Panasonic S1 vs Sony A7 III
The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and the Sony Alpha A7 III are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in February 2019 and February 2018. Both the S1 and the A7 III are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Leica L mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|24 MP, Full Frame Sensor||24 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)||ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)|
|Electronic viewfinder (5760k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.2 LCD, 2100k dots||3.0 LCD, 922k dots|
|Fully flexible touchscreen||Tilting touchscreen|
|9 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|400 shots per battery charge||610 shots per battery charge|
|149 x 110 x 97 mm, 1017 g||127 x 96 x 74 mm, 650 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and the Sony Alpha A7 III? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Panasonic S1 and the Sony A7 III are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7 III is notably smaller (26 percent) than the Panasonic S1. Moreover, the A7 III is substantially lighter (36 percent) than the S1. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the S1 gets 400 shots out of its DMW-BLJ31 battery, while the A7 III can take 610 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Panasonic S1||5.9 in||4.3 in||3.8 in||35.9 oz||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|Sony A7 III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Canon 6D Mark II||5.7 in||4.4 in||3.0 in||27.0 oz||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Leica SL||5.8 in||4.1 in||1.5 in||29.9 oz||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Nikon Z6||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Nikon Z7||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Nikon D600||5.6 in||4.4 in||3.2 in||30.0 oz||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Panasonic S1R||5.9 in||4.3 in||3.8 in||35.8 oz||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Panasonic S1H||5.9 in||4.5 in||4.3 in||37.1 oz||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|Sony A9 II||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||23.9 oz||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A9||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony A850||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Sony A900||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A7 III was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the S1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 24 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the S1 and the A7 III have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the S1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the A7 III, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The A7 III has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the A7 III, the S1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The Sony Alpha A7 III offers exactly the same ISO settings.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the S1 provides a higher frame rate than the A7 III. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the S1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7 III (5760k vs 2359k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Panasonic S1 and Sony A7 III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the S1, but is missing on the A7 III is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic S1 and the Sony A7 III both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The S1 writes its imaging data to SDHC or XQD cards, while the A7 III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. Both the S1 and the A7 III support UHS-II cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s (the second slot of the A7 III only offers slower UHS-I transfer rates, though).
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 and Sony Alpha A7 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic S1 (unlike the A7 III) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the S1 and the A7 III are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A7 III replaced the earlier Sony A7 II, while the S1 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Sony websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Panasonic S1 better than the Sony A7 III or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2359k dots).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2100k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the A7 III).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7 III:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 149x110mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 367g or 36 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (610 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2018).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S1 emerges as the winner of the contest (11 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic S1 and the Sony A7 III place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S1 or the A7 III perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Panasonic S1||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|Sony A7 III||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Canon 6D Mark II||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|Leica SL||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|Nikon Z6||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Nikon Z7||+||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|Nikon D600||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Panasonic S1R||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Panasonic S1H||..||90/100||..||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A9||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A7||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Sony A850||..||75/100||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Sony A900||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Panasonic S1
- Canon G1 X Mark II vs Sony A7 III
- Canon SX540 vs Sony A7 III
- Fujifilm X-T2 vs Panasonic S1
- Leica Q Typ 116 vs Panasonic S1
- Leica S3 vs Panasonic S1
- Nikon D70 vs Sony A7 III
- Panasonic G3 vs Sony A7 III
- Panasonic LX10 vs Sony A7 III
- Ricoh GR II vs Sony A7 III
- Sony A7 III vs Sony NEX-3N
- Sony A7 III vs Sony NEX-7
Specifications: Panasonic S1 vs Sony A7 III
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2019||February 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 2,499||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||96|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.2||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.5||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3333||3730|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fully flexible screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC or XQD cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Panasonic S1||Sony A7 III|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||610 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
149 x 110 x 97 mm
(5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
127 x 96 x 74 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.9 in)
|Camera Weight||1017 g (35.9 oz)||650 g (22.9 oz)|
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