Panasonic is about to make several of its current cameras better via firmware updates, particularly the S1, S1H and BGH1. The biggest winner is the full-frame, $2,500 Lumix S1, which is about to gain 6K 24p 10-bit internal recording, or 5.9K 10-bit at up to 30 fps. You’ll also be able to record Cinema 4K internally at up to 60 fps (4:2:0 10-bit, 200 Mbps) and 4K Ultra HD 10-bit (4:2:0) at up to 60 fps. Finally, the S1 will support anamorphic 4K (3,328 x 2,496) recorded internally, and up to 5.9K 16:9 (5,888 x 3,312) 12-bit video externally to an Atomos Ninja V recorder.
Currently, the S1 can only record 4K internally at up to 30 fps and externally at 60 fps, so these are some big updates. There are some heating limitations to the new recording modes, however, due to the fact that the S1 (unlike the S1H) doesn’t have an internal fan. You’ll only be able to record 6K, 5.9K and 5.4K video for 15 minutes at a time before recording stops, though you won’t have to wait as long as you do for other cameras (i.e., the Canon R5) before starting again. Internal Cinema 4K, Ultra HD and 4K anamorphic are have maximum continuous recording times of 30 minutes, but there are no limitations to external 5.9K RAW recording.
On top of the resolution changes, Panasonic added a Dual Native ISO setting to the S1, which should make it better for low-light shooting. Suffice to say, all these updates make the S1 a much more useful camera, particularly for videographers. If you don’t have it already, you’ll need to buy the S1’s upgrade software key DMW-SFU2 ($200) to get the resolution updates, though vendors often throw it in for free with the camera.
Panasonic is also updating the $3,700 S1H with up to 5.9K 12-bit RAW recording to Blackmagic’s Video Assist 12G HDR recorder in the Blackmagic RAW (BRAW) format, giving shooters another option on top of Apple RAW for the Atomos Ninja V. Note that you’ll need to have Blackmagic’s Davinci Resolve editing software to use the footage, or else the BRAW plugin for Premiere Pro or Avid.
Last up, Panasonic has introduced new firmware for its box-style, Micro Four Thirds BGH1 camera ($2,000). That product has been a sales success for Panasonic, particularly for multicamera setups, drone use and livestreaming. For the latter function, Panasonic has introduced IP streaming over wired LAN using the RTP/RTSP protocol, allowing gamers, businesses and others to do high-quality, distant streaming to social platforms. It can do that at 4K 60p usig either the H.264 or more efficient H.265 codes, both at up to 50 Mbps.
The BGH1 will also gain Apple ProRes RAW recording to Atomos Ninja V recorders (on top of internal SD recording) at up to 12-bit Cinema 4K 60 fps. That should make it more useful for filmmakers doing multi-camera or other shoots.
These updates will roll out at different times, with the S1H firmware version 2.0 arriving on March 31st, the S1 firmware version 2.0 coming on April 6th and the BHG1 update (version 2.0) on March 24th. Panasonic also introduced minor updates for the S1R and S5 (arriving April 6th), allowing users to add vertical camera orientation information (or not) and engage power saving with an AC adapter plugged in.