supports wireless connection I prefer, for studio use, a good hefty USB C cable, which of course can power the camera and doubles for charging whilst you’re not using the camera.

Note: I was unable to test wireless/bluetooth with a phone, since I don’t have one that will run the necessary software.

cable-strain-relief

Be sure to select the correct USB mode too.

tethering

I’m running the free Lumix Tether software on my Mac across the office.

lumix-tether

There’s a good introductory guide to the software available.

The controls are pretty easy to work with and the live-view is responsive enough to be easy to use.

flash

Lots of settings and options make tethered studio use very simple to pick up.

settings

One of my first close-up tethered shots, using the 24-105mm lens.

24-105-closeup

I’ll come back to this one when looking at the high res 187MP multi-shot mode.

Canon tilt/shift

Using  tilt/shift lenses was a key requirement for myself, and the MC-21 adapter did not disappoint.

You even get image stabilisation working, via the sensor based IS – ideal for my habit of using shift lenses hand held on occasions.

The camera, whether in normal 47MP or high res 187MP mode, gets the best from the TS-E optics.

tse50-and-frame

Use of shift and tilt caused no errors in metering, and there was no difference in vignetting or image fall of at the edge of the image circle than I expect when using the lenses on my EOS 5Ds.

24mm-shifted-down

At f/8 there is a bit of softness and chromatic aberration towards the bottom of this heavily (down) shifted image.

The chromatic aberration is fixable, but for the TS-E24 F3.5L Mk2 I’d be shooting at f/11 if I had important detail in the bottom of the frame.

The TS-E24 mk2 and TS-E17 both date from 2007 and whilst good, are not at the levels of optical performance I see in the TS-E50/90/135 lenses from 2018.

However, despite a rising tide floating all boats, how good a lens do you need to make use of the high res 187MP mode?

High resolution mode

Note: To really appreciate the detail in some of these images you will need to click on them and view at full size. The versions in the review are fitted into the available width and may not show the clear differences and extra detail. If you’re using a phone – please do look also on a large screen.

The S1R has a multi-shot high resolution mode where 8 photos are taken in quick secession (with electronic shutter) and combined in the camera to produce a super resolution image.

For each of these photos, the sensor is moved a small amount by the IS system. Obviously, any camera movement must be avoided, so a sturdy tripod is essential.

Sounds good – 8 quick shots and you have a 187MP image in the form of a 300+MB image file.

However, the natural world has a habit of moving, whether leaves, blades of grass or people.

person-moving

This is a very small part of a larger image (at 200% magnification) and clearly shows the multiple shots.

Fortunately there are two modes for shooting high res images. The simple combination above is Mode 1. Mode 2 looks for significant changes between shots and if found, simply resizes parts of just one of the shots from the 47MP base image up to 187MP.

For truly static scenes, Mode 1 may give a very slight edge in detail (I’m not certain of this however) and is faster for the camera to process, since it takes several seconds for processing after a high res shot.

Here’s an example (TS-E24mm) showing part of De Montfort University campus and the river Soar, in Leicester.

The files here have been reduced to 25% of full size (if you click to enlarge)

mode1

Mode 1 – no movement compensation

mode2

Mode 2 – with compensation.

Here’s a crop at 100% showing how the water ripples are handled.

river-detail

Enlarging some static detail to 500% shows why in outdoor use I happily used Mode 2.

500-percent-mode-comparison

These images have had no processing beyond conversion from RAW.

Mode 1 simply picks up movement too readily, as in this shot where it’s easy to see which people were moving and which were still.

VJP-HR1

Fine detail is superb, with the multishot not showing any moire effects in any image I’ve taken.

VJP-HR1-detail

Once again with the TS-E24mm, here’s Bolton Castle in the Yorkshire Dales (mode 2)

Castle-Bolton

The gardens sign at 100%

garden-sign

Looking in the windows – you can see the wallpaper behind one, on the wall.

windows

A quick reminder why Mode 2 is my choice…

mode-1mode-2

Better glass?

This example (The Dock in Leicester) is shot with the new TS-E50mm F2.8L Macro lens.

