The Best Lenses for the Panasonic S1 and S1H for Video

Let’s go over the most useful lenses for the Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H), specifically for video and cinematography.

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The Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H) are new cameras that have a new lens mount (for Panasonic), the L-mount.

Who makes L-mount cameras and lenses?

The L-mount system is standardized and adopted by three companies:

  1. Panasonic
  2. Leica
  3. Sigma

All three of them have committed to making cameras and lenses using the L-mount, so they have interchangeability and interoperability between each other. E.g., Sigma has the new Sigma fp camera, and Leica has the Leica SL camera (Amazon, B&H). All three companies have lenses for the L-mount.

The L-mount has a flange focal distance of 20mm. This means you can adapt a range of third-party lenses to the L-mount, and we’ll talk more about that later.

What is a “native” lens?

A “native” lens is one specifically designed for the L-mount system, and which allow the following:

  • Full control of autofocus, image stabilization, iris, zoom and focus control.
  • Electronic metadata like iris, focal length, distortion, fall-off, focus, etc.
  • Continuous auto focus for video.

The biggest advantage of owning native lenses is that it’s designed specifically for the new sensor and camera design. If you want the best autofocus performance, you need L-mount lenses.

What native lenses are available right now?

Since three companies can make native L-mount lenses, let’s divide them so its simpler to understand what’s on offer.

Panasonic

As of this writing, these are the lenses available or imminent for the Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H):

  1. Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F/4 Macro OIS (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Panasonic Lumix S 50mm F/1.4 Pro (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm F/4 OIS Pro (Amazon, B&H)

To be honest, I’m a little confused by the 70-200mm f/4. I would have preferred a 24-70mm range, or better.

What’s worse, the prices are way too high compared to the competition. E.g.:

Lens 24-105mm f/4Price
Panasonic$1,297
Sigma Art$899
Canon EOS R$1,099
Canon EF$1,099

Leica

Leica has had more time with the L-mount, and they have a greater range of lenses:

  1. Leica SL APO-Summicron 75mm f/2 (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Leica SL APO-Summicron 90mm F/2 (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Leica SL Summilux 50mm F/1.4 ASPH (Amazon, B&H)
  4. Leica SL Super-Vario Elmar 16-35mm F/3.5-4.5 ASPH (Amazon, B&H)
  5. Leica SL Vario-Elmarit 24-90mm F/2.8-4 ASPH (Amazon, B&H)
  6. Leica SL APO-Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH (Amazon, B&H)
  7. Leica SL Vario-Elmarit 90-280mm F/2.8-4 (Amazon, B&H)
  8. APS-C, a wide angle option for now: Leica TL Vario-Elmar 11-23mm F/3.5-4.5 ASPH (Amazon, B&H)

The issue with Leica lenses is the brand name, and therefore, the price. The range is from $1,295 to $6,395, and the average is about $4,000. That’s a lot!

Since both the S1 and S1H shoot in crop mode at 4K 60fps, you can use the Vario-Elmar 11-23mm F/3.5-4.5 ASPH (Amazon, B&H) to get a 17-36mm equivalent wide angle zoom.

Sigma

Sigma haven’t released lenses for the L-mount, but they will shortly.

The majority of the Sigma Art (Amazon, B&H) range will be ported over to the L-mount eventually. By the end of 2019, these lenses are expected to be available:

  1. Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Sigma 45mm f/2.8 DG DN Contemporary (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H)
  4. Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  5. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  6. Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  7. Sigma 20mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  8. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  9. Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  10. Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  11. Sigma 40mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)
  12. Sigma 105mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art (Amazon, B&H)

The sad thing is, there’s only one zoom in the range, and none are expected as of 2020 either.

