If you like the Panasonic ecosystem you might be wondering which of these three cameras are the right choice for video:
Why isn’t there a GH5S in this comparison?
The GH5S was never attractive to me. For just low light performance I miss out on all the other goodies the Panasonic GH5 (Amazon, B&H) has. I really don’t see the value when I can get the job done with the GH5.
- 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 for V-Log||Sensor Size|
|Panasonic GH5||4992 x 3744||400-12800||17.3 x 13 mm|
|Panasonic S1||4096 x 2160||640-51200||36 x 24 mm|
|Panasonic S1H||5952×3968||640-51200||36 x 24 mm|
|Panasonic S1H||640 and 4000|
The S1 and S1H have better low light performance by a mile. The S1H has dual native ISO at 640 and 4000, so it is the best, in theory.
With the GH5, you can almost shoot in 5K in 4:3 mode, which is a great advantage. However, that is only in H.265. The S1H can do even more, all the way to 6K, but still only in H.265.
Just on these specs alone it is interesting to see how the S1H combines the advantages of both the GH5 and the S1 into one package.
What about frame rates?
|Camera||Max fps at 4K||Sensor Crop at 60 fps||Max fps at 1080p|
|Panasonic GH5||60 fps||17.3 x 13 mm (no crop)||180 fps|
|Panasonic S1||60 fps||24.5 x 16.38 (1.45x crop)||120 fps|
|Panasonic S1H||60 fps||24.5 x 16.38 (1.45x crop)||180 fps|
There is a crop on both the S1 and S1H at 4K 60 fps. You only get full frame till 30 fps.
As far as slow motion at 1080p is concerned, you get up to 180 fps with the S1H. Overall, the S1H continues to combine both the advantages of the GH5 and S1.
Next, the codecs and color information:
|Camera||Best codec Internally||Color Information|
|Panasonic GH5||H.264/H.265 ALL-I||10:bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic S1||H.264/H.265 ALL-I||10: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.
^With the optional V-log upgrade. Otherwise 8-bit 4:2:0. More info here.
But, if you want the best quality, you need HDMI externally:
|Camera||Best external resolution and fps||Color Information|
|Panasonic GH5||4096 x 2160||10:bit 4:2:2|
|Panasonic S1||4096 x 2160||10:bit 4:2:2^|
|Panasonic S1H||4096 x 2160||10-bit 4:2:2/RAW*|
^With the optional V-log upgrade. Otherwise 8-bit 4:2:2. More info here.
*Atomos have announced a RAW update coming to the Panasonic S1H. We don’t know at this point whether it will be free or cost money (like the Nikon Z6), and we don’t know if it will be ProresRAW.
Regarding audio features, all of them have okay-ish audio.
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:
|Panasonic GH5||As perfect as I have ever seen.|
|Panasonic S1||Grip is painful, not the most pleasurable to hold. This is a DSLR-sized camera.|
|Panasonic S1H||It has a fan and it is audible, grip is painful, not the most pleasurable to hold. This is a heavy camera.|
The S1H is definitely DSLR territory. Pair it with a large lens and it will be tough to handhold for long periods. Thankfully it has IBIS, but that’s not a magic pill.
The GH5 fits like a glove in my hand, and the buttons are all in the perfect place. I’m sure if your hands are larger/smaller you might feel differently. No way to tell without actually working with these cameras for a while, but based on my limited experience with the S1 and GH5, I prefer the GH5.
|Panasonic GH5||Yes||Touch, partial tilt and swivel||Type A|
|Panasonic S1||Yes||Touch, Slight tilt and weird swivel to the non-operator side||Type A|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes||Touch, Full tilt and swivel||Type A|
The GH5 has a full swivel screen. I can’t begin to tell you how important that is. And it amazes me to see how the S1H still continues to marry the features of the Gh5 and S1H with its tilt+swivel screen. This is extremely important, because it gets the screen out of the way of HDMI and microphone cables.
The S1 has the weirdest screen. The swivel to the right is not very useful. For video shooting, the operator usually stands on the left. I don’t know why this is so. If you know why, please let me know.
The EVF on the S1 and S1H are definitely better, though the GH5 is great as well and gets the job done.
|Camera||Focus Aids||Continuous Autofocus||Exposure|
|Panasonic GH5||Peaking, Zoom||Yes||Histogram, 3D LUTs, Waveform, Vectorscope, Zebras|
|Panasonic S1||Peaking, Zoom||Yes||Histogram, 3D LUTs, Waveform, Vectorscope, Zebras^|
|Panasonic S1H||Peaking, Zoom||Yes||Histogram, 3D LUTs, Waveform, Vectorscope, Zebras|
^With the optional V-log upgrade. More info here.
