187 megapixels. That’s the primary quantity that involves thoughts once I’m requested concerning the full-frame Panasonic Lumix S1R. It isn’t a very powerful specification — neither is all of it that helpful for many photographers — however it’s the most enjoyable. What makes this digital camera totally different from the competitors, you ask? Oh positive, many issues, however largely: 187 megapixels.

The second quantity that involves thoughts is 3,700 — as in, {dollars}. That’s how a lot the Lumix S1R prices, physique solely. It’s good to be comfy with each numbers — 187 and three,700 — to need this digital camera; the previous is the rationale to purchase it, the latter is the means to.

Clearly, this isn’t a digital camera for the lots — however it’s actually cool.

Skilled pixel peeping

No, the S1R doesn’t have a 187MP sensor. It reaches that insane decision by taking eight exposures, shifting its already high-res 47MP sensor by half a pixel’s width in between every, and compositing them right into a single picture (this requires a tripod). This multiplies spatial decision by an element of 4, whereas additionally capturing full RGB coloration info at each pixel location for much more correct coloration, bypassing the constraints of the Bayer filter design. The ensuing RAW file is over 300 megabytes.

If there’s one sensible criticism I’ve about high-resolution mode, it’s that it doesn’t work with flash. Some cameras with multi-shot modes allow you to program a delay between every publicity so {that a} flash or studio strobe has a second to recharge, however there isn’t any such setting on the S1R. It’s doable that Panasonic may add this function by way of firmware, however for now, the shortage of it could vastly scale back the S1R’s attraction to studio photographers, who in any other case may gain advantage from it.

The actual situation is practicality. Like automobile nuts who need horsepower they’ll by no means use, the excessive decision mode on the S1R seems like a celebration trick for prosperous pictures fanatics who need one thing to brag about on the native digital camera membership. It’s not one thing most individuals will ever want, and even skilled skilled photographers received’t use it usually.

Panasonic has poured on the tech with the S1R, doing every little thing it may possibly to show itself a top-tier participant.

Is there a sensible software for it? Macro pictures of circuit boards, possibly. Reproducing massive artworks with pixel-accurate coloration, maybe. Or possibly there are makes use of we haven’t even considered that photographers will uncover or invent. (If you happen to’re considering billboards, although, that’s not it.)

There are many different nice issues about this digital camera, however should you don’t want the decision, you will get the remainder of the S1R’s wonderful options for lots much less cash with the usual Lumix S1. It’s $2,500, has a 24MP sensor, higher video specs, and is bodily equivalent to the S1R. It additionally has a high-resolution mode of its personal, turning these 24 megapixels into 96 — not too shabby. If that sounds extra like your cup of tea, cease right here and go learn the overview of that digital camera.

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If you happen to can’t get that 187MP quantity out of your head, nonetheless, stick with it.

Design and dealing with

Constructed on the Leica L-mount, the Lumix S1R, together with the S1, represents Panasonic’s first foray into the full-frame market. It’s a powerful providing. With a strong, weather-sealed physique, big digital viewfinder, SD and XQD card slots, and as a lot direct entry management as you’d discover on knowledgeable DSLR, the S1R is greater and heavier than its mirrorless friends. In actual fact, at 2.25 kilos, it’s heavier than even the mighty Nikon D850 DSLR — and $200 greater than it was at launch.

It stunned me how far more pure it felt to simply faucet ISO 3 times to boost it by a cease.

The S1R, then, just isn’t fairly a direct competitor to the Sony A7R III or Nikon Z 7, two different high-resolution, full-frame mirrorless cameras that are available in a whole lot of {dollars} under it. As a substitute, Panasonic is pushing right into a tier above these cameras — or no less than, attempting to — and trying to woo working professionals who haven’t but discovered a mirrorless answer for changing their DSLRs.

It’s a daring plan, to the say the least. The digital camera could also be hefty, however Panasonic’s Lumix model doesn’t carry the identical weight with skilled shooters that Nikon and Canon do. It’s maybe due to this that Panasonic has poured on the tech with the S collection, doing every little thing it may possibly to show itself a top-tier participant. Panasonic has even launched a brand new skilled providers division to deal with worldwide repairs, like these provided by Canon, Nikon, and Sony.

