Micro Four Thirds Versus Full Frame: How Much Heavier Is Panasonic’s S1?

Micro Four Thirds Versus Full Frame: How Much Heavier Is Panasonic’s S1?

For those of us that like shooting on a mirrorless camera, we’ve probably become accustomed to the lightweight and easy to manage cameras. So are the S1 and S1R a step too far on the scales?

Now that Panasonic are entering the full-frame mirrorless market, they’ve created the heaviest camera of the bunch. The S1 weighs 2.25 pounds, with the S1R weighing basically the same at 2.24 pounds. Out of the competition, it’s only the Sony a9 that comes close with 1.48 pounds. All of this is with the battery inside the camera. Here’s a breakdown:

You might think that the GH5 and GH5s,would be a lot lighter being Micro Four Thirds cameras, however they’re actually a little heavier than the Nikon Z series cameras and the Canon R. Still, if you want a lightweight kit, then the smaller option is still the better.

Micro Four Thirds or Full Frame?

I’ll be comparing a kit bag with the Panasonic GH5 and also the S1 here. The most important thing to note is that the cameras are only one part of the puzzle. How much more would you need to carry if you made the switch? In this example of a kit, the lenses would achieve a similar enough focal range, but I'm obviously not equating the two. 

Panasonic GH5

Total: 4.04 pounds

Panasonic S1

Total: 7.72 pounds

As you can see, by opting for a basic kit with Panasonic’s full-frame camera, you’re nearly doubling the weight. Most of this is due to the insanely lightweight Micro Four Thirds lenses that Panasonic make, which are incredible at shedding weight. I’m a huge fan of their Lumix 35-100mm f/2.8 because it gives me the reach of a 70-200mm on a full-frame camera, without any of the bulk. Matching this with the incredible image stabilization, and the smaller system makes a lot of sense.

In a way, mirrorless cameras being seen as the lightweight and nimble alternatives to a DSLR is an old way of thinking. Lenses, and even the bulk of newer cameras, matters more now. Canon’s 5D Mark IV weighs less than Panasonic’s S1, coming in at just 1.76 pounds compared to 2.25 pounds.

Is anybody here thinking of making the switch? And is a compact form factor important to you?

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22 Comments

David Pavlich's picture

If I had to choose either the Sony or Panasonic FF, it would be the Panasonic, no doubt. The Sony in hand ergonomics is a deal breaker for me, regardless of their photographic ability. The Panasonic closely emulates the 5DIV that I currently use as far as in hand heft and bulk.

Would I consider changing from Canon to Panasonic? Probably not. I'm assuming that Canon will produce a FF pro body to replace the 5DIV and considering that the R body is much more suited to my needs than a Sony when it comes to in hand feel, I would assume that the Pro R will be the same or better than the original R.

You can add a grip to the Sony of you want a bigger body. You can't fix the pathetic video AF of the Panasonic, the crippled eye af or lack of lenses

David Pavlich's picture

The battery grip on the Sony doesn't matter. It's the way the right hand sits on the camera. There is little gap between the rather small grip and a lens like a 70-200. It's all subjective, but it's bad enough that I don't consider Sony an option.

I do zero video, so that doesn't matter.

smaller is not better when youre shooting many hours. I did try video on it and for the hour, it was bearable, but not at all comfortable. the issue is the thickness of the grip, not the height. looking from the side, the grip area/body is too thin. they should keep the whole body side but give it a tumor looking grip just for better holding.

every camera needs a grip for me to consider using it. thats default. but the palm thickness of the camera is too thin. so there is no good wrap around of the hand.

for instance, the D750 has been commented as having an excellent ergonomic grip because it sticks out from the body and gives those with long thick fingers, a place to sit because the palm wraps around well.

dont argue the ergonomics of the a7. tons of complaints about the ergonomics of the camera on the web. strong in other ways, ergonomically is not one of them.

Robert Nuttmann's picture

Super steel - I currently have a Sony A7iii with the Zeiss 55 and Sony G 24-105. I sold a Nikon D750 with 50 1.4 and 24-120 to try mirrorless. My hands are above average in size but not huge. I preferred the grip on the 750, but not when you add in the extra weight. The Sony is much lighter. My biggest issue with the Sony has been getting used to controls and settings. The Nikons are by far easier. And my other Nikon body had a real touch screen which the Sony needs. I laughed when I saw the weight of the Panasonic FF mirrorless. Far too heavy. If I wanted a heavy body I would get a D850 the World's best DSLR.

I would be more then happy to take the extra weight of a camera (2-400 grams) for excellent ergonomics vs a 700gram "light" camera with horrible ergonomics.

lets put features aside because we wind up choosing according to features not ergonomics. nobody chose a7 cameras because of the ergonomics.

but a 900gram camera with a robust grip will feel amazing with a 70-200 2.8 ergonomically and weight distribution wise. I couldnt care for the mass or heft of my single digit nikon bodies. I love how it feels shooting with a 70-200. I bodybuild so I have no issue with the weight. but I do love the hand grip.

the a7III is an excellent camera. I was going to get it, till the nikon z specs were released, then the 1 memory slot. and so I was back to a7III for ordering, then the L mount alliance and the panasonic ff were rumored, so I left the a7III on hold. now im back to sony (s1 too expensive and problematic af) and an a7sIII is supposedly getting released soon so im waiitng. but then there are rumors for the d760 in the 2nd quarter and that would be my ultimate if they do 4k/60p, although I think max will be 30p.

