With the introduction of the Lumix S1H there are now three camera bodies in the Lumix S system. Although they share a number of design characteristics they have quite distinct purposes and unique feature-sets to match. The Lumix S1H is designed primarily to shoot high-end video and has many new functions and handling innovations to suit the way videographers work and the features they value. It can of course shoot stills too, and does so with the same 24.2MP resolution that the Lumix S1 does – and even offers the same 96MP High Resolution mode – but in this model that sensor is put to work recording moving images as a priority.
New flip out/up screen
The new flip out and up screen should be able to keep everyone happy – you’d think. Panasonic has used the GH-style vari-angle hinge combined with a new upper hinge that allows the screen to both flip up like the other Lumix S models but also out to the side like the GH cameras. This allows us to see the screen clearly from almost any angle and will allow those who like to vlog with big full frame cameras to do so – as it can be flipped to face forwards too.
Another advantage of this design is that the screen’s action doesn’t clash with the cables in the remote, microphone, headphone, USB and HDMI ports on the left hand side of the camera. The new design works really well indeed.
New front record button
A new big red record button has been added to the front of the camera that can be accessed with the left hand. The idea is that should you be holding the camera in a cage or on a gimbal this button may well be easier to reach and operate than the main button on the top plate of the camera. It offers a little more flexibility and makes the camera more versatile and suited to a wider range of shooting conditions.
We get a choice of AVCHD, MP4 and MOV formats when recording with the Lumix S1H. Unlike the S1 options are much more restricted for MP4 recording, but are really extensive when MOV is selected. This is primarily because the V-Log mode is only available in MOV and all the high-end audio settings are attached to this format, so Panasonic has made MOV the priority. In the majority of cases it is expected that footage shot with the S1H will be edited before publication, so the more immediately-portable MP4 format is less important.
This menu item allows us to select the size of the area of the sensor we want to use for recording, before we get to the Recording Quality menu. This narrows the choice down later, making the Quality menu shorter, but also lets us determine crop/magnification factors as priority rather than as a factor of the recording resolution we have chosen. This lends the user a great deal of extra creative flexibility and makes choices much easier to come by.
There are five pages of recording quality options in this menu when the MOV format is selected, each with six individual permutations of resolution, frame rate, colour depth and compression. The list is extensive, and includes high quality colour, compression and bit depth settings for FHD resolutions as well as the headline 6K/4K options.
Instead of a separate High Speed settings menu as is used in the Lumix S1, those functions are included in the general Recording Quality menu as they now allow auto focusing and audio recording just like the ‘normal’ frame rates. In the S1 they don’t, so they need to be kept separate to make that clear.
You will see at the bottom of the screen we have the chance to filter the options by effectively searching for what we want, or to add favourite/oft-used settings to a customised My List menu.
The My List menu can be kept short and to include only those settings used often or for a particular project. The My List might be used in multi-camera situations where it is essential that recording quality settings match. In that situation only those settings relevant to the shoot would be in the My List so only they could be chosen by the camera operator. This would avoid accidents at the time of shooting and inconvenience in post-production.
A lot of videographers value the ability to record clips longer than the usual 29 minutes and 59 seconds, but there aren’t many cameras that can offer this. Although in Europe the usual restriction is about taxation most cameras also have restrictions when filming high resolution content to avoid over-heating that damages image quality as well as the actual camera.
Lumix S1H users don’t have to worry about their camera over-heating as it has a fan to draw air through the body so it can maintain an even temperature. This allows the camera to record without any time limits at all – other than the capacity of your storage and your power source.
The fan operates at ‘Normal’ and ‘Slow’ speeds both of which can be selected manually. It also offers two automatic modes, the first of which switches between ‘Normal’ and ‘Slow’ according to the temperature of the camera. The behaviour of the second auto mode is also driven by the temperature of the camera but tries to keep the fan off as much as possible.
In operation the fan is extremely quiet and won’t be heard on the audio track unless the microphone is right next to the inlet or outlet on the body. With a microphone in a normal mounting position the fan won’t be picked up at all.