There’s little doubt that the Lumix S1R feels extra skilled than different mirrorless cameras. The big hand grip presents reassurance, though individuals with smaller palms might discover it uncomfortable. The management structure is efficient in each the positions of particular person buttons, dials, and levers, in addition to the variety of them (apart from the ability swap, which is awkwardly positioned behind the shutter button moderately than encircling it, like on the Lumix G9). Practically infinite customization choices help you set the digital camera up as you see match.

Panasonic Lumix S1R Review
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To set a customized perform for a button, merely maintain the button down till the customized settings menu seems on the display screen. No extra digging by the menu attempting to determine which icon corresponds to which button (though Panasonic has revamped its menu system, and that course of is crystal-clear now).

If you wish to rapidly cycle by autofocus modes, ISO settings, or white stability presets, merely faucet the corresponding button. Sure, you too can press the button after which use one of many command dials to vary it, but it surely stunned me how far more pure it felt to simply faucet ISO 3 times to boost it by a cease, moderately than having to govern two totally different controls.

Small touches like these make for a pleasantly refined consumer expertise, one I desire over each different full-frame mirrorless digital camera I’ve tried. However, once more, none of that is distinctive to the S1R — the cheaper S1 shares the very same design and management structure.

Options and specs

Whereas the high-resolution mode is the headliner, the S1R takes many applied sciences a step additional than the competitors. The digital viewfinder (EVF) makes use of an OLED panel with 5.76 million pixels, a pair million greater than one of the best EVFs from Canon, Nikon, and Sony. Particular person pixels are all however invisible, even within the small textual content of the sunshine meter show. It additionally has wonderful 0.78x magnification and may refresh at 120 frames per second. It’s merely a pleasure to make use of, and the ultimate nail within the coffin for the argument that optical viewfinders are superior.

Panasonic Lumix S1R Review
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Being a Lumix, the S1R additionally incorporates 6K and 4K Photograph modes, which shoot at 30 and 60 fps, respectively, permitting you to extract a nonetheless body of the right second. This allows the Put up Focus function, which captures every body at a distinct focal distance, letting you successfully change the main target after the very fact or carry out focus stacking to extend depth of area.

Just like the S1, the S1R makes use of a 5-axis, sensor-shift stabilization system that works in live performance with lens-based stabilization to supply as much as 6 stops of shake discount. (This is similar system that powers the high-resolution mode.) That’s superb, though it’s not fairly pretty much as good because the 7.5-stop stabilization of the Olympus OM-D E-M1X.

In apply, taking pictures handheld right down to 1/10 second or so is feasible, however there’s a caveat. With 47MP, every pixel may be very small, and blur is extra noticeable than on lower-resolution cameras. If you wish to make the most of all these pixels, hold your shutter pace greater than you suppose it must be, or else your photographs might not look completely sharp when considered at 100-percent magnification.

Panasonic has made the controversial alternative of ditching phase-detection autofocus in favor of its personal DFD know-how.

For such a high-resolution digital camera, the S1R can preserve a powerful steady taking pictures pace of as much as 9 frames per second (or 6 with steady autofocus). This is similar score because the lower-resolution S1; moderately than alter the taking pictures pace, Panasonic opted to maintain it the identical throughout fashions and as a substitute simply let the S1R fill its picture buffer sooner. In our testing, we bought 32 RAW photographs in a single 9 fps burst earlier than the digital camera slowed down. This compares to 75 RAW photographs with the S1. Each assessments have been carried out with a high-speed XQD card.

In terms of video, the S1R, together with the S1, is the primary full-frame digital camera that may shoot 4K at 60 frames per second. All video is recorded from a slight (1.09x) crop of the sensor. 4K/30p has a most report time of a second shy of 30 minutes, whereas 4K/60p is restricted to 10 minutes. The S1 would be the better option for videographers, because it has no crop and no time restrict in 4K/30p (however does crop by 1.5x in 4K/60p). The S1 may obtain V-Log and 10-bit 4:2:2 recording by way of paid firmware replace sooner or later, options that aren’t coming to S1R.

