If you follow me, you know that I switched from Canon to Panasonic last year, and most recently got the S1H to add to the fam. To me, this camera is miles ahead of others in it's class due to the user interface, and the new 2.1 firmware update just changed the game for anyone who shoots video. Not only can I shoot 4K at 60p (or even 6K 24p), but this firmware update as of this week allows the S1H to shoot 4K at 60p in pro-res RAW, making me wonder why would I even need a cinema camera?
This latest video we shot, "The Void", with some other amazing creatives here in Las Vegas was captured on two Panasonic S1H cameras, and using this new update that I was able to get my hands on and all I can say is that anyone who is not shooting Panasonic right now is seriously missing out. Here are some of the many reasons this camera is my current go to for almost any shoot (and I've shot on a lot of cameras).
S1H Size & Price - Hard to beat!
The size of the S1H is comparable to the fuji GFX and just a little bigger than the popular Canon 5DMIV, so for video shooters this camera has a ton of specs packed into just 2.5 lbs. For me, this is a huge advantage because it easily fits onto smaller gimbals, unlike larger cinema cameras, as well as being light enough to mount in places that larger cameras just can't go. There is so much freedom with shooting on a smaller & lighter camera over larger cinema cams, but now with the S1H, you don't have to give up many specs to go lighter! At for only $4000, this camera was designed with professionals in mind, seriously giving other cinema cameras a run for their money.
S1H built in fan = No overheating!
As a Las Vegas filmmaker, even shooting with this camera for 5 hours in 100 degree heat I had zero problems. The built in fan makes sure that your camera is ready for you when you need it, which is a huge plus because a lot of my shoots are out in the desert. This is the first mirrorless to have a fan like this, which shows that Panasonic was breaking the mold to make sure this camera works in any conditions - and because I don't like being held back by my gear, overheating is a no go for me in any camera. The only thing that should overheat on a shoot is me.
S1H Large Batteries = Less Swapping Them Out!
The batteries for the Panasonic S family are HUGE, but they last forever. One or two batteries are all you need for most any shoot, which is great. Other mirrorless camera I've shot with I seem to always be changing batteries because the EVF and LCD screen really drain the camera battery, but again, Panasonic build this camera for PERFORM! The only downside to this though is that each battery costs about $90, so they definitely aren't cheap, but with them lasting such long time you really won't need to buy too many of them.
S1H Dual Native ISO = It's Incredible in Low Light
The Dual Native ISO in the S1H allows this camera to shoot in incredibly low light with practically no noticeable noise, and if you don't believe me make sure to watch "The Void" up top. Our priority for this shoot were a deep depth of field and fast shutter speed to make sure our acrobat Lea was in focus and sharp through the video. With her swinging around so much, we needed a deep depth of field - meaning that we were shooting between f4-f8 the entire time. She was also spinning around incredibly fast so the shutter speed was at least 1/200 sec to make sure that we weren't creating motion blur since that was not the desired look for this film. To compensate for our exposure the ISO got bumped up to around 4000, something that I would normally never shoot at due to noise, but this camera basically had no noise even at ISO 4000, which is incredible! We did not de-noise anything, all we did was some basic color grading, and I can't believe how sharp it looks for the settings we shot at.
S1H Has Great Autofocus - Don't believe everything you hear!
I read a lot of reviews, and a lot of people seem to rag on the autofocus on Panasonic cameras in general, but "The Void" was shot entirely on autofocus, and we had no problem keeping our subject who was moving incredibly fast the entire time (in low light) in focus. This is not my first shoot with the S1H either, just my first with that new Panasonic 2.1 raw firmware update. I think the autofocus is great, and for those who say that Panasonic autofocus is a deal breaker, I would say it's not if you actually spend the time getting to know the autofocus modes and dialing in the settings. If you really know which mode is right for different situations, you will see how great the autofocus actually is. After going deep into the menu and tweaking the settings, like the speed and playing with those different focus modes, it has really worked great for me.
S1H Weather Sealed = No worries when it comes to water splashes
I love cameras that are weather-sealed, it's such a necessity for a camera that you want to get epic shots with, like when you shoot an acrobat hovering above a pool of water where there are most definitely going to be splashes. While weather-sealing might not always be needed, it's definitely an added feature that made this camera the perfect for a wild low-light shoot over water. Filming "The Void" was definitely a test of extremes, and the S1H was the best tool for the job when it came down to it. I don't want my gear to limit me, so if I'm scared to get close to the subject in water, the film won't have those epic shots. I like to get in there and get dirty, so I need a camera that I'm not scared of getting a few splashes on.
Panasonic L-mount lens - 16-35mm f4 & 70-200mm f2.8
"The Void" was shot on two Panasonic S1H with one camera doing the wide and overhead shots, and the other getting close up and tighter shots. We used the 16-35mm f4 for the wides, overhead, and gimbal shots. The 70-200mm f2.8 was on sticks for the tighter shots, and these two lenses are incredibly sharp. Panasonic still doesn't have too many choices when it comes to L-mount lenses, but even if they did I would still probably choose these lenses any day. We weren't wanting to shoot any faster than f4, so the 16-35mm f4 is such a great lens for video to really give you that realistic depth of field. The 70-200mm f2.8 is a beast lens, and while it isn't cheap, it definitely is worth the money if you need a fast zoom for photo or video. Since we shoot both, it was our first purchase when we got both the S1H & S1R.
As a DP, my main focus is always asking, "what is the best tool for the job?". While certain cameras may be good for one type of shoot, or have their strengths in one area, the Panasonic S1H really seems to be the best tool for almost every job I've shot. And for something like "The Void" specifically, the S1H is seriously the only camera that was able to perform at the level I needed it to, for it's size and price range. Panasonic really caters to video shooters, which is I am having a hard time finding a complaint about this camera.
Not only did we film "The Void" on the S1H, but Las Vegas Photographer Haley was the on set photographer and captured some amazing stills on her S1R. She used the Panasonic 24-105mm f4, and while this may be a "kit lens", it's amazing. Shooting a subject who is moving fast in low light, her exposure settings were similar to ours, no faster than f4, at least 1/320 seconds with high ISO. The low light capability on all of the full frame Panasonic s-family cameras have performed amazing with the conditions we have tested them with. If you can't tell, we really do love our S1's.
- Ya boi B