The Lumix S1 is said to have the largest level of Real View Finder which boasts the world’s highest 5,760k-dot resolution.
EveryONE seems to be hooked on to smartphone photography these days. That should make camera makers worry, right? Wrong. They reckon that as more and more people are clicking, the market for the imaging industry is set to grow by leaps and bounds. Their rationale is that there is still a demand for visual expression that is different from smartphone camera quality, and cannot be done by a smartphone. No wonder, camera makers remain a bullish lot.
Recently, Japanese technology firm Panasonic introduced its full-frame mirrorless Lumix S series in the Indian market.
Comprising Lumix S1 and S1R with 24 megapixel and 47.3 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensors respectively, the new S series is based on the L-Mount standard, which provides a great imaging experience. On a recent getaway to the Konkan region (famous for its natural beauty, majestic ghats etc), this reviewer and his family had the company of Lumix S1 (trial unit), a somewhat bulky but worthy companion to capture their short vacation’s precious moments. Before we dig deeper into the finer nuances of the new Lumix camera, let me say that this camera is simply outstanding; our photography simply took us on a journey to explore the sands, sea and the many cultures that reside in the coastal region. We tried (and succeeded) to build stories with photographs that can narrate the nuances of the place and the emotions of the moment.
The new full-frame mirrorless Lumix S series boasts intuitive control, a rugged design for heavy field use, durability, and expandability suitable for professional photography and videography. The first full-frame mirrorless camera by Panasonic, S1 is priced at Rs1,99,990 and with 24-105mm F4 lens will be at Rs 2,67,990 and S1R is priced at Rs 2,99,990 for the body and Rs 3,67,990 with a 24-105mm F4 lens. Our trial unit, Lumix S1, offers a high-speed, high-precision AF system based on advanced control technology over the lens, the sensor, and the new Venus Engine enables the user to capture the target in sharp focus without fail.
To be tough enough to withstand heavy field use, the main structure of Lumix S1 is composed of a magnesium alloy full die-cast front/rear frame. There’s robust construction overall and a sealing for every joint, dial, and button, making it not only splash resistant and dust resistant but also freeze resistant down to -10 degrees Centigrade. The shutter unit is also durable for approximately 400,000 cycles.
Technical-speak, the Lumix S1 is a hybrid camera that comes with a 24.2-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (35.6mm x 23.8mm) that provides a wide dynamic range and very good performance at high sensitivity in addition to a natural yet sharp image description thanks to sufficient light condensation per pixel. It also features a High Resolution mode for the first time as a mirrorless full-frame camera to enable 96-megapixel ultra-high precision photo with a pixel shift technology shooting. I confined myself mostly to stills; however, the S1 supports professional use in videography by taking advantage of the advanced expression performance that a full-frame camera can offer.
Panasonic has achieved a high-speed AF with its advanced control technology over the major devices—lens, sensor and imaging engine. The lens and sensor communicate at a maximum 480 fps. Combining the Contrast AF with DFD technology, the S1 realises an ultra-high-speed, high-precision AF of approximately 0.08 seconds. The camera also boasts high speed burst shooting at 9 fps (AFS) or 6 fps (AFC).
Panasonic is also bringing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) for photography and videography. When it comes to autofocus, there are three things to consider: where to focus, how far the subject is from the camera, and the accuracy of the focus. The last two points are covered by its DFD technology. On the other hand, “where to focus” is an area where the S1 uses AI to analyse images. Panasonic has used deep learning to study a large quantity of images of people and animals and loaded the resulting AI into Venus engine. As a result the camera can recognise and accurately focus on them even if they are facing away. Advanced AI technology can recognise not only the human body but animals and birds, while the high-performance tracking system helps keep the subject in focus at all times.
The Lumix S1 is said to have the largest level of Real View Finder which boasts the world’s highest 5,760k-dot resolution. The 0.78x magnification ratio can be switched to 0.7x or 0.74x according to the shooting situation. Adoption of a high-speed, high-precision OLED for the LVF achieves smooth display at 60 fps/120 fps (switchable).
Key takeaways: With really good photo and video quality and a great set of features, the Panasonic Lumix S1 is a hot pick for those into serious photography such as wedding, advertising, fashion, documentary making and of course, for our own personal use.
Estimated street price: Rs 1,99,990 (body);
Rs 2,67,990 with 24-105mm F4 lens