Changes The Game

WHEN PANASONIC'S first-of-its-kind Lumix DMC-G1 won our 2008 Camera of the Year award as the model that best refined or redefined photography, the emphasis was clearly on "redefined." Now, with its Micro-Four-Thirds-format, HD-video-shooting successor, the Lumix DMC-GH1, Panasonic makes refinement its top priority. And we're just as impressed.

The Micro Four Thirds system couples the flexibility of interchangeable lenses with the convenience of a more compact size. Olympus also offers this format—our test of its E-P1 is coming soon. But Panasonic got there first with last year's G1, and, with the new GH1 ($1,500, street, with 14-140mm f/4-5.8 lens, a 28-280mm full-frame equivalent), it's reached another level entirely. Our Pop Photo Lab tests of this 12.1 MP camera showed impressive image quality at lower ISOs, rivaling results from many entry-level DSLRs, although Its performance was compromised by noise starting at around ISO 800. The revised Live MOS sensor delivered resolution similar to its predecessor's.

Because of the way the GH1 achieves focus, we couldn't test its AF system with our usual lab setup, so we can't report precise time results. But our field tests found that it's quite fast in bright light, matching the performance of an entry-level DSLR. It slows down significantly as illumination dims, and we think most DSLRs (though very few compacts) would beat it in low light.


•Video-shooting photographers who want interchangeable lenses with the portability of a superzoom camera—and who don't mind the GH1's $1,500 price tag.


•1280x720-pixel high-def video recording with stereo sound.

• 10X zoom lens that allows continuous AF when shooting video.


•Available only as a pricey kit. •Noisy at higher ISOs. •So far, the kit lens is the only one available that's optimized for video.

Movie maker

The big wow is high-definition video. This comes in two resolutions, 1920x1080 and 1280x720 pixels—both American HD standards. At the former, the GH1 limits you to 24 frames per second (cinema rate) instead of the smoother 30 fps of HDTV sets. If you step down to



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