• Price: £1,130

  • Company: Panasonic

  • Pros: Lightweight even with kit lens attached; fast, responsive, and user friendly; good image quality with 14-140mm lens attached.

  • Cons: Very pricey; requires investment in a whole new camera system for existing digital SLR owners.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

This camera is reviewed as part of our group test of Digital SLR HD Video Cameras

Swathed in tactile soft rubber ‘armour’ and available in red, black or champagne, Panasonic’s second Micro Four Thirds camera is its first to also feature video capture.

Boasting Full HD at 1,920-x-1,080 pixels at 24fps, it feels fractionally chunkier than the G1 – sitting size-wise between Olympus’ E-P1 offering, and a regular APS-C sized digital SLR.

A stereo microphone is sunk into the hood of the pop-up flash; for those looking for more professional results, there’s the option to add an external microphone. Depending on the intended end use for video clips, users can choose between shooting using AVCHD compression – recommended for playing back on HDTV sets – or using Motion JPEG for desktop or online use. This is a nice touch.

There’s an Intelligent Auto mode, in which the camera ‘recognises’ common scenarios and adjusts settings to deliver optimal results automatically; there are also manual settings for both video and stills. With a dedicated thumb button for shooting movies too, the GH1’s video capture feels less like a fancy add-on, more like an integral feature.

The ‘hybrid’ GH1 comes bundled with a 10x optical zoom equivalent lens that silently adjusts, so operational noise isn’t picked up when shooting with sound. The rear LCD can also be adjusted. However, the price you’ll have to pay
for the privilege of the fast, accurate optic with a broad focal range of 14-140mm (28-280mm equivalent in 35mm film camera terms) may cause you to reconsider the GH1.

In fact, the biggest black mark against the GH1 is its price. Although it comes with a very decent spec lens, £1,130 is an eye-watering outlay – especially when existing digital SLR owners will have to opt for a whole new lens system if buying into Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds G-series. Panasonic might argue that the provided setup will be all most users will ever need – but if you don’t need video or longer lens, the G1 looks considerably better value.