Two full frame cameras that shoot 6K, and both offer RAW:
In this article let’s put them head to head to see which is truly the better investment for full frame.
Important: Most of this comparison is based on available specs and information.
- Comparison of sensors and video features
- Exposure, focus and ergonomics
- The costs of media and batteries
- Which is cheapest to own?
- Verdict. Who wins?
Comparison of sensors and video features
Here’s how the camera sensors compare:
|Camera||Resolution||ISO Range||Sensor Size|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||5496×2904||100-25,600||36 x 24 mm|
|Panasonic S1H||5952×3968||640-51,200||36 x 24 mm|
Even though the 1DX Mark III goes to an impressive 100K ISO, that’s only in stills mode. Unfortunately, the ISO range for video is limited.
The maximum ISO range is not always a good indicator of low light performance. E.g., the S1H has more resolution, so the pixels are smaller. Overall, based on specs, I think the S1H is probably going to be the better low light performer.
What about frame rates?
|Camera||Max fps at 4K||Sensor Crop||Max fps at 1080p|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||59.94 fps||Full frame and 1.3x modes||119.9 fps|
|Panasonic S1H||60 fps*||24.5 x 16.38 (1.45x crop)||180 fps|
*Maximum fps at 6K is only 24 fps.
Here we see the first big split. The S1H can do better frame rates in 1080p, but has a crop of 1.45x – essentially making it a Super35mm camera.
The 1DX Mark III has both full frame and 1.3x modes, so you’re actually getting what you’re paying for.
Next, the codecs and color information:
|Camera||Best codec Internally||Color Information|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||5.5K RAW | H.264/H.265 ALL-I||RAW | 8-bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic S1H||H.264/H.265 ALL-I||10:bit 4:2:2*|
*At 6K you only get 10-bit 4:2:0.
Even here the Canon 1DX Mark III shines, with 5.5K internal RAW recording. On the other hand, if you don’t want RAW, then the S1H offers 10-bit 4:2:2.
The RAW format in the 1DX Mark III is Canon RAW Light, written as a *.CRM file. The RAW compression ratio is 3:1 for up to 30 fps, and 4:1 for up to 60 fps in 5.5K.
Finally, what you get with HDMI externally:
|Camera||Best external resolution and fps||Color Information|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||4096 x 2160 @ 60fps||10:bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic S1H||4096 x 2160 @ 60fps / 5.9K @ 30fps||10-bit 4:2:2/RAW*|
*Atomos have announced a RAW update coming to the Panasonic S1H early this year. We don’t know at this point whether it will be free or cost money (like the Nikon Z6), but they have confirmed it’s Prores RAW HQ.
In order to record RAW with the S1H, you’ll need the Atomos Ninja V recorder.
Here are the data rates for 5.5K or 6K RAW, and 4K ALL-I, at 30 fps:
|Canon 1DX Mark III||325 MB/s @ 60 fps|
225 MB/s @ 30 fps
|Panasonic S1H||400 MB/s ??*||50 MB/s|
*The data rate is for Prores RAW HQ, though we won’t know for sure until the update is released. Also, the data rate is just an assumption since the maximum frame rate at 6K is 24 fps.
I’ll not talk about the audio features since that needs to be tested in the real world.
Usability, focus and exposure aids, and ergonomics
The little things make all the difference:
- Weight and ergonomics
- Viewfinder and monitor
- Focus and Exposure tools
Here’s how these cameras compare on ergonomics:
|Canon 1DX Mark III||No mounting points and no fan. It is taller and heavier (1250 grams) than the S1H, but is better to hold.|
|Panasonic S1H||It has a fan and it is audible, grip is painful, not the most pleasurable to hold. This is a heavy camera (1052 grams).|
The 1DX Mark III has time-honored ergonomics for pure handheld use.
The S1H has IBIS and the 1DX Mark III relies on its lenses for image stabilization.
