Home Buyer's Guide Cameras SLRs $1,000-$2,000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
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1. Free-Angle LCD: The GH1’s 3.0-inch LCD monitor shows 100% of the image area and tilts and rotates, making live-view operation in both still and movie shooting easy at any shooting angle. 2. Eye-Level Electronic Viewfinder: For those who prefer SLR-style, eye-level viewing, the GH1 provides a 1,440,000-dot, eye-level Live View Finder in addition to the LCD monitor. 3. Easy Dial Controls: Two dials atop the camera provide direct setting of many items.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

LIST PRICE: $1,499 (w/14-140mm ƒ/4-5.8 lens)


Okay, we know it’s not a true SLR (as a Micro Four Thirds camera, it lacks the mirror and pentaprism), but it looks and shoots like one, and takes interchangeable lenses. And it brings to fruition the promise of the original Four Thirds System: dramatically smaller cameras. The GH1 is noticeably smaller than the smallest true D-SLR.

The GH1’s 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor is the same size as standard Four Thirds System sensors (17.3x13.0mm); it’s the cameras that are “Micro,” not the image sensors. Both still and video image quality are very good—a new Venus Engine HD accounts for part of this good image quality.

LENS VERSATILITY: The GH1 will accept all Micro Four Thirds System lenses and, via adapters, Four Thirds System lenses and even lenses from other D-SLRs. Note that full functions are provided only with Micro Four Thirds lenses.

DUST REDUCTION: A Supersonic Wave Filter in front of the Live MOS image sensor vibrates 50,000 times a second to literally shake dust off the assembly each time you switch the camera on.

MEGA O.I.S.: The GH1 doesn’t have sensor-shift stabilization, but a number of its lenses (including the 14-140mm zoom sold with it) contain Optical Image Stabilization systems that effectively counter handheld camera shake.

FOUR ASPECT RATIOS: You can shoot in 4:3, 3:2 (35mm format), 16:9 HDTV) or square 1:1 aspect ratios, maintaining the same angle of view with all but the square format.
While contrast-based autofocusing is slower than the phase-detection systems used in most D-SLRs, Panasonic’s version in the GH1 is quick, and even includes AF Tracking for moving subjects. You can select any of the system’s 23 AF points or let the camera choose the most appropriate one. You can change the size of the AF point in four steps when choosing the point manually.

t’s easy to customize images to your taste with the GH1. My Color Mode lets you adjust color, brightness and saturation. Film Mode lets you start with a basic “look,” then fine-tune contrast, sharpness and noise reduction. Multi Film Mode lets you make three different images at one time, using three Film Mode settings.

Newcomers to photography will enjoy iA mode, which uses Face Detection AF/AE, Shake Detection, Subject Detection, Motion Detection, Scene Detection and Light Detection technologies to make it easy to get good images automatically. Even in tough lighting situations and with difficult subject matter, the camera’s “brain” figures out the best settings and sets them.

STANDOUT FEATURE: The GH1 provides full AF operation during video shooting, as well as control of aperture and shutter speed. Video formats include 1080p full HD at 24 fps, as well as 720 HD at 60 fps, plus standard video. There’s a built-in stereo microphone and a jack for an external mic.
VERDICT: Sold with a video-optimized 14-140mm ƒ/4-5.8 zoom lens featuring near-silent AF/AE operation, the GH1 combines excellent still-image quality with tremendous video capability.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
If you don’t need HD video capability, the Lumix DMC-G1 provides many of the GH1’s features in a lower-cost package. The G1 shares the GH1’s swiveling LCD monitor, eye-level electronic finder, contrast AF system including AF Tracking, dust-reduction system and ultracompact body. List Price: $799.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
If you’d like most of the GH1’s features in a smaller package and at a lower price, the $899 GF1 might fit the bill. In the trade-off, you’ll sacrifice the eye-level EVF, tilt/swivel LCD, stereo microphone and external mic support. You’ll still get 12 megapixels, HD video and the other key features of the GH1 for about $600 less.

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