The Panasonic L-Mount cameras, the S1 and S1R
I had a good play with the cameras, although I didn’t bother taking test shots. I was mainly concerned with handling and feel. As an ex SL user, I felt immediately at home with the S1 with the S Pro 50mm f/1.4 “Approved by Leica” fast prime attached. It feels about the same as the SL with an equivalent lens — but the heft is just right.
When you check the specifications, the SL with the 50mm Summilux turns the scales at 1,912g compared with the S1R and 50 S Pro at 1,965. The SL body is actually 175g lighter than the Lumix, but the lens is 110g heavier. Could this indicate some optical advantage to Leica? See my further comments below.
The grip of the S1/R feels slightly larger and more comfortable than that of the SL and, despite the flat front, reminiscent of the Leica, the rounded corners and contours of the S1 do give a more cuddly feeling. It’s a chunky beast, make no mistake, looking like an adult Lumix m4/3 body but with the bulk of a professional DSLR.
All three lenses appear to be extremely well built, especially the 50mm “Lumilux” which I spent the most time examining. It has exceptionally smooth aperture and
It will be interesting to see from forthcoming reviews how this lens compares with the Leica Summilux 50mm f/1.4 ASPH which costs a lot more — £3,876 compared with the Lumix at £2,300. I suspect this lens will acquit itself well and, without doubt, will be up for consideration by Leica users, as will the other lenses in the new Lumix S lineup.
There is a dilemma here for keen amateurs. Although they may lust after the S1/R and its excellent range of lenses, these cameras
I believe there is still room for smaller full-frame alternatives, with the Sony a7 and Nikon Z6 offering a guiding light. I do hope that Panasonic (and Leica for that matter) are working on such a smaller design which would be ideal with compact manual lenses such as those in the M range.
What is undeniable is that the L-Mount Alliance and Panasonic’s wholehearted support for the system has put new life into Leica’s SL (and TL/CL) ranges. With Sigma adding more goodies later this year, the system choice is set to become impressively wide.
There is also Leica’s existing range of TL lenses to consider. Since they share the same mount as the Panasonic, I will be interested to see how these lenses perform on the large-sensor S1R and the forthcoming SL2 which, I predict, will carry the same sensor as the Panasonic.
While the cropped images from these lenses (when used on the current SL) is down to around 11 MP compared with the full-frame image of 24MP, the bigger sensor will offer greater opportunities. Despite the current crop image, the 23mm Summicron-TL and 35mm Summilux-TL do actually perform well on the SL. I did some test shots shortly after the launch of the SL.
The TL lenses will perform even better on a 47MP sensor and will offer some very compact, high-performance optics for use with the
While the new Panasonics are probably too big to attract a photographer such as me (I had my dalliances with the SL and the combination of body and high-quality glass can be daunting), I can see very interesting times ahead. For anyone who doesn’t mind the weight and bulk, the rewards are clear to see.
The S1 retails at £2,199 and the S1R is £3,399, including 20% VAT. The current Leica SL, still with a 24MP sensor and therefore directly comparable with the S1, costs £4,495 —over twice the price. The SL2, when it arrives later this year, is sure to be priced over £6,000.
At launch, the Lumix S range consists of three lenses, but the road map shows that by 2020 there will be ten lenses to choose from — plus offerings from Sigma and, of course, Leica.
Prices of the initial lenses are attractive, especially compared with Leica. While the 23-105 Lumix S is slower than the f/2.8-f/4 Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm, it offers a longer range and is £2,200 cheaper. I have no doubt that the Leica will turn out to be the better lens, it will be interesting to see if even Leica SL owners will be attracted by the savings.
- Lumix S 24-105mm f/4 Macro OIS, £1,299
- Lumix S PRO 50mm f/1.4, £2,299
- Lumix S PRO 70-200mm f/4 OIS, £1,749