Design and Interface
The Panasonic Lumix BS1H became the Panasonic’s second professional modular camcorder after the LUMIX BGH1. Both models have almost identical controls and dimensions, which allows them to be integrated into a single shooting process with the same equipment.
There is only one fundamental difference between the new model and the previous model: Lumix BS1H is a full-frame model with an L mount, while LUMIX BGH1 is a member of the Micro 4/3 family. So, we expect better picture quality from the Lumix BS1H.
The characteristics of the BS1H are the same as the Lumix S1H in almost everything, except for stabilization. Panasonic makes modular cameras without a built-in stabilizer.
Modular Principle of Design
The modular principle of design made it possible to lighten the body as much as possible and, most importantly, to make it very compact. This is a cube with a weight of 585 grams and dimensions of 93 × 93 × 78.8 mm. However, this cube is made of metal with moisture protection, and an active cooling system is implemented inside.
The case is replete with interface connectors. So, it would be overly optimistic to demand more compactness. Let me remind you that more compact solutions lack active cooling and an abundance of interfaces. And without active cooling, it will not be possible to remove the limitation on recording time.
LUMIX BS1H provides unlimited video recording in all modes.
You can fully reveal the topic of compactness, for example, during IP streaming, when not only control, but even the power of the camera comes from PoE + devices (IEEE802.3at compatible), that is, via a network cable.
In many other cases, the small dimensions of the case fade into the background under the influence of other factors. Even installing a battery significantly increases the dimensions of the camera. Many compact stabilizers do not put a camera. Only solutions for large cameras like Zhiyun Crane 2S are suitable.
The use of a recorder or an external screen also affects the size and weight of the final set.
However, the modular principle opens up huge opportunities for assembling any body kits. For attaching external devices, nine standard 1/4″ sockets are provided at once – three on each side of the camera. Below there are a couple of such sockets for mounting on a tripod or other equipment.
The same accessories, such as cages, are suitable for the Lumix BS1H as for the Lumix BGH1. However, even having a cage at my disposal, I practically did not use it. There were enough attachment points on the case. Everything you need can be hung on the camera itself.
No amateur or even semi-pro camcorder offers the same variety of interfaces as the Lumix BS1H. For video output, you can use SDI or HDMI, as well as a LAN connector or Wi-Fi. There are bayonet connectors for timecode and GENLOCK input.
The LAN connector on the Lumix BS1H is not as simple as it seems. It supports IP streaming (RTP / RTSP protocol). Video up to 4K 60p/50p (H.265 codec) is supported. It can also be powered by PoE+ devices (IEEE802.3at compliant). You can control multiple cameras over a network using proprietary Lumix Tether software.
The microphone input and headphone output are standard 3.5mm jacks. Also on the side is a small nest for a remote release.
The camera has two SD memory card slots with UHS-II support. They record video with a bit rate of up to 400 Mbps. If you need to record RAW, you will need an external recorder.
The Lumix BS1H has a minimum of buttons. Most of them are service ones, which you can’t do without viewing the footage, deleting pictures, calling the main and quick menus, the red button to start recording, and turning on the power.
The remaining buttons do not have names or fixed functions. They are functional, their purpose can be changed separately for the recording and playback modes. You can also assign additional functions to the delete button in shooting mode and reassign the Q.MENU function. The number of alternative settings is very wide and practically unlimited. Almost any camera setting can be assigned to any function button.
You can also reassign a preset in the Q.MENU for quick access to functions.
For navigation and changing the shooting parameters, the navipad with a rotating ring is responsible.
The controls of the Lumix BS1H are focused on carefully pre-setting all shooting parameters before starting work. It does not differ in efficiency, quite corresponding to the specifics of the device: we still have a tool for staged, not reportage shooting.
Another reason for such management is adaptation to remote work. Why do we need buttons if the settings will be changed via cable? This is the time to praise the Lumix Tether application, which is available for Windows and MAC, works both over the network and via USB and does not bug or slow down. It allows you to work simultaneously with several compatible cameras, setting the settings for each separately and showing a live image with minimal delay.
The camera can also be controlled using the Lumix Sync app from a smartphone. This method has its advantages, especially considering the lack of a touch screen in Lumix BS1H. Often when working outside the studio, Lumix Sync is the only way to easily adjust settings and select the focus area with a couple of touches. You can also do this with Navipad, but it is somewhat tedious.
When it comes to focusing, the Panasonic Lumix BS1H is rated either for manual focus (the de facto standard for professional video production) or 100% autofocus trust. In the second case, to help the operator, the recognition of faces and eyes of people or animals.
Working with RAW Video
The Panasonic Lumix BS1H ‘s high-end video quality is 12-bit RAW: up to 29.97p at 5.9K (5888×3312, 16:9), up to 59.94p at 4K (4128×2176, 17:9) or anamorphic 3.5K (3536×2656, 4:3). We note right away that 4K at 50/60 fps is recorded from the Super35 (APS-C) area. From the full width of the matrix – only up to 25/30 frames / s.
To record such a video, you will need an external recorder: Atomos or Blackmagic – both support work with the Lumix BS1H. The speed of SD cards for a RAW stream is not enough, and support for high-speed CFexpress is not provided here. There is one more limitation. If a raw signal in RAW is fed to the HDMI output, then there will be no service information on the recorder screen, and menus and settings will not be displayed.
