The Full Frame Mirrorless War and a THIRD Full Frame Panasonic Camera


Photokina ended last week with the introduction to the Panasonic S1 and S1R making this the fourth company to offer a Full Frame Mirrorless Camera. A war is being waged between Sony, Panasonic, Canon, and Nikon. I’ll just go through the three new cameras, tell you what I think about them, what I think Panasonic is going to do.

Nikon Z6 and Z7

I initially thought this was going to be a rebadged A7III and A7RIII, but, they do have a couple standout features that make this worth having over the others. Features like having the largest lens mount and shortest flange distance of all the full frame mirrorless cameras. This doesn’t sound like much right now, but this will enable lens designer’s way more freedom in creating glass and Nikon is no stranger to great glass. I remember reading that Sigma designers complained about Sony E-mounts being so small. Nikon will be taking advantage of the larger mount when they introduce the 58mm f/0.95 Noct, which is inspired by the legendary 58mm f/1.2 Noct, sometime next year.

The more important features in these cameras also come in the form of N-Log, 5-Axis IBIS, and Full Frame 10-bit 422 out. This is really crazy to me. Because I don’t think there is another camera that can output Full Frame Full Sensor 10-Bit 422. The GH5 and GH5s are the closest cameras that I can think of that can perform this good and those cameras are able to record internally. Still it’s an amazing offering at a great price point.

Regardless of all the hate Nikon is getting about this decision, I do consider it a feature. The use of XQD cards. Using XQD cards have a major bitrate advantage and looking into the future they can possibly update this camera to implement Full Frame 10-bit 422 internally or even RAW video, assuming heat displacement isn’t going to be a factor, which will be. Sure, they should have added dual card slots with one being SD. But, CFExpress is going to be the future for the professional and prosumer communities and XQD will be compatible with it. Not having two card slots isn’t a bother to me since XQD isn’t prone to failure.

Canon EOS R

Speaking of failure, the Canon EOS R is another disappointment from Canon. I may have said goodbye to Canon a long time ago, but, I grew up a Canon shooter. When I shoot film it’s still on a Canon. I learned everything about photography on a Canon. When I graduated from College my parents’ gift to me was a Canon T2i, my first real DSLR. So, I was honestly hoping they would come in and swoop me off my feet with this awesome camera and I would sell all my stuff for this one dream camera. But, this thing honestly fucking sucks.

Of course, I’m exaggerating it’s not totally bad, there’s some awesome features like 8-bit C-LOG (see Peter Mckinnon video about Canon EOS R)! I’m kidding please don’t hate me Peter, I had to! Peter’s been getting a lot of hate from that statement, but he’s not completely wrong. It’s nice that C-LOG is included instead of having to pay $100 for the upgrade, which you still must do if you have a 5dIV.

They also have other great features like 5-Axis IBIS. Oh, no that’s not on there. It does do 120p Slow-mo…in 720p. There’s 4k video with a 1.7x crop. They do have Dual Slots! Oh that’s not here, either. Well, this all makes sense since it’s cheaper than Nikon and Sony, right. Nope! It’s actually $300 more than the Sony A7III and the Nikon Z6. So, it’s more expensive and has less features. Way to go Canon.

The pros of this camera, and there are pros, are the features this camera does have that’s absent from the others. First, the lens control ring and multi-function bar. These are incredible additions that will give photographers another way to quickly change settings. Nikon and Olympus have always had custom function buttons on the lens but I think changing settings via the ring is more useful. For example, I use the front aperture ring on my Panasonic lens much more than the actual knob, which is set to control the ISO. This will make it possible to do that with the new Canon EOS R and RF lenses. It will be interesting to see how photographers will use these additional control functions and how their settings will change.

The new EOS R will also have Dual Pixel Autofocus with 5,655 AF points. That’s 100% vertical coverage and 88% horizontal. The autofocus will also have a light sensitivity down to –6EV. Canon’s biggest and ONLY real weapon is their autofocus system and with 8 frames per second that is plenty fast for Sports and Birds in Flight photographers.

A big feature, especially for vloggers, is the flippy screen. It’s a bit hard to believe this is the only tilt swivel full frame camera. Of all the Mirrorless Full Frames I expected Panasonic to have the swivel screen as they were one of the first adopters for this innovation and continued putting them on all their higher end cameras.