If you click to enlarge, the file is at 25% of full size

dock-187-25

The camera saves a single normal resolution image (47MP) as well as the 187MP one, which gives an idea of how much extra detail we see at 187MP.

spray-bottle comparison

However, look carefully at some of the horizontal lines in the high res version.

There is a slight checkerboarding pattern visible in some areas.

I’m not sure whether this is due to vibration (there was a road nearby), a processing glitch or even air movement, but I’ve only seen it on outdoor shots. The image was shot using mode 2 since the leaves on the trees were moving a bit.

A second photo a few second later shows noticeably better fine detail.

wind-movement

This shows me that the 187MP mode is not for snapshots – you need good glass and solid equipment – in many ways it’s like shooting much larger format.

Bigger still

If I take a photo with a shift lens shifted a bit downwards and then another with it shifted up a bit, I can easily stitch them together to get bigger images.  It’s one of the main reasons I use the TSE frame to mount the lenses [see review for more]

Whilst visiting the Yorkshire Dales for work, I took a few days off to explore and try out the S1R.  This photo is taken on a slightly hazy day up above the town of Hawes. It’s two 187MP images stitched (and cropped square) to give an image of around 250MP.

If you click to enlarge, the file is at 25% of full size

dales-2-quarter_res

There’s a farm down the valley, which if I use the normal 47MP images you can see some vehicles parked outside.

dales-2-crop-47mp

A similar 100% crop from the high res image makes it a lot clearer.

[You’ll need to expand these images to full size to really see the difference]

dales-2-crop

Zooming further makes the difference clear.

detail-difference

The detail in the high res shots is astounding – just how you decide to use it is something I’ll come back to in a bit…

Close up detail

Earlier I showed a photo of a memory module, taken with the camera tethered. The tethering mode supports high res imaging – just make sure your camera is on a solid support and the floor that it’s on isn’t moving as people walk round your house.

This detail from the shot with the 24-105 shows again just how much more you can get in high res mode (Mode 1 this time)

high-res f/5.6

A reminder of the full image.

24-105-closeup

The shot was lit with a small desk lamp.

Why no flash? I’m afraid flash isn’t (yet) supported in multi-shot mode.

Of course, you don’t have to tether the camera, this is from when I was testing the extremely sharp Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra-Macro APO lens [review]

macro setup

I’m using liveview on the rear screen, along with focus peaking (the blue areas).

The high res mode has an optional time delay between firing the shutter release and the exposure sequence starting.

This should let any vibration die down, but with no cable release and the high magnification  – shots like this are always a little hit and miss.

macro focus peaking

Serious macro work takes a lot of care. The more magnification and resolution you use, the more things like passing traffic or people walking round the house can affect results.

Note that we actually do macro work for companies which is why my examples tend to be technical items rather than the staples of flowers and insects you usually see ;-)

I’ve a motorised stackshot mount which I use for some of our macro work. It steps the camera, letting me take multiple images to stack for depth of field.  Could this be used for stacking high res images?

Not directly it seems, since the software won’t control the S1R and more importantly I can’t use flash. I was able to use a dummy Canon camera attached to the computer at the same time as the S1R. I could move the S1R with the Stackshot and take photos with Lumix Tether, but no automated stacking in 47MP or 187MP modes.

Levering the top of an old 8255A I/O chip, I was able to get this 187MP image

8255-full-frame

This full resolution crop gives a feel for the detail. Even this cropped image is ~19MP

8255-hr-crop

Image processing

At the time of writing, I only have two ways of processing the RAW files from the S1R. One is using DxO PhotoLab, which handles the files (47MP and 187MP) perfectly well and (as DxO Optics Pro) has been a choice of mine for some types of image processing for many years.

The other choice is to use the free Adobe DNG converter to convert the RAW files to DNG. I can open the DNG files in my copy of Photoshop CS6 with ACR. Were I to have an S1R here for work, I’m sure I’d finally get round to getting a newer version of Photoshop, but not yet (I don’t use Lightroom BTW).

Shock horror – pro photographer finds CS6 does all he needs for his work ;-)

Using the DNG versions of the files. I get all the range of  camera profiles for the S1R

camera-profiles

These include: Standard, Vivid, Natural, Flat, Landscape, Portrait, Monochrome, L. Monochrome, L. Monochrome D. Cinelike D, Cinelike V, Like709, HLG Standard, HLG Monochrome.  Not the sort of stuff I normally make use of, since I invariably shoot in RAW.

