Since more than 13 years ago, Panasonic has been strongly associated with the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds formats, and its G series of Micro Four Thirds cameras have been a smash hit among everyone from amateur photographers to professional videographers. Specifically, the Four Thirds format was developed by Panasonic.
Therefore, its choice to enter the full-frame market was received with a great deal of astonishment a year ago – not the least of which was that the news came within a few months of Nikon and Canon’s separate entry into the same arena.
Like Nikon, Panasonic will launch its new Lumix S series with two distinct models, the primary distinction between which will be the resolution of their respective image sensors. The Panasonic S1 has a full-frame sensor that is 24.2 megapixels. However, the Panasonic S1R being evaluated here has a sensor that measures 47.3 megapixels.
This places it, at least for the time being, in the position of having the most effective resolution of any full-frame mirrorless model now available, just edging out Nikon’s Z7 and Sony’s A7R III in the process.
Panasonic Lumix S1R Features
The S1R is the first camera to use a full-frame sensor with 47.3 megapixels, a resolution that any other manufacturer has not offered. This has been constructed without an optical low-pass filter for excellent resolution of fine detail. An aspherical microlens caps each pixel to help as much light as possible get through to the photosite. Optical low-pass filters reduce the amount of light that can reach the photosite.
Since Leica is Panasonic’s partner in the L-mount alliance, it seems reasonable to conclude that the two sensors are, at the very least, related, if not identical. If the number 47.3 megapixels sounds familiar, Leica’s most recent Q2 compact camera also features a full-frame sensor with this resolution. If this number sounds familiar, this is because Leica’s most recent Q2 compact camera also features this resolution.
This resolution results in files with pixel dimensions of 8368 by 5584, although the S1R can achieve an even higher resolution if the situation calls for it. It can go far further, with its High-Resolution mode generating photographs at an astounding 187MP.
The idea behind it – that is, capturing a series of images with minute shifts in the position of the sensor between each exposure before they’re blended – may be something that’s been seen before in previous DSLRs and mirrorless models. Still, no camera has ever claimed to be able to deliver files that are this ridiculously large back.
Panasonic Lumix S1R Build Quality
It is very typical for a new camera system to display lots of design influence from an existing range of products manufactured by the same company. The S1R is not an exception to this rule. Although there is undoubtedly a significant amount of innovative thinking displayed here, it is not difficult to identify many parallels between the S1R and more contemporary models in the G-series.
There are many similarities between this camera and the Panasonic G9, beginning with the white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation button trio that is located on the top plate and ending with the red trim that is located below the mode dial.
In point of fact, the S1R appears much like a more boxy G9 when viewed from the front, even though the controls surrounding the body have been moved, restyled, and rethought to accommodate the more extensive body.
This also means that there is a little more room around the rear for the thumb to sit, which, when combined with the size of the body, makes this camera suitable for folks with more extensive hands, who may find cameras such as the Sony A7R III to be a bit too tiny. However, compared to other mirrorless cameras, the body of this camera is vast and heavy. Thus, this feature might be considered somewhat of a mixed blessing.
Panasonic Lumix S1R Performance
When we had the opportunity to test out the electronic viewfinder on a pre-production sample of the S1R, we were blown away by its quality. The model we have been using for this review reveals that it is just as impressive.
To put it another way, the electronic viewfinder of this camera is currently the greatest available in any camera of its kind. Its high resolution of 5.76 million dots is impressive in and of itself – around two million higher than the panels inside competing mirrorless cameras right now – but the fact that this is combined with a bright OLED panel, a very respectable 0.78x magnification, and a refresh rate that can be set to 120fps is what makes it the most lifelike electronic viewfinder we’ve ever had the pleasure of using yet.
In general, the camera is capable of producing high-quality still photographs as well as high-definition films. To get the most out of a 47.3MP sensor, you need good glass, and the S 24-105mm f/4 Macro O.I.S. is a competent option as an all-purpose optic. However, with an asking price in the four-figure range when purchased separately, we anticipate it to perform to a standard higher than that of the typical kit lens.
The fact that it has an additional reach of 105mm makes it more adaptable than the standard kit lens, even though it is somewhat more significant than the latter. Furthermore, the efficiency of the image stabilization technology at least makes the absence of a wider aperture slightly less of an issue.
Even though some people may have wished for a larger maximum aperture, the fact that the lens can focus up to 30 centimeters away from the subject, combined with the fact that its entire focal length is 105 millimeters, makes it particularly useful for separating more minor issues from their backgrounds. As seen in the image below, out-of-focus parts are also portrayed beautifully.
Panasonic Lumix S1R Specs
|Body type||SLR-style mirrorless|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|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)|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filter|
|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 stabilization notes||5-axis; combines with in-lens stabilization for increased shake reduction|
|CIPA image stabilization rating||6 stop(s)|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, standard|
|File format||JPEGRaw (Panasonic RW2)HLG (CTA-2072)|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)Multi-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousTouchFace DetectionLive View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Yes|
|Number of focus points||225|
|Lens mount||Leica L|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD|
|Minimum shutter speed||60 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed (electronic)||1/16000 sec|
|Exposure modes||ProgramShutter priorityAperture priorityManual|
|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|
|Flash X sync speed||1/320 sec|
|Continuous drive||9.0 fps|
|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)|
|Modes||3840 x 2160 @ 60p / 150 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 50p / 150 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 25p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM3840 x 2160 @ 23.98p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 50p / 28 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 20 Mbps, MOV, H.264, AAC|
|Storage included||XQD + SD card slots; UHS-II supported|
|USB||USB 3.2 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)|
|Wireless notes||802.11ac + Bluetooth|
|Battery description||DMW-BLJ31 lithium-ion battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||1020 g (2.25 lb / 35.98 oz)|
|Dimensions||149 x 110 x 97 mm (5.87 x 4.33 x 3.82″)|
Panasonic Lumix S1R Verdict
Suppose you’ve already glanced at the list of advantages and disadvantages at the beginning of this review. In that case, you’ll have noticed the language that we’ve used for the benefits, and this isn’t hyperbole: what the Panasonic Lumix S1R does, it does very well indeed, and given that this is the first model in a new line, Panasonic deserves a lot of praise for producing such a high-quality product.
The S1R is a camera that has fantastic build quality, an excellent sensor, and a lot of other great features. The fact that it’s also a camera that’s a lot of fun to use makes it an even better product.
The stunning electronic viewfinder, the compelling image stabilization technology, and the 187-megapixel high-resolution shot choice are among the key selling points of this camera.
The S 24-105mm f/4 O.I.S. lens, which is now the only choice available for the kit, is a competent performer for such a general-purpose optic and one that can undoubtedly do honor to the camera’s 47.3MP sensor is also extremely exciting to discover.
Panasonic Lumix S1R Pros & Cons
- Stunning, best-in-class viewfinder
- The buffer depth is quite strong.
- Excellent handling of noise, even at very high ISOs
- A highly efficient method of picture stabilization
- Superb build quality
- Excellent detail, even with a ‘kit’ lens
- The AF system is currently behind the competition
- Having a vast and ponderous physique
- There is no significant size or weight advantage over DSLR cameras
- Battery life is not that impressive.
- Some controls that are difficult to use
- The eyecup may obstruct the view of the LCD.