It's with video, especially in image quality, where this camera crushes other mirrorless pretenders. Just for a start, you can shoot 4K at 30 fps using the entire sensor width with no oversampling or line-skipping. If you need higher frame rates, it can handle 60 fps 4K with a 1.5 times APS-C crop and shoot 1080p at up to 120 fps.
What's more, this is the only camera apart from Blackmagic's Pocket 6K camera that lets you shoot 5.9K (5,888 x 3,312) at up to 30 fps. It can even handle anamorphic 3:2 6K (5952 x 3968) at 24 fps, max. Sure, 6K might seem like overkill, but it can be very handy if you feel you might need to crop a shot later while editing 4K or extract high-resolution still images.
All of this video is available with 10-bit color for maximum editing flexibility, either at 4:2:2 color subsampling or 4:2:0 for the 6K and slo-mo modes. If you want production-quality HDR 4K footage that would pass Netflix's stringent image quality standards, though, you'll need to shoot in V-log mode using the maximum All-I 400 Mbps data rate. That's only available for 4K and DCI 4K video at up to 30p, and not 5.9K, 6K or 60 fps 4K. You can, however, use those resolutions to grab the occasional shot, according to Netflix's rules.
The video quality, as you'd expect, borders on flawless. At the highest-quality settings with full oversampling, 4K and 6K video is extremely sharp, while skin tones and colors are natural and accurate. V-log mode delivers 14 stops of dynamic range and 10-bit color, which gave me plenty of creative options in post while shooting street scenes, landscapes and people in Paris. You can also use those settings to create HDR videos with high dynamic range and richer colors.
The dual ISO system gives the S1H incredible low-light capability. As good as I found dual ISO on the GH5s, the full-frame S1H has bigger pixels that can absorb more light. Amazingly, video and photos are usable with acceptable noise levels at up to ISO 25,600 and even beyond. That will allow for more affordable productions with minimal lighting for night shoots.
For instance, shooting video at night in Paris, I could crank up the exposure much more than I expected by using ISO rates as high as 12,800 and 25,600. As a result, I could see detail in night skies and unlit areas. At the same time, noise levels were more than acceptable, even up to ISO 51,200. For run-and-gun documentary and film shooting, that's a cinematographer's dream.
What's even more interesting for filmmakers, however, is the large sensor. I was able to use it to create intense bokeh effects, especially with Panasonic's fast 50mm f/1.4 lens. In fact, this camera has shallower depth of field than most other models approved by Netflix, even many much more expensive camera models. I could see producers choosing the S1H for its artistic possibilities, not just because it's cheap and relatively small compared to a Canon C300 Mark II, for instance. Ironically, this could hit pro camera sales for Sony, Canon and even Panasonic itself.
As with photos, the video autofocus is good, but not great. However, for regular shooting, vlogging, standups and other chores, it can certainly do the job. You just need to be aware of its limitations and set up the autofocus parameters so they work best for what you're shooting.
As with the S1, the S1H does have some rolling shutter, which shows up as rubbery looking video. However, it's well controlled and much less severe than on Sony's mirrorless cameras. You won't really see it unless you pan the camera quickly or shoot fast moving objects, like trains or airplane propellers.
How much does this matter? Run-and-gun crews often use Canon's latest C200 ($6,500) and C300 Mark II ($9,000) models because the AF is so reliable. The S1H doesn't measure up to those models in that way, but it's not bad and it's a lot cheaper. On the other hand, it makes no difference for professional crewed productions as they generally use cinema lenses without any AF capabilities and pull focus manually.
Another slight drawback for shooting on the go is that if you try to move the camera too much when filming, the five-axis in-body stabilization makes the image bounce when it hits its limits. On the other hand, it's not meant to be a substitute for a gimbal, and it does work great for regular handheld shooting.
Performance and photo quality