Into changed landscape
Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Panasonic is a powerhouse in many measurements and already with a strong presence in M4/3 and particularly in the budget independent film making area. With the new Lumix S1/S1R/S1H, Panasonic made a bold statement of what will be coming in the next couple of years. Panasonic partnered with Leica and Sigma to form the "L" Alliance with Leica offers the luxury optics, and Sigma the versatile and affordable optics while Panasonic also has lens road map which quickly put the Panasonic Lumix S series camera in a strong position with the most extensive collection of native lenses only second to SONY.
This blog is not for camera or lens review, and I am not interested in doing so. I am interested in all different cameras first and foremost as a photographer, and as an industrial designer, I am curious about how each established brand works its way into competitiveness and differentiate itself and execute the design and engineer as it progresses. Because my primary interest is in still photography, therefore, my focus would be on the 47MP Lumix S1R model, which offers the highest resolution of all 24X36mm format mirrorless cameras as of June 2019.
I have been using the Leica Q2 since March 2019 ( my Q2 image journal - The Q2 Factor https://www.kaisernchen.com/post/the-q2-factor ) and very impressed with the new and same 47 MP sensor on Q2 which is an elevation on all aspects from the original 24 MP Leica Q and Q-P. Moreover, since SONY A7RIII is one of my main outdoor cameras (as a user shooting with original A7R, then the A7RII, A7SII and also A9) so the prospect of trying the Lumix S1R is quite intriguing! So I took one with me in one of my field trip to south Thailand - Hatyai, Songkhla, Pattani, and Yala to try out.
I will stay out of the technical discussion because I am not familiar with the Panasonic camera so it will not be a fair comparison to the cameras I use frequently and acquainted. I have the following cameras and lens for the trip:
Panasonic Lumix S1R with S 24-105/4 kit lens.
Sigma 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art (Canon EF mount)
Sigma 85/1.4 DG HSM Art (Canon EF Mount)
Sigma Mount Adapter MC-21 EF-L
SONY FE 24-105/4 G OSS
Metabones EF to E Mount T Smart Adapter (Mark V)
TECHART LM-EA7 (M Mount AF Adapter)
Summilux-M 21/1.4 ASPH
Summilux-M 24/1.4 SPH FLE
Summilux-M 28/1.4 ASPH
Carl Zeiss Distagon 35/1.4 ZM
Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM
I did not make any direct comparison on image quality from different cameras because it is not what I do; I am a photographer, not camera technician or tester. I don't discriminate against camera testers, but I do against many of them that are incompetent and downright stupid and wondered why people are listening to those instead of learning from what masters did for photography with all kinds of cameras, smaller or bigger, older or new, better or worse.
I will comment on the camera and the lens in use, along with the posting of images.
Here the short journal starts.
The S1R has appeared to facilitate an immense amount of dials around for quick maneuvering, but it does take some time to get familiar with, and it took me longer than I thought. I boarded the Train #31 service from Bangkok to my destination Hatyai at 14:45 pm and not until 18:53 when I took the first shot from the train window when it was approaching Hua Hin. It was getting dark, and the camera has no problem getting focus from the moving train (most cameras do these days)! I was using manual mode to reproduce the mood as I saw it, and the moving train gives the image a beautiful motion blur to have a little painting-like look.
S1R is a heavyweight camera by today's standard, at 1,014 g net body + battery, it feels solid, looks massive. S1R mounted with Sigma 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art 1,086g using MC-21 mount adapter 157g as I did to capture this image is like going to the gym! I like the gym, by the way.
Camera size and weight is a personal preference issue and a factor I do not care, as long as the image quality is as promised! I was not disappointed.
S1R body + MC-21 + 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art = 2,257g, hefty but well balanced in hand, built to last years of dependable and heavy use! The L mount version of 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art is likely to be a little lighter but won't make much difference except the overall weather-proof capability shall be improved by eliminating the extra mount adapter.
Hatyai - Lumix S1R's AI-powered face detection quickly focuses on the Standing Buddha.
A simple portrait of local Pattani girls whose calm face and welcoming eyes are convincing the travelers that Pattani is a peaceful land to visit.
