Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1 – an SLR camera with the ease-of-use of a point-and-shoot

The new G1 digital interchangeable lens camera features an innovative mirror-less design, allowing the development of an ultra-compact, light-weight body. With the mirror-less system, the G1’s flange back, which is the distance between the mount and the image sensor, has been reduced from 40mm – as specified in the Four Thirds System – to approximately 20mm. The camera also incorporates advanced Intelligent Auto functionality and Full-time Live View for point-and-shoot simplicity.

This groundbreaking new camera breaks with the tradition of conventional digital SLR cameras, as it is neither bulky, heavy or hard to use. With the superior picture quality made possible by a 4/3-type 12.1-megapixel Live MOS image sensor (the same physical-sized sensor as used in Panasonic’s digital SLR cameras); and the choice of three colours – black, blue and red – to suit the user’s personal style, the new-generation G1 is unlike conventional digital interchangeable lens cameras.

The LUMIX DMC-G1 will be available in both single and twin lens kits when it goes on sale in Australia in mid-November. The price for the LUMIX DMC-G1 Single Lens Kit with LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. lens is $1,649 RRP. The Twin Lens Kit including the LUMIX DMC-G1 with two lenses, LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. and LUMIX G VARIO 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S., is $2,199 RRP.

The LUMIX G Micro System achieves ultra-portability and ease of use through the adoption of a high-resolution electronic Full-time Live View Finder, instead of a conventional optical viewfinder. The G1 incorporates a high-performance 1,440,000-dot-equivalent electronic viewfinder system that reproduces the outstanding characteristics of an optical viewfinder (as the viewfinder receives its signal directly from the Live MOS sensor) and boasts 100% field of view, like the viewfinders on professional digital SLR cameras. It also has the added advantage of displaying information about camera settings that the user can see without taking their eye from the subject. A clever built-in eye sensor automatically switches on the viewfinder when the user looks into it, then switches it off and turns on the LCD when the user looks away from the viewfinder.

The G1’s Live MOS sensor also gives users the benefits of Full-time Live View when viewing the Free-Angle 3.0-inch LCD. The Live MOS sensor sends signals continuously at 60 frames-per-second to the LCD for real time Live View. Like the viewfinder, the LCD also provides a 100% field of view, allowing accurate, corner to corner framing. Its sharp 460,000-dot resolution lets the photographer check fine details when composing an image or viewing a shot just taken. When using the G1 in manual focus mode, the frame will automatically enlarge by around 5x or 10x for easy viewing in the Live View Finder or high-resolution LCD with Manual Assist function. You can use either auto focus or manual focus with Full-time Live View.

A wide range of settings – like Moveable Guidelines, a Real-Time Histogram and enhanced auto and manual focus (AF/MF) functions – help the photographer to frame shots exactly as they want them. Correction functions, including exposure compensation, white balance adjustment, and colour effects like My Colour Mode and Film Mode, allow the image to be adjusted right on the Live View Finder or LCD before shooting. Depth of field and shutter speed can also be checked beforehand.

Additionally, the LCD can swivel 180 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically, giving the user the flexibility to take low-angle and high-angle shots easily and comfortably. When the ambient light changes, the Auto Power LCD function intuitively changes too, automatically boosting brightness by as much as 40%, depending on the lighting conditions, so the screen is easy to see at all times.

With the G1, Panasonic has developed an entirely new-concept digital camera. The versatile G1 accepts both Micro Four Thirds System interchangeable lenses and conventional Four Thirds System lenses (when an optional adaptor is mounted) made by a variety of manufacturers, greatly expanding the range of lens options available. The G1’s ground-breaking structural design means interchangeable lens cameras no longer need to be big and heavy – a drawback that’s deterred many potential users.

The LUMIX DMC-G1 incorporates Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto (iA) Mode – a popular feature of Panasonic’s successful LUMIX compact camera range. Intelligent Auto is a significant evolution from standard auto modes, making complex decisions for the user so they don’t have to change settings every time shooting conditions change.

Once iA is selected, the camera activates simultaneous features to optimise the camera’s settings. iA Mode incorporates Mega O.I.S (Optical Image Stabiliser), Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Detection, Intelligent Exposure and AF Tracking, for beautiful photos every time. This leaves the user free to simply compose the shot and take the photo, with the assurance that the image will be clear and correctly exposed.

Another attractive feature that separates the G1 from conventional digital SLR cameras is the choice of body colours. While traditionalists can choose the standard black body, those who wish to stand out from the crowd may choose either blue or red coloured camera bodies.

The G1 introduces a new Contrast AF function that is not only accurate and easy to use, but also very fast. New features made possible by the G1’s new Contrast AF function include multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, selectable 1-area AF and AF Tracking. The G1 also has a Quick AF function that begins focusing as soon as the user aims the camera – no waiting for the shutter button to be pushed halfway. Quicker focusing can help capture the subject in sharp focus before the crucial moment passes, while the camera’s Continuous AF and AF Tracking modes keep the subject in focus at all times.

Behind the G1’s exceptional image quality is a 4/3-type 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor which produces a wide dynamic range and has the lower power consumption of a CMOS sensor, plus Panasonic’s new Venus Engine HD imaging processor, with its superb noise reduction performance.

Because dust entering the body is a concern with all interchangeable lens cameras, Panasonic has equipped the G1 with a Supersonic Wave Filter as part of a Dust Reduction System designed to prevent dust and other foreign matter from adhering to the image sensor. Vibrating around 50,000 times per second, the filter repels dust and other particles.

My Colour Mode is a special option that allows the user to explore their creativity and control the colour. In My Colour mode the user can freely adjust the colour, brightness and saturation of an image, while checking the Full-time Live View image to see how those adjustments affect the picture.

The DMC-G1 provides further creative options with the function called Film Mode. Much like changing the film type in a film camera, Film Mode allows you to choose one of nine expressive film modes including Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Nostalgic, Vibrant, Standard B/W, Dynamic B/W and Smooth B/W, with fine adjustment of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction. Users can also shoot the same scene in three different films using the new Multi-film mode. All these settings can be confirmed before you take the picture.

The G1 can also shoot wide-screen 16:9 High Definition (1920 x 1080) images which are simply breathtaking when displayed on a HDTV. The G1 has an HDMI output terminal, allowing it to connect to an HDMI-compatible TV via an HDMI mini cable (purchased separately), so the user can easily enjoy a high-definition slideshow of photos taken with the G1.

The LUMIX DMC-G1 accepts SD and SDHC memory cards.

Included accessories

Li-ion battery, battery charger, USB connection cable, AV cable, software CD, AC Adapter and shoulder strap.

Price and availability

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1 will be available in mid-November 2008 from authorised photographic and consumer electronics retailers. Pricing for the Single Lens Kit is $1,649 RRP and the Twin Lens Kit is $2,199 RRP.