Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

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Johnmcl7
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Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Johnmcl7 » 23 Jul 2009, 19:50

I've fired the GH1 through the lighting studio so while I'm writing up the review to go with it I thought I'd upload some pictures in the meantime.

The Panasonic GH1 is Panasonic's second micro 4/3 camera following on from the almost identical G1 - the headline feature of the GH1 is the video support which was oddly lacking from the G1. The GH1 supports up to 1080p AVCHD gaining a dedicated video record button (allowing you to record video in any mode), a stereo microphone above the EVF along with a dedicated addon microphone and a new 14-140mm lens with a continuous aperture iris and silent AF which are both important for video work. Less obvious is the new sensor which like the G1 is still 12MP but in the GH1 it's an oversized sensor allowing it to record in 4:3. 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 modes while maintaining the same focal length as the sensor is larger than the crop circle of the lens.

Micro 4/3 is a standard proposed by Panasonic and Olympus and is as the name suggests a smaller version of the 4/3 standard used for their SLRs, the reflex mirror and viewfinder are both removed and the lens brought much closer to the sensor. It's the same 4/3in sensor as in the SLRs but the mount diameter is reduced and there's two more pins to improve video support. Through an adapter standard 4/3 lenses can be mounted on the micro 4/3 cameras although autofocus support is limited as the smaller cameras focus using the sensor rather than the phase detect autofocus system the SLRs use. In short micro 4/3 gives many of the benefits of the SLR sized sensor in a smaller package.

Anyway, here's a few pictures:

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The GH1 with the 14-140mm lens attached along with the lens hood.

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This the GH1 with the lens removed showing the exposed sensor, the shutter doesn't close to protect it although it does have the 'dustbuster' - so far on the G1 the dirt doesn't doesn't to be a problem. On the front of the grip is the single command dial which changes aperture, shutter, exposure compensation or menu items all depending on what mode the camera is in.

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Round the top of the camera it's quite busy dominated by the large mode dial which has masses of different predefined settings, the switch down the top right conveniently changes the camera between self timer, burst mode and bracketting mode. The Q.menu allows you to change through the main settings without going into the menu, film mode is a selection of different predefined parameters to enhance colours, dull them, black and white etc. In front of the hotshote is the stereo microphone and on the left is the rather wasted focus mode dial.

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Round the back of the camera with the 3in 460K screen folded out leaving limited space for the rest of the buttons. At the top right is the video record button which rather cleverly allows you to start shooting a video clip with the same settings you're using for stills, you can switch straight back to taking pictures by pressing the standard shutter button meaning there's no need to change round to a film mode. The d-pad works as expected and also gives shortcuts to ISO, white balance, and metering mode. The other buttons work as expected, over to the left the LVF/LCD button which switches between the EVF and the main display - there is a sensor on the EVF which means it only powers up when it detects the camera is at eye level. Using this button the rear screen can be set to show the current settings similar to an SLR.

One of the criticisms of the Panasonic G series is the unamibitous design as they've produced a camera along the same size as the small SLRs although the G1/GH1 are slightly deceptive as they are smaller than they look. First up here are a couple of pictures alongside the compact LX3, the GH1 has its 14-140mm kit lens mounted (28-280mm equivalent) and the LX3 has its 24-60mm equivalent lens:

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Going the other way here is the GH1 and the micro 4/3 7-14mm F4 alongside the E-3 and the Olympus 7-14mm F4:

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Here are the two 7-14mm lenses alongside each other:

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Both these lenses have the same aperture and same focal length both working with a 4/3 size sensor, one of the advantages of the micro 4/3 system is that with the lens being much closer to the sensor and a smaller mount diameter wide angle lenses can be smaller and lighter. The difference is hard to show in pictures but the Panasonic 7-14mm is just incredibly small despite offering similar optical quality to its big 4/3 brother. While talking about lenses, here is the 14-140mm F4 to F5.8 kit lens:

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It offers a versatile range from a 28mm wide angle up to 280mm extending considerably to reach full zoom, the lens is a compact for its large zoom range although starting at F4 and reaching F5.8 at maximum zoom it's relatively 'slow'.

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Here is the camera with the optional addon mic installed which clips into the hotshoe then connects through the side of the camera, it's a clumsy system as the mic doesn't get power through the hotshoe nor can it communicate through it.

Some sample shots:

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4:3 standard jpeg

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1:1 (square) nostalgic film mode jpeg

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16:9 standard jpeg

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ISO 3200 in B@W mode

A couple of ISO 1600 shots:

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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby EviL Ras » 23 Jul 2009, 19:57

i hate you... your pics always look so good! Its an interesting system the 4/3, and wasnt sure how you'd react to it. But it looks great, (when that deft mic isnt on it!), and the pics look good so far. a replacement for compacts? Or will there always be a market for pocketable cameras. And always a market for the full SLR experience. Which begs the question, which niche is this aiming for?
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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Johnmcl7 » 23 Jul 2009, 20:15

This is going right between the SLRs and the compacts offering a compromise between the two, while not as fast as the SLRs it's not as big or heavy either plus it offers a far better movie mode and although bigger than a compact it has a much bigger sensor and interchangeable lenses.