Overall, neither of these cameras are designed for long-term handheld use for video. You’d get tired pretty quickly.
|Canon 1DX Mark III||No||Non Touch, Fixed||Type C (Mini)|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes||Touch, Full tilt and swivel||Type A|
What about exposure and focus aids? Here’s a look:
|Camera||Manual Focus Aids||Continuous Autofocus||Exposure|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||Yes, with 5x and 10x magnification||Yes, DPAF||Meter, Histogram|
|Panasonic S1H||Peaking, Zoom||Yes||Histogram, 3D LUTs, Waveform, Vectorscope, Zebras|
However, as far as autofocus is concerned, the DPAF system of the 1DX Mark II is world-class, and easily trumps the AF of the Panasonic:
However, the AF does not function with 5.5K RAW 60p/50p.
Batteries and media cards
|Camera||Dual card slots||Price per GB|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||Yes, CFexpress 1.0 Type B||$1.1/GB|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes, SDXC||$0.4/GB ($0.35/GB)^|
^The values are for RAW (SSD) and SDXC in parentheses. Rates comparing 512 GB media from Sandisk.
CFexpress is new and expensive at the moment. The price should drop, but not for many months. For now, in some regions, Canon gives a free 64 GB CFexpress card and reader along with the camera. That’s good value, and an important step.
All the features in the world are useless if you have to hire a donkey to carry your batteries:
|Camera||Battery life^||Cost one one battery*||Cost of 6 hours of operation|
|Canon 1DX Mark III||140 minutes||$163||$420|
|Panasonic S1H||60 minutes^||$88||$528|
^Actual recordable time, from Panasonic’s and Canon’s official specs, at 4K 60 fps MP4.
*As of this writing. Original batteries for both.
Even though the cost of batteries are higher, you get a much better running time with the 1DX Mark III.
Prores RAW is supported on the following NLEs:
- Adobe Premiere Pro
- Avid Media Composer
- FCP X
- Edius Pro
- Scratch (color grading suite)
It is not supported in Resolve.
On the other hand, Canon RAW Light is supported by virtually all NLEs, including Resolve. So it definitely has an advantage as far as RAW workflows are concerned.
Which is cheaper to own?
Let’s just add up the costs:
|Camera||Panasonic S1H||Canon 1DX Mark III|
|Media and Accessories*||$62||$230|
*We can’t say for sure about RAW unless the data rates are revealed for the S1H. However, you’ll need to purchase an Atomos Ninja V and an HDMI cable for RAW recording as well. Right now, the numbers are for internal ALL-I 4K recording at 24 fps, for one hour.
#You don’t need a recorder for RAW, but you might need a monitor because the LCD is fixed and is impractical for most video work.
There’s a price difference of $1,866 between the S1H and the Canon 1DX Mark III. You could buy an S1H and a second camera like the BMPCC 4K for the difference, though that’s not as simple as it sounds.
Is the difference worth it?
First, a recap:
|Sensor and ISO||Canon 1DX Mark III|
|Video features||Panasonic S1H|
|Codecs and Color||Canon 1DX Mark III|
|Ports and Monitoring||Tie|
|Autofocus||Canon 1DX Mark III|
|Power||Canon 1DX Mark III|
Before we take our final decision, we’ll let the cameras tell us what they offer that the others don’t:
|Canon 1DX Mark III||Internal RAW, DPAF, Full frame and 1.3x||Expensive, fixed LCD, no EVF|
|Panasonic S1H||Internal 10-bit 4:2:2, Tilt+Swivel LCD, IBIS, exposure tools||Fan noise, you need to buy an external recorder for RAW|
- Tilt+ Flip screen
- Great Viewfinder and LCD, large OLED panel on top
- True anamorphic mode and full frame
- All the important exposure tools
- Autofocus in video
- 400 Mbps 10-bit 4:2:2 codec which can be graded
- Great stills camera
- Prores RAW coming in February 2020.
- 180 fps in 1080p
- Panasonic’s amazing color science
- 14+ stops (V-Log)
- Dual Native ISO
- How do you get around the fixed LCD and lack of exposure tools?
- Do clients really pay for 5.5K RAW, or any RAW for that matter?
- Is this the last in the line for the 1DX range? What about the new RF system, and what if Canon brings out a 1DX-like body with the new RF mount?
- Is RAW and dual pixel AF worth the extra $1,899? How hard do you have to work to get that $1,899 back?
And that, question #4, is the bottom line. If you really really really need Canon’s legendary autofocus
What do you think?