No, it doesn’t have IBIS but there are lenses with IS. Most vloggers seem to use Canon 70 and 80d’s anyway. You can get the adapter to use EF and EF-S lenses so you can use those lenses as well if you need something wider. Honestly, If I was a VLOGGER I’d say the Dual Pixel AF and tilt swivel screen is way more important than IBIS, which isn’t perfect and can have major flaws. A Canon exec has stated this is more like a mirrorless 6Dii than a 5div so this definitely gives me hope for better cameras in the future. But, that still doesn’t excuse them for a lackluster introduction into Full Frame Mirrorless, not when the competition is extremely fierce. I suspect this camera will probably lose to Nikon, Sony, and even Panasonic no matter how matter many youtubers support them. There’s nothing anyone can say that excuses this. Nothing.

Panasonic S1 and S1R

Last, we have Panasonic coming out of nowhere with the S1 and S1R. I didn’t even hear of these rumors until just a couple months ago after hearing about the Canon EOS R and everyone kind of hoped we would be getting a Panasonic GH5 but full frame (Camera Conspiracy insert). Well so far, it’s more like the G9 then the GH5. It’s got a similar chassis design and button layout which makes sense since the G9 is the larger body of the two. We don’t know all the facts about this camera, so, it’s a bit hard to talk about it. What we do know makes it sound a little bit better than the Canon and Nikon offerings, though (insert Dual Card Slot jokes here).

The biggest negative that we know about this camera so far is the DFD autofocus, but, after Panasonic’s recent updates this has been greatly improved. I still don’t think it’s as good as Canon and Sony’s AF systems but it’s surprisingly good now.

I suspect it won’t have dual ISO and since it’s full frame I don’t think that’s really a problem, larger sensors don’t have the same low light limitations that small sensors typically have. I also don’t think it’s going to record internal 10-bit 422. I’m assuming the sensor size might be a limiting factor because of heat dispersion and this is going to force them to record externally like the Canon EOS R and Nikon Z’s. A Canon rep has stated that the reason for such a large crop was because of the heat and they wanted their camera to be able to shoot all day with no worry. All this said adds another advantage favoring the Panasonic GH5 and GH5s and really shows us how powerful and advanced these cameras truly are.

Assuming, we hear that 10-bit 422 and dual ISO is not offered in these two models I do believe they will release a third camera. They’ve managed to keep these two cameras from leaking. What’s a third one? I believe this third model will be the camera that will offer those features and have a lower resolution sensor which will be THE camera that will go against the Sony A7SIII. I don’t think it’s too farfetched since they already do this in the form of the G9, GH5, and the GH5s. Sony also does this with the A7, A7R, and A7S.

Another con about this camera is the L-mount itself. There’s been a few complaints about this mount being too expensive. But, this marriage makes sense to me since they’ve already been working with Leica for some time. They’ve saved themselves lots of money in terms of R&D just adapting a mount versus creating an entirely new mount and their partnership with Sigma, who will also be creating a Full Frame Mirrorless under this alliance, is sure to help alleviate some of the expenses to pass the savings to consumers. Sure, the current Leica L-Lenses are expensive, but, I’m confident that most of the new lenses that will be coming out will be priced competitively and they will have to be if they want to go against Sony, Canon, and Nikon.

Without knowing all the specs and seeing other features on this camera, I can’t say I’d purchase this one. Of this group of Full Frame mirrorless, the one that I would favor is the Nikon Z6 for one very big reason. Price. The Canon EOS R is $2300 for just the body. The Nikon Z6 with the 24-70 F4 is $2600. Literally, $300 is the difference between just a camera body and a camera lens bundle with more features. And I suspect the 24-70 f4 to be a decent lens in an incredibly small package compared to both Canon and Panasonic’s 24-105 lenses. To put things into another perspective, the Canon WITH the 24-105 F4 is going to be $3400! I’m not sure what the Panasonic is going to be, but I doubt it’s going to beat the Nikon Z6 bundle. Even if the Panasonic without a lens cost under $2000 the lenses they showed at Photokina did not appear to be cheap. I do think it’s going to be upwards of $3000 with a lens. So, if that’s the case Nikon is the clear winner for me.

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