Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Review

4.5
June 10, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

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#1 robert coyle

Panasonic are making great strides since the digital revolution and probably down the the use of propriatory parts, just like all the others use

http://www.photographerdublin.ie

5:07 pm - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

#2 Owen

I was planning to buy this camera as it seemed the ideal blend of features and size that I was looking for. However, the price ($1,899 in Canada), was a show stopper for me. I just could not justify this expense for a camera with several compromises.

I decided instead to buy a good point and shoot (Panasonic Zs3) and a better DSLR (possibly the Nikon D60 with 2 kit lenses, or the Canon Xsi). My total cost will be less and I have two cameras that do better individual jobs than the GH1. If Panasonic had priced this several hundred $ cheaper, I would have bought it. I’m thinking $1,199 US / $1,350 Canadian would have been more appropriate.

8:41 pm - Wednesday, June 10, 2009

#3 Chas Gray

I continue to be astounded at your distorted reviews of panasonic products.  You gave the FZ28 the worst review I’ve read about it, and came up with the worst sampl pictures of any reviewer of that camera.  I bought one, and i love it. Regarding the GH1, clearly it attracts attention because it is ‘different’ from the run of the mill DSLR, and some people don’t like ‘different.’ I’m beginning to believe that you may be one of those.  I can accept your view that low-light image quality may not be excellent.  However, your sample pictures are terrible—unnecessarily so.  For example, in the office Angels picture, you took the picture at 1/400 of a second (though nothing was moving) and at ISO 800.  The result is a lot of noise.  However, as we all know, if you had set the camera to automatic, the picture would have been brighter and noise-free because both the shutter spped and the ISO would have been lower.  If I were CEO of Panasonic, I would politely ask you to avoid any reviews of Panasonic products in the future. Your willful attempts at poor sample pictures and poor write-ups are simply too biased.

4:59 pm - Thursday, June 11, 2009

#4 Mark Goldstein

Chas, we took that picture at ISO 800 precisely to demonstrate that particular ISO speed - people want to see what the camera is capable of at all the available options. There’s a lot of noise at that setting simply because the GH1 struggles at high ISO speeds, not because we used those particular settings.

We actually really like most Panasonic cameras that we’ve reviewed - the TZ7 really received our highest Essential! / 5 Star rating. Even the GH1, which you claim we don’t like, got Highly Recommended / 4.5/5…

Having said that, we are in no way biased towards any manufacturer, preferring to judge every camera on its own merits. As you point out, if we were biased in any way, the manufacturers would soon stop sending us cameras to review - and that has never happened in our 6 year history.

5:24 pm - Thursday, June 11, 2009

#5 Chas Gray

Mark:

I’ve got to disagree with you again.  You say you took the picture at ISO 800 to demonstrate the camera’s performance at that ISO setting.  However, as I pointed out, the shutter speed (1/400 sec), not the ISO setting, was what caused the noise in that photo.  A setting of ISO 800 at 1/10 sec, 1/20 sec, or even 1/30 sec would have resulted in a brighter, noise-free picture. My concern is that when you write a negative review, all of the pictures always look (suitably?) horrible—as if to prove your point.  Why not use automatic settings occasionally, to let a camera show what it was built to do?

6:00 pm - Thursday, June 11, 2009

#6 Leos

Picture quality is not better than cheapest DSLR.
Video quality is not better than cheap camcorder.
But price is almost bigger than both ones together.
:-)

9:17 pm - Thursday, June 11, 2009

#7 andre

What’s the point of a small body when the lens is so big, it’s still a big camera then….It’s about the same size as the Canon rebel T1, or Pentax k2000 (k-m) The whole concept of a small camera is gone now. For that kind of money I’d rather by the Pentax k2000 (k-m in Europe) with a sigma 18-200, which is about the same size but a LOT cheaper and better picture quality

2:30 pm - Friday, June 12, 2009

#8 Andrew

I love love love to read comments that suggest you’d be better off buying a dedicated dSLR and a separate camcorder for the same amount of money combined, or less, because then you’d have better results respective to the media. That sort of comment ignores the market segment this device was built for; amateurs and auteurs looking for the creativity only this device can offer (for the price) AND those of us looking for one—not two—, reasonably small device that can do a good job of both still and video WITH one lens, not an assortment. I’m an avid backpacker who likes to put down 6-10 miles a day with an already loaded down pack (30-45lbs). I cannot afford to carry two devices, a couple of lens etc. to capture the beauty I come across in the wild. Another concern besides weight is ease and speed of assembling the right equipment to capture the ever evolving scene—one device/one lens slung across my chest or belt give me the best solution for catching fleeting capture opportunities, and makes me more motivated to pull it out rather than pass up the shot.

This camera isn’t for the purist of either mediums. It’s for guys like me that just want to come back from the experience with something respectable to preserve it eternally.

7:24 pm - Sunday, June 14, 2009

#9 Alan

While I won’t be buying the GH1, I like the direction cameras like this are pushing the industry.

