Long Live Lumix!

Discussion in 'Mirrorless Digital Cameras' started by eric_duncan|3, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. I thought my recent journey through sensor formats, and a change of camera brands, beginning with my trusty old Canon 7D Mk1 DSLR, taking me through the drastic change to a Panasonic 1/2.3 inch sensor superzoom bridge camera, and culminating in my recent purchase of a Panasonic S1 full-frame mirrorless camera, may be informative for anyone thinking of changing equipment to a full-frame (I prefer to call it '35mm format') mirrorless camera.

    I loved my old Canon 7D Mk1, and my pretty good collection of lenses, from a Sigma 10-20mm wide-angle zoom, to the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, to the affordable, for an 'L' series, 70-200mm f/4 L, among others. So what on earth possessed me to sell said 7D and lenses, and buy a Panasonic FZ-330 (FZ-300 in the North American market) 12MP 1/2.3" sensor superzoom bridge camera?

    It was a family vacation -- or holiday as it's known here in my adopted home of Britain -- which prompted the sale of my 7D and lenses. We were going to Barbados, and I had come to notice that I was taking my camera and lenses with me on fewer and fewer holidays, as phone camera quality became good enough to make it hard to justify the bulk and weight of my camera bag with the 7D and a selection of lenses. So more and more, my camera gear was left at home, while I limited myself to documentary-style travel shots on my phone camera.

    But I did miss having a dedicated camera, composing in a viewfinder, dials to adjust ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. So I decided a bridge camera may offer the compromise between the flexibility and control of a dedicated camera, and the compact, lightweight portability of a camera phone. After researching options, I decided on the Panasonic Lumix FZ-330. The very small 1/2.3" sensor did concern me, especially with regard to low light shooting. But reviews said that by Panasonic sensibly limiting the resolution to 12MP (still adequate for many 'jobs'), the low light performance and noise were remarkably good for such a tiny sensor. And the big selling point for the FZ-330 was the versatile and optically sound Leica branded 25-600mm (equivalent) superzoom lens.

    I found the FZ-330 to be a great little camera, with huge versatility, a high degree of control, and great image quality -- for the sensor size -- even in low light. It was the excellence of the Lumix FZ-330 that led me further down the path of temptation. I thought, "Wow! If Lumix can achieve such amazing performance in these small-sensor bridge cameras, what must the G series Micro Four Thirds or S series 35mm format (full frame) Lumix cameras be capable of?!

    I also found that I was coming full-circle in missing the substance, and handling of my big old 7D + battery grip.

    After more research, I decided, 'in for a penny, in for a pound!' and went for the Lumix S1 and Lumix 24-105mm lens. I was also tempted by the 47MP S1R, but for my purposes, 24MP is the sweet spot for resolution, dynamic range, and low-light performance, and 47MP is overkill -- especially given the S1's very usable 96MP high-resolution mode, should I need more.

    Having used the S1 for a few weeks now, and in addition to the Lumix 24-105mm, Sigma 70mm Macro Art and 100-400mm C lenses, as part of the simply brilliant L-Mount Alliance between Leica, Sigma, and Panasonic, to have a common mount (he Leica L Mount) for their FF cameras, I can only say that Panasonic obviously went out of its way to make the S1 a superb camera for both stills and video, and succeeded. And from reviews, the same applies to the S1R and S5 bodies.

    Without the dominant position of Canon, Nikon, and Sony in the enthusiast and professional camera market to rely upon, Panasonic needed to apply its technical prowess and considerable resources as a major global electronics company, and passion for this product line, to achieve excellence with the new Lumix S series -- and based on my experience with the S1 -- they succeeded brilliantly. There are several very good, detailed expert reviews of the S1, so I will not attempt to re-create those here, but just to give my impressions as a photography enthusiast of several decades, from Minolta X-700 35mm and Bronica ETRSi 645 medium-format film cameras, to several DSLRs (Canon 20D, 40D, 50D, and 7D), and now the Lumix S1 mirrorless.

    Image (and video) quality are simply, stunningly superb, even in very low light. Still images (my main use for the camera) show rich detail, great color rendition, and fantastic dynamic range. The images are forgiving and malleable in post processing, even when shot in poor lighting.

    As for comments that Panasonic's autofocus technology is not as advanced as its main rivals', I have not found this to have any practical impact. I have found the S1's autofocus to be fast and accurate, even tracking moving subjects in poor light.

    The very high-resolution (5.76 million dot) electronic viewfinder is gorgeous, and has me no longer preferring an optical viewfinder. The build quality is tank-like, and with weather and dust sealing, and a shutter tested to 400,000 actuations (where 150,000 - 200,000 would be a good professional standard), the S1 gives every reason to believe it will stand up to years and years of rigorous use.

    The S1 is a delight to use, and though my 7D was also good, of my previous cameras, only my Bronica medium-format film camera could approach the S1 for a hugely satisfying shooting experience.

