Photography News Issue 70

Big test

But enough of the layout, what about performance? I had the Lumix S1 for two weeks, which coincided with a few days off, so I took it as my main camera. That’s obviously a risk, but the Lumix S1 didn’t let me down. With only one battery, I was concerned I’d run out of juice, but on two separate days I shot over 300 shots. That included lots of menu fiddling and image previewing, but the battery indicator showed it was only half used. Autofocus uses Panasonic’s contrast detect Depth From Defocus system, and it did prove capable and accurate, but it could struggle with low contrast or subjects with limited definition. For example, the AF struggled with clouds, grass and paintwork, but using the focus lever or the touchscreen to pick another focus area with contrast was quick enough. On the whole, though, the system proved reliable for stills and video for normal, everyday subjects.

I stuck with single zone AF for much of the time, but tried the 225 zone, adjustable single zone and zone focus options, too. One interesting option is the Zone (Vert/Horz) option, where you can select focus sensors in rows, up or down the image with one, three, five or seven rows active across the frame, and these can be moved around the 225 zone area. The face detect mode is face/ eye/body detection, too, with an option for animal detection. Strangely, I tried the animal detect option on a couple of horses in a paddock, but it didn’t pick up on the animals even though they were quite a reasonable size in the viewfinder. I can’t leave the AF system without mention of the S1’s extra focus features. There’s focus bracketing for out-of- camera focus merging, and also post focus, which gives the options of 4K or 6K, giving resolutions of eight and 18 megapixels respectively.

PERFORMANCE: EXPOSURE LATITUDE

I WAS ESPECIALLY IMPRESSED WITH THE LUMIX S1’S HIGH ISO PERFORMANCE, AND IT WAS EXCELLENT AT MEDIUM SPEEDS

PERFORMANCE: FOCUS BRACKETING

-3EV

-2EV

START

END

0

-1EV

MERGED

+1EV

+2EV

+3EV

Test shots were taken in various lighting conditions. This is a contrasty scene of Ely Cathedral shot on a bright evening. An exposure bracket was shot using the Lumix S1’s bracketing feature, with seven shots from -3EV to +3EV in 1EV steps. The correct exposure was 1/160sec at f/7.1, ISO 100. The Raws were exposure corrected afterwards using Lightroom. The underexposed shots were very successfully recovered with little noise gain and the -3EV and -2EV shots looked just as good as the correctly exposed image. Recovering overexposed shots was much less successful and while the +1EV shot looked fine, anything more and the final result didn’t look too good – this was especially true in the highlights. In the +3EV shot, the highlights had a grey veiling on

highlight areas. This scene was very high contrast, which didn't help and it is true that lower contrast scenes were more successful with highlights. To sum up, the Lumix S1’s Raws have reasonable, but not outstanding exposure latitude. The Raws were much more tolerant to underexposure, so even the -3EV shot looked perfectly acceptable, but with overexposure and scenes of bright highlights, even +2EV shots didn’t recover too well.

The Lumix S1 is among the growing band of cameras offering focus bracketing to produce images that can be merged in software afterwards – there is no focus merging feature on the camera itself. There are the usual options – such as number of frames and the distance gap between each shot – but you also have the option of how you want the focus bracket to work. You can choose to start at the closest focused distance and the bracket progresses towards infinity which, to me, is the most user-friendly, or you can have the bracket alternate either side and progressively extend away from the focused point.

This sample here was a 19-shot focus bracket shot with the 24-105mm zoom set to 105mm and f/4 and focused on the cross, which was about m from the camera position, with the buildings behind about 40m distant. The camera was tripod mounted. In the end, 13 images were merged in Affinity Photo. The final result looks okay until you look at it closely and there’s a definite smudgy halo around the cross. That’s not a reflection on the camera’s focus bracketing skills, but rather on the situation of using a wide aperture on a telephoto and the distance between the two subjects, and there’s no reason why a perfect result shouldn’t be possible.

Issue 70 | Photography News 45

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