Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 12.1MP Digital SLR Camera with Lumix G Vario 14-45 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Lens (Black)


  • 12.1-megapixel 4/3-type MOS sensor; world’s first Micro Four Thirds camera
  • Includes Lumix G Vario 14 – 45 mm F3.5 – F5.6 ASPH.Mega OIS lens
  • Live View Finder and bright 460,000-dot resolution, 3.0-inch LCD
  • New Contrast AF (Auto Focus) function; Face Detection and Intelligent Auto (iA) mode
  • Capture images to SD/SDHC/Multimedia cards (not included)

You should know where I coming from. My previous camera was a compact sensor, fixed lens, super-zoom camera (Canon S3 IS). I now own and am very happy with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1. I have both the 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 basic zoom and the 45-200mm/F4-5.6 telephoto zoom.

There are two areas where the where the G1 really shines: its electronic viewfinder and its focusing capabilities, both auto and manual. I am old enough and my eyesight poor enough to make an electronic viewfinder superior to an LCD screen or a penta-mirror viewfinder. I also don’t like large, heavy cameras. The G1 is only a tad bigger than many point-and-shoot cameras.

The G1 viewfinder image is high-resolution, full-time live view. It is like looking at HDTV. All the other electronic viewfinder cameras that I am familiar with produce what look like grainy SDTV images when compared to the G1.

Aa for focusing, autofocus on the Canon S3 was slow and it often failed to lock on target. Manual focusing was so difficult as to be a joke. On the G1, both manual focus and autofocus are amazingly good.

When using autofocus (AF), the G1’s 23 AF points really make a big difference (the S3 has only one). The focus is fast and accurate even in fairly low light situations. The G1 shows you the AF points it is using in the viewfinder. I find that feedback reassuring. The G1 also provides a subject tracking feature that really works. You can focus on a subject, then shift camera to recompose without loosing the focus. No holding down the shutter button halfway or pressing an AF lock button required.

As for the manual focus, it simply works as I think it ought to. The lenses have a proper focus ring, and the viewfinder goes into 5x magnification as soon as you start to turn it (you can disable this if you want to). A click on the front mounted control wheel and the magnification goes up to 10x. A second click and the magnification returns to 5x. That’s something even high-end DSLRs can’t do — I mean without taking one’s eye off the viewfinder and switching to live view. And, yes, the magnification area can be moved around the view frame.

I have found the two lenses I have for the G1 give excellent images. It would be nice to have faster lenses, but Panasonic decided to keep the price down rather than market (much) more expensive lenses with larger maximum apertures.

In all other respects, the G! performs as well or better than the DSLR cameras in its price range. The G1 is a good choice over its price competitors when having a large, bright, sharp viewfinder image and having first-class focusing capabilities are important purchase criteria.Great for HDR photography. No serious weaknesses.

For having a smaller sensor than a DSLR, its resolution is outstanding. Under 800 ISO, it favorably compares with the much bulkier Canon 450D, which is probably the best resolving DSLR under $2000. Translation: Outdoors, in good light, you can blow up these images to poster size and they will be razor sharp.

In all the reviews, I can’t find any serious weaknesses and there are some real strengths. The “live” viewfinder is much cooler than a glass one because you can change your settings and see the picture change before you shoot it! So if you’re in a dark place shooting high ISO, the viewfinder will show you the picture as the sensor sees it. Moreover, you can use a magnified view through the viewfinder to help you precisely manually focus for situations where the autofocus isn’t optimal.

Finally, the G1 has unique auto-exposure-bracketing (AEB) abilities for a camera in this price range. It can shoot up to 7 frames in AEB mode, with a maximum step of 2/3 of an f stop. To get that I think you have to go to $3,000 DSLRs.

The good news is the kit lens — 14-48 equiv to a 28-90 on a 35mm camera — gets uniformly great reviews even from professional photographers. The bad news is there are very few lenses made for this camera yet — though that will change if this format takes off.

The biggest weakness of this camera vs a full size DSLR is probably high ISO — 1600 and higher. But how much shooting do you do in the dark anyway? If you shoot a lot of pictures in candlelight and need to enlarge them to 24×36 and not see grain, fine, go get your Canon Mark II for $4,000. But in normal light the images of this camera will be really close to anything out there — even really expensive ones.While it does have its quirks, this is a great camera. I’m not the most skilled photographer, yet, and it’s nice to play with the manual settings or to be lazy and let the camera’s auto settings do the work, and they do a decent job.

Pro’s:

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Small size – The Olympus E-420 (smallest SLR) is 32.6% larger than the G1. The Rebel is 60% larger than the G1.

Excellent Photo Quality – Having come from ultra zoom camera that was incapable of taking a quality picture over ISO 100, it is a dream to be able to shoot pictures at ISO 800 and be able to get print quality photos. I wouldn’t go above 800, though.

Ability to capture raw – While it’s expected in a camera this price, it’s still nice to work with RAW files and have the ability to manipulate the unprocessed image – including white balance problems.

Cons – each of these is very minor

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Auto WB – This needs some work in certain lighting conditions

Burst Mode – Even if you have picture review turned off, it is forced on if you’re in burst mode. This makes it next to impossible to capture a moving subject in burst. You’re better off to rapidly fire off individual shots. **This is the #1 thing I would like to see addressed in a firmware update**

ISO above 800 gets real noisy real fast.

