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Panasonic Lumix S1R

I've got to be honest, I don't often do gear reviews on cameras, simply because these days the market for cameras is brutally com...


I've got to be honest, I don't often do gear reviews on cameras, simply because these days the market for cameras is brutally competitive and so is the market for reviews, which is why only the strongest models are surviving.  However  I am breaking the mold this month and reviewing 2 cameras, one of which is the Panasonic Lumix S1R, the other being the Sony Alpha A7 III.  Incidentally neither of these is 'just out' - in other words there has been time to test the good and the bad for both models.

I personally own (and love) a few Panasonic VIDEO cameras for production work, but since my gear investments for stills cameras have been Canon-centric I don't have a real need to be testing gear of other brands a lot.  However the increased competition of high quality mirrorless cameras in the market is changing my perceptions on the landscape of compact cinematography. combine this with quality of stills available with the latest offerings and even a solid DSLR user like myself has to admit this is a market that warrants serious assessment.

Enter the Lumix S1R, with my background in Panasonic video production I was excited to see how this camera held up against my (rather relaxed) expectations.  And I should say from the outset that in my opinion it is a great offering with the caveat 'if you have the extra money to spend'.   However when comparing to some of the other available camera offerings out there the options become less 'bang-for-buck'.


BASE PRICING

If you are on a budget this is an important consideration if you are about to drop the hammer on a purchase. This will help stretch the budget to accessories or extra lenses.  The average price ranges for the Panasonic Lumix S1R, for example just from quick comparisons:
  • Body only US$3,998 (Refurbished models at around 2/3 that price)
  • Body with 50 mm lens US$5,995
  • Body with 70-200 mm lens US$5,395
For beginners thinking of entering the market.  If you have never had a camera setup with detachable lenses  you would need to make sure that you are purchasing ones compatible with this model unless you can find the right combination package for you in the first place and are happy to stick with the stock options. Go ahead and start thinking about what you are willing to pay for the camera that you want and what features you would need.


FEATURES
You also need to be aware of some of the main features of the Panasonic Lumix S1R so that you can use this to compare it to other similar models when making a purchase decision. Knowing this can help you to make the right choice.  I tend to lean towards image quality and versatility when I do this myself.  In particular the easy flags for the S1R feature list were:
  • Precision settings to allow for the highest quality photographs
  • High precision and high speed AF
  • Extremely high quality video shooting
  • Design of the body allows for flexible and intuitive use
  • Easy to read status LCD screen
  • Double slots for memory cards
  • Operational lock lever
  • FN lever
  • Illumination of buttons
  • USB charging of the camera
  • LUMIX sync available over wi-fi
These are only some of the main features that the average person would ever take into consideration to. Obviously if you know what these features mean in terms of usage, then it would make it easier to compare it to the other camera models that are on your list to check out.

PROS & CONS

One thing I should note when making a comparison on this camera it that from a purely physical perspective,  the S1R is bigger than its competitors.  Depending on whose view you look at this from this could be either a Pro or a Con, however it's almost obvious that Panasonic seems to have taken its design inspiration for the S1R right out of the SLR handbook.

Weighing in at a decidedly hefty 1.02kg for its class the S1R is certainly not a lightweight.  Coupled with its physical dimensions of 149 x 110 x 97 mm one would imagine that the body is suited particularly to larger handed photographers.

These are just a few of the points I considered personally to be the pros and cons of this model.

POINTS I LIKED
  • Excellent handling ergonomics, especially for those used to traditional SLR's form factors
  • Amazingly customiseable controls the S1R's controls are.  Just about every function butoon can be remapped as desired making this a dream when it comes to personalisation of operating styles.  Also really incredible flexibility of screen menu setups.
  • Weather sealed, great build quality.
  • A reasonably nice native ISO range 100-25600 (able to be extended but I don't use non native ISO)
  • Hi res electronic view finder with a high refresh rate.
  • Dual slots for UHS-II SD and XQD cards
  • 4K/60p capable and is some of the best video quality in the category of high resolution and full frame cameras from a pro-sumer perspective. 
POINTS I DIDNT LIKE
  • One of the heaviest cameras in its class
  • Expensive in its class compared to the competition
  • Limited range of compatible Panasonic lenses currently 
  • Inferior contrast-detect auto-focus compared to other models
  • Lacks native 10-bit video recording - this wont be a deal breaker for many looking at this camera admittedly.

FINAL THOUGHTS

All things considered, I really enjoyed the hands-on experience with the Panasonic Lumix S1R. 
Coming from an SLR background myself, the weight and aesthetics of this camera is familiar and comfortable, but I understand that may not necessarily be everyone's point of view.  Whilst the build quality is excellent and the feature set is certainly amazing, the "bang vs buck" component just isn’t in the same ratio as other models, and the significantly higher price tag may be a show stopper for some.

That being said, if you have the money and if you want an excellent full frame mirrorless camera, then you can't go far wrong with Panasonic's Lumix S1R offering.

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