Panasonic S1R By Spencer Cox 29 CommentsLast Updated On January 7, 2022«1. Overview and Specifications2. Build Quality and Handling3. Focusing4. Image Quality5. Camera Comparisons6. Summary and Conclusion7. More Sample Photos8. Reader Comments»Table of ContentsOverview and SpecificationsBuild Quality and HandlingFocusingImage QualityCamera ComparisonsSummary and ConclusionMore Sample PhotosReader Comments
I’ve done some fairly substantial testing before I decided on the successor of my 5DSR-kit and I must say the S1R came out on top together with the Z7II. Other cameras in the mix were the R5, A7RIV and SL2. I use the gear next to my H6D for fashion and make-up portrait photography. I picked the Z7II because of the Profoto support and tethering in Capture One, but in terms of handling and robustness, the S1R came out on top. What you did not mention, is that the EVF has different levels of magnification esp. for those who wear glasses. It’s perfect, as it allows you to see all corners of the viewfinder in a very high resolution. The EVF in itself is already the best in class. Esp. since the A7RIV (with similar resolution) can only display the 5.76mp in view back mode and not in image capture mode. The S1R EVF does both (albeit not all at 120fps).
One more thing: for those of you with bigger hands and esp. also longer fingers, keep in mind that you’ll usually want the Z7(II) and the A7RIV equiped with either a battery grip or an L-Plate to have room for your pinky. The S1R doesn’t need that to provide a comfortable grip. So add at least another 150-200 gramms to their weight before you compare.
NB. I just saw the S1R with cashback for under €2500. That’s a steal for such a camera.
Useful review, thanks.
I just bought an S1R – a screaming Black Friday deal of $2300, plus the kit lens. I’m playing around with it, and not sure it’s a match just yet. Informal testing suggests my Pentax K-1 spanks the S1R in shadow recovery – though the Panny has a much newer sensor, and the sensors are rated similarly for dynamic range and noise. I don’t love the AF, but it seems responsive enough in decent light. The joystick and tracking features seem great – worlds away from my current dinosaur gear.
One thing that surprises me is the 1-second limit on the Hi-Res mode. I had thought that only applied to Mode 1, but imposing it on Mode 2 makes no sense. Two of my best prints are made from 15-30 second PS shots at night. If I understand this correctly, such shots would be impossible with the S1R, which means one would be getting highly detailed nightcape photos containing vastly more shot noise than is the case with the Pentax. That tradeoff doesn’t seem worth it.
I do like manual focusing with this camera, and if I keep it, I suspect that’s one of the ways I’ll use it most often. Still, there are enough quirks – including the inability to shoot continuous with flash that it may be destined for only a niche spot in my camera bag – or perhaps no place at all.
Curious to know how you feel today re: K-1 MkII vs Panasonic S1R as I’m in the process of making a call between the two of them and I’m still on the fence. I have a K-70 with a basket-full of limited primes and couple of zooms as well…IQ is my primary focus with low light as a major factor (food photography)
I happened to wander back here, and am only now reading your question! I ended up returning the S1R. I have been tempted to buy it back, but maybe that is because I am bored.
For low-light, you want the K-1. It is a beast, and actually focuses better in low-light than the S1R (funny, since AF is by far the weakest aspect of the K-1). However…are you talking about commercial food photography? If you can stick with the studio, I would go for the Panny. If you need to shoot in darkened restaurants, stick with Pentax.
Whatever you decided -3 months ago – I hope it’s working out well for you!
LOL and I just wandered back myself. Right now I’m closer as the K-70 just sold today.
I’m also considering the Nikon Z7 . Canon EOS R5, and the Sony A7R IV. It’s a tough call for me as most restaurants are not all that interested in photo shoots these days so the fun factor is going to be the deciding factor. I did purchase the S1R back on June 8th and also returned it – not sure why – timing wasn’t right but now I’m considering it again along with the others i mentioned….
Let’s keep this game of “message in a bottle” going! I am mildly intrigued by the R5, and curious about the Z7II. The Sony interests me a bit because I can get a good deal on it, then convert it to monochrome, which I find appealing. Then again, I have all the lenses I need, and don’t want to learn another lens system. Maybe I’ll just stay where I am!
See you in three months…
I had the S1R but returned it after two weeks. I had gotten a great deal on an open box. However, it was tough to get used to it coming from Nikon (D810 & Z6). Using the S1R I realized I missed having features that Nikon has such as the one-button zoom to review photos and the Exposure Control Delay. However, I appreciated the size of the S1R and its button layout. Lastly, it was tough finding information about it anywhere online. YouTube had some videos about it, but it’s nothing that was made recently.
Really nice review- thanks! This looks like the camera for those folks who want mirrorless but with old school DSLR handling.
