How Does the Panasonic BS1H Stack Up Against the VariCam LT, S1H, and EVA1?

The BS1H takes two already good ideas from Panasonic’s line of cinema cameras and blends them together into something new and interesting. We now have the power of the S1H in the form factor of a box camera. That should mean excellent image quality along with solid connectivity and remote control options. Plus, the size is a bonus for mounting in tight spots.

How does this new release hold up against the already existing options? If you are interested in finding out, the folks at Vistek put it up against the VariCam LT, S1H, and EVA1 – all serious cinema camera choices.

When the S1H was released, it promised VariCam colors with a full-frame 6K sensor. It is still a mirrorless camera and there are some differences between the connections. Now, the BS1H has that same color science but with a body loaded up with I/O. The boxy form factor gives it a fair amount of functionality that makes it an ultra-compact VariCam-like option. 

So can it effectively replace the VariCam?

Initial looks at the BS1H show how it differs from the original S1H. Being a box means it doesn’t have an integrated display, meaning a separate monitor or EVF is needed. Alternative options are remote control via a smartphone or using a dedicated app on a PC. This is where the camera shines since this software is well fleshed out and a dedicated tool for having the BS1H installed somewhere.

A notable change is that the BS1H does not have the in-body stabilization of the S1H. This should tell you that the box camera is designed for stable platforms or potentially drones and gimbals.

Image Credit: Panasonic

In the first actual test, they check out rolling shutter on all the models. Interestingly all the cameras performed equally on this test. The guess is on the full-frame sensors being newer and matching performance to the Super 35mm options.

Moving into why the BS1H exists, it has a lot to do with the success of the BGH1. That camera was considered a great option due to its form factor, but the limiting factor was the use of the aging GH5S sensor. Different colors and a smaller size didn’t make it ideal for cinema applications. The S1H sensor should fix that.

With VariCam color, it sets apart the BS1H as one of the best options for streaming and multi-camera shoots as well as fixed installations and drone/gimbal use. It matches VariCam with Ethernet, SDI, and GenLock all built-in. It even wins with an HDMI port. The EVA1 doesn’t quite stack up with SDI and HDMI but not Ethernet or GenLock.

Panasonic EVA 1 5.7K Camera

Image Credit: Panasonic

With all this in mind many filmmakers might think it is the best option of the bunch. For indie productions though the S1H has a lot better usability, especially since it has a built-in EVF and display. Tack on in-body stabilization and the ability to use it just as well for stills and you have a great combination.

Now the VariCam LT and EVA1 are in a different league. The VariCam is the largest of the bunch by a fair margin. It also offers the largest variety of integrated features. Including all the pro I/O you would want and things like, a ton of buttons, display options, controllers, and ND filters.

The EVA1 is a slightly smaller and more mobile take on the VariCam. It’s designed to be carried around and easier to use in mobile workflows but it can be a little more finicky in other situations.

What you want to check between them is how color is handled – and there is a visible difference. Even with the same lens and white balance you can see it. When the cameras were taken outside the skin tones actually came out nearly identical. His shirt came out very different though. Both are still very good, though it is something to consider. The VariCam LT still appeared to look better to the reviewer’s eye.

Panasonic Varicam LT

Image Credit: Panasonic

The final result is that the BS1H is actually very good and the latest color science Panasonic is using puts it in the ballpark of the VariCam series for sure.

It fills a completely different role and it does it very well. If you are looking for something for multi-cam, live streaming, or installations then the BS1H is perhaps the best option out there.

What are your thoughts on the BS1H?

[source: Vistek]

Order Links:

  • Panasonic BS1H Box Cinema Camera (B&H)
  • Panasonic VariCam LT Cinema Camera (B&H)
  • Panasonic Lumix S1H Mirrorless Camera (B&H, Amazon)
  • Panasonic EVA1 Cinema Camera (B&H, Amazon)

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