Panasonic Lumix GH1: The Micro Four Thirds System gains a new member, and with an impressive arsenal of video functions it could just be the best yet
Performance and value
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Performance
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix GH1 offers above and beyond what users upgrading from digital compacts would expect. Though the buttons may be a little packed in, operation is generally clear.
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Autofocus
The autofocus system is much quicker than those used by live view systems in most DSLRs. However, it is still not as quick as some dedicated AF systems. There also appears to be a slight shutter lag, particularly with AF tracking that requires some getting used to.
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Metering
The metering performs well under most conditions. In high contrast, however, highlights can be lost in an attempt to balance the exposure. This is often preferable for new users, and experienced snappers can correct with exposure compensation or shoot in Raw. White balance performs well outdoors, but the Auto mode struggles under tungsten light, and needs manual intervention to get accurate results. For those shooting in Raw this is not a problem as it can be adjusted in processing.
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Drive modes
The burst mode is a little disappointing with a maximum of 3fps. Using Panasonic’s own 4GB Class 4 SDHC card, it writes a JPEG in 1.5secs and a Raw in 3secs, and shoots a maximum of five JPEGs or four Raws at high burst mode before filling the buffer. While in low speed burst mode, it extends its JPEG capability up to between 30 and 50 shots. Again, these figures are hardly groundbreaking and look fairly pedestrian in DSLR terms.
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Video
The quality of the video this camera produces is jaw dropping, with both crisp detail and smooth motion. The manual controls allow you to take your video to the same extremities as your still work and create some truly individual results. Or alternatively, switch it to auto for quick and easy shooting. And, thanks to the sound options in the stereo mic and external input, you can produce high quality audio, too. See user videos taken on the GH1
Panasonic Lumix GH1: Value
For still images the Lumix GH1 does have some benefits over the G1, but certainly not enough to justify the extra cost on its own – especially as you can now buy the G1 with lens for less than £500, compared with the £1300 for the GH1. But this camera has made no excuses for being about high-definition video, and with its specification there is very little to match it.