I shoot Canon 1Ds MkIIIs and Red (for motion) in our studio and I’d love to have a small travel DSLR I can lock down on a tripod or even hand hold and shoot production-worthy HD footage. So far the 5D MkII offers the best footage.

I’m encouraged by how far and quickly HD-capable DSLRs have come in the past year. Once Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, et al create a camera that doesn’t compress the hell out of HD, then I’ll take a more serious look.

5:40 am - Monday, June 15, 2009

#10 Dmitriy

I’ve got my GH1 for a couple week now and I love it.I agree that it’s not a professional tool to make the money but it’s very good hybrid for everyday use. Furthermore I prefer it over my lightening fast excellent in low light Canon 50D. Ferrari is fast and Hummer has excellent off road capability but I drive Acura MDX. Same with camera I don’t want to carry my Canon 50d with two lens and Canon XH A1 whole day when I am on vacation just to set my ISO one level higher in low light.

5:10 pm - Monday, June 15, 2009

#11 Robin Whittle

Thanks very much for this interesting review. 

I have used a Sony F-707 since 2002-07 and have little experience with other digital cameras except a compact EVF-equipped Coolpix P60.  (Nice, but my 53yo eye can’t focus on the non-adjustable EVF, and I think the JPG compression makes a mess of low-contrast detail.)

The F-707 cost about as much in dollar terms as the Lumix GH-1, probably more in real terms.  The F-717 was apparently just as good, but I understand the F-828 was noisier and had lens flare.  That was the end of the line for this unified, tilt-body, line of cameras which some folks really like.

I assumed that after a few years, there would be other cameras which I would have been happier with, but recently I decided this was probably not the case.  I wanted noiseless (non-SLR) picture taking, with at least some kind of movie capacity, with a good electronic viewfinder.  Of course the F-707 is deficient by modern standards in terms of memory, and the videos are very short and low-res.  Ideally the EVF would have a much finer image so it could be used for reliable manual focus.  I almost always have to rely on autofocus, which is not 100% reliable.  Nonetheless, I have been very happy with this camera.  (I took many of the photos in the categories at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Inge_King

The F-707’s physically wide lens is brilliant - F2 to F2.2, but this is for a smaller sensor than the GH-1.  At 190mm (35mm equiv) telephoto, F2.4, the F-707’s lens is optically 32mm wide, which I think is is highly unusual for any digital camera of this size.

After reading this review, I think the GH-1 is the first camera which I would be happier with than the F-707.  As other people mentioned, I don’t want to be lugging multiple cameras or trying to change lenses when it is raining, or in the presence of salt-spray off the ocean.  I am happy to carry one substantial-sized camera that is ready to go without any fuss.

I understand the GH-1 has compression-less stereo audio recording, which would be great for binaural sound with video.

The GH-1’s tiltable LCD monitor looks good and I am particularly happy to read about the EVF, which I understand has much greater resolution than any other EVF.

I am rather wary of the heroic 10:1 zoom range of the GH-1’s lens.  Surely this involves compromises in terms of cost vs. bulk vs. image quality.  I have been very happy with the 5:1 range of the F-707 and its image quality, despite it having “only” (in 2009 terms) a 5MP sensor. 

The GH-1 has 5M pixels per cm^2, so each pixel has 60% more area than the F-707 (8M).  The GH-1 sensor is about 18 x 13.5, which is more than twice the dimensions of the F-707’s (8.8 x 6.6 according to dpreview, though I don’t really understand how it can work so well with such a small sensor).

While the F rating of the GH-1 lens is numerically less than that of the F-707, I imagine the physical, optical, diameter of the open lens would be about the same, since the sensor is more than twice the diameter.

The Micro Four Thirds plan of ditching SLR mirrors and enabling the lens to be much closer to the sensor seems like a really good thing in terms of lens size, optical simplicity and image quality.  I think this is a good deal - smaller, lighter, less mechanical stuff to go wrong, higher image quality for a given complexity of lens, being able to see electronically what I am photographing - it is all good provided the EVF has high enough resolution.  With the F-707, the EVF goes blank at the moment of taking the picture, but I see the photo I just took for about half a second - so I have some idea of what I just got without any mucking around, looking at the LCD screen etc which I understand is necessary with a DSLR.

Much higher EVF quality, image stabilisation, more pixels, larger pixels, high quality video, modern (huge) memory capacity, a built-in flash which is probably further from the lens than the F-707’s.  The GH-1 looks very good to me. 

I would miss the F-707’s tilting body, which enables me to use the EVF when kneeling on the ground, macro-focusing like a microscope, taking photos and little videos of an ant dragging a leaf ten times its size.  I wonder how close the GH-1 can focus.  I would also miss the silvery colour of the F-707.  Somehow, it doesn’t look so scary to people as a black camera.  - Robin

3:27 am - Wednesday, July 8, 2009

#12 Margaret

I bought Panasonic Lumix GH1 because I wanted to have a good image quality with a camera that is not too big to carry around. I travel a lot, so DSLR was out of the question and the usual point-and-shoot cameras do not give the results that lend themselves to big magnification. So my choice fell on Lumix GH1, although now after some use I would say that I could have done equally well with Lumix G1, since I do not shoot video at all.

