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Hands-On Review: Panasonic Lumix S1 – Impressive Versatility

Panasonic has taken on Nikon and Canon with the launch of its new full-frame mirrorless ‘Lumix S1’ (A$3,599) – its first digital single lens mirrorless camera to feature a 35mm full-frame CMOS sensor.

The new ’S’ series is aimed at professionals and highly capable photography enthusiasts, alongside a brand-new set of Leica L Mount lenses.

Proving its commitment to the S series, Panasonic has pledged to launch over ten compatible lenses by 2020.

Panasonic has also unashamedly set its sights on capturing the majority of the mirrorless camera market as time goes by.

Considered a game-changing device, the new Lumix S1 (and its counterpart Lumix S1R) feature dual image stabilisation with up to six stops – forgoing the need for a gimbal or tripod in several situations.

Unpacking the Lumix S1 for the first time, one thing is instantly clear – Panasonic was not lying about the camera’s ergonomics.

As someone with petite hands, the Lumix S1 is incredibly easy to hold, manoeuver and overall just intelligently crafted.

It does not feel overly heavy, and finger placement is comfortable across a wide variety of shooting situations.

It’s a pleasure to handle and hold, and this alone is a major step up versus other rivals. It’s also considerably more easy to ‘get used to’ than comparable other cameras I’ve tried.

Textured portions facilitate a firm grip, and control buttons are easily accessible.

Suitable for light-light conditions, camera buttons are also now illuminated.

A multi-direction joystick further enhances usability, with the camera’s internal menu interface simple to navigate.

The camera body comprises a splash, freeze (-10C) and dust resistant exterior, made with magnesium alloy.

The Lumix S Series also boasts a notable Live View Finder with an ultra high resolution 5.7MP OLED display.

From first use, it’s clear this is a warranted boast. The view finder is ultra functional, ultra sharp, vivid and overall a joy to use. It truly enhances the on-shoot photography experience.

With a tilt design 2.1 million dot touch screen, I was able to easily frame and capture images with little fuss. The tilt design isn’t as ‘free’ as other cameras, but does the job well.

Concerning specs, the Lumix S1 features a 24.2MP full frame CMOS sensor (35.6mm x 23.8mm) with support for up to ISO 51200.

Flares are further minimised via an AR coating on the sensor.

I especially appreciated the camera’s LCD display, which provides a lot of useful capture information in an easily accessible location.

Shooting at slow shutter speeds handheld is enhanced via Panasonic’s Dual Image Stabilisation – harnessing 5-axis stabilisation with optical image stabilisation in selected lenses.

One major qualm I had – it’s potentially a ‘petite person issue’ – is that my cheek would (on occasion) touch the LCD touch screen, amending focus point whilst I was looking through the LVF. Again, maybe just a petite person issue.

Transferring photos is largely a seamless endeavour, with the camera boasting Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity – suitable for remote control via the Lumix app.

With a notable 3,050mAH battery, all-day long shooting is truly possible. I could go almost over a day, even with frequent shooting.

For the professional and highly-capable photography enthusiast, the Panasonic Lumix S1 is a strong product offering.

Attractive specs, outstanding capabilities, brilliant ergonomics – amplified by a not so crazy price tag.

Panasonic has launched the Lumix S1 with three lens options, including a 24-105mm kit lens.

Concerning auto-focus, the feature is certainly robust and reliable, but not totally error free.

I did experience a few occasions when the camera focused on the wrong point, requiring some manual amendment.

That being said, there is a very useful ‘Lock’ rear function which enables users to (ahem) ’lock’ manual settings.

Pressing the camera’s joystick also returns the focus point to the middle of the touch screen.

Something to note, the camera’s auto-focus capabilities were satisfactory even in challenging low-light/night-time environments.

Added points for the camera’s face and body auto-detection feature, which does as it claims, effortlessly.

Concerning specifications, the Lumix S1 offers 0.08-second auto focus, plus a maximum shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second and -6EV low-light performance.

With a high-resolution mode, users can shoot up to 96MP.

Functionality is further enhanced via dual memory card slots, AI-powered tracking and 6K burst shot capability.

Simply put, the Panasonic Lumix S1 is an incredibly versatile camera, set to appease professionals and highly-capable photography enthusists.

Unfortunately, I am not a videographer so will leave comment to other specialist reviewers, however, from a photography point of view- boy, is the Lumix S1 impressive.

If you have the budget, it’s strong contender. I truly believe it leaves little to be desired, whilst pushing the realms of what can be achieved on a full-frame mirrorless camera.

Coupled with Panasonic’s pledge to invest in the S Series for the long-haul, it’s a strong product offering and may even tempt consumers who are usually loyal to other brands.

Roma Christian travelled to Hobart on a two-day reviewer experience as a guest of Panasonic Australia.

Full product specifications and further information is available on Panasonic’s website here.

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