Bulb Mode – is capped at 4 minutes. This is fine unless you want to do star trails.

Limited # of lenses – hey, it’s a new system and as such there aren’t going to be a lot of lenses right now. They will be coming, but it will take time. If you want access to a ton of lenses right now, you may want to consider another system or at least be prepared to buy an adapter that will allow you to use Olympus 4/3 lenses or Leica M lenses.

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All in all, I love this camera. I’m just trying to figure out how I’m going to talk the wife into allowing me to purchase the 45-200mm lense.I was an early adopter with this camera. Don’t laugh, but I sold my 5D Canon to buy this little guy. I was headed towards the 5DMKII and had a moment of clarity: which camera will I be more apt to use? The DMC-G1 hasn’t disappointed. It takes razor sharp photos and is a joy to use. I’m an aerial photographer and just for fun, I took up a friend’s Canon 5DMKII to compare to the little G1. I was very suprised: both deliver equally crisp shots. In some cases, the G1 delivered a sharper image, on the detail. The fact that they were close blew me away, because the pixel count is very different in the two different formats. The only weak point, if there is one, is that the controls on top tend to get bumped and changed when you’re not looking, so it’s always a good idea to confirm the settings. I sold $5,000 worth of lenses and camera (5D) to get this camera and I’m very pleased that I made the move.I’m a budding photographer;I get all the jargon(rule of thirds is my new word of the day) and stuff but I really haven’t shot too many photos yet,but I’ve done enough shots with my PowerShot 590IS to realize the limitations of a point and shoot.

I felt I was ready to make the step to a big boy camera.I wanted the picture quality/low noise of a DSLR while not being encumbered with something like even a Nikon D90, while having the ease of shooting of a point and shoot. oh, and interchangeable lenses.(That got rid of the PowerShot G10)

The Lumix G1 fit the bill. It’s a true joy to shoot with; even at full auto(intelligent auto, as they call it) pictures are AMAZING!I handed the camera to some of my friends with no photo experience, and they took shots that I would be proud to frame.

Yes, once you leave the land of automatic, the menu options are quite complex, but a little bit of RTFM never hurt anyone :)

and yes, the autofocus is very fast,you can poke around the web to see the reviews, but I can personally say that the autofocus does rival a SLR’s autofoucus.

The viewfinder is very nifty, you can review pictures on it due to it being electronic, perfect when its too sunny to see on the beautiful main LCD;it can do everything the regular LCD can. It is also very sharp and the colors are jaw-dropping,it does 800×600 at 60fps.However, there is tearing when you move the camera too quickly and occasional rainbow effects, due to the viewfinder being based on projection technology,LCoS to be precise(note: I have extreme sensitivity to the rainbow effect,and LCoS/DLP is very susceptible to it)

The main problems are price and the lens;its a bit short in terms of focal distance(45 vs the Nikon D50000’s or Canon XSi’s 55, however the wide 14 may make up for it)while having the same performance (f5.6 at the tele end.). In addition,it is $630 on amazon, while the XSi and the D5k are very close in terms of price, while offering video and the ability to use the huge selection of Nikor or Canon EF-S lenses,respectively.

In summary:

Pros:

Easy to use/great auto mode

LCD is fully articulating, you can do easy self-shots :)

Best live view out there

Fast autofocus(rivals the SLRs)

Good quality pics, gives the competing SLRs (and even the D90)a run for their money

comfortable grip

small size

kit lens is good quality and very small(unbelievably so)

OVER 9000 adapters for lenses out there(from Oly OM to Leica M), due to Four-Thirds being an “open” standard.

Cons:

(These are all really little nitpicks, and the only con that has been a problem at all is the battery life)

not all 4/3 lenses autofocus

4/3 lens adapter is big

panasonic is a bit slow with getting the m4/3 lenses out

kit lens could be a bit faster

the Olympus E-420 is around the same size while being a real SLR

the Olympus E-P1(another m4/3 camera with the form factor of a rangefinder camera, but with no flash or viewfinder) autofocses with all 4/3 lenses,while being smaller. oh it also does great video.It’s a bit more than the G1 though, $700+

kinda pricey for a non SLR

poor low light performance in comparison to the D5k/XSi(ISO 800+ performance is not all that great, and the viewfinder is grainy/jerky in low light, however it is still bright)

VERY POOR BATTERY LIFE in comparison to entry level dSLRs(300 shots is a good day)

AEB is limited, 2/3 steps, 7 shots at the most, not too good for HDR.

no video.

My verdict: If you don’t care about video and you don’t have OVER 9000 Nikon or Canon lenses and/or you want something that you can carry around without being hindered, this is for you.

If you want video or a longer lens, save your pennies for the GH1, it seems to be positioned at the D90’s territory with a 14-140 tele lens and a $1400 price tag. The lens separately costs $800, the price difference between the GH1 and the G1. The GH1 autofocuses while shooting video btw.

Little tidbit: The flash on my G1 died after a couple days, and Amazon sent out a replacement 1st Day Air after I told them I needed it in time for a quickly upcoming vacation, and I didn’t even need to send my old one in before they shipped! Panasonic did not budge, they told me to ship my old camera, wait until it makes it to Texas(I live in CA) and then they would replace it…after 10 days…well into my vacation.

thanks Amazon!

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