Published Nov 24, 2020
There are a lot of photo/video cameras that have found a role as B-cameras on professional productions or A-camera for amateur and independent productions. These cameras provide a variety of tools to support filmmakers and output high quality footage at high bitrates.
Our pick: Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H
The S1H’s stills-camera looks disguise one of the most video-centric stills/video cameras we’ve ever encountered. Its capture options are diverse: 10-bit 4:2:2 4K at up to 30p from the full sensor area or 60p from a Super 35 crop, with open-gate and Anamorphic support or 5.9K Raw output, but it’s the other features that make it our pick.
Features such as waveforms and vectorscopes, shutter angle operation, dual zebra displays and the same V-Log profile as Panasonic’s VariCam pro cinema cameras make it a tool that can slot into professional working environments with minimal workarounds. Probably the greatest weakness is the somewhat unreliable autofocus, which counts against it for run-and-gun shooting, but overall, it’s a powerful addition to productions both large and small.
More compact, less expensive: Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5
The Panasonic GH5 has a lot in common with its full-frame sibling, the S1H, but is built around the Micro Four Thirds system. As a result of its smaller sensor, the GH5 can typically be paired with smaller lenses, an important factor for users who prioritize a compact kit.
The GH5’s video specs and tools are very similar to those of the S1H, but with the ability to shoot 4K/60p from the full area of its smaller sensor. You have to pay an upgrade fee to access the V-Log L capture modes, but this leaves you with a smaller, less expensive but still very capable setup. The GH5 exhibits similar autofocus inconsistencies, but a large ecosystem of adapters and speed boosters allow the use of a vast range of affordable glass. Other cameras are getting closer to matching the GH5’s video specs but few are so thoughtfully designed for videography.
We considered the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though we think the Panasonic S1H and GH5 are the best choices overall, the cameras on our short list are also worth considering.
* This product has not been reviewed and is not eligible for an award.