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Professional Sports Photographer Sam Mellish Has The Panasonic Lumix S1 In His Kit Bag - Find Out Why

The Panasonic Lumix S1 is the camera Professional Sports Photographer Sam Mellish always reaches for and we've been chatting with him to find out why. Plus, pick up some top sports photography tips from this Team GB official photographer. (Advertorial Promotion)

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GB Athletes

Professional Team GB Sports Photographer Sam Mellish Says The Panasonic LUMIX S1 Cameras Are 'Impressive All-Round Tools To Get The Job Done.'

Sports photographer Sam Mellish recently used the Panasonic S Series to photograph Team GB at the Minsk European Games 2019. In fact, the Panasonic S1 and S1R were the sole cameras used by Team GB at the Games to document all of the action.

Sam followed the journey the incredible athletes took over nine-days of competition; Capturing all of the effort and determination needed to succeed at this top-level of sport. The European Games were an important stop on the road to next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo for many competing and the full-frame LUMIX S Series cameras and lenses enabled Sam to capture seamless shots of Team GB in outstanding quality, celebrating their success and bringing the Games to life for fans in the UK as well as all over the World. 

To find out more about Sam's career and why he always turns to the Panasonic S Series when photographing iconic sporting events, we sat down with Sam to ask him a few key questions about his job, kit choices and, of course, what his top tips are for those wanting to make Sports Photography their career choice. 

Sam Mellish

OK, let's kick-off with finding out what's in your kit bag, Sam...

"In my kit bag for the Minsk 2019 European Games, you’d find two LUMIX S1 bodies, a LUMIX 24-105mm and a 70-200mm lens together with a LUMIX FL580L flashgun, one battery grip and a handful of spare batteries.

I also had a Sigma / Canon lens converter and carried Canon 16-35mm and 70-400mm lenses. I’d carry a laptop as well as two 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro 300MB/s SD cards. In addition, I had a monopod and plenty of snacks and water."

The Mirrorless LUMIX S1 cameras are impressive all-round tools to get the job done," says Sam Mellish. 

Out of all of the subjects you could pick, why is sport/action a favourite?

"I’ve always enjoyed sport - I come from a family where sport dominated the conversation. Evenings would often involve a ‘kick about’ at the local park and weekends were spent watching major sporting events on the telly. So naturally, I gravitated to this style of photography. For me, what draws me is the ability to participate as well as photograph the action.

For over 15 years, I have photographed action sports such as ski and snowboarding and this passion for board-sports has taken me on commissions across the world. I love the thrill of capturing an athlete in that perfect moment and working with athletes to get the desired shot. I’m very lucky to be in a position to work with clients such as GB Snowsport using the latest LUMIX kit, as well as the other clients that have helped and supported me along the way. It’s been quite an adventure!"

Out of all of the cameras in the world, why do you like the Lumix S Series? Particularly for sports photography?

"The Mirrorless LUMIX S1 cameras are impressive all-round tools to get the job done. With a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, it was ideal for capturing moments during Minsk 2019. From the field of play to behind the scenes and everything in-between, the LUMIX delivered day in, day out. When shooting indoor sporting events such as boxing, badminton, and judo, the fast processing times combined with the exceptional low light and white balance capabilities all helped to deliver results with superb image clarity. The camera also responds well to the fast pace of sport and enabled me to capture the action by using the rapid-fire functions with high-speed bursts of nine RAW images per second - it makes the Panasonic Lumix S1 ideal for fast-paced subjects such as sports photography." 

Panasonic Lumix S1

What are the 5 top features of the S Series and why?

1. For a mirrorless camera, what really draws me to the S Series is that it has the look and feel of a pro DSLR, yet is slightly lighter. The kit is solid, weather-sealed and hard-wearing enough to take the odd knock, which is inevitable while on the go. 

2. The colour density when shooting in natural light produces exceptional image clarity and the low light capabilities provide impressive results with minimal noise. 

3. The LUMIX has a range of impressive functions including two image stabilisers; The in-body stabilisation as well as the OIS in the lens, enabling slower shutter speeds and minimising camera shake. This dual system will come into its own in low light scenarios and was certainly utilised during the Minsk 2019 Opening and Closing Ceremonies when the light was low and moving subjects weren’t necessarily a factor.

