updated 07:40 am EDT, Fri September 12, 2008
Panasonic Lumix G1
Panasonic chose Friday to break new ground with the launch of the Lumix G1, the first known production camera based on the Micro Four Thirds pseudo-SLR system. The absence of the traditional mirror and a smaller lens mount produce a 12.1-megapixel camera which is both the smallest and lightest to carry swappable lenses but which still has the sensor size and focusing abilities of a more typical DSLR. The lenses themselves are often half the size and weight of a regular SLR parallel.
A live electronic viewfinder makes up for the lack of an optical preview with a more than 1.4-megapixel, 0.7X equivalent look at the camera's target. For more casual or off-angle, the camera maker supplies a three-inch swiveling LCD.
The new imaging system and the G1's focus also give Panasonic free reign to implement software features to accommodate those graduating from strict point-and-shoot cameras as well as more experienced photographers. The camera takes control out of the issue with autofocus tracking, auto scene selection, face detection and a new contrast-based autofocus mode; all of the above can be combined into a full Intelligent Auto mode for absolute novices. Experienced users have a 23-point autofocus system with manual focus points and an adjustable focus point size.
Panasonic's camera further touts optical image stabilization, a dust removal system and HDMI video out for previews. The home user focus becomes evident with the new Lumix arriving in both a professional black as well as blue and red colors; the company hasn't announced pricing but says so far that it will first ship the G1 only as a kit camera, with a 14-45mm, f/3.5-5.6 lens bundled in the box to get users started on Micro Four Thirds. More details should be available in October and will include pricing for a 45-200mm, f/4.0-5.6 optional lens for distance shots.