Having Z 7 and 6 (the latter I bought hoping for better low light AF), I still have the Panasonic on my “try out one day” list. I could play a bit with it in a sales show and what I saw, I liked. But I also like shooting the Zs. However, put soem of the Sigma glass into their “mount conversion service” and get back a nice set of L-mount lenses is also tempting.
So how do you find the AF compares between the two? Reports are all over the place. Some say they are about the same. Others say Z6 is noticeably better.
I didn’t do reliable studio comparisons, as I aimed at moving targets (dancers). I don’t own two same lenses. Used AF-C and eye-AF in dim light with mixed frequencies (LED, incandescent tubes, metal halide) and also a 300/4 PF next to 85/1.8 S. I could not say the 6 is noticeably faster or more reliable. ISO were always somewhere between 12800 and 51200 (I prefer sharp pictures with noise against blurred ones with less noise).
But I’m not too certain the settings were exactly the same. It’s not possible to save settings and transfer them from one to the other body, I had to adapt each setting manually. Very boring… On the Z 7 I used a User setting, but how could I check which settings are saved and affected and which not?
This would be my camera if price was like Z7 but… With the recent prices, I passed. I also didn’t like the 24-105mm that much. The new Canon RF 24-105mm is much better (except from close focus). Panasonic 24-105mm is only as good as the first Canon L version (at least the copy I tried).
S1R is a beautiful camera. Pure beauty, and has everything I need and more :)
By the way, I skipped also Z7 and bought Z6 and 3 lenses instead. Will probably upgrade to Z7 Mark II later. Z6 deal was just too good to ignore.
That’s my thinking too. Z6 gives you everything Z7 does (more in several cases) except the MP, which (lets face it) for most uses are not needed.
If/when they do a Z7II with better FPS and buffer, and better AF then I’ll consider it.
Spencer, Great thoughtful, candid review. I began considering the 24 mp version of this camera recently as a result of a chance conversation With another photographer while at a scenic photo spot. Having a canon 6D that i want to upgrade from there is a lot of muscle memory that seems to transfer readily, and the image quality is something special-wish more lower res camera makers would leave the anti-aliasing filters off. But, egads it is so friggen heavy! If i did mostly studio work, maybe. But like you, most involves carrying my gear on long hiking outings, it was the ‘deal breaker.’
Pana’s strategy, concerning its full frame MILC offering, always was a bit head scratching to me. A much bigger and heavier camera is not necessarily a drawback (although people who keep lamenting how their huge manly hands can’t handle small tiny mirrorless cameras – how did they shoot anything in the film days is beyond comprehension – will usually just nod in approval of this camera rather than actually buying it), but the price…that was really puzzling.
I mean, let’s picture it: a market gone from a one-man Sony band to 4 different competitors, all – mostly (hello, Canon) – offering excellent products. And, more importantly, all of them already having a vast DSLR FF user base that would obviously consider moving to the same brand’s MILC just to retain lens compatibility, if for no other reason.
So in a market that’s insanely crowded, with every single other brand already having their own user base, would you:
A) Come out with a product that’s cheaper than all the others and yet still competitive on most fronts, along with decently priced lenses or
B) Come out with a product that’s more expensive than all the others and largely competitive on most fronts, along with absurdly priced lenses?
I’m thoroughly perplexed that Panasonic thought the latter option was clearly the better one. Far be it from me to know more about the market than an actual photography monster like Panasonic do but I still find it confusing nonetheless. I’d be extremely curious to see numbers concerning sales because I can’t at all imagine Pana selling a lot of their products with such a saturated and competitive FF MILC market.
Not like I don’t appreciate many things this camera does. I wish Nikon, Sony&co. got the memo on illuminated buttons (it’s a crime to not have them on cameras costing 3 grands, what’s the excuse there exactly?) and I also think that 1 uhs-II slot plus an XQD one would be a perfect middle way between those who realised overnight that SD cards fail every other minute and those who aren’t ready to pay a lens’ worth for a memory card ( ;) just poking a bit of fun here, nothing too serious).
Concerning the EVF, I personally don’t think it’s much a subjective preference as you stated, Spencer; meaning, a laggy EVF that has a cleaner image than a snappier one is a source of eye strain for everyone (and possibly worse, such as headaches and nausea for some particularly unlucky people), I personally would never take a cleaner image over a higher refresh rate at the cost of my actual health…but I can imagine people arguing otherwise, I’ll give you that.
A nice review and a solid camera, to be certain, just not a particularly enticing package overall.
Totally agree. Honestly I don’t really see this system catching on too much, for the reasons you list. It’s not going to totally go away because Leica, and because there will always be folks who like to buy the different product (somewhat like Pentax) but I think its going to be a clear 4th place system.
To my knowledge there are more lenses available then you describe in this review.
As far as I know the sigma 14-24 is available in L mount together with several primes.
Cannot appreciate the negative undertone in your conclusion on the lens availability, something that was absent in this site’s first review of the Nikon Z series that was a single lens system on introduction.
