Panasonic’s Lumix G-series introduces its most price-busting camera yet. but is it worth investing in?
Released in tandem with the flagship Lumix G2 model, the Lumix G10 sits at a lower rank in the G-series hierarchy, offering a slightly lower-spec model that boasts the most affordable price point yet.
Panasonic Lumix G10 Review – Features
Although not a DSLR camera, the G10 is modelled on this familiar basis, albeit at a smaller size thanks to the mirrorless technology and smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor. Its specification is similar in many regards to a DSLR, thus making this an ideal choice for step-up users looking for a small, affordable and attractive alternative, or for ‘first timers’ looking for optimum picture quality.
With a 12.1MP sensor under the hood, the Micro Four Thirds standard offers a 2x crop, meaning the new 14-42mm kit lens is a 28-84mm equivalent in 35mm ‘old money’ terms. Lenses produced by both Olympus and Panasonic are compatible, with the Micro Four Thirds system offering more lenses across a wider variety of focal lengths than the other competition out there.
A 3in, 460k-dot LCD screen features on the rear, though, unlike the G1 and G2 cameras, this isn’t a tilt-angle version. Furthermore, those hoping for the touchscreen functionality found in the G2 model won’t find such high-spec features here – though this may appeal to those not sold on the touch functionality.
In addition to the screen is a 202k-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the rear, which is relatively low resolution compared to the 1,440k-dot version found in the G2 and elsewhere. An LVF/LCD button toggles between viewfinder and screen as there is no eye sensor.
An abundance of control modes feature – from the standard PSAM manual controls to a variety of scene modes, a 720p movie mode and an intelligent Auto option for automated scene selection that has its own one-touch iA button.
Panasonic Lumix G10 Review – Design
Micro System Cameras tend to offer one of two designs: either to be DSLR-like with similar control dials and functionality or otherwise to be slimline and compact-camera-like with fewer physical control dials. The G10 falls into the former.
With such a design form there’s very little to complain about in terms of placement of the controls, however. A fairly substantial grip makes holding the camera easy, the mode dial on the top means shooting modes can be immediately accessed and to the left hand side there’s a second dial for focus control.
The rear offers up a standard d-pad setting for quick-access to ISO, White Balance, AF-point and other assignable functions to the Fn (function) button. Buttons for Q.Menu, Display, AF/AE Lock and Depth of Field Preview provide further immediate control that means you’re never far from making a quick adjustment and staying in control. One thumbwheel also resides on the back for shifting between apertures and similar.
For those looking for something smaller and more pocketable the G10 may still prove to be on the larger size – especially when compared to the Lumix GF1 from the same range or Sony’s NEX-5.
Panasonic Lumix G10 Review – Performance
In use the G10 is similar to its G1 and G2 cousins, albeit without the respective tilt-angle and touch-sensitive LCD screen capabilities. That’s not to say that the G10 doesn’t offer a good standard however, as its static-positioned LCD screen is a decent 460k-dot resolution.
Having all the controls available within easy reach makes both simpler Auto and more complex Manual use a breeze – simply click the quick-access iA (intelligent Auto) button and it lights up blue to show that the camera is in control and able to pick the best settings depending on the scene at hand; flick the mode dial into manual mode and the rear thumbwheel makes for easy shutter and aperture adjustment; add to this the quick menu and one-touch quick-access function buttons and most controls are readily available and easy to find. The very presence of the one-touch iA button encapsulates the target audience for this particular model.
The one-touch movie button found on the G2 model is lacking with the G10’s design. Quick selection of Movie mode from the mode dial remedies this. The G10 only offers Motion-JPEG movie quality which is decent, though there are greater limitations to capture length, file size and the compression isn’t as good as its AVCHD Lite equivalent (the latter as available in the G2). However, M-JPEG does mean that MOV files can be immediately output with no processing.
Shooting stills can also adopt the 16:9 ratio of the movie mode, but the G10 also offers 3:2, 4:3 or even a rather quirky 1:1 square format ratio. As well as these ratios there is a vast number of Scene modes – possibly too many – and other (better) My Color modes that allow for creative output options such as Silhouette and Retro.
The new 14-42mm lens is generally similar to the previous 14-45mm, though, despite its obvious focal length difference, does lack the ‘OIS’ (optical image stabilisation) switch from the lens itself and overall quality is also ever so slightly reduced. However, the lens does have optical image stabilisation that can be controlled from within the G10’s menu functionality.
When shooting, the AF system is fairly decent (up there among the best) and the AF-assist lamp is bright enough to highlight subjects in low light.
For those not overly fussy about optimum viewfinder quality, or who are perhaps unlikely to use one altogether, then this is where the G10 both wins and loses depending on your viewpoint. On the one hand, for cost purposes, the lower-resolution (202k-dot) viewfinder makes purchasing the model that much more affordable. On the other hand, the overall viewfinder screen quality isn’t the most pleasing. Pixels can be quite visible, low light causes a blurring lag, and yet the device is certainly functional enough, if not far from an optical equivalent. It’s with the G2’s 1,440k-dot viewfinder that quality is realised.
Well laid out, easy-to-access menus and modes, with responsive autofocus and scene modes – the G10 doesn’t put up much to moan about, though there’s nothing to make this entry-level model stand head and shoulders over the crowd.
Panasonic Lumix G10 Review – Value
The G10’s winning point is its price. With the 14-42mm kit lens expect to pay about £440 which, all competitors considered, places it as the most affordable Micro System Camera out there – it’s even cheaper than the original Lumix G1.
The G10 fills an affordable alternative to its more expensive Micro System Camera cousins. What it lacks in features (and there's not much) is made up for by its low price. Easy to use, well laid out and intuitive, this is a fairly no-frills G-series camera that doesn't sacrifice performance for value, yet lacks the excitement offered by other models such as the G2's tilt-angle touchscreen.Plus, with other manufacturers sticking their oars into the market, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is showing some limitations in mid to high ISO image quality capabilities.Overall the G10 won't let you down thanks to its competition-beating price.