High res shots show up even tiny amounts of chromatic aberration from lenses, but with the improved colour detail, automatic fixing works really well.

with-CA

The Laowa macro is excellent, but correction for even small amounts of colour fringing looks good.

CA-correction

Dynamic range

Nothing make me click ‘next’ quicker on some forums than incessant concern over dynamic range. Yes, it varies between cameras, but I’m minded to suggest it’s regularly swamped by poor photographic technique.

That said, the variations are real and the S1R RAW files do let you bring more detail out of the shadows than I typically find with my 5Ds.

Since I’m not necessarily converting my S1R RAW files optimally I’ll leave the detailed analysis to others, but a quick example from a deeply under exposed shot shows no significant shadow noise coming in, even after a hefty boost in exposure in ACR.

shadow-boost

three-stop-boost

and one last crop (100%) from the depths…

shadow-boost-detail

If I had to give a relative performance, I’d say it was better than my 5Ds but not as good as the 50MP medium format Hasselblad X1D-50C.

Does this concern me for my day to day photography – sorry not really ;-)

Dust

If I had one annoyance with the S1R, it’s its capability to collect dust on the sensor.

sensor

I’m strongly of the opinion that you should not be able to see the sensor in this shot with no lens in place. The Sigma MC-21 is fitted, which may protect a bit, but dust can walk right on in up to the sensor…

With DSLRs the shutter is closed until you need it opened. OK, with mirrorless, the shutter needs to be open to use the viewfinder, but I feel it should not be so when the lens is removed.

Look at this out of focus shot, taken in my garden when trying out the Laowa Macro.

The small aperture has made the sharp dust spots really show up – this is after just a few days use swapping lenses quite a lot.

dust

The last time I saw dust issues like this was with my 2003 Canon 1Ds which had no dust removal features.

In my day to day work I’m regularly changing lenses, so it is a real issue.

If you look back through some of my sample images here you may be able to see soft dust spots – they are usually fixable in post, but clients are not paying me to clone out dust spots…

Detail

The 47.3MP sensor doesn’t have a low pass filter, which can give a feeling of additional sharpness to images, however after testing both the Canon 5Ds and 5Ds R and not seeing much difference [some notes on this] I’m wary of ascribing too much benefit to the lack of the filter.

Where it does help though is obviously with the 187MP mode, where the sensor movement removes many of the artefacts caused by Bayer filtration and gives visibly cleaner colour detail.

I’d note that I didn’t spot any obvious moire patterning on any of my test images, but I didn’t get to visit the one building where I really noticed it when testing the X1D-50C

The 187MP images also upscale quite well, so taking a 16,736 x 11,168 image up to giant print sizes is quite feasible.  Printing large ultra-high resolution images is a different problem though (see my ‘Making a 14 metre print‘ article for some practical issues)

So, after all these examples, what’s the camera like to use?

Using the camera

The camera has a nice bright and clear viewfinder, with a 5.6M dot viewfinder (0.78x) – considerably sharper and better quality than anything I’ve tried before. The viewing distance is good, and the eye sensor not so sensitive as to keep activating every time you go near the camera. There are lots of options for various overlays and info displays, but you don’t have to have the EVF looking like a flight control panel. I was able to get the rear screen and EVF doing what I wanted most of the time

I particularly liked the focus peaking options for manual focus lenses – that’s for my tilt/shift lenses and not just random old lenses I’ve picked up in different mounts over the years.

For general use I noticed no problems in pushing ISO to 1600, especially since the sensor IS helped out with even my adapted lenses. Indeed there were lots of perfectly usable images at considerably higher settings. I’d note though that I wasn’t seriously testing high ISO performance – that’s one for the more ‘thorough’ reviews this time.

AF performance, once I’d got the hang of different modes, and moving focus points around, was consistent, but I simply don’t photograph enough people to compare the effectiveness of people/face/eye recognition with others.

After years of having fixed rear screens, I still have to think ‘Oh, the screen moves’ but I did find the mechanism a bit less fluid to use than the way it’s mounted on my Canon RP. However, given I have to put glasses on to make use of rear screens that really nice EVF more than makes up for it.  I couldn’t quite make my mind up how much I wanted in the viewfinder, that’s something for the customisation list after some more serious use.

