Review Update! The Panasonic S1 is Still Not Better Than the S5

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We’ve updated our Panasonic S1 review recently. We’ve found the camera to greatly improve overall. If you own the Panasonic S1, you’ll get more for your money. If you don’t own the Panasonic S1, there’s still no major reason for you to buy one. In fact, I’d tell you to instead reach for the Panasonic S5. In our tests, the Panasonic S5 still performed better than the Panasonic S1 when autofocusing. Those are some of the biggest changes that came to the S1 with the recent firmware update. So we’re going to dive into it.

The big thing with this firmware update is how animal and human detection is set up. In the 1-area+ and 1-area focus mode, you can set it to human, straight, or human/animal autofocus settings. This will be applied to not only Panasonic lenses but those from Leica too. We didn’t test this with Sigma lenses, but we’re sure they would work there too. Something that’s annoying with the Panasonic system is that you get Burst with Live View. And I couldn’t figure out how to turn that off and have the screen just be the normal layout that I set it to. 

Further, I set the AF custom settings to work for street photography. The menu carefully describes these for you. When using the S1, I yearned for the S5’s ability to hide the display. 

Nonetheless, the simple autofocus integration is wonderful. It makes accessing and changing the settings so much quicker. It’s about on par with Canon and light-years faster than Sony’s menu.

Overall, the Panasonic S1 performed well with the Leica 35mm f2 Summicron S. We used it for street photography in good lighting. Once we stepped into Grand Central and other low lit situations, it really suffered. To ensure I wasn’t going crazy, I went out for a walk around my neighborhood with the camera again. This time I used the Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8 Lumix Pro. Unfortunately, the duo disappointed me. Overall, the Panasonic S5 is so much better in low light. And I’m still scratching my head for a reason to get the S1 over the S5 and the S1R. 

When photographing dogs, we surely got keeper shots. But those shots felt more on par with what I’d get with DSLRs. They didn’t feel as tack sharp and spot-on as the latest Sony and Canon mirrorless cameras. They even felt just a bit behind Fujifilm and what they’re doing.

In our testing, we used the various modes combine with AF-C and medium burst mode. 

We shot a bunch of photos of this beautiful pup above. But not many images had her eyes in focus. Instead, her nose would be. 

In this burst with the Labradoodle, we got more keeper shots. But this isn’t tough to do at all. All of these were shot with the Leica 35mm f2. In low light is where issues happen. The sequences below show that off.

We switched to the Panasonic 24-70mm f2.8 and found that the performance got better. Still not a whole lot better overall, though. 

Would I use this camera for street photography? I guess so. Even with that said, I think that I could use it for journalism. But I’d personally be disappointed knowing that I’d get higher keeper rates with another camera system. Combine that with the Panasonic S1’s heavy weight, and I’d be even more disappointed.

The next version of the Panasonic S1 really needs to hit it out of the park. It can’t be a slight update the way that Nikon did with the z6 series. For more, you can go check out our Panasonic S1 Review right here. Still though, I’m not sure I can recommend it.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.