LUMIX S1 High ISO Range Side-by-Side Examples

Here are some side-by-side comparisons of the Lumix S1’s high ISO performance from ISO 3200 through ISO 204800.

Lumix S1 Mirrorless Camera
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Panasonic has launched some new full-frame mirrorless cameras. The LUMIX S1R has a 47-megapixel sensor and sells for $3700 for the body. The LUMIX S1 has a 24-megapixel sensor and sells for $2500 for the body.

I’ve been shooting recently with the S1. It has a native ISO range of 100 through 51200. If you’re using the default settings, that’s the ISO range that’s available to shoot with. But you can also enable the option to access an extended ISO range. On the low end, that gets you down to ISO 50. On the high end, it goes up to ISO 204800.

Panasonic LUMIX S1 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
  • Full frame sensor - 24. 2-Megapixel full-frame (35. 6mm x 23. 8mm) MOS sensor that provides a wide...
  • Lumix S camera lens - easy-to-use 24-105mm standard focal macro zoom F4 l-mount for Lumix S Series...

But native ISO and extended ISO are not the same things. The native ISO is the sensitivity to light that the sensor hardware is designed to handle to give optimum results. With the extended ISO range, the software takes over to boost the signal. Once you get into the extended ISO range, the image quality tends to deteriorate markedly as you climb further up the ISO ladder.

With a 24MP full-frame sensor, the resolution of the LUMIX S1 isn’t nearly as high as some of its competitors–or, for that matter to the S1R. But the lower resolution also means that fewer photosites have to be crammed into the limited physical space of the sensor. And that also means that each photosite can potentially be larger and more sensitive to light. The upshot of all of that is that scaling back on resolution can actually result in better low-light performance. Well, potentially, at least.

Of course, where the “acceptable” threshold is will depend on each photographer’s own tastes and intended uses, but I’ve found the ISO performance to be excellent up through at least ISO 20000. And that’s pretty impressive. But as you move beyond that, the negatives that come with high ISOs–noise and grain, inconsistent colors, reduced dynamic range, and an overall harsher look–become more pronounced.

I’ve posted separately a general set of photos I’ve taken with the LUMIX S1 that includes several images at higher ISOs, but I thought it might be useful to post some side-by-side comparisons. These are also designed to go alongside my detailed hands-on review.

High ISO Range Side-by-Side Examples

To give a visual sense of how the S1’s high ISO performance translates in real-world shooting, here’s a set of images of the same scene shot between ISO 3200 and ISO 204800.

I haven’t applied any post-processing on these, but the versions you see embedded in the page are necessarily converted from the original RAW to JPG for display (via Lightroom). So I’ve included links in the caption for each image that let you download the original RAW and JPG versions (I shot these with the RAW+JPG option turned on). In other words, the versions at the links are straight out of the camera without any processing. A heads up, though, if you’re using a mobile data plan or other metered web: each RAW file is around 36MB in file size.

Price & Availability of Panasonic LUMIX S1

Panasonic has set the MSRP for the LUMIX S1 at $2499.99 (body only). You can find it either as a standalone body or bundled with the very impressive and versatile LUMIX S 24-105mm ƒ/4 Macro lens.

Check current price and availability at:

Panasonic LUMIX S1 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera
  • Full frame sensor - 24. 2-Megapixel full-frame (35. 6mm x 23. 8mm) MOS sensor that provides a wide...
  • Lumix S camera lens - easy-to-use 24-105mm standard focal macro zoom F4 l-mount for Lumix S Series...

Fixing Image Quality Problems in Editing

The general rule of thumb in photography is that it’s better to get the shot right at the time of capture rather than trying to fix it later. That’s a great aspiration, but it’s not always possible to do if you’re shooting in especially challenging conditions or bumping up against limitations or flaws in gear, conditions, or technique.

But it’s worth mentioning that there are some excellent tools available to help address common image quality issues with digital images. And they’re getting better and better all the time as the power of AI ramps up. They can deal remarkably well with anything from sensor issues like high-ISO image noise to lens issues like distortion, softness, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. (Note: I’m focusing here on corrections related to image quality, not image enhancement tools—that’s a different kettle of fish.)

All-round image processing apps like Lightroom Classic and Capture One have solid tools built in that are very good places to start. But it’s also possible to take it much further with more specialized tools. If you shoot in challenging conditions regularly and find room for improvement in the image quality coming out of the camera, these might well be worth a look (and they have free trials). Some are stand-alone apps; some integrate into image editing suites such as Lightroom Classic.

UPDATE: In April 2023, Adobe released an update to Lightroom Classic that added new AI-powered noise reduction for RAW files. It’s a powerful tool that rivals some of the dedicated apps below. If you’re already using Lightroom Classic for your image editing and organization, it’s well worth trying out—look for the Denoise tool under the Detail panel.

Fixing Image Noise & High ISO Artifacts

  • DxO PureRAW 3. Like Lightroom Classic’s Denoise tool, it only works on RAW files. But since was updated to version 3, it has become my go-to app for this kind of thing. I’m consistently amazed at how it can rescue photos with otherwise dodgy image quality from noise. It can also help with lens distortion, lens vignetting, and lens softness.
  • DxO DeepPrime. This is the noise-only offering using the same denoising technology as PureRAW.
  • Topaz Labs’ DeNoise AI. This is another excellent option for specialized denoising. It works alongside Lightroom or as a standalone app.

Fixing Lens-Related Optical Issues

  • DxO PureRAW. Again offers an impressive suite of automatic fixes that are applied before you start editing the images.
  • DxO ViewPoint. Correcting for lens distortion and geometry skews. Lightroom Classic and Capture One also have excellent built-in tools for this.
  • Topaz Labs Sharpen AI. In addition to standard unsharp tools, it includes focus correction and shake reduction.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2023-09-25 at 16:28. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a professional freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here. More »