Contrary to my imagination for Pattani as a destination to avoid even though I have never been to Pattani until this day; moreover as a person raised in a society that has very little interaction with Muslim culture - I was wrong and felt terrible for such prejudice. It is a place governed by strong beliefs, mutual respect, and human kindness. It is safe, culturally rich, and people are as friendly as anywhere else I have been traveling to, if not more friendlier. It is probably one of the best places for portraiture if a photographer is into portrait works.
I have been shooting mostly with Panasonic Lumix S1R attached with Sigma 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art ( combined to 2,257g) since arriving early morning till the sunset time but thanks the comfortable grip of the S1R I did not have a sore arm. Not exactly a surprise.
The morning shooting started at a fishing village in Pattani known for producing some of the best dry salt fish in Thailand. Layers of fine meshes were used by the fisherman to keep the dry fish from flies or insects that is a perfect example to examine how the 47Mp sensor and lens resolve the details. The result is quite impressive, although it is as expected for an advanced image sensor such as the one inside Panasonic Lumix S1R.
Panasonic Lumix S1R has an impressive 120HZ refresh rate option for its brilliant 0.78X 5.760k-dot OLED EVF on the specification sheet with claimed lag time 0.005 sec - I did miss some shots from the shootings of previous day and learned to work with S1R better today to time the action appropriately for this shot, perhaps also a bit of luck.
A 100% crop from image exhibits the complete moire free detail - excellent sensor and a lens with ultra-high resolving power.
CS Pattani Hotel Resort - the homing atmosphere and warm hospitality are the heart of Pattani where culture is beautifully blended and excellent food serviced. The Sigma 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art lens is optically very well corrected that it requires no post correction for the architecture application such as this lobby shot.
Panasonic Lumix S1R still retains a high level of color richness at ISO 6400 exhibited on the portrait of Miss Tangmo captured off the reflection of a wall mirror and RW2 file from S1R provides smooth graduation from high tone to shadow. Location credit: CS Pattani.
Sigma's Art series zoom lens, such as the one I use for this image - 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art delivers image quality comparable to a prime lens and renders the near and far objects with 3-dimensional definition as well as beautiful "boken" that photographers who look for such performance shall not be disappointed.
The raw file (.RW2) from Panasonic Lumix S1R size around 69.6-69.9 MB that is a tab smaller than the DNG from Leica Q2 which is around 86-89MB, both are quality RAW files, and I did not notice any significant difference between the two. Capture One Pro 12.1 handles the RW2 nicely and conversion in monochrome just a click away.
On board the petrol truck with the Royal Thai Army's Special Operation Unit: Smile and reconciliation are the best approaches to ease tensions and differences.
Usually, I am not so much a fan of the articulated rear screen although sometimes it does prove its usefulness for shots such as this.
Two very different cameras - Panasonic Lumix S1R and Leica Q2 share the same 47.3MP CMOS sensor indicating that the coming Leica SL II will likely to use the same sensor while Panasonic may also upgrade their LX series camera using the 24X36mm sensor akin to Leica Q2 or more specifically the Sony RX1 series cameras. As such a consumer electronics giant such as Panasonic, S cameras will not be the only offer for their 24X36mm line of cameras/camcorders. Good for consumers.
The Lumix S 24-105/4 kit lens weighs 740g and is roughly the same weight as SONY FE 24-105/4 G OSS although a little larger in size.
Pairing with the Sigma 24-70/2.8 DG HSM Art + MC-21 the size difference becomes neglectable when compares to SONY A7RIII mounted with 24-70/2.8 G Master. It is safe to assume that Panasonic intended the camera size and built quality towards more professional use while SONY's approach is somewhat unisex, woman-friendly, and some senior photographers. SONY A7/A9 cameras are smaller, lighter, and very dependable as I have been using them for many years in all kind of weather conditions without failure.
I am not trying to act I am a better marketing strategist or analyst than those that large corporation such as Panasonic, SONY, Canon, Nikon, and Fujifilm capable of hiring, the design and engineering decision made by each company is the result of intensive study and they are often more right than wrong than the outside critics, me included.
My approach as a photographer is that if I do like to use a particular camera or lens because of its capability in image quality potential - I will make an effort to train myself to use it regardless how small or large, light or heavy!
Equipment is never the limiting factor and never an excuse!