4. The camera fits well in the hand and feels comfortable using the intuitive controls. This is essential when shooting fast action. I also like the function to change the dials depending on how you like your aperture/shutter speed set up. The S Series also comes with a neat USB function which allows image transfer as well as an in-camera charging point.

5. Finally, I found pairing the Panasonic LUMIX S1 with my smartphone easy to manage and having the ability to instantly send images was reassuring for those medal-winning moments. 


"The Panasonic Lumix S1 is ideal for fast-paced subjects such as sports photography," Sam Mellish.  

How did you get the role of Team GB Sports Photographer?

Team GB


"Representing Team GB as their official photographer during the Minsk 2019 European Games was a real career highlight but, it's not the first time I have shot for Team GB. I joined the team during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in South Korea where I was shooting for GB Park & Pipe - the freestyle ski and snowboard team. I also followed GB Park & Pipe athletes over an 18-month period as they trained and competed across the globe in the build-up to Pyeongchang. A book featuring the work was published this year titled 'Radical Gains' by Diesel Books - if you’re into actions sports, I highly recommend you check it out."


What is it about the S Series that makes sports photography easier for you?

"The fast pace of sport means you often only have a split second to capture the photo. Shooting for Team GB, I was often concentrating on one or two athletes at a time and this might only allow one opportunity to get the required shot. I needed a camera that I could 100% rely on to get the shot in any given moment; be it in low light, outside with natural lighting variables or where fast action requires fast reaction time. I found the LUMIX handled all of these situations, producing high-quality images that were both sharp when the action was fast and clean and free of noise when the light was low. The AF functions allowed for continuous tracking so when an athlete moves randomly, the AF lock fixes on a subject to maintain sharp focus." 


Do you have a favourite sport you enjoy photographing the most and if so, why?

"I found the badminton and boxing really exciting to photograph and a joint contender for my favourite. I’m a keen cyclist myself, so naturally, both track and road cycling were highlights. Yet, with badminton and boxing, I was able to get ringside / courtside and capture the action as well as athlete reactions. I was also able to move about the arena and choose alternative angles, all of which created a nice selection of images from two very different disciplines. I found the LUMIX performed well under the challenges of low light at each venue and produced strong and striking images. For these particular sports, we gained a total of 12 medals, including two golds from each, so the adrenaline was running high as we progressed up the ranks."

How does a typical day run for you when photographing athletes/events?

Brinn Bevan gymnastics


"During the European Games, Team GB had a strong delegation of 100 athletes spread over 11 sporting disciplines, so no day was the same. Yet the ‘shoot and supply’ principles were consistent throughout.

Communication with head office at the athlete's village, as well as the media team, was essential to manage my day. Each morning I’d wake early, eat a hearty breakfast and check e-mails. I would have been sent an athlete schedule the previous night, so breakfast was a good time to go over documents and see if any overnight changes had been made.

With batteries charged, I’d give my kit a final check, making sure I had my press accreditation, then jump on a press-accredited bus to the venue, allowing plenty of time before the event. Making my way straight to the media room, I’d dump any unwanted kit and set-up two cameras, often two/three lenses and a monopod in preparation to shoot." 

"Depending on schedules, attending three/five events per day was normal. If athletes podiumed, I’d make sure I captured the medal ceremony and shoot post-event portraits, too." Says Sam Mellish. 

"During an event, badminton, for example, I’d tend to shoot the first half up close; Concentrating on action, athlete reaction and any additional detail. Once satisfied, I’d head to a photo position higher and establish a long shot, concentrating solely on action. If an athlete was at a crucial point, a medal chance or a knockout, I’d consider going back to the sideline and capture reaction shots / final action. Following this, I’d go back to the media room, depending on my schedule, upload, edit (include all metadata – caption, athlete, event, location information etc.) and supply images to Team GB. Once satisfied the job was done, pack up and head to the next venue."




"Depending on schedules, attending three/five events per day was normal. If athletes podiumed, I’d make sure I captured the medal ceremony and shoot post-event portraits. Once all the action was over, images were edited and supplied, I’d head back to the hotel to meet with the press team and allocate a selection of images to be considered for the Panasonic Lumix 'Photo of the Day' for social media followed by a relaxed debrief.  

