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Panasonic Lumix GH1 preview

Ilse Jurrien
PMA 2010 Report
Thursday 5th, March 2009
Posted by: Ilse Jurrien

The arrival of a new GH1 of Panasonic did not exactly come as a surprise, while at the Photokina 2008 we already saw an early prototype of the Panasonic GH1 showcased behind glass Panasonic's press event. The introduction of the Micro Four Thirds system, in cooperation with Olympus, was a good start for Panasonic. In 2008, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1 was awarded with the DIWA Gold Award for overall quality and the highly appreciated LUMIX G Vario 14-45mm kit lens. The official introduction of the Panasonic LUMIX GH1 is now a fact, and certainly creates high expectations. The Panasonic GH1 will take video capture with a DSLR to a different level.

Panasonic Lumix GH1

Panasonic Lumix GH1 digital SLR camera
Besides the Panasonic G1's exceptional quality, it also featured the iA mode. This setting is also found on the Panasonic LUMIX GH1. It provides excellent pictures for beginners. The iA mode is a fully automatic setting, even challenging the most experienced users. In practice, this further enhanced automation does not just appeal to the newbie; the seasoned photographer also appreciates its ease.

Panasonic Lumix GH1 ideal for photos and videos
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH1 is the world's first camera with exchangeable lenses that offers to capture Full High Definition video capture in a resolution of 1920x1080 pixels and 60fps. The video clips are stored in the AVCHD (MPEG-4/H.264 ) format while the auto focus works continuously. Especially the latter is the main difference with current video techniques used by competing brands; such as the Nikon D90 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark I. The red button on the back of the Panasonic GH1 facilitates filming with a system camera, making it simpler and ensuring it is more easily accessible than ever before.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 film possibilities
Even though activating the HD film mode is swift and easy, that doesn't mean filming with the Panasonic LUMIX GH1 offers only limited possibilities. In addition to auto capture in combination with iA mode, it is possible to manually adjust exposure while filming. Shutter speeds and apertures can be set to preference, thus providing the possibility of creative filming with the Panasonic GH1.

Panasonic 14-140mm HD lens
Not only the new Panasonic LUMIX GH1 is introduced, but also the new 14-140mm f/4-5.8 OIS HD lens. At the time of the press conference, it was not yet completely clear in which combination the Panasonic GH1 will be sold. This will probably also differ per region. The new lens has a range of 28-280mm (35mm equivalent) and supports a continuous auto focus for both pictures and video capture. An important feature of this lens is that it is incredibly silent to work with. During filming, you want to eliminate as many annoying background sounds as you possibly can. Additionally, the Panasonic 14-140 mm f/4-5.8 OIS HD lens features an optical image stabilization reducing blur for handheld shots.

Panasonic Lumix DMC GH1 lens
Besides the new 14-140 mm and 7-14 mm lenses, several more new lenses will be launched this year. An ultra-compact, so-called 'pancake' lens is still to be expected, a 20mm f/1.7 as well as a 45 mm f/2.8 OIS Macro lens. This provides a growing offer of very interesting possibilities for the Micro FourThirds system. Moreover, it is possible to use lenses of third parties by using an adapter. It is advisable to enquire which functions of the lens are supported.

Panasonic Lumix GH1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 microphones
The good news of being able to film in HD quality with continuous focus is of course not all, since a video without sound is not exactly complete. On the top side of the Panasonic GH1 there are two microphones; stereo microphones with Dolby Digital Stereo Creator to be precise. The camera also features a built-in Wind Cut function to minimize noise due to environmental wind. The frequency in which the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH1 captures its videos is very special; instead of the standard 16Khz we find a high quality frequency of 46Khz. The first samples we have seen and heard are impressive and we expect more positive reactions. Moreover, an external microphone can also be connected to the Panasonic GH1 via an interface on the side.

Panasonic GH1 camera includes an iA mode
If you have worked with the last generation of Panasonic LUMIX cameras before, and are familiar with the iA mode, you will probably highly appreciate this function. Various hindrances are easily overcome with surprising preciseness in this mode; such as backlight and high contrast situations. The Panasonic LUMIX GH1 system camera also features this iA mode and this function also works for the film mode. This means that the same auto features are used while filming, with which Panasonic succeeds to keep the user-friendliness on a high level. The improvements of the iA mode of the LUMIX GH1 are worth mentioning. The face detection function or even better; face recognition function, has been further improved. It is possible to register 6 faces and add a name tag. Next, the camera will give priority to these faces when focusing (for both picture and video!) and will track and focus the registered face correctly. It sounds terrific and to be honest, it is just that!

Panasonic Lumix GH1

Panasonic DMC-GH1 - Two Venus Engine HD processors
To be able to process the amount of data that comes with HD video and high resolution pictures, power is required. The Panasonic GH1 sports a twosome VENUS Engine HD Processors which not only improve the image processing speed, but also enable obtaining a higher quality. Although we haven't been able yet to carry out any technical tests in the DIWA Lab, Panasonic claims that the high ISO of 1600 ISO for example provides a higher quality than that of the G1. We will get back to this as soon as we receive a full test sample in the DIWA Lab.

Panasonic Lumix GH1 - Image quality test
The improved Live MOS sensor will also be tested in our DIWA Lab. We are very curious about the noise values at high ISO, particularly the ISO 800; while the Panasonic G1 already performed excellently up to this value. The new image sensor of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH1 supports more than one image ratio. Since the actual sensor is larger (14.1 Megapixels) than what is actually used for the picture (12.1 Megapixels), it enables taking pictures in the ratios 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 without a change of focal length. This is similar to the Panasonic LUMIX TZ7 megazoom camera, which also features a so-called 'Multi-aspect' sensor.

Panasonic Lumix GH1 review
As soon as we receive a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GH1 sample camera, we will publish a picture gallery with high resolution pictures, followed by an extensive Panasonic LUMIX GH1 review. Perhaps we are able to provide more background information after our meeting with Panasonic during PMA 2009.

Panasonic Lumix GH1

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The PMA show, or Photo Marketing Association, continues its yearly tradition of maintaining a network of photo imaging as well as the experience and know-how of the industry. The PMA represents 20,000 members from over 100 countries, who are all active within the imaging industry. As a reflection of the changes in the market, the PMA organization has also changed and has become more diverse. Nowadays, the member group consists of representatives coming from photo retail, manufacturers, commercial photo labs, professional sports and news photography, in addition to small album print suppliers and photo processing centers. The PMA 2012 Trade show focuses on an industry which is heavily affected by the unstable situation of the global financial economy. However, whether the latter will also stand in the way of the innovation and product introductions, remains to be revealed by the PMA International Convention & Trade Show in Anaheim Convention Center (California, US).