Last year’s big surprise for the photo industry was the announcement that Panasonic would be launching two new full-frame mirrorless cameras, the Lumix S1R and Lumix S1.
Centred around Leica’s L mount, the news would further be bolstered by participation from Sigma, with all three manufacturers intending to create new products centred around this lens mount.
Panasonic, who has made its mirrorless mark with its G series Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Lumix G9 and range of lenses, has promised that along with the S1R and S1, it will also launch a handful of compatible optics, all under a new Lumix S series brand.
The company hasn’t confirmed all the details just yet, but enough to get us excited as to where things are heading. Read on to catch up on all the details on the new models.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: overview
- Lumix S1 will feature a 24MP sensor
- Lumix S1R will feature a 47MP sensor
- Based around Leica's L mount
The Lumix S1 is the more junior model of the two, and it’s set to feature a newly developed 24MP (effective) full-frame sensor. This appears to be the model that Panasonic will look to target towards those wanting to shoot both stills and video, rather than resolution-hungry photographers who would be better suited by the Lumix S1R. The S1R will be positioned slightly higher, and will no doubt be priced accordingly, and will arrive with an also-new 47MP (effective) full-frame sensor.
This two-pronged approach should help the system to appeal to a broad range of users from the start, although at some point next year, these will be joined by Sigma’s own full-frame camera with the mount, one that will trouble the company’s Foveon sensor technology. Joining these are Leica's existing L-mount models, such as the CL and TL2.
The mount itself measures 51.6mm wide and has a 20mm flange back distance. Although this has already been in use by Leica since 2014, mount diameter and flange back distance is now a point of competition between manufacturers, particularly since Nikon stressed how the 55mm diameter of its Z mount will better support the future development of desirable (if costly) ultra-wide-aperture lenses.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: not a replacement for the G series
- Support for G series will continue
- New G series lenses coming
- Cost of S series still to be confirmed
While the inclusion of a full-frame sensor in these two models will undoubtedly make them appeal towards enthusiasts and professional photographers, Panasonic has stated that support for its existing G series will continue.
Aside from the development of a new Leica DG VARIO-SUMMILUX 10-25mm f/1.7 lens, Panasonic hasn’t outlined exactly what the future of the G series will look like, although the cost of these new S series models (which has not been confirmed) will clearly make them less accessible to more casual photographers. That said, there's every possibility that the S series will grow to offer more affordable models with APS-C sensors.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: 4K video to 50/60p
- Video specs still to be fully confirmed
- 4K capture on both models
- Bit depths still unspecified
There’s also no word on whether the new models will match the high video functionality of models like the GH5 and GH5S, so it’s entirely possible these models will retain an advantage for those who need broadcast-level control and output. Of course, as high-end mirrorless models we expect the standard of video recording to be strong, and Panasonic has confirmed that the two will be capable of 4K capture to 50/60p - a first for a full-frame camera, though bit depths are still unspecified.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: Dual I.S. with a difference
- Dual image stabilisation
- Both sensor and lens based
- No word on how effective system will be
Much like Panasonic’s recent G series cameras, both the Lumix S1 and S1R will support Dual I.S., which fuses the image stabilisation systems in both the camera body and (stabilised) lens to combat camera shake. The difference here, of course, is that this will be working with a full-frame sensor rather than a Four Thirds one.
There’s no word on just how effective this system will be or how many of the new lenses will be equipped with their own image stabilisation systems to ensure compatibility, but we presume that sensor-based image stabilisation will still be available when using non-stabilised optics.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: Three-axis, touch-sensitive LCD
- Tilting and articulating LCD
- Touchscreen functionality
- 3.2-inch screen size likely
Tilting and articulating LCD screens are nothing new in themselves, although a newer design – seen on cameras such as the Fujifilm X-T3 and Pentax K-1 Mark II – has the LCD screen moving over three axes. And this is the kind of design that Panasonic has chosen for its new arrivals.