Recommended native lenses for the Panasonic S1 and S1H

Here’s what I recommend for now:

  1. Wide angle: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H) (coming in August)
  2. Mid range zoom: Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F/4 Macro OIS (Amazon, B&H). This is also a macro lens with a 1:2 magnification ratio and a minimum focusing distance of 11.8″. And it has controlled focus breathing.
  3. Telephoto: Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm F/4 OIS Pro (Amazon, B&H)
  4. Low light prime: Panasonic Lumix S 50mm F/1.4 Pro (Amazon, B&H)
  5. Best wide angle prime: Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H)
  6. Any other prime: Wait for the Sigma Art series or new Panasonic S series.

Are L-mount lenses good for video?

It depends on what type of video you’re into. Currently the biggest issue is the limited range available as far as focal lengths are concerned.

There aren’t any super wide options, and some of the primes might be too expensive for many shooters.

The big advantages specific to Panasonic lenses are:

  1. They have controlled focus breathing, which is great. This is why I recommended the Panasonic 50mm f/1.4 over the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. The Sigma is a world-class lens, but breathes like a dragon.
  2. They have linear focus rings, not focus-by-wire systems. This is critical when you want to focus manually.
  3. They have large number of aperture blades. The 50mm f/1.4 has 11 blades.
  4. They are weather sealed and designed to be use in the extreme cold. Rated for up to -10 degree C.
  5. All three Panasonic lenses have a standard filter size of 77mm.
  6. The lens has an aperture ring. The Leica L lenses don’t have aperture rings.
  7. The lens has a distance scale. The Leica L lenses don’t have distance scales.

Here’s a video from Panasonic:

If you’re depressed about the lens choices (and price), then the good news is you can use third-party lenses as well.

Lens adapters

How do you know if a lens can be used or not? First, you need to know what the flange focal distance is.

Here’s information on each mount, in increasing order of the focal flange distance:

MountFocal Flange Distance in mm
Z Nikon Z-mount16
C C-Mount17.526
EF-M Canon EF-M mount18
E Sony E-mount18
FZ Sony18
MFT Micro Four Thirds mount19.25
RF Canon RF-mount20
L Leica L-mount20
M Leica M mount27.8
FT Four Thirds mount38.67
FD Canon Manual FD mount42
EF Canon EOS EF mount44
EF-S Canon EOS EF-S mount44
LPL Arri LPL-mount44
A Minolta/Sony A-mount44.5
K Pentax K-mount45.46
F Nikon F-mount46.5
R Leica R-mount47
PL Arri PL mount52

Third-party lenses come in their own lens mounts. So you need some sort of adapter that comes between the lens and the camera. This adapter does three things:

  1. It connects two mounts that naturally don’t fit together, and
  2. It makes up for the flange focal distance.
  3. Optional: Provides contacts that allow you to control aperture, zoom, focus, etc., from the camera itself. Not all features are supported.

There’s no glass in the adapter, no lens or optics. It’s just hollow inside.

The L-mount has a flange focal distance of 20mm, so any lens that has a higher flange focal distance than this in the above table can be adapted. This is why you can adapt EF lenses, because the Canon EF mount has a flange focal distance of 44mm.

You can also adapt older Canon FD lenses, Leica M lenses, PL-mount lenses and of course Nikon F-mount lenses and others.

Both Leica and Sigma have released lens adapters and given the choice, I think you should stick with them if your lens falls into that category. Very important: None of the adapters support continuous autofocus for video. You need native lenses for that.

Which is the best lens adapter for the S1 and S1H?

Here’s the list of adapters I recommend for the Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H):

Lens mountAdapterBuy
Canon EFSigma MC-21(Amazon, B&H)
Leica MLeica M-Adapter L(Amazon, B&H)
Leica RLeica R-Adapter L(Amazon, B&H)
Leica SLeica S-Adapter L(Amazon, B&H)
Nikon FNovoflex Nikon F to SL Manual(Amazon, B&H)
PLWooden Camera PL to L(Amazon, B&H)
For Medium FormatKipon Baveyes(Amazon, B&H)
OthersKipon(Amazon, B&H)

Native adapters are a bit more expensive, but they give you the best functionality, and will maintain weather-sealing where appropriate.