Robert Nuttmann's picture

For my use I prefer smaller and light. Leica M3 or Olympus OM2n are the ideal for me but in digital. I have had large heavy zooms in the past and do not like them. But this is just my personal preference and looks like not yours. I have owned my A7iii since Oct and have learned the controls and menu. I get excellent results from it both stills and video. I don’t find the grip an issue when I pair reasonable size glass to it. I have also found the Sony to pair fabulously with my cheep Godoy flash, far better than with the 750.

I agree, but I also try to keep things in perspective. The Sonys have better ergonomics than those old Nikons and Leicas that photojournalists took all over the world, into combat areas, etc. I think you learn over time to get used to it.

David Pavlich's picture

That's what they had to work with then. Great equipment for the time. I guess the fact that I don't have to learn to like my Canon weighs heavily in my opinion about Sony's ergonomic shortfalls as a prime reason not to own one. But it's very subjective, that is for sure.

Jonathan Reid's picture

Micro 4/3rds had an appeal to me as a convenient, small system I could keep on me when I wasn't using my DSLR system. I never saw it as a possibly replacement. The new Panasonic system looks like it could be a decent replacement for my Canon DSLR system. I'm not going to go out of my way to replace my Canon system, but if a clever adaptor system is made allowing me to use my lenses on the Panasonic, it may be my next system.

Jon Kellett's picture

I got a Panasonic G85 for vlogging, used it for photos once and was hooked. Sold my Canon gear, got a G9 (wow) and will probably buy an S1R a few months after release.

I'm not 100% happy with having a G9 and S1R + buckets of lenses, but I like the flexibility of small for street and high res for everything else.

Weight wise, the S1R rig is comparable with a crop-sensor Canon and L-series lenses. Similar size too.

You can buy lens adaptors, though I've yet to try any. The only lens I'd adapt would be my Sigma 105 f/2.8 macro and I never used it enough to justify the cost.

Tom Weis's picture

Initially, the Panasonic S1R (along with the L Mount Alliance) was very interesting to me. However, the CDAF system seems to twitch a lot in the early tests I've seen and that concerns me. Also, the price of their 50mm f1.4 is batsh*t crazy.
The weight of the S1/S1R doesn't concern me. If I need a lightweight camera system, the clear choice for me is Olympus.

Jon Kellett's picture

Weight - Not an issue, though my lightweight is a G9.
CDAF - I guess we'll have to see how production firmware works. I've only seen 0.5 firmware tested.

Michael Kormos's picture

I have found the savings in weight in the body alone negligible. It's the longer focal length lenses where you save pounds. I have a 180mm f/2 for my Olympus micro 4/3 and that lens is nothing compared to what a full-frame version would weigh.

Thanks Stephen Kampff - great read and something to consider as a MFT shooter myself.

Also a stretch for comparison but the EVA1 weights 1.2kg (2.65lb)

I would like to point out though that the comparison of the 35-100mm F2.8 to 70-200mm while not wrong is "lacking" the entire formula. You should be applying the crop factor calculation to the aperture as well for a proper conversion/comparison.

Heavier cameras are more durable, have more mass to dissapate heat =* higher bitrates; also heavier cameras means it's easier to get stable footage, handheld. I like em personally

" it's easier to get stable footage, handheld. I like em personally"

I agree 100%. I love large cameras. it feels wonderful for 12+ hour day weddings. I use the d3s/d4/d4s
and I can lift the camera to my eye with my thumb and 2 finger, and thats because I have a lot of palm support,

It depends, the mirrorless cameras are to small for my hands, I use 1DmkIV for four years, than 5D mkIII and now the MKIV, the 5Ds without grip, last week I was in the event of BH "Depth of Field" and had the opportunity to get on hands all cameras, inclusive S1 and S1r, and I like a lot, suit better my hands than EOS R, I think Panasonic did a great step, also I spoke with Charles Maring Ambassador of Panasonic, and is notable the things the AF can do....hope Canon go to the same way, or I will get stuck in DSLR.

Two words. Nikon Z6. Impressive piece of kit. Not entirely sure what you're getting for all that Panasonic weight.

Jon Kellett's picture

It's hard to compare really. The Panasonic is rated for -10 to +40C and has a substantially better viewfinder. That's cherry-picking, but shows that some features you may care about and others you won't.

The S1R is only~340 grams heavier, which realistically is not that much.

Still, ergonomics also matters - I don't like any of the Nikons I've played with, but I recognise that's just me, not Nikon.

Robert Nuttmann's picture

For me the perfect size camera is the Leica M3 or Olympus OM2n. Of the current FF mirrorless systems Sony's A7 series and Nikon's Z series are the closest to that standard. I currently have a Sony A7iii (And 1980 Olympus OM2n I bought new.) If I were to change systems it would be back to Nikon's Z series with their fairly light lenses.

In my humble opinion the new Pasasonic cameras are grossly overweight and too big, for me. I realize everyone has their own preferences. And I use cameras for fun not to make money.

It's time to start lifting weights before getting my hands on my S1😅