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Panasonic S1R, not the droid you are looking for.

The Panasonic S1 sensor is awesome, I suspect in part as it uses the same Sony sensor the A7III uses. There is not a lot difference between the tested results for these cameras.

The S1R is, well, different. The first sign there is no shared sensor with any Sony camera is the MP count. Sitting at 47.3 it is quite unique in the 40MP+ space.

So how does it compare in the 40MP plus space? Well I’m not going to lie, It’s not as good as the competition. Canon still performs the worst, and assuming the S1R is not doing any in camera NR it is better than the GFX-50S at 1 second, however at 30 seconds the GFX is better.

At 5 minutes (300 seconds) the noise reduction kicks in which is clearly visible. It looks very similar to the Fuji and Olympus cameras and their NR algorithm. The noise mean drops below the 1 second results at 5 minutes and the noise colour profile changes significantly.

There is no point me comparing it to all the other models in the 40MP+ space as all are better for low light / long exposure work based on my basic test, at least from a noise perspective. In fact older models such as the A7RII seem to perform better. However, how the camera performs in regards to dynamic range I can not say.

What I will say is this camera is a classic example of why I do these tests. Dx0 has this camera equal or above most models for overall image quality. While this may be true for standard exposure times under relatively normal lighting, it is not true for extremely low light and long exposures. For Astro Photography or any other long exposure work the field is nowhere near as close.

So for long exposure work, this is probably not the droid you are looking for.

Sony A7 III sensor testing.

There has been a lot chatter about the A7 mark 3. Both the previous models were excellent low light performers, although there was some discussion in the Astro community they were eating stars. With the introduction of a BSI sensor could this be the camera for you?

Having recently tested the Panasonic S1 I was very interested to see how the A7 III performs, as most people are saying it’s currently a 2 horse race between these two cameras.

Well I happy to say the A7 performs very well, It’s clear that the BSI sensor is much more uniform than previous models and it has significantly less noise.

When comparing it to it’s competition it stacks up very well. It performs very close to the S1, and surprisingly at 5 minutes there is almost nothing in it. The EOS R is the worst of the pack and the A7III is significantly better right across the exposures tested.

I am not sure if the Z6 and the A7III share the same sensor. Getting 100% confirmation on this is very hard, some articles are saying they are the same, while in others the number of raw pixels is slightly different, so maybe they are not. If they are then the 5 minute exposure time could show aggressive NR from Sony. However there have reports that the A7III is not suffering from the star eating problem that previous models had, well not completely it depends on what you read, but it’s better. So you can draw your own conclusions about the Z6 and the A7III sharing the same sensor.

It would be more consistent to conclude the S1 and A7III share the same sensor than the Z6. With many saying this is the case less with only the phase detection pixels removed in the S1. The difference in noise could easily come down to RAW images algorithms, and sensor production variation. It will be interesting to see how the A7RIII and S1R compare.

In my opinion if you currently own Sony gear the upgrade path is a no brainer, the A7III. if you don’t other factors such as cost, lens availability and other camera features are more likely to be a factor if you are leaning to the S1.

It’s also worth noting that ensuring testing temperature is very difficult and this or a future firmware upgrade could easily tip the scales to either the A7III or the S1 or even the Z6. What can be done with a firmware upgrade is amazing. Either way both the A7III and the S1 are excellent long exposure performers and should perform very well.

If you would like to find out more about the Sensor DBclick here.


Sensor DB Upgrade.

It has been a while since the Sensor Database has been upgraded, and it was time with the recent additions of some never sensors.

New features include a better layout with less clutter for comparing models. I have also added pop-up images to allow users to see a true 1:1 view of the sensor noise, rather than a 50% browser rescale. These new features will allow for better comparisons as sensors continue to improve.

To view the new Sensor DB, click here

Panasonic Lumix S1, #TogUpgrade?

A friend of mine recently purchased an S1, so it was time to test. I must say I’m pretty impressed. The low light sensitivity is generally one par with the Nikon Z6 for what most would consider “Sport” low light photography. Even Dx0 only shows a 4 point (0.011%) improvement on the Z6. Depending on the body you get it could easily fall either way.

So whats so impressive about this camera I hear you say? well, when you start to push this camera to exposures in excess of 1 second at ISO 3200 something very interesting starts to happen. The S1 does not seem to deteriorate any where near as quickly as the competition. At 300 seconds the noise is only slightly worse than the Z6 is at 30 seconds.

The S1 at 300 seconds performs better than the Canon RP at 1 second. Ouch, thats got to hurt Canon. Panasonic have clearly overshot the moon with their new Venus Engine processor and sensor.

S1 v the competition.

The noise profile looks to be “normal”, and I does not look like there is any aggressive NR filtering being performed before additional “in menu” options are enabled, unlike some some cameras like Fuji and Olympus. It would be great to see some real world shots, preferably of stars etc. Even the Sony A7 series is know to eat a few stars.

If you are after possibly the best low light camera at around 24MP this could possibly be it. I’d personally wait to see some astro pictures from this camera, and see what the astrophotographers say. If it’s not eating stars or not very aggressively Panasonic have a real winner here, at least from a long exposure point of view.

I’m very keen to get my hands on a S1R now, as this could be a real cat amongst the pidgins in the 45MP+ range.

If you would like to compare the S1 to more models, or learn more about the sensor database click here.

Upper Antelope Canyon.

Recently while in the US I had the opportunity to shoot the Upper Antelope Canyon. I was with my wife, who did not have s DSLR at the time, so this ruled out a ‘photography’ tour, as a DSLR + Tripod were required by all those who took the tour. Ditching my wife was not really an option 😉

But to be honest I think the general tour worked out well, sure it was rushed, and you needed to be on your ‘A’ game with a good low light camera to shoot with no tripod, but I think I pulled it off. I managed to snap lots of great shots. I almost felt sorry for the photography group forced to line up their cameras to all catch the exact same shot, often recreating ‘famous’ shots. I was also glad my gear was not sitting on a tripod as the fine sand fell.

The tour guides had a well oiled machine, pushing as many people through the canyon they could. Knowing that I would be moving quite fast with no tripod I had to get the settings roughly right, as there would be little time to play around.

“The Flame”

I decided to just let the camera deal with the ISO so I could at least ensure sharp shots without a tripod. Some of the shots were as high as 12800 ISO and 1/30th @ f4. I had decided that the f4 16-35mm would be the best choice from my kit not having an f2.8 equivalent. The 16-35 was also the best option as I wanted to also use a polariser, as the rock is known to be highly reflective, and this would have been a problem with some of the more wider lenses. Of course the polariser added to the problem, subtracting from what little precious light there was.

Back button focus was a must for quick focus and framing, there was simply not enough time to move the AF point a lot of the time. Occasional exposure compensation adjustment up to -3EV was also used at times. I wanted to retain a lot of the highlights, so underexposure was more important than over, I trusted the D750 and it’s low light power. It also helped to keep the shutter speed to acceptable hand held levels.

Overall the I think the outcome was very good, I was a little dubious when looking at the shots on the camera, but once I pushed the RAW images into Lightroom and corrected to daylight colour they really started to pop.

Maybe, just maybe there is another million dollar shot in the mix. Then again it’s hard to take a bad picture of the Canyon.

“The Sniff”

If you would like to see more of the shots I have uploaded them to flickr.

The Flame, Upper Antelope Canyon, Navajo land.
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