What are the best lenses for the Panasonic S1 and Panasonic S1H for Video?

Prime lenses

Why prime lenses?

The single greatest advantage prime lenses have in general is they can open wider than zooms. You can go down to f/0.95 if you wanted to!

This makes it a great option for low light cinematography. And there’s really no excuse for not having at least one prime because they also tend to be cheap without sacrificing quality. Another advantage of prime lenses is they are usually lighter than zoom lenses (comparing the same price range).

The third advantage of prime lenses are they have lower breathing, while the zoom lenses (photo) breathe and are not parfocal.

When should you pick prime lenses with manual focus?

When you can and want to control the focus, that’s when.

Professionals use follow focus systems, but even if that’s overkill for you, you need to ensure the focus ring on the lens is solid, smooth and reliable enough to consistently nail focus. The Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H) has focus peaking as well as a zoom-in feature, so you can nail focus by looking at the back LCD.

Please note, these are for 4K up to 30 fps, without a crop factor:

  1. Wide angle: Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Normal: Sigma 24 f/1.4 Art (Amazon, B&H) and Sigma 35mm f/1.2 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Middle: Panasonic Lumix S 50mm F/1.4 Pro (Amazon, B&H)
  4. Telephoto: Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art (Amazon, B&H) and Sigma 135mm f/1.8 Art (Amazon, B&H)
  5. Super telephoto: Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Lens + Adapter (Amazon, B&H)

What about third-party lenses?

I like Leica R primes, but they are hard to find or recommend for everybody, and the price is high. You need to find a good copy, and maintenance is a problem as well. This applies to most older or esoteric lenses. If I’m recommending a lens, it should be available to purchase for most people worldwide, must be serviceable, and must offer tremendous value for money without sacrificing quality.

If you’re looking for something different to Sigma, you might want to look at the Zeiss Milvus line. Even though these are stellar lenses, on the whole they offer similar image quality to the Sigma line, but at higher prices.

Zoom lenses

Please note, these are for 4K up to 30 fps, without a crop factor:

  1. Widest: Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM Lens (Amazon, B&H) + Sigma MC-21 adapter (Amazon, B&H)
  2. Mid-range: Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN Art (Amazon, B&H) + Sigma MC-21 adapter (Amazon, B&H)
  3. Normal Range to Telephoto: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Lens (Amazon, B&H) + Sigma MC-21 adapter (Amazon, B&H)
  4. Extended Telephoto: Panasonic Lumix S 70-200mm F/4 OIS Pro (Amazon, B&H)
  5. Great all-round low-budget option: Panasonic Lumix S 24-105mm F/4 Macro OIS (Amazon, B&H)

It’s going to be a while before Panasonic fills the gaps in its lineup, so there’s no problem working with Canon EF lenses.

Recommended cine prime lenses for the Panasonic S1 and Panasonic S1H

There are really great full frame lenses, like the Arri Signature Primes or the Leica Thalia, but these are rental items, hardly available for purchase for us “regular folk”.

More practically, you could either go with Zeiss CP.3 primes or better yet, with Sigma Cine lenses in the PL mount. I prefer the latter, the range is just too much value for money, and it goes up to T1.5!

There are many other lenses that cover full frame. For more names, check out my comparison of cine primes for full frame.

Recommended cine zoom lenses for the Panasonic S1 and Panasonic S1H

This is more tricky. Full frame zoom lenses are hard to find. Right now, these are the only options:

To be honest, these are not lenses a Panasonic S1 and S1H (Amazon, B&H) owner is likely to purchase, as they are way too expensive.

Unless of course, you are using the Panasonic S1 or Panasonic S1H as a B-cam with a Panasonic Varicam or EVA1.

That’s it for my list! If you have any suggestions or recommendations please let me know in the comments below.

Click here to stay updated about new information, workflows and tips about the Panasonic S1.

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