The tough decision here was between the GH1 and the Olympus E-P1 which is also a micro 4/3 camera but barely bigger than a compact camera which looks ideal. However the more I looked into it the less convinced I thought it was suitable for me, the body is bigger than it looks and as a complete solution it suffered against the LX3 with its bright F2 to F2.8 lens and integrated flash. Although it offers onboard IS it has no EVF, no flash, the autofocus is slow and the movie mode is the typical digicam half thought addon.

The GH1 on the other hand has the excellent EVF, onboard flash and high quality video support so I decided it could sit comfortably between the E-3 and the LX3 without infringing on either. So as a market split I see it this way:

Compact cameras
Bridge cameras
Micro 4/3 cameras (and others as Samsung have said they are joining in)
Cropped sensor SLRs
Full size SLRs

The bridge camera market has been dying for a long time with the serious side dead entirely as all those people have moved to SLRs, the compact ultrazooms have also been taking chunks out of the remaining bridge cameras.

For me, this is my line up and use:

- Panasonic LX3 - compact enthusiast camera, always in my pocket and ready when I need it
- Panasonic GH1 - travel camera with its 7-14mm/14-140mm lenses giving a very compact setup with many of the advantages of the SLR.
- Olympus E-3 - Still has its own place, mainly for its speed (autofocus, burst rate, optical viewfinder) and weather sealing. While technically the GH1 can mount all the E-3's lenses, it can't autofocus properly with many of them and the bulk of the E-3 balances well with the large lenses. I can't imagine mounting the 2kg 35-100mm F2 lens on the GH1, I wouldn't be able to find the camera!

That's my theory anyway, I've been carrying around the GH1 with me for a few days and I have to admit when I picked up the E-3 today for shooting the GH1 I couldn't believe how big and heavy it was, it seemed a bit absured this was what I'd been carrying around with me normally.

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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby robbo » 23 Jul 2009, 22:43

Nice review so far John (guessing you'll have more to say on it). Always wanted to get into SLRs but not had the time nor money to put into it. Also been a little put off by the size of SLRs. These 'inbetweeners' have got me wondering if I should jump that hurdle though. But still too pricey at the moment!

Maybe I should just get an LX3 or TZ7 in the meantime.

And did you block out the Evos number plate just in case you go for it?
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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Tappy » 23 Jul 2009, 23:14

That Evo does look nice - oh screw it - I'm off to change my car ;)
I'm happy you posted this, because I thought you were talking about Guitar Hero I on the "What have I just bought" thread.
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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Johnmcl7 » 24 Jul 2009, 00:58

I think this segment of the market is going to explode in the next few years, Sigma had their go and didn't really get it to work however Panalysonic and Olympus have shown it is possible to have a large sensor compact camera that can generate sales.

The LX3 is a great little camera which I've not regretted for a second, its ultrabright wide angle lens makes the camera great in poor light which is inevitably when I'm using it. I was amused when having lunch at a brewery in Montana with my friend and one of her friends, we were doing the usual taking pictures of each other when one of the ladies working there came over offered to take the picture of the three of us. She took the picture with the LX3 which with its F2 lens produced a decent shot which looked great on the high resolution 3in screen - as she looked at the picture she commented 'wow, who makes this camera the picture looks incredible!'

The downside to the LX3 is that it's really best suited paired to a bigger camera, the lack of telephoto coverage does really kill it as a general use camera. The TZ7 is of course the opposite and a great all round camera especially now it goes even wider and has the HD mode.

I blanked out the number plate just because I thought I should when publishing the picture online, I'm always a bit wary of taking pictures of cars at garages these days.

John
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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Combat Marmot » 02 Sep 2009, 10:57

Impressed by the ISO 1600 shots John. I'm always a little bit suspicious of going over 800 as I'm paranoid about graining ruining a nice photo. Have taken some high ISO shots on my D60 while abroad, but haven't had the chance to look at them on the big screen yet - looks like it'll have to wait until I get back.
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Re: Panasonic DMC-GH1 - pics only so far

Postby Johnmcl7 » 02 Sep 2009, 13:36

With a camera like the D60 I wouldn't be too scared of going to higher ISO settings, if you need the shutter speed then you can work with noise to improve the picture but you can't really do anything about motion blur. When viewed at 100% resolution the noise does look bad however when printed it generally looks fine and at screen resolutions it's not bad either. On a compact or bridge camera you unfortunately can't really up the ISO without losing a lot of detail however with the large sensor in the D60 it can handle high ISO extremely well.

I'd recommend having a look at some noise reduction programs such as Noiseware or Noise Ninja.

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