A part of the digital camera’s weight is because of the massive, 3,050 mAh battery. That’s over twice the capability of the battery in my Fujifilm X-T2, but the S1R’s battery life is hardly any higher, rated for simply 360 exposures. The high-resolution EVF definitely levies a tax on the battery, however that score nonetheless appears low. As with all cameras, actual world efficiency will virtually at all times be higher — I hit the 50-percent mark after taking pictures about 250 photographs, so count on no less than 500. (The digital camera additionally has a Energy Save mode, which supposedly boosts battery life to over 1,000 exposures, however I didn’t take a look at it.)

Autofocus: The great, the dangerous, and the ugly

Panasonic has made the controversial alternative of ditching phase-detection autofocus in favor of its personal Depth from Defocus (DFD) know-how. Section detection is more-or-less the gold commonplace of autofocus, because it not solely is aware of when a picture is in or out of focus, but in addition whether or not an out-of-focus picture is front- or back-focused. Which means it is aware of which path to show the lens to realize focus, dashing the method up and customarily eradicating any focus “looking” that happens in slower contrast-detection programs.

Panasonic Lumix S1R Review
Daven Mathies/Digital Traits

DFD is predicated on distinction detection, however Panasonic has thrown some wizardry at it to make it work higher. The digital camera continuously makes tiny back-and-forth changes in focus and analyzes the change in blur, evaluating this to a lens profile saved on the digital camera that comprises all doable blur patterns at each aperture, focus distance, and focal size. On the S-series, DFD makes these comparisons at 480 frames per second. That provides the digital camera all the knowledge it must make focus changes within the appropriate path, identical to section detection.

After I first examined preproduction variations of the S collection cameras just a few weeks in the past, I famous that they usually had bother discovering focus when ranging from a really defocused (i.e., blurry) place. This downside appears to be cured now with the ultimate manufacturing firmware; it didn’t present up in any of my testing for this overview.

That is clearly an excellent sensor, and that sensor is the one motive to pay $3,700 for the S1R over $2,500 for the S1.

DFD remains to be not with out points, nonetheless. In video, the fixed back-and-forth changes trigger distracting “respiratory” within the picture when utilizing steady autofocus, most noticeable in out-of-focus highlights (you may see this impact within the overview video on the high of the web page, which was recorded on the S1).

In nonetheless pictures, regardless of the DFD wizardry, focus looking can nonetheless be an issue, and on uncommon events can take a few seconds to lock in. In a number of cases, I missed the shot due to this. This downside is uncommon and cropped up at random occasions with no clear trigger, however for individuals who work in uncontrolled settings, like photojournalists and wedding ceremony photographers, it may not be well worth the danger.

Panasonic Lumix S1R Review
Daven Mathies/Digital Traits

It is a disgrace, as a result of the S1R’s autofocus is in any other case very spectacular. The face and eye detection works from a for much longer distance than another cameras, just like the Canon EOS RP, even when it often errors a random object for an individual. And when it’s working correctly, DFD is each bit as quick as section detection. With sensitivity right down to -6 EV, it’s additionally able to (almost) seeing at the hours of darkness. That quantity sounds questionable, however I did take a look at it indoors with the lights off and curtains drawn, and it didn’t skip a beat.

Picture high quality

With third-party RAW help nonetheless but to reach, I needed to convert the S1R RAW recordsdata to Adobe DNGs with a purpose to open them in Lightroom. Picture high quality might change barely with official RAW help, however issues already look nice for essentially the most half. I’m undecided that the conversion course of is working correctly for pictures shot in excessive decision mode, as some 187MP DNGs got here out trying misaligned, with jagged edges. Others regarded completely nice.

