In use, the menu and quick menu access on the camera are excellent. Lumix compact users will recognise these immediately, and others will find their way very quickly. There are menus for recording, playback and global choices. On the top is a Q Menu, which takes you to a step through of all functions on the screen without having to leave the Preview window.
Compact users will feel very much at home with the navigation menus
There is also a quick Film menu underneath it for getting into the different looks that come pre-programmed – Black and White, Vivid and so on, plus a couple you can customise yourself. It’s very nice for keeping consistency of a sort – sharpness, contrast, amount of saturation – though most may well shoot flat and then do all that in the editing post-production process to have more control. You can check out the sample shots to see the various preset flavours.
Another great feature that seemingly works better than the competition is the stereo microphone built into the flash pop up. Audio capture utilises the Dolby Digital Stereo Creator recording format and – while the mic itself has no separation to speak of – it does record what is in front of it very well. In situations where you have time, you would double track using a separate specialist audio recorder but, for run-and gun, this on-board mic is perfectly adequate.
That said, the DMC-GH1 really could do with headphone out socket to check the quality of the signal and to check that your external mic's batteries haven't died, as there is a mic input. Yet this appears on a 2.5mm jack, which is a bit unfriendly. Panasonic makes its own DMW-MS1 microphone, which is a perfect fit, of course, or with an adaptor you can add your own shotgun. Unfortunately, the recording levels can’t be adjusted manually but, to be fair, audio control like that belongs to semi-pro camcorders and beyond.
Apart from some AVCHD livery, the dedicated record video button is one of the few items that tell you this is a hybrid. You can shoot stills whilst it is recording video and you don't have to take your eye away from the viewfinder. Yet when gripping the camera it was easy to start recording by accident, so this function was soon disabled from the menu, which is an excellent option.
Mic input, but no headphone monitoring, alas
For stills there are the usual program modes available; varying in how much control you want. In Program AE, the camera automatically selects the shutter speed and aperture – you ride the ISO. Scene Modes offer a multitude of presets with camera taking care of business. Aperture and shutter Priority – sure you can guess – yet one important thing to note is the DMC-GH1 can shoot video in any record mode.
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.