Is the Lumix S1R really worth it?

Is the Lumix S1R really worth it?

I found myself excited to unbox the Lumix S1R, a flagship camera for a new direction in the Lumix line up. The past three speaking engagements I have done with Lumix the camera has sat on the table. I resisted with all my powers not to pick it up, and to me it payed off. Now I sit in my living room, no distractions, pure comfort, and I unbox the beast. 

First impressions, Lumix never fails to design a perfect box to house all those attachments, booklets and the camera. Makes you feel as if the gear is well cared for before it becomes your personal possession. I always carry around that black cloth the body is in for months and wrap it around my cameras like its the most precious cargo. I pull out the camera, ahhhh the new smell. First thoughts, its heavy, but this is no unfamiliar feeling for me. For the past three years I have been emerged in the 4/3 line up, trying everybody possible. The light weight and compactness of the gear was a big selling feature for me. Prior to this I walked around with massive, bulky Nikons and huge prime lenses. As well I have monster hands, to some they would look like catcher’s mitts. So really it felt like home to hold a full body camera again. I look over the camera and try to feel if the button positions work for my hands. Am I stretching to reach a function, can I find everything without looking at the body while looking through the viewfinder? I find for me; this full frame body is a large-scale version of the past models I shot with in the 4/3 line up so no big changes for me. If I looked at it from a outsiders perspective I would feel the agronomics of the camera are something that can easily be adapted to. WB, ISO and exposure compensation all sitting on the top right side. All easy to use on the fly without taking your face away from the camera. Aperture and shutter dial are placed in a accessible position to turn without frisking your own cheek with your thumb. Mode dials are well labeled on the left with the custom adjustments below easily maneuvered with your thumb. impressions out in the field with the camera,

I set up the camera to capture a sunset, I have 5 clients with me in Nova Scotia and I am trying to get them all sorted out. Working with everybody on composition ideas and working through camera issues they are having. I keep thinking will I ever get a chance to use this camera? Finally, everybody is all sorted out and I set up the S1R. First before I shoot I use the AF, set up to back button focus and I acquire my desired focus, then I re check it zoomed in in manual mode, its perfect! When I shoot landscapes with Lumix cameras or any camera for that fact I like to use live view and manual focus. This way I can’t blame the camera for any autofocus errors and it’s all on me. I use the focus peaking so the area in focus highlights in blue, as well for low light images I really like the picture in picture function as it allows me to zoom right in on my subject to be sure of pin point accuracy. First, I notice the incredible screen resolution, the colours were so true to what I had set up to photograph. To my surprise once I loaded up the images to my laptop the colour was spot on to what I was viewing. I found as the sun was setting my hands easily navigated all the functions of the camera no problem. Here is my first image I was able to take with the S1R, a grandfather and granddaughter holding hands at Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse watching the sunset. 


Life in new light Lumix S1R

I was just starting to get warmed up and I hear my clients say they all want to go back as it has been a long day of travel and they are tired. One lady said she wanted to stay, So I dropped off everybody in the village at our B&B and drove back to the lighthouse to play some more. I set up my camera in front of a puddle to catch a reflection. As I set my tripod as low as it can go, I pull out the LCD screen for a better angle. This feature on Lumix cameras has been a selling feature for me from the start. It is a little different then most Lumix cameras as it does not swing out to the left and fully articulate. This one pulls out and swivels up and down and seems to un hinge on the left hand side and swings out to the right if need be. My next image was taken in a blue hour, the scene turned out to be really blue with no clouds so I decided to switch it to B&W

Peggys cove 2019 Lumix S1R.jpg

The detail I was able to extract out of this sensor has been incredible, this image I switched it to B&W. Dynamic range has also been great from ISO 80 to 800. As a landscape photographer we should never need to go any higher than this unless we are shooting night sky images.

If you look at other reviews on this camera people have held it up against some of the industry leading cameras in todays market. The summery I keep reading is this camera is nothing but a landscape and portrait monster. Although I have no other camera to do side by side comparison with and charts that show off dynamic range fall off or ISO sensitivity, I can show you images this camera has produced. In a year I usually have over 10 of the top cameras in our industry in my hands so real world testing is what excites me. Because lets face it, the camera doesn’t take the picture and its the photographer and we all have different styles of shooting. Let me show you a few more images from this nights shoot with this camera all taken with the 24-105 F4 kit lens.

Lumix has recently added a new feature to their cameras that creates the ability to make massive images. This feature is called high resolution mode, the mode basically takes images from different areas of the sensor combining 8 images into a large raw file. If you were shooting the largest aspect ratio possible with the S1R you could produce a file with 187MP. This makes the camera capable of capturing amazing dynamic resolution to the finest detail. For this image I decided to save it as a much lower resolution at a small 75mp ;) Check out my video below on how I took the image in high resolution mode with the Lumix S1R, (created with my iPhone)

Lumix S1R High Resolution Mode in Nova Scotia

I feel a bit sorry for Lumix with the release of this camera, to me its a first year product and they nailed it! As a Lumix shooter this camera stroked off so many plus’ over many other camera manufactures I have used. As my friend stated to me that he feels “The S1R will be the Contax camera of the digital world” Amazing technology that many people will look over because of its timing. I really hope enough people buy this product and they decide to support this line for many years. If you are a 4/3 shooter of the Lumix line you know that Lumix was one of the pioneers of mirrorless cameras many years ago. Between processors and what they have extracted out of the 4/3 sensor has provided nothing more than amazing ever growing technology. To think what they can pull out of the S1R in two to five years is an incredible thought. This sensor currently ranks #4 in cameras under 50K, to me that equates an amazing first year release camera. One of the things I love about Lumix is their constant updates and support for models used in the current market. Many cameras that photographers have purchased 3-5 years ago have two times the features now than when they were first bought. Another thing to mention is how they figure something out for one model and than pass it along in an update to the other models. This creates great customer retention to their product line, but will the S1R be treated the same? I believe people who buy this camera will have great technical support over the years to come. The day before I returned the camera Lumix already announced the firmware update 1.2 for the S1 and S1R. Improving the IBIS system, creating near and far shit AF for lenses to acquire focus even faster.