Pattern photographs taken in commonplace mode on the Lumix S1R

One motive Panasonic opted for DFD as a substitute of section detection is that the latter can introduce a “banding” sample to pictures shot at excessive ISOs, or when the publicity is pushed an excessive amount of in postproduction. The S1R has no such downside, and the RAW recordsdata do look very clear. Even with the Publicity and Shadows sliders turned all the best way up in Adobe Lightroom, element and coloration may very well be recovered from the darkest areas of a picture whereas solely introducing a reasonable quantity of noise. This equates to superb dynamic vary, one thing notably vital to panorama photographers, however helpful in any state of affairs the place it’s essential to seize element from a broad tonal vary, with brilliant highlights and darkish shadows.

Photographs get even cleaner in excessive decision mode. An everyday picture shot at ISO 400 confirmed a small, however seen, quantity of noise — the identical shot in excessive res mode, additionally at ISO 400, had nearly no perceptible noise. Regardless of this, most ISO is restricted to 1,600 in excessive decision mode.

That is clearly an excellent sensor, and that sensor is the one motive to pay $3,700 for the S1R over $2,500 for the S1. However the S1 sensor additionally impressed us. It has no less than equal dynamic vary and even higher noise ranges — because of it’s fewer, however bigger, pixels.

Panasonic Lumix S1R In contrast To

Each sensors lack optical low cross filters, which will increase sharpness on the potential expense of elevated moiré, the rainbow-like false colours that may present up when photographing nice patterns. Whereas uncommon, we did encounter one instance of great moiré on the S1 — however by no means on the S1R. Its greater pixel rely, which may resolve finer element in patterns, is all however proof against it.

As moiré is mostly discovered when photographing clothes, because of the patterns within the threads, this provides the S1R a bonus for portraiture and vogue pictures. (For nonetheless life topics, you need to use the high-resolution mode on both digital camera to vastly scale back the possibility of moiré.)

Panasonic’s in-camera processing can also be fairly good. Saturation and distinction are dealt with properly, and JPEGs look incredible proper out of the digital camera. The Portrait profile does a wonderful job rendering pores and skin tones, with tonal gradations which might be very tough to recreate manually in publish with the RAW file.

Our Take

The S1R is a distinct segment digital camera for a small group of consumers with just one function — that 47.3MP sensor — separating it from the extra reasonably priced S1. That’s not a mark towards it; moderately, it illustrates simply how good the usual S1 is. Neither S-series digital camera is actually “entry-level;” each are designed to fulfill the wants of working professionals, with wonderful construct high quality and the most effective management layouts ever placed on a mirrorless digital camera.

I like this strategy. It’s sincere. Panasonic isn’t artificially truncating the cheaper digital camera to make the hole between the 2 appear bigger. Every is constructed to better of its skills. However should you don’t want that 47MP sensor, you have got little motive to think about the S1R over the S1.

Is there a greater different?

The closest opponents are the Sony A7R III and Nikon Z 7, each of which supply sensors of comparable decision (42 and 45.6MP, respectively). Due to a rebate on the time of writing, the A7R III is the least costly by a good margin — simply $2,800 — whereas the Z 7 is $3,400. Neither boasts a high-resolution mode to rival the S1R’s, however the Sony does have a 4-shot pixel shift mode that captures RGB knowledge for every pixel location, with out including further spatial decision. Each function phase-detection autofocus, and, no less than within the case of the Nikon, this has been proven to introduce banding after excessive postproduction publicity changes. The Z 7 might have the sting for skilled videographers, as it may possibly output RAW video into an exterior recorder.

Apart from the high-resolution mode, the S1R’s benefits are its beautiful EVF and spectacular quantity of direct entry management.

How lengthy will it final?

Flagship cameras are typically changed on a 3-year cycle. The S1R is constructed to final, and it’s arriving on the scene with one of the vital full function units ever seen in a first-generation digital camera. You’re going to get years of use out of it.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure, although provided that you want the additional decision. The inexpensive S1 is the higher alternative for most individuals. If you happen to work with textiles or different moiré-prone patterns, have a necessity for 187MP, or just need to be the good child on the digital camera membership, go forward and purchase the Lumix S1R.

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