For your info I am a dedicated and satisfied Nikon D 750 DSLR and Panasonic GX8 user for my photography
I wrote the initial draft of this review before Sigma had released many of their lenses in L mount, and I missed a few lenses that were released in the interim. I’ve already fixed the article, probably while you were writing your comment! Apologies if the tone came across as negative, that wasn’t my intent. The L system has a lot of good lenses already, but it still has a ways to go (same with Nikon and Canon).
Henri, just something quick to add, while Nikon had a very small number of native mount lenses available at launch (and still unfortunately does), Nikon had over 100 lenses that could be used with the Z cameras using the FTZ adapter. The Panasonic does not have this advantage and aside from the newly released lenses from the alliance, there are no legacy lenses from the company to use, since they are new to full-frame. I am aware of the fact that one can adapt other lenses (by using such adapters as Leica M to L), but that’s not native to Panasonic and not all the features are supported.
I am sure within the next few years Panasonic is going to have more native mount lenses though, while Nikon is slowly going to be releasing a few lenses each year. Nikon is certainly at a disadvantage here – I wish the company really opened up its mount to Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and other manufacturers. Lack of selection with native Z mount lenses is going to be a huge problem for Nikon in the next 3-5 years.
Hi Spencer, Nasim
Thanks both for your reply.
Can only but agree on the Nikon F mount lenses that can be used on the Nikon Z camera’s is an advantage that Panasonic with their new camera cannot offer.
On the other hand we should judge a camera on it’s performance as camera regardless of the lens used, or availability of lenses. There already are so many variables on camera’s alone to take account of in a camera review alone. We do not judge cars on their tyres for that reason I guess.
I hope that we will see a lot of new lenses , both native an third party suitable for the new mirrorless systems to be introduced the coming period.
Testing them with the same lens might just really show their performance then………
“Lack of selection with native Z mount lenses is going to be a huge problem for Nikon in the next 3-5 years.”
We are getting OT here but I just don’t see that at all. At least, not if they come close to their roadmap. How many lenses account for the vast majority of peoples use? I’m guessing around 20 or so? And they will have almost all of them in 2 or so years.
Really by the end of next year I think just about everyone except for long telephoto prime users could use just native Z glass pretty much exclusively.
One of the big advantages of “Canikon” was the availability of so many 3rd party accessories. While I love many of my native lenses (and will continue to buy native lenses for workhorse lenses that need the best AF like the 24-70 and 70-200) I’ve found that many 3rd party lenses work perfectly for my needs and offer features native lenses don’t offer. I really couldn’t do what I do without 3rd party lighting. For a very long time, 3rd party lighting really only supported Canon and Nikon, so it made it much harder to move to another system.
If Nikon refuses to open the Z mount to other vendors it will cripple their system, especially considering their biggest competitor has an open mirror-less mount.
I don’t get your argument. Canikon never opened anything up to third parties, and there was plenty of support.
I tried out and used an S1R with a Sigma 85 ART in L mount extensively for a month before I returned it and was saddened that such an excellent camera with so many positive qualities had a Achilles heel that my needs (fashion) simply could not ignore : Strobe/flash work.
The camera ,which has a very respectable 1/320 synch speed (in comparison to a Z7,for example),is totally incapable of anything but single shots when using flash. The user cannot shoot in continuous bursts with Flash, and this fact precludes it for work requiring high volume shooting requiring flash. Capturing the subtle differences in movements of poses on a model becomes impossible, and even events such as weddings,etc would be much better handled with cameras other than Panasonic.
Rob, that’s a pretty big Achilles Heel for fashion photography! Thanks for noting it. I’ve added a mention about flash to the “cons” list at the end of the article.
Okay so I checked this accusation out, A dpreview subscriber asks a talk forum this very question, turns out a pro wedding photographer uses external flash / strobe on burst mode on the S1R all of the time. The question was put by ‘JohnWick4001’ on Aug 24 2019 as follows “S1R is incapable of shooting in burst mode with flash? The respondent ‘flbdig’ says ‘…that he uses his S1R with Godox V1-O (1300 images) all with flash which included using burst mode…’ So I tried it but with my Elinchrom system and guess what, burst mode with the S1R works just fine, like any system you just keep an eye on your strobe / flash power settings. Best to check these things before heaping on the cons and inflating the a systems’ achilles heel ey … Oh and BTW, I also use the Sigma 85 ART, not that that matters but just to emphasise a level playing field which in my view is important.
Interesting, but in the comparison it seems to be missing a major feature like the existence of an anti-flicker mode ? and what speed is the continuous shooting with anti-flicker active. For indoor or outdoor artificial light, it can be a disaster without it with nearly 100% of darker stripes.
All of these cameras have an anti-flicker setting. If you’re getting dark stripes in your images, I strongly recommend using mechanical rather than electronic or electronic-front-curtain shutter.