This still allows for conventional up-and-down tilting, but also for the screen to be adjusted in a similar way when the camera is held in a portrait orientation, meaning that you should be able to compose your images with a similar level of control regardless as to which way round you’re holding your camera.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: superior viewfinder and battery life
- Promises industry’s highest precision viewfinder
- Magnification still to be confirmed
- Battery life to get a boost over current models
Panasonic has incorporated excellent electronic viewfinders into its recent G9, GH5 and GH5S models, but it reckons that the version inside the new models will be even more lifelike, calling it “the industry’s highest precision viewfinder” that’s “close to human vision”. We’ve no confirmation yet about how this translates to magnification, resolution or refresh rate, but we certainly can’t wait to see just how much better these will be than what we've already seen.
Panasonic has also mentioned that battery life will get a boost over what it currently offers on its models, which is one area where mirrorless cameras still tend to lag behind DSLRs.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: high resolution and high dynamic range
- Both cameras to feature a High Resolution mode
- Will work even with moving subjects
- HLG Photo mode
At CES Panasonic revealed that both cameras would feature a High Resolution mode. In this mode, with the aid of the S1 and S1R's Body Image Stabilizer mechanism, eight consecutive images are captured while shifting the sensor. These eight images are then merged into a single high-res image by the new Venus Engine image processor, although Panasonic didn't share what resolution this final image will be output at.
Interestingly, it also looks like it will work even it moving subjects are included in the scene, with sub options available to suppress motion blur, so photographers can use this mode the same as shooting in a normal photo shooting mode.
We can also expect a High Dynamic Range mode on both the Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R as well. Known as HLG Photo, it allows images to be shot with a wider dynamic range and retain more detail in both the highlights and shadows, which can otherwise be burnt out if overexposed or underexposed.
Panasonic believes this new HLG Photo mode will allow photographers to achieve rich, precise color reproduction, with the HSP files that are output in this mode able to be played back on the latest Panasonic HLG-compliant 4K TVs via a HDMI cable connection or other HLG compatible devices.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: contrast-detect AF system with DFD
- Will use a contrast-detect AF system
- Depth From Defocus system
- Coverage and AF points still to be confirmed
Panasonic’s contrast-detect AF system is one of the sprightliest around, and this is in part thanks to the Depth From Defocus (DFD) system. We're pleased to see this has all made the cut on the S1 and S1R.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: weather-resistant bodies
- Weather resistant bodies
- Sealed against dust and water incursion
- Likely to feature magnesium alloy bodies
Panasonic primed its flagship G series cameras with weather resistance, and the company claims that the new Lumix S1 and S1R models have been sealed at all the various points of dust and water incursion to provide protection to at least the same standard as the recent GH5S.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: both cameras will sport XQD and SD slots
- Both will feature dual card slots
- 1 SD card slot
- 1 XQD card slot
A dual card slot design is what we're starting to expect as standard for this level of camera, but these will be the first models to partner an SD-type slot with one for XQD cards.
XQD cards have largely only been supported by Nikon’s professional DSLRs and its most recent mirrorless bodies, but their benefits in terms of performance and durability over SDHC/SDXC type cards has made them more attractive in recent years. The format is set to be updated by the CFexpress standard, and we imagine that support for these will come to the S series in future.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: 4 new lenses confirmed and more than ten in total by 2020
- Only one prime lens confirmed
- Three zoom lenses to follow
- Also lenses from Leica and Sigma
Although the new camera will be compatible with existing lenses from Leica, Panasonic already has four optics under development – and by 2020 this figure will exceed ten.
So far, only one prime lenses has been confirmed, namely a 50mm f/1.4 optic. This will be joined by 70-200mm, 24-105mm and 28-70mm lenses, whose aperture values have not been disclosed. Of course, with further development from Leica and Sigma, the systems as a whole should grow quite quickly.
Interestingly, Sigma has stated in an interview with DPreview that it will be developing APS-C lenses for the L-mount. While APS-C L-mount cameras already exist – Leica’s TL2 and CL models, for example – it seems likely that these won’t be the only models to sport these.
Panasonic Lumix S1R and S1: release date set for end of March
Finally, we now know when we're going to be able to get our hands on the Lumix S1 and Lumix S1R, with Panasonic stating that shipping will start at the end of March this year. Pricing, though, is still to be confirmed, while there's still no word on what kind of body and lens configurations Panasonic is intending to make available.