Last year, Panasonic launched the innovative Lumix G1 camera, the first model in its Micro 4/3 system that combined the interchangeable-lens goodness of a DSLR with a slightly smaller size and ease-of-use of a point-and-shoot. The Lumix G1 did away with the mirror box found inside pure DSLR cameras, and in doing so, made it possible for the not-quite-DSLR camera to shoot HD video.
The only problem was, the G1 didn't actually shoot video. Panasonic has amended that shortcoming with the just-announced Lumix GH1, a Micro 4/3 system camera with an interchangeable lens that can shoot 1080p high-definition video at 24 frames per second. Announced during a press conference at PMA in Las Vegas today--albeit without pricing or release-date information--the Lumix GH1 sports a 12-megapixel Live MOS sensor that records HD video in AVCHD format.
Like the G1, the GH1 is billed as a 'hybrid' camera that offers a less-intimidating option for advanced photographers who aren't quite ready to make the DSLR leap. Its HD video-shooting capabilities are a key advantage to most DSLRs, as well, although the Nikon D90, a true DSLR, does offer HD movie recording.
To woo the would-be-DSLR buyers, the Lumix GH1 will offer full manual controls, the ability to shoot RAW, and that interchangeable lens (an adapter is needed for standard lenses that aren't part of the Micro 4/3 system) But there are also plenty of drawing points for more casual photographers: Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which includes point-and-shoot features such as face recognition and automatic exposure optimization; a 3-inch, flip-out, articulable LCD screen with Live View; and a boatload of scene modes.
Also following the lead of the point-and-shoot market, the Lumix GH1 will be available in three colors: black, red, and gold. Pricing and release dates aren't yet available.