Where all three cameras fall behind is continuous autofocus. Here’s a test with the S1:
Bottom line? Ergonomics-wise, you can’t beat the S1H. Period.
It elegantly marries all the good things about the GH5 and S1. The only advantage the GH5 has is its size and weight, if that is important to you.
Batteries and media cards
|Camera||Dual card slots||Price per hour of 4K*||Price per GB^|
|Panasonic GH5||Yes, SDXC||$316||$1.8/GB|
|Panasonic S1||Yes, SDXC + XQD||$316||$1.8/GB ($2/GB)|
|Panasonic S1H||Yes, SDXC||$316||$1.8/GB|
*Best image quality, 25 fps, 400 Mbps ALL-I. This is the maximum you can record internally.
^Based on a Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD 240 GB. For the S1, the values in brackets are for XQD.
I think in the future we’ll see CFastExpress, which is a newer version (sort of) of XQD. But for now SD cards are still great.
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|
|Panasonic GH5||50 minutes||$60||$432|
|Panasonic S1||70 minutes||$88||$453|
|Panasonic S1H||60 minutes||$88||$528|
^Actual recordable time, from Panasonic’s official specs for 4K 60 fps MP4.
*As of this writing. Original batteries only, from B&H.
Things are mostly even here. The major difference will be if and when RAW comes to the S1H. Then the rates will be higher.
The large sizes of the S1 and S1H have some positives, like it gives you more space for a larger battery.
Which is cheaper to own?
|Camera||Price of body||Notes|
|Panasonic GH5||$1,498||V-log and 10-bit 4:2:2 is a separate purchase (+$97).|
|Panasonic S1||$2,498||V-log and 10-bit 4:2:2 is a separate purchase (+$199).|
|Panasonic S1H||$3,998||All included*.|
*If and when RAW arrives, we’ll need to factor in the cost of an Atomos Ninja V, media, batteries, etc.
Let’s just add up the costs:
|Camera||Price of body||Media||Batteries||Total|
There’s a price difference of $1,376 between the S1H and the S1. The big question you’ll be having is: Is that worth it?
Put a thought aside for the GH5. Its (tremendous) value is clear.
First, a recap:
|Sensor and ISO||Panasonic S1H|
|Video features||Panasonic S1H|
|Codecs and Color||Panasonic S1H|
|Media||Panasonic S1H, GH5|
|Ergonomics||Panasonic S1H, GH5|
|Ports and Monitoring||Tie|
|Most value for money||Panasonic GH5|
Before we take our final decision, we’ll let the cameras tell us what they offer that the others don’t:
|Panasonic GH5||Internal 10-bit, 5K, Swivel LCD, Anamorphic||Highlight clipping|
|Panasonic S1||Internal 10-bit, Colors, Anamorphic||V-Log is an additional purchase|
|Panasonic S1H||Internal 10-bit, 6K, Tilt+Swivel LCD, True anamorphic, RAW||Expensive|
- 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
- RAW coming in a future update
- 180 fps in 1080p
- 14+ stops (V-Log)
- Dual Native ISO
Are you a professional?
If you’re not making much money with your gear, or if your are not looking at these cameras as a B-cam, but your only camera, then it’s hard for me to recommend the S1H.
- Amazing colors and dynamic range. Just watch this monster comparison test I did.
- 4K 60p in 10-bit 4:2:2
- Good enough low light performance.
- 120 fps in HD.
- Better battery life.
- The money you save can be used to buy a good lens.
Who really needs 6K in the low end video production space. It has its advantages, but low budget filmmakers and video producers don’t really need it.
Then comes ProresRAW, if that is the RAW format Panasonic decides to use with Atomos recorders. Except for FCP X, no other NLE currently supports it. I expect Premiere Pro to in the future, but I’m not so sure about Resolve. Will you have the time to play around with RAW, and manage the storage space? Will your clients pay for it?
No client will pay you extra for the features the S1H has, if they are not paying you enough already.
This is the dose of reality. We would all like more and more features if we can get it, but not if you put your financials at risk. It might be very dangerous to spend that extra $1,300 or so for the S1H when you can’t afford it yet.
I pick the Panasonic S1 (Amazon, B&H) in this comparison for most video shooters, looking at the market today. If you are a professional making decent money, or if you are looking for a great B-cam, then the Panasonic S1H (Amazon, B&H) will amaze you.
What do you think?