This it the S1R that I bought in October and which failed completely in January.
I was excited to plow into the Lumix S1 Pro system in the last quarter of 2019, not the least reason was because I'd read over and over again, in Panasonic's marketing materials and in reviews, about the "fact" that the S1 series was built to a very, very high standard of quality, with superior materials and workmanship. The shutters are rated to deliver something like 400,000 actuations and the bodies are dust and splash resistant. They are stout and feel solid when you pick them up.
Added to this, my previous experiences with a long line of micro four thirds, Panasonic Lumix cameras convincingly led me to believe that my newest acquisitions would be ultimately reliable. And it's good, in this context, to remember that I am not a photojournalist with a collection of cameras swinging from my neck and shoulders as I run from disaster to disaster with multiple cameras dangling from straps, willy-nilly, while banging into each other with gusto and creating that "great" patina of brutal wear you often see on cameras owned by P.J.'s, or other people who mistakenly believe that cameras are designed to be more like bumper cars than precision instruments....
No, I mostly use cameras one at a time. I carry them to and from advertising and marketing shoots in padded, Think Tank cases or backpacks. I don't drop them, toss them or neglect them. In fact, when I trade in cameras the general comment I get from store clerks is, "This camera looks practically new."
Imagine my chagrin when I was in the middle of a portrait shoot (in studio, camera on tripod) when the camera became sluggish and slow to respond. Then slower and slower. And then altogether dead. Later, after I finished the shoot with a back-up camera (yes, they do come in handy) I tried every trick in the book to bring the camera back into normal life. Batteries switched out with known good batteries. All manner of card changes. Reset tricks. Everything. What I had in my hands was a catastrophically crippled, brand new camera with fewer than 1,000 actuations on it.
I sent it back to Panasonic for their official repair service. In less than two weeks the camera returned and I put it through its paces. Everything worked just as it should. The sensor and the main circuit board had both been replaced, the firmware updated and all functions checked. All good. Until I took off the body cap to put on a lens. And there is was... like a turd in a punch bowl... a big fingerprint right in the middle of the sensor. I was shocked at first and then just pissed. And I got in touch with both the local dealer and the Panasonic rep for our area. The store offered immediately to clean the sensor.
I pulled out the Eclipse sensor cleaning fluid and a fresh Cinema Sensor Swab and did a good job of cleaning the sensor myself, but the carelessness of it all really irked me and I pressed the Panasonic rep to just replace the camera with a new one. One complete product failure followed by a clumsy repair failure seemed to add up to a jinx'd camera.
Communication with repair was dicey and the rep told me several times that they would take better care of me if I paid a couple hundred bucks and registered for their pro services service. My feeling was that every customer who buys a top of the line camera model deserves the same kind of service. They can't possibly have enough pros signed up yet on a brand new, not so popular product line, to be overwhelmed by priority repairs.
After several attempts to escalate I was finally contacted by someone at Panasonic service. Here was their offer: "We might consider replacing the camera but you need to send it back to us and we will investigate all your complaints and may or may not agree and may or may not make amends. In the meantime we'll send you a loaner if you give us a credit card number and agree to guarantee the cost of a camera in the meantime.
I would essentially be sending multiple cameras back and forth with no guarantee of either a stated timeline or final resolution. I told them I would think about it.
Then the Corona virus hit. Then the shelter in place hit. Then the world seemed to deliver me a much more compelling set of issues to deal with.
One day I walked into the studio and made up my mind to let it all go. I'd shot non-stop with the repaired and personally cleaned (by me) camera and, after over 1,000 actuations in less than a month I figured the camera would probably be fine. I've been using the repaired camera instead of its twin brother just to put enough frames on it to help me trust it once more.
I think we're just about there. It seems to be doing everything just right. And it's a perfect companion for the 35mm Art lens from Sigma.
I'm lucky to have three other bodies (one other S1R and two S1s) in case the camera acts up again. But my warm and fuzzy feelings for the company itself (Panasonic) are now less warm and much less fuzzy. They need to work harder to regenerate some good will. But for the moment it's all water under the bridge. Considering how much really tough stuff so many people now have on their plates it seems downright churlish of me to give this even a moment's worry.
I thought I'd let you know what finally happened. What happened was my capitulation to the idea that the camera is fine, the pictures are great, and all the logistics of replacing it are too silly and burdensome to consider.
But when the crisis is over and we're all flush with cash again it's probably Leica or Sigma that's getting more of my L-mount money. Panasonic is on a time out where my cash is concerned.
Finally, the S1 and S1R are two of the finest cameras I've had the pleasure to shoot with. In almost every respect they are a perfect match for my idea of what a camera should be in 2020 and beyond.