Anamorphic recording is supported by the Lumix S1H so users can mount anamorphic lenses and shoot using this fabulous letter-box format. The camera provides 4:2:2 10bit options up to 400Mbps with All-Intra compression as well as regular frame rates, variable frame rates up to 50fps and high-speed frame rates up to 50fps, all in 4K resolution.
The camera can accommodate 1.3x, 1.33x, 1.5x, 1.8x and 2.0x magnifications with both the image stabilisation system and the de-squeezed display. The de-squeezed display helps users shoot and compose as well as review footage in the letter box format, even though video is recorded on a 4:3 (1:1.33) area of the sensor.
V-Log comes built in with the S1H and doesn’t require the purchase of a licence key later. The mode is included in the Photo Style list, and can be accessed via the main menu or through the Quick Menu.
In this camera we get a full V-Log with 14+ stops of dynamic range rather than the V-LogL that comes with the GH5s and which can be bought for the GH5 – which offers 12 stops. The profile is compatible and comparable with the Log settings of Panasonic’s high end Varicam cinema cameras, so the S1H can be easily incorporated into cinema workflows and the footage will match.
When shooting in the flat and colour-desaturated V-Log it can be hard to imagine how the final footage will look so, like the GH5, GH5s and S1, the S1H can apply a ‘look’ to the footage on-screen while the shot is being lined up, recorded and played back on the camera or an external monitor. A Rec709 LUT (Look Up Table) comes pre-installed, but owners of the S1H will be able to download additional cinema-style LUTs from Panasonic’s VariCam LUT library to import other styles of picture into the camera. Users can import up to four LUTs to the camera at any one time in addition to Rec709, but can store the whole library on a memory card for importing as and when needed in the field.
The LUT only provides a preview of the effect in the camera and on external monitors, but the same LUT can be used in post-processing to match the look for the final output. Of course the great thing about the VariCam LUTs is that they are designed specifically to get the best from the dynamic range of the sensor.
There’s no point in recording professional quality video if you can’t also record top-end sound to go with it, and the S1H makes that easy with the DMW-XLR1 adapter. This slots into the hotshoe, is powered by the camera and provides a pair of XLR inputs for professional microphones. The adapter offers sound level controls as well as noise cancelling options, and the ability to record in stereo or mono. The beauty of using this device is that the audio is recorded directly to the video clip – and is automatically synchronised – there’s no need to line up sound recorded from an external recorder with the footage in post-production.
The other reason to use the XLR adapter is that the audio quality is exceptionally high, with 24bit sound sampled at 96 KHz possible – so long as your microphone supports it. This really elevates the audio settings of the camera, which makes a massive difference to the quality of the sound.
The adapter is powered and allows the camera to supply phantom power to the microphone as well when needed.
Dual Native ISO
We’ve seen Dual ISO before as it is offered in the Panasonic Lumix GH5s. In that camera it works fantastically well to reduce image noise in low light conditions and to allow the camera to operate in both bright sunshine and indoors with dim domestic lighting.
In case you’ve forgotten, the feature works by directing the signals from each pixel to one of two sets of circuitry according to the ISO selected by the user. This process allows the signal to be processed before it gets to the gain amplifier, where noise is usually brought out.
In stills and video modes with regular Photo Styles the two native ISO settings are 100 and 640, but with V-Log set the native ISO settings are 640 and 4000. In HLG that switches again to 400 and 2500.
In theory image quality at the higher settings should be the same as that at the lower settings, which means we get the amount of noise you’d expect from an ISO 100 image in a picture taken using ISO 640 – for example. Users can manually select the Low or High native ISO settings, or allow the camera to do the switching for them.
Video Frame Marker
This is a new visual aid for those who will need to present their footage in more than one set of aspect ratios. The mode allows guide frames to be placed over the recording area to aid composition if, for example, your footage will need to fit the 1:1 Instagram ratio as well as the usual 16:9 video format.
The camera screen can be masked with an overlay that shows the 1:1 area while the whole recording frame is also visible, so the scene can be composed with both formats in mind.
Users can choose the colour of the mask and its opacity, so it can be dominant in the frame or just a subtle reminder.