One current downfall of the camera is the lack of lens support. But that is not to be said it will stay that way forever. Lumix has decided to have a third party create the majority of lenses for this L mount line up. Sigma, a company that was every struggling in the market decided to create the Contemporary, Sport and Art series line up. This allowed many people to purchase lower priced lenses than their camera manufacture offered. As well started to make lenses with customization properties to allow superior products through docking station programs for photographers to use. I bought one of the first Sport model lenses they made, the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 sport, still one of the sharpest lenses I have bought to date for a Nikon body. These lenses have made Sigma a great company to gain market share and have capital to create more lenses for different manufactures. By the end of 2020 Lumix has promised 42 lenses for the L mount body between Lumix, Leica and Sigma. We already have existing L mount Leica lenses.

New Sigma lenses expected for lens support in the L mount lineup.

  • Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art (August 2019)

  • Sigma 14mm F1.8 DG HSM Art (2020)

  • Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (October 2019)

  • Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (October 2019)

  • Sigma 28mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (December 2019)

  • Sigma 35mm F1.2 DG DN Art (July 2019)

  • Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (September 2019)

  • Sigma 40mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (December 2019)

  • Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (September 2019)

  • Sigma 70mm F2.8 DG Macro Art (2020)

  • Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (September 2019)

  • Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art (December 2019)

  • Sigma 135mm F1.8 DG HSM Art (October 2019)

  • Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary (July 2019)

  • Sigma has announced they will be creating the Canon EF and Sigma SA lens adapters to the L mount. This would be great for this Lumix L mount line up as the S1H will be targeted for 6k video users, adapting all these lenses will allow this camera to hit the ground running with a huge line of lenses already used by videographers.

Panasonic/Luimx has already released that they are offering the following L mount lenses,

  • 24-105mm F4 (Kit Lens in production)

  • 24-70mm F2.8

  • 70-200mm F4

  • 70-200mm F2.8

  • DMW-STC14 1.4x teleconverter

  • DMW-STC20 2.0x teleconverter

Body specs

FULL FRAME SENSOR – 47.3-megapixel full-frame MOS sensor that provides a wide dynamic range and excellent performance at high sensitivity (ISO 25600 Max sensitivity)

  • 4K VIDEO - Up to 4K 60p recording plus 6K Photo functions and HLG Photo.

  • 187MP HIGH RESOLUTION MODE – A sensor shift technology suitable for taking very high-resolution landscapes and fine art photos via tripod with toggleable motion correction capabilities

  • LVF and MONITOR – 3.2” 2,100K-dot RGBW LCD monitor (3:2 aspect ratio) with triaxial tilt moving element, plus large 5,760k-dot high-resolution OLED eye viewfinder

  • RUGGED MIRRORLESS CAMERA DESIGN – Dust/splash*/freeze-resistant design withstands heavy field use under harsh conditions for high mobility

Returning home

I still had this camera for a few days before I had to return it, for some reason this camera gave me a drive to go out and shoot. Sometimes when you travel for a living you don’t want to shoot in your own backyard so to say. But this camera made me want to go out and constantly shoot more and more. Here is an image of a father and a son on holidays down on our beach, they were enjoying the sunset.

Lumix S1R sunset Port Franks

Another image of a flower out in our garden while a visitor decided to photo bomb my image as I was taking it.

Lumix S1R bee on a flower

Final Remarks

As mentioned I believe many people will overlook this camera. I feel it is a superior camera that should be blowing the full frame market apart. Most will look to the competitor models that have new mirrorless lines and suffer through their years of trial and tribulations to provide a superior product. New lines from Nikon and Canon have sucked the coffers dry, they both dropped their pro crop sensor lines, the D500 and 7DMKII. In my mind is a huge downfall as these are people not looking to spend massive amounts of money on full frame cameras, or like the crop sensor reach. Lumix still supports their 4/3 line creating telephoto lenses reaching 800mm, as well have released more lenses for that line. Not to mention their huge following to product line for video work, they just released the 10-25mm F1.7 de clicked to help videographers achieve great results using the native lens line up. I don’t really think many people can nit pick the S1R, the AF is fast for portrait and Landscape. I had no problems acquiring focus in low light or night shoots. The menu is very easy to find your way through, specially if you are a previous Lumix shooter. It uses many of the great functions the 4/3 line up has, but uses a sensor on steroids in its place. I will be looking forward to the possibility of the telephoto lenses in the next few years to put this camera through its paces with wildlife. But for now the gear has been returned back to Lumix, there is a great void in my heart. There is hope I will be using the S1R again very soon up in Yukon this September. I will be chasing northern lights, fall colours and wildlife as we drive around some of my favourite landscapes of Canada. So keep your eyes peeled for my next blog with images from this trip.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog on the Lumix S1R

Chris Pepper

If you enjoyed the images and would like to join me in Nova Scotia next year here is the link to my workshop.

If you would like to join me in Yukon this fall to photograph northern Lights and see the S1R in action here is a link to my workshop.