Every evening athlete schedules for the next day would be distributed, so my final job involved planning for the following day. Once done, get batteries on charge, go over the kit and prepare for the next day." 

Do you have a strategy/plan when working with athletes?

Gabriel Cullaigh cyclist


"To quote Cardinal de Retz: 'There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment.' For me photography is all about the decisive moment, a term later coined by Magnum co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson. I feel there is so much more to a sport than the 'make or break' moment of winning. I aim to incorporate this philosophy into my photography and show a side of sport which might often get overlooked. So in a sense, I’m looking for alternative angles and points of view that might often get missed. With this in mind, each athlete will require a different working style and a slightly different approach. During Minsk 2019, my plan was to document the whole Minsk experience and capture images that positively reflect Team GB's highs and lows - to create a strong narrative depending on location. Every day I would look for new ways to tell the Minsk story."

What basic, but essential tips, would you give to someone who wants to try sports photography?

"We all know the best way to learn is by getting out there and giving it a go. So why not head along to your local sports club and ask if you can spend an hour or so capturing the action? Consider a Sunday league football club, a local cricket ground or a sports day. Somewhere accessible. It’s good practice to seek permission before you take photos.

Before going over some basic camera details, find a good photo position, ideally with the sun behind you as this will ensure your subject is evenly lit and enable your camera to freeze the action with increased shutter speeds.

Alice Schlesinger

It also helps to know your sport, to be able to anticipate where the ball might be going and what the athlete might do next. All this becomes second-nature the more you use your camera. Once these basic details have been considered, simply take lots of images and enjoy the process.

Finally, it’s worth considering your kit. You’ll want a camera that has a good zoom and ideally one which you can set the shutter speed, or at least set to sport mode. 

Because of the fast nature of sport, it requires the shutter to release quickly to freeze the action in your desired frame and this is often called a fast shutter speed. The zoom will allow you to stand at the sidelines and tightly compose your image, eliminating any unwanted distractions." 

"We all know the best way to learn is by getting out there and giving it a go. So why not head along to your local sports club and ask if you can spend an hour or so capturing the action?" Sam Mellish.   

What about advice for someone with a bit more experience but they're not a pro?

Medal Ceremony


"Be patient and keep mastering your craft. Being a professional photographer is no easy task and, in today's digitised world where competition surrounds us, it’s important to keep a cool head and play the long game. Focus on what you are doing, concentrate on subjects that are important to you and enjoy what you do.

Something which helped me develop a good understanding of capturing action sports was practising on friends. For example, if you enjoy cycling, go out and shoot some of your friends on a ride, cycling cross-country or at a local BMX spot. This will give you greater confidence when you are ready to step up to the next level.

"Focus on what you are doing, concentrate on subjects that are important to you and enjoy what you do," says Sam Mellish.

Know the capability of your kit. If you know what your camera can achieve, you are halfway to achieving it. Be confident and communicative if you want to direct your photography. If you want to shoot sporting events, prepare by familiarising yourself with the sport/route. Shoot a local event/sportive.  

Finally, it’s important to find a niche, yet be open to photographing many different subjects as this is what will help if and when you become a paid photographer."


For more information on the Panasonic S1 Series, visit the Panasonic Website. To see more of Sams' work, visit:

All photos © Sam Mellish. 

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rhody 17 2.8k 2 United Kingdom
3 Oct 2019 6:28PM
I had a short "test drive" with the S1R and really loved it.
I think it is a good decision by Panasonic to stay with the well proven, ergonomic "DSLR" size for their full frame mirrorless cameras.
I currently use a Sony A7RIII with an adapter for my Canon L glass and it is superb but I do find it slightly too small in the hand coming at it from a full frame Canon DSLR.
Traditional SLR's and DSLR's have been honed to ergonomic perfection over decades now and I have never understood the desire to shrink everything down just because you can.
The S1R felt perfect in my hands and was a dream to use in practice - a very good and practical design Panasonic.
I don't expect or want FF mirrorless to be reduced in size just as a fad. Practicality and ergonomics win for me every time.
Will I be changing over to the S1R? A very strong possibility once more lenses are available.

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