Segmented File Recording
High quality 6K and 4K video takes up a lot of memory, and long clips at high bit-rates create very large files that can be difficult to handling in post-production. This feature ensures individual files don’t get too big by breaking long videos into a series of short clips on the memory card that can then be reassembled afterwards.
An additional benefit is that footage is saved to the card and the file closed as each small clip is finished, so in the event of a power failure or a corruption only the last short segment will be lost rather than an entire lengthy video.
Mute Sound Input
A new feature on the S1H is the ability to record video with no audio at all. Often footage is recorded in which the audio track is discarded to be replaced with a voice-over, music or a sound track recorded separately. This mode allows users to choose not to record the original sound at the time of gathering the footage.
This is a very useful new feature that allows us to register different third-party lenses that we mount on the camera regularly. In the past we’ve had to type in new focal lengths when the camera is switched on, to inform the image stabilisation system how it should behave, but now we can pre-load oft used lenses and have the camera remember their settings.
The camera comes with generic information for six different full-frame focal lengths that can be used as they are, edited or written over. There is space to record information on 12 lenses in total, which can be full frame or Super 35mm. There are also settings that allow us to take account of any additional cropping that we might do in post-production when lenses don’t quite cover the whole recording area. This allows the IS system to remain informed that effective focal lengths will be longer than those marked/registered.
If you have ever filmed a scene or an event and only realised afterwards that the camera wasn’t recording you might be glad of the inclusion of tally lights on the S1H. These are positioned on the front and the back of the camera, and can show both the photographer and the subject when the video is running.
The menu offers the choice to select which, if any, lamps are active.
Frame rates and ISO
As with the Lumix GH5S, the new Lumix S1H allows film-makers to switch the way shutter speeds and sensor sensitivity are expressed in on-screen displays. While stills photographers will be used to shutter speeds shown as a fraction of a second cinematographers will be more comfortable seeing the shutter as an angle. Videographers use fractions for the shutter but express ISO as ‘gain’ measured in decibels (dB). The camera’s menu offers a range of combinations to suit what users are familiar and comfortable with.
Using the angular expression of shutter speed can also be useful for those coming from stills photography as it allows the angle to be set to the standard 180° shutter without the user having to think about how that relates mathematically to the frame rate selected. The maths is never hard when all you have to do is multiply the frame rate by two, but when you set 180° you know it will be right even if you later change the frame rate between clips.
Like the Lumix G5s, the Lumix S1H can operate as a time code generator as well as linking into an external time code machine. The camera connects via the PC socket on the front of the body using the supplied BNC (Bayonet Neill Concelman) cable. Being part of a time code system allows users to synchronise footage from multiple cameras easily, making cutting different angles of the same scene together much more straight forward.
To accommodate the new larger top-plate display the on/off switch has been moved from the top-plate position it usually occupies in the S series to a ring around the shutter release – as in the Lumix GH models.
Film plane indicator
Panasonic has marked the position of the sensor in the body of the Lumix S1H using two film plane indicators on the top plate of the camera – these are the Ø symbols either side of the body. The other S models don’t have this, but it is expected to be more important for the S1H as the camera is much more likely to be used with manual focus cinema lenses. Often the distance between the subject and the film plane needs to be measured with a tape measure for focusing accuracy. For this reason the designers have positioned the camera’s left-hand strap lug in line with the film plane indicator so the hook of the tape measure can be attached to the camera in exactly the right place.
Dual SD card slots
Both the S1 and the S1R have dual memory card slots, but offer one SD card slot and another for the high speed XQD format. It is expected that still images will be saved to one slot and movies to the other.
In this model Panasonic has provided matching USH II/V90-compatible slots for SD cards as the two are more likely to be used for the same purpose – to overflow content from one to the other or to provide a continuous back-up.
Tripod alignment pin socket
A new socket has been included in the base of the camera to allow the user to ensure the camera is mounted perfectly straight on the tripod and that the camera won’t get twisted during use. Some tripod heads and quick release plates include an anti-twist register pin that slots into a hole on the base of the camera. It helps to hold the camera firmly on the head and means the screw that holds the camera to the tripod doesn’t have to be done up quite so fiercely.