    For those not tied to another manufacturer's system, and looking for a full-frame mirrorless camera, I would very highly recommend Panasonic's Lumix S series. The S1, for one, is a fantastic camera, and the system has great lenses available from Lumix, Sigma, and Leica through their L-Mount Alliance. Panasonic has recently added the more affordable S5 body, and new lenses keep coming. I am hoping for even more new bodies and lenses for this system in months and years to come! Long Live Lumix and the L-Mount Alliance.

    The Lumix S1 is not small, and it is not cheap. But for those willing to carry the price and the heft, the S1 will reward you richly.


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  2. Now some samples?
     
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  4. The Panasonic FZ-20 was my first digital camera. It had a lot of bang for the buck, considering I didn't have much for bucks. The EVF was pretty horrible by todays standards, but the Leica branded super zoom was excellent and the tiny sensor was surprisingly good. There are still good looking wall posters hanging at work where the DOF of the FZ-20 allowed shots that would be difficult with a larger format. Stabilization allowed me to get decent long shots for the first time ever. Time marches on and I have to believe the latest Panasonic products are still first rate.
     
  5. I have heard from others who also are big fans of the FZ-20. The Leica-badged super zooms are great! In fact, my plan was to sell the Lumix FZ-2330 to help fund the S1, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. 25-600mm equivalent in a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture lens, in a great little camera you can slip into a large coat pocket! Hard not to like!
     
  6. Really like my Panny gx80.

    Price and performance; it's a a silver dollar.


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  7. Glad you are enjoying your new camera. Have to say though your review sounds a bit like a "honeymoon" review and, of course, cannot to relate to how well you would have found other competitor cameras (R6, Sony A7IV, Nikon Z etc etc), which I suspect you would have equally great too. The step up from a Canon 7D to any of the current high end mirrorless and DSLRs is quite considerable. The differences between these brands results are not profound for a general shooter. My only thought about the Panasonic and the Leica equivalent is that they are probably very good, but more expensive for much the same performance as their rivals. I can imagine you would indeed notice the difference between it and your previous gear.
     
  8. All true, Robin -- I have not had any chance to handle the Nikon Z, but I have had a brief 'play' with the R6 and A7IV. And they are brilliant cameras, too, and with any of them, as with the Lumix S1, the limiting factor in capabilities will most likely be the photographer (at least in my case! :) and not the camera! The same was also probably true of my decade-old-plus 7D!

    For anyone in the market for a high-end mirrorless, I mainly wanted to share my very positive experience with the Lumix S1 and encourage those photographers in the market for new equipment to give Lumix a good look, as Nikon, Canon, and Sony already get plenty of press. Those cameras mentioned are all brilliant, as are may others; it's just to say those who do choose a Lumix S body are very unlikely to regret it, based on my experience.

    Great image quality in those shots with the GX80, Allen!
     
  9. Apologies if I came over as grumpy (reading it again). I agree the Lumix cameras are really good, so no real argument from me.
     
  10. No worries Robin -- alternative viewpoints make the thread interesting! I didn't read it that you were saying Lumix cameras are not great cameras, just that there are other great ones out there, too, which is true. I know I can't resist argument for argument's sake sometimes, too!
     
  11. "Great image quality in those shots with the GX80, Allen!" Eric

    Thanks.

    Actually, the camera was a gx8,not gx80. The gx8, has more hands on manual control dials...excellent for candid photography where speed is the essence, and somewhat larger for better grip/ handling.

    Great camera you have purchased,

    Hopefully, you will share some photos you have taken with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2021
  12. Hi Allen,

    Oh, GX8 -- sorry for the confusion. Yes, I am 'old school' in that regard, too -- I much prefer manual control dials to diving into layer after layer of menus! I did post a few of my early straight out of camera jpegs with the S1, but they copied as links in my reply, rather than copying directly as images. I will look at how to copy the image intact rather than as a link, and see if I can post more examples. Maybe down-res them a bit?
     
  13. Three Zebras of Chester Zoo Low Res_1001314.jpg Here are a few more images from the Lumix S1, taken on a visit to Chester Zoo
     
  14. These have all been reduced to about 8.6MP, Elephants Chester Zoo 2 Low Res_1001272.jpg
     
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  15. I have no desire to go with a bigger body and lens again. Currently, my Panasonic G9 is as big as I want to go and at times it too seems bigger than I wish.
     
  16. Really nice phots, Eric.

    Particularly liked the Zebra photo...
     
  17. Thanks Allen -- the zebra one was my favorite from that day, too!

    g.richards -- don't blame you. To be honest, if I had already had a G9 and some nice MFT lenses, I would not have gone for the S1. Image and build quality of the G9 is fantastic, and the more portable format is very handy. And I am jealous of the prices of Leica lenses available for MFT -- their L-mount prices are eye-watering! Luckily Lumix and Sigma do some great L-mount glass, so I'm sticking with them!
     
  18. I like the zebra picture too. I have a GX7 that I sort of keep as a back-up camera. It was really a fun camera to use and could take all sorts of different lenses with adaptors.
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