Panasonic has unveiled the Lumix DMC-GH1 – the world’s first micro four-thirds digital camera that can record high-definition (HD) video.
The company says it is a larger and more feature-packed version of the Lumix G1, which was launched in September 2008 and claimed to offer much of the versatility of a digital SLR in a smaller, lighter format. Which? has an expert review of the Best Buy G1, and also of hundreds of other digital cameras.
Olympus is also planning to launch a rival micro four-thirds (MFT) camera later in 2009, as Which? reported earlier this month.
The GH1 features list includes a 12Mp sensor, 10x optical zoom, and what Panasonic calls the ‘Venus Engine HD’ with two CPUs that claim to give superb image quality. There’s also Live-View on both the 3-inch LCD screen and the viewfinder.
For potential buyers, the addition of full HD video recording could be the deciding factor. The Lumix GH1 can record video in either 720p (60fps) or 1080p (24fps) resolution in AVCHD format according to Panasonic, with stereo audio and continual autofocus – the same standard as used on many Panasonic SD-card HD camcorders.
Panasonic says that the camera features a full array of manual functions, as well as an intelligent auto (iA) mode. Face recognition and scene recognition operate when taking photos, and ‘creative movie mode’ lets you adjust shutter speed and aperture when shooting movies, the company claims.
Panasonic says that the GH1 will be bundled with the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm (f4.0-5.8) lens, which has a focal length of 28-280mm, and incorporates an optical image stabilizer to help eliminate blurring from hand-shake.
Nikon D90 and Panasonic GH1 cameras with HD video
Which? technology expert Al Warman said: ‘The boundaries between digital cameras and camcorders continue to blur. As HD video becomes available on both compact, micro four-thirds, and SLR digital cameras, consumers need to carefully consider what their priorities are when choosing cameras and camcorders.
‘Still image quality when taking photos on a camcorder can be disappointing, and video clips captured on a digital camera still can’t match dedicated camcorder footage. Recent camera launches, however, such as Nikon’s D90, and the Panasonic GH1 mean that in the future one hybrid photo and video gadget may give the best of both worlds.’
Pricing and availability are yet to be confirmed for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1, but a UK launch is anticipated by the summer, and like the G1, it will be available in black and red.
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