Customisation options are plentiful, but need planning and ongoing usage refinement if you are actually going to make use of them.

Image files are huge, with the high res mode, but so what?  I don’t find the 50MP files from the 5Ds an issue, so the S1R is no different. If you worry about big files then you’re likely not into the same sorts of photography that I am – maybe the Panasonic S1 would better suit?

The MC-21 EF->L adapter worked a treat and I’d have no problem in using it with any of my Canon lenses. There may be some more advanced (tracking) AF limitations, so do check forums for observations of just what not to use if AF performance is rather more important than it is to me.

The high res mode is fascinating to use – it’s not quick and absolutely needs top quality camera support (tripod and head). It’s also brutal in showing up lens deficiencies. However, the extra detail, especially in colour makes it easier for correction software to do its work. Even the really good TS-E50 lens shows clear chromatic aberration, but one click and it was very effectively gone – even in my old copy of ACR.

Using high res mode outdoors needs some of the thought and planning you’d give to larger format photography. The finer resolution means that softening of the image from diffraction could be noticeable as wide as f/5.6, whilst the f/8 I was using for the Yorkshire Dales photo and the Castle would definitely soften things a bit.  Add to this the reduced effective depth of field at higher resolution and the tradeoffs you make in your camera settings become just a bit more important.

BTW, if you see people saying they can use the multishot mode hand-held, take it as a testament to the efficacy of the handling of image movement in Mode 2 rather than their lack of movement – what you’re seeing is a scaled up single 47MP shot.

So, the natural question that occurs, is what are you going to do with these giant images? The 187MP image printed at 300ppi works out at  roughly 56″ x 37″ or lets drop a ppi or two and say 60″ x 40″. I’ve made many large prints in the past, often from stitched images and I have to say that the market for them is a relatively small one here in the UK.  The detail in such prints is phenomenal and will be admired at exhibitions, but relatively few people have the space for them.

The high res mode would be considerably more useful for my macro work if the 8 individual shots (taken with electronic shutter) could fire a flash. I did try focus stacking a few 187MP images, it worked, but isn’t a rapid process.

There were some limitations from my processing choices for the images – not enough to impinge on my testing, but I’d certainly want to explore this aspect of my workflow if I had the camera for my ‘paying work’.

Conclusions

Subject to the caveat that you you need to take a lot more shots to truly get a true feel for a new camera, I felt quite confident in using it after just a few days. There were no aspects of its design that jarred or felt ‘wrong’. I like the physical feel of it – a bit big for some, but then I’ve used the big Canon 1 series cameras quite a bit in the past.

What did I miss the most when the camera went back?

  • It has to be the output quality of those 187MP files – they just blew away single shot versions.
  • The sensor image stabilisation – I like shooting hand held, and effectively having IS added to my 198o’s Zuiko 50/1.2 as well as my TS-E lenses was nice.
  • A feeling of being able to get the camera working just the way I wanted.

What didn’t I miss?

  • Dust collection on the sensor – my 2007 1Ds mk3 picked up less than the S1R

The dust isn’t a showstopper by any means, just an annoyance, given how often I change lenses when on location.

A business choice?

Remember that I’m looking at the camera from the POV of the sorts of work we do – YMMV

I had some lengthy discussions about the S1R with Karen, my wife and business partner here at Northlight, about just why we’d choose to buy such a camera. It’s far too big for her to be comfortable with hand-held – she likes our little EOS 100D and EOS RP for that. However for studio use, she really appreciated the image quality with the 24-105mm and being able to use lenses like the Laowa 100mm for macro and tilting the TS-E lenses. The ability to be able to use all our specialist lenses was an important financial consideration, since the L mount alliance is unlikely to bring out tilt/shift lenses any time soon. However the crunch was, are the images sufficiently better than what we get at the moment to make a difference to our business and its profitability?  The high res mode is obviously better than I can get with my 5Ds, but do we have a market for such images? This is why Karen looks after the business side of things (and some specialist photography).

Whilst I look at the image of the Dock and wonder at the detail, Karen asks if clients would pay extra, or give us the work, because of it?

dock-187-25

It’s a great camera to use, and yes, I could happily use it to replace my 5Ds for much of our paying work.