To work with the settings, you need a second “monitor”. There are several options here:
- connecting a second monitor to the SDI output;
- using Lumix Tether on a computer;
- using Lumix Sync on a smartphone (will not allow you to turn off the RAW transfer and return the camera to its original mode of operation).
- When shooting outside the studio, when there is no laptop or second monitor at hand, turning off RAW output can create a whole problem. I saved the camera settings in the Lumix Sync application and uploaded a pre-saved set of settings from my smartphone at the right time. The solution is not obvious, but effective.
Video Quality When Recording to A Memory Card
The ceiling of quality in resolution when recording to a memory card is 5.9K at 25/30 frames / s. 10-bit color and HDR shooting in HLG (BT.2020 color space) is available, but subsampling is limited to standard 4:2:0. The bitrate is 200 Mbps, and the compression is interframe LongGOP.
In 4K, you can already shoot in 4:2:2 with 10-bit color and ALL-I intra-frame compression at 25 fps and a bit rate of 400 Mbps. Various aspect ratios are supported: 16:9, 17:9, and 4:3 for working with anamorphic optics.
To switch to shooting 4K at 50/60 frames / s, you will have to abandon working with the full width of the matrix in favor of the Super35 area (close to APS-C). Compression will also be only interframe.
In Full HD, shooting up to 100 fps is possible, as well as 10-bit color and 4:2:2 at 50 fps.
To ensure maximum dynamic headroom in a compressed format, the Panasonic Lumix BS1H features a V-Log gamma profile. The difference in dynamic range with Standard Picture Style (STD) is visible to the naked eye! There is only one limitation: the minimum ISO will be 640 units against 100 in the “normal” mode.
Also, in many modes, the HDR profile HLG with the BT2020 color space is supported. Here, the minimum ISO will be 400 units.
Shooting at High ISO
Like the Lumix S1H, the Lumix BS1H we tested has a Dual Native ISO feature that allows you to use two different signal amplification circuits for different sensitivity settings. The purpose of this feature is to reduce noise at high ISO speeds. The appropriate setting can be selected manually or, as in our case, left to the mercy of automation. And how it works in practice, let’s look at real examples.
We start right away with ISO 800 because a lower value simply cannot be used when shooting in a night city. The picture is well-detailed, the shadows are well-worked out, and the noise is almost imperceptible. This is the expected result for a full-frame camera.
The interesting starts at ISO 1600. The picture hardly changes. The noise level is certainly increasing, but it still does not have a decisive effect on the final quality.
Roughly the same can be said about ISO 3200. This is a fully operational value.
At ISO 6400, the contrast in the shadows slightly degrades, and the detailing is somewhat reduced. All this is noticeable only on a 32-inch professional 4K monitor when viewed from a close distance. At arm’s length, image flaws are no longer visible.
ISO 12800 continues to surprise. Yes, the detail is a little lower, and in the shadows, the grain of noise becomes larger. But it’s still acceptable quality for viewing on a 4K screen from a normal distance.
The turning point is ISO 25600. Color degradation is already noticeable here, especially in the sky. Low-contrast areas of the frame look washed out and noisy. This is already a value for extreme cases.
The situation is similar with ISO 51200: the quality is reduced even more. But this value of photosensitivity is not a sentence. If you need to shoot the plot at any cost, then why not? In the case of viewing on a small screen, for example, on a smartphone, artifacts may not be visible at all. Even on the screen of the recorder, such a picture looks very good.
Panasonic Lumix BS1H is an interesting and powerful tool for professional video shooting. His element is broadcasting, streaming, as well as work on various suspensions and body kits. It is in such scenarios that the modular principle is revealed at 100%. For broadcasts, full network control is implemented here, and for creating setups with other equipment, a compact case with an abundance of mounts is what you need.
Inheriting all the groundwork from the Lumix S1H, the Lumix BS1H demonstrates excellent 4K image quality, confident high ISO performance, and the ability to record 4K video in RAW to an external recorder. There are all the color profiles and fine adjustments necessary for professional shooting.
Of the non-obvious features, we note the impossibility of shooting 4K at 50-60 frames / s from the full width of the matrix, only the Super35 area is available. And to work with RAW video, you will need an additional monitor paired with the recorder to change settings.
Of course, Panasonic Lumix BS1H will require additional equipment for full operation. But this is the main point of a modular video camera – to become part of a large filming process and fit into it most organically.
- Full-frame matrix;
- A wide range of external interfaces;
- Active cooling system and unlimited recording time;
- Compact body with the possibility of attaching accessories;
- Bayonet L;
- Low noise level up to ISO 12800 inclusive;
- 4K shooting up to 60 fps;
- V-Log and HLG;
- The ability to shoot 12-bit 4K @ 60p on an external recorder;
- Remote control via network or USB;
- The ability to control Wi-Fi;
- Autofocus with recognition of faces, eyes, and animals.
- Requires a large number of accessories to get started;
- The need for a second monitor or computer when working with RAW video;
- Controversial ergonomics;
- 4K@50/60p is only available from Super35 frame area.
Note: All images are taken from Panasonic official website.