By design, the DMC-GH1only offers electronic 'Live’ view – there’s no reflex mirror to flip up. Consequently, its size and weight makes you feel like you are holding a big compact, as it is a light, inconspicuous, go everywhere camera that feels well-balanced when married to its 14-140mm zoom lens.
This versatile LCD Live view panel allows you to work in very tight situations
The DMC-GH1 shoots video in two flavours: AVCHD and MJPEG. This is genius. When wanting something you can share with anyone with a computer you shoot the MJPEG MOV 720p with a frame rate of 30p. When you are thinking you might make a Blu-ray out of your shoot and want the best quality available, you can choose the AVCHD 25fps 1080p option. You could even try the special effect attributes of 720p at 50 fps, which records faster moving objects more crisply or can deliver great slow motion when used on a 25fps timeline.
The DMC-GH1 does make beautiful moving images at any size, even down to the MJPEG 320x240 preset. AVCHD (H.264) is a fine acquisition and delivery format, just don't try editing it without transcoding it into something else first. This may slow users down enough to put them off, but persistent ones will find their way and love the smaller file size on card that is half that of MJPEG.
Another well-implemented feature here is the flip out LCD screen, not a first, but it does 270° round and 180° out, in a way that is intuitive and works well even in bright sunlight. You can shoot impossibly low, and over people’s heads and still have a very accurate compositional chance. Using the viewfinder alternative is strangely similar to that ‘analogue’ image on DSLRs, but just a bit too vivid. Having tried the flip-out LCD screen there seemed little reason to go back, apart from saving battery life perhaps or when you’d like people to think you are just taking stills. Beware the quiet ones who don't take the camera from in front of their faces.
Serious filmmakers will use everything in manual mode, including the focus and exposure, and, thankfully, everything can be locked. The average buyer will more than likely opt for various auto options to ensure they capture the event. Indeed, this appears to be the only camera to offer continuous autofocus and face detect whilst recording video – a real nod to making a product that rivals present camcorder technology, with the only downside being the maximum recording length.
The supplied lens is designed for smooth, quiet autofocus operation when filming
Hard disk camcorders can go for 15 hours, but still cameras with video, such as the DMC-GH1, when sold in the EU are restricted to 29mins 59 secs. MJPEG has a 2GB file size limit too. However, most things we record nowadays, apart from presentations and school plays, are attention-sensitive, down to 10 mins or less – certainly the case in storytelling with movies. Regarding storage, even though Class 6 is recommended a Sans Disk Class 4 SDHC recorded AVCHD quite happily, though.
Next page: Sample Shots
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.