Thanks to Panasonic UK for the loan and Park Cameras (our main UK supplier) for facilitating the process.

park S1R info

US sales: Amazon US | B&H | Adorama

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Specifications

Price
MSRP $3699 (body only), $4599 (w/24-105mm lens)
Body type
Body type SLR-style mirrorless
Sensor
Max resolution 8368 x 5584
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 47 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 50 megapixels
Sensor size Full frame (36 x 24 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Venus Engine
Image
ISO Auto, 100-25600 (expands to 50-51200)
Boosted ISO (minimum) 50
Boosted ISO (maximum) 51200
White balance presets 5
Custom white balance Yes (4 slots)
Image stabilisation Sensor-shift
Image stabilisation notes 5-axis; combines with in-lens stabilisation for increased shake reduction
CIPA image stabilisation rating 6 stop(s)
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Fine, standard
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Manual focus Yes
Number of focus points 225
Lens mount Leica L
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Tilting
Screen size 3.2″
Screen dots 2,100,000
Touch screen Yes
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.78×
Viewfinder resolution 5,760,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 60 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic) 1/16000 sec
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
Built-in flash No
External flash Yes (via hot shoe or flash sync port)
Flash modes Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync, Slow Sync w/Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
Continuous drive 9.0 fps
Self-timer Yes
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Centre-weighted
  • Highlight-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes
Videography features
Format MPEG-4, H.264
Modes
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 60p / 150 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 50p / 150 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 23.98p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 20 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage included XQD + SD card slots; UHS-II supported
Connectivity
USB USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 GBit/sec)
USB charging Yes (can be charged with high-power laptop/tablet chargers or portable power banks)
HDMI Yes (4:2:2 8-bit output, except 4K/60p)
Microphone port Yes
Headphone port Yes
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11ac + Bluetooth
Remote control Yes
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description DMW-BLJ31 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 360
Weight (inc. batteries) 898 g (1.98 lb / 31.68 oz)
Dimensions 149 x 110 x 97 mm (5.87 x 4.33 x 3.82″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
GPS None

Updates

Selected hardware/software updates.

July 2019: 

This firmware version 1.1 improves image stabilisation and autofocus performance for S1 and S1R. Firmware update available on July 9th here.

Details of firmware version 1.1 below:

LUMIX S1R Firmware Version 1.1

1. Improved performance of the Body Image Stabilizer

  • The correction performance of the Body Image Stabilizer has been improved from a maximum of 5.5 stops to a maximum of 6.0 stops.*1
  • The correction performance of the Dual I.S.2 has been improved from 6.0 stops to 6.5 stops.*2

*1 Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=50mm, when S-X50 is used.]
*2 Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=105mm, when S-R24105 is used.]

Based on the CIPA standard [Yaw/Pitch direction: focusing distance f=200mm, when S-R70200 is used.]

2. Improved AF performance

  • [AF-ON: Near Shift] and [AF-ON: Far Shift] functions have been added. [AF-ON: Near Shift] preferably focuses on a subject nearby while [AF-ON: Far Shift] preferably focuses on a subject far away.
  • The tracking performance when using [Tracking] AF mode in video recording has been improved.
  • Live view display during auto focusing is now easier to see.

3. Improved operational stability

  • Operational stability when using an XQD memory card has been improved.

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3 Comments
  • Daniel | Sep 14, 2019 at 10:52 pm

    Wow kick ass review! I just purchased the camera but it’s nice to read through an incredibly detailed review. Thanks again

  • James Aston | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Fantastic review Keith, you have blown away the competition with the in-depth conclusions, well done.

    After seeing the Youtube effort of a so-called Panasonic ambassador, on who hates tripods with a fashion, your review puts the whole camera in another league.

    Lets see what Canon does in the near future, in terms of a high mega pixel camera, to replace the 5D Mk4, 5DS & 5DSR.

    There’s certainly a race in the making, with Fuji opening up with the medium format 100 MP later this month

  • manray bypass | Aug 2, 2019 at 12:31 pm

    Great review of the S1R. With regard to the macro photography, why did did you not use the focus stacking option, which I am assuming works with studio flashes?

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