Panasonic DMC-GH1 Micro Four-Thirds camera
HD video with a super smooth lens, what's not to like?
Review Are we at the point where people will only buy one product to film and take great stills? Instead of camcorders that can take the odd sub-10Mp image, camera manufacturers are coming at it from the other side and offering HD video on models previously only equipped for stills. The Lumix DMC-GH1 is the camera that Panasonic left the door open for with the previously 'photo-only' DMC-G1.
Video nicety: Panasonic's DMC-GH1
Sharing the same 12.Mp sensor as the DMC-G1, the DMC-GH1 is almost identical in specification, so rather than repeat all of its functions here, take a peek at our earlier DMC-G1 review for details. Yet its the HD video capabilities that are the real difference, which, combined with a growing range of interchangeable lenses, can shift us away from the ‘sharp throughout’ video capture we are accustomed to and deliver better images that have a look more akin to Super 8 or even 16mm.
This camera, as with the DMC-G1 before it, is of the Micro Four-Thirds variety, which is a branch of the Four-Thirds standard that Panasonic, Olympus and Leica have adopted; producing lenses and bodies for cameras that have a mix of DSLR looks and dimensions, only slightly smaller.
An additional adaptor ring will allow all other makes of Four-Thirds lenses to be used, but only ones with contrast-detect AF will constantly autofocus. The Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens is a 28-280mm 35mm equivalent and comes with the body in the basic lens kit. This lens has an incredible range and could be used for all sorts of wide close-up filming, as well as capturing at a very respectable distances.
Another zoom lens available, is the Lumix G Vario 7-14mm/F4.0 ASPH. It’s slightly faster and offers music video friendly wide angles, but it lacks the 'Vario HD' label for video, due to the absence of the smooth, ultra-quiet motor and seamless aperture adjustment. This is something to be aware of because the DMC-GH1 can continuously autofocus during recording of video with its near-silent Vario HD lens system.
Using LCD screen instead of the viewfineder soon becomes a habit
Even so, this camera can be adapted to work with all kinds of lenses, not just the Four-Thirds standard, including 16mm and 35mm PL mount cinema class glass. But Panasonic isn’t just pandering to the relatively small indie filmmaker market here. It is going to sell a lot of these to people who want the autofocus feature. That said, Panasonic must have been listening to filmmakers, as it has given them full manual control, right off the bat.
1080p 50i into 25p? No EU HD time limit? Why not 24p for direct-to-Blu ray?
On Panasonics's site, the spec says that the sensor captures at 50i but outputs at 25p. Is this worth being concerned about? do other cameras capture purely at 25p with no such conversion?
No mention of a maximum time limit per continuous recording. Some digital stills cameras have this limit to avoid the EU camcorder tax. Which might explain a previous poster's comments about why the price increase compared to a stills-only camera. So it appears that the recording limit is only limited by the memory capacity of the card recorded onto. Great.
Why 25p and not 24p? 24p is possibly the most common frame rate for Blu-ray. Recording at 24p would mean less or no reprocessing or re-encoding if you want to record your footage onto Blu-ray. Blu-ray provides a reasonably robust and permanent medium for achiving and sharing. Thinking about the whole solution chain from capture to archiving is missing from a lot of manufacturer's minds it seems. Though Panasonic's dedicated standlone Blu-ray recorders likely support recordings from SD from this camera also made by them.
an £800 premium over the G1 for hd video?
I paid less for my D90 a year ago. The G1 is a lovely piece of kit, but why almost a triple hike in price on the GH1 just for adding the ability to take movies?
Paris, because she knows all about being overpriced and pointless.
Yes, but is it any good as a stills camera?
El Reg seems to be reviewing this mainly as a video camera rather than for stills. OK fair enough but you're claiming it's stolen a march on the Canon's 7D and Nikon's D300s both very, very good stills cameras.
How does the GH1 compare to these two in handling and at high ISO?
Also, as a system how does it compare to offerings from Nikon and Canon? Nikon's CLS, for example, is great for is great for off camera flash.
I'm guessing that how you want to use your camera is going to be more of a deciding factor than which lenses you already own. I.e. Do you want a small, compact and versatile all rounder or do you want something to shoot indoor sports in low light, etc.
These little micro 4/3rds cameras look like a great, very flexible compromise but personally I'd still primarily be interested in using it as still camera.
Four Thirds isn't for everyone
The ability to add an external mike to me would be the biggest selling point in this camera, the turnoffs are the noise at high ISO's and the Four Thirds mount.
Considering how small the sensor is I'm surprised the pictures have as low noise as they do, however my Nikon D700 has a full frame sensor and doesn't start showing any noise until ISO 5000. Unless people are buying new into the system the Four Thirds mount is a pricey proposition for what you actually get, and there's not a huge choice of lenses. Also, LCD displays still haven't caught up to a simple reflex mirror.
However, zip over to Youtube and the video quality is actually pretty good. An external mike takes away all the problems with hearing the focus motor or your hands as you move or adjust anything on the camera. And manual controls? ooooohh.....by comparison my Nikon D90 backup camera literally just captures the live view, and has a well known problem with the video wobbling or jiggling if you pan too fast or don't hold it steady.
So one of these would be nice to get, but not for the price.
high iso banding?
whats with the banding the iso 1600 and higher pics? grainyness is to be expected but the lines are odd.