If you're a pro filmmaker who prefers the idea of building your own modular setup rather than buying a ready-made mirrorless camera, then the Panasonic BS1H 'box-style camera' could be for you.
As the name suggests, box cameras have cube-shaped bodies that are covered in ports and accessory-mounting threads to make them as flexible as possible. We've already seen a similar design from the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic BGH1, but the new BS1H has a larger full-frame chip for high-quality video.
In fact, the BS1H is effectively a re-modeled version of the excellent Panasonic Lumix S1H, which we rate as one of the best video cameras you can buy. This means it has a 24MP full-frame sensor for 6K video recording, but unlike the S1H it lacks a screen, viewfinder or in-body image stabilization (IBIS).
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- Read our in-depth Panasonic S1H review
So, you'll have to factor in the cost of buying external monitors, lenses and stabilizers, but the Panasonic BS1H does have an internal fan to keep it cool during lengthy shoots.
The result is that it has the ability to shoot 4:2:2 10-bit 4K/30p video internally with no recording time limits, and you also get Dual Native ISO tech for extending its dynamic range in different lighting conditions.
If you want to shoot 10-bit 4K/60p video, though, you'll need to switch to the cropped Super 35mm format, or send the signal out to an external recorder via the HDMI port. Doing this also allows you to shoot 12-bit raw video in the Apple ProRes format (via an Atomos Ninja V) or Blackmagic Raw when using the Blackmagic Video Assist 12G HDR monitor.
Perhaps more interesting, though, are the Panasonic BS1H's live-streaming and network powers. It looks like an ideal workhorse for the former, thanks to its ability to livestream in 4K/60p quality via a wired LAN connection. Panasonic's Lumix Tether for Multicam software also lets you control up to 12 different BS1H cameras at once, with the the camera's Genlock and Timecode In/Out ports supporting synchronized video recording.
All of this means that the Panasonic BS1H is very much designed for video studios, and that's reflected in the price – it'll be available from November for $3,499 / £2,999 / AU$5,299.
Analysis: Built for studios rather than mobile shooters
The Panasonic BS1H is impressively small for such a capable full-frame camera, weighing just 585g – but that's also because it lacks a lot of the Panasonic S1H's functionality, like a screen or viewfinder.
So why would you choose Panasonic's box-style camera over the S1H, particularly as it costs the same? While you could use it out in the field, the BS1H is designed more for pro video shooters who mainly work in studios and want to tether their camera to a computer.
Unlike the S1H, it has an Ethernet port for live-streaming, plus those Genlock and Timecode ports to help you build a system of multiple BS1Hs for a high-quality, multi-angle video studio.
What the BS1H doesn't have, though, are the dials, handling and and photography powers of its mirrorless cousin, all of which make the Panasonic S1H is very much the better option for hybrid shooters or those who want a more affordable all-rounder.
Given the Panasonic BS1H lacks a lot of those built-in features, like a screen or stabilization, it's strange that it isn't a little cheaper than the S1H, but it's good to see new form factors give pro shooters more options in the increasingly popular video and live-streaming space.
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