I would tend to agree with Andrew and Owen, it might be better to buy say Lumix G1 and a good camcorder. Lumix GH1 is great for its small body, but the lens is quite big. And the reason why lens is big, is so that lens can muff auto-focus motors so that they can’t be hard on video. This feature is lost on you if you are mostly still photographer.

However, check some photographs done with Lumix GH1 while I was on trip to Dusseldorf, Germany: http://margos-digital-photography.blogspot.com/

11:21 am - Monday, July 13, 2009

#13 asep abdul hamid holili

I am a wedding proffesional photographer,could I try GH1 & AGHPX500 for free I give panasonic some free space at my studio for hanging some printed & electronical/video advertisment matterials free for 20 year.

my postal address :

Ayu photo & video studio.
Jl. cikutra 27, cicadas, bandung, west java, indonesia.

best regards

2:30 pm - Friday, July 17, 2009

#14 B_E_N

Lots of features on the GH1.

To me, the really serious concern on micro four-thirds is regarding VIEWFINDER.

The new Olympus (‘pen’) E-P1 doesen’t have one at all: leaving you exposed to daunting ambient light conditions. What a betrayal.
Image quality combined with supposedly “appealing looks” will sell the Olympus E-P1, but sadly, the lack of viewfinder makes it a non qualifyer for me ( NO! I will NOT pay for an add-on without zoom ).

The GH1 has an EVF, and while the adjustment for diopric is ample ( +/- 4 ) the delay of the viewfinder-display troubles me ; no mention of that issue in this review ?

A few years back, there were some compact-cams WITH optical viewfinders. Demand for increased PROFITS the likely cause for those to dissapear.
They were pathetic substitutes anyway, so I’m not in tears.

But THE PROBLEM PERSISTS:

Almost blinded of the reflection in the screen-display, I’m close to GUESSING WHAT I’M SHOOTING.
Only me ? How do you guys do it ? Wear sunglasses to be able to view the display ? Wear a black facemask and a black shirt and a black cap ? Or tuck under a big black cloth like in the good ol’ days ?

I work A LOT with low light in composing art photographs, and to me a regular eye-piece is almost not enough: need a better fit round my eye.

Also, the combined delay of the Electronic Viewfinder PLUS the shutter delay seem troublesome to someone who’s used to capture exactly the right 1/100th of a sec. ( and gettig cred for it too ).
No “Auto Framing Multiple shot” that I’ve heard of can compensate for an initial delay: it would then have to make the shot AHEAD of the incident occured, to compensate for that electronic delay.

How do you guys do ?

1:47 pm - Friday, July 24, 2009

#15 asep abdul hamid holili

The nikon minded would love to use D5000+18-200+sb900 with swifel LCD and enjoying extra**** angel shooting without closing the other eye.But I got just 11.6 megapixel on my work where the last? in the brochure it should be 12.And there is not much better than DMCFZ50 or Sony-Alpha 350.Brust not reach 12 picture in single shoot,why help me to be smarter to use this one.

11:58 am - Tuesday, July 28, 2009

#16 Julius Thyssen

One of the more obvious reasons why this camera is interesting is the fact that it offers really great audio-quality with its HD recording. I don’t really understand Panasonic’s preference for the strange 50i and 60i formats. I personally don’t know 1 person who’d ever use that. We’re all living in progressive world now. We’d rather have had 24/25/30p with the 1080 FHD recording.

Also, the lens that comes with the kit, even though it’s not the top-of-the-line among lenses available today, it does offer you 14mm towards 140mm, which is an insane reach for a camera including lense of this quality.

Taking my activities as a cinematographer and photographer into account, I do want to stress how practically ALL my recordings and photo’s have required a certain amount of post-processing before publication. So, these days, when I look into buying a camera, I remind myself of that fact and consider how all the downsides prevalent for this camera are negligable when using post-production anyway. Everything this camera is not good at can be removed in post.

My biggest surprise about the GH1 is the fact that the image stabilizer and auto-focus aren’t taken from the Panasonic superzoom FZ35/FZ38 model. If it had the same type of AF and IS, the GH1 would be a no-brainer. Right now, because it doesn’t, I’m still looking for a better option. Maybe the other way around would be a good idea;
A camcorder with the best still-image option available. Who still takes pictures if you can crop out frames from your FullHD video? By doing so picking out the best shots carefully weighing their qualty afterwards at home gives you more satisfactory shots, is my experience.

12:56 pm - Friday, October 9, 2009

#17 Mike B

There has been a firmware update to this camera since the review which is meant to improve the auto-focus function and lens stabilisation.

Also since it is soon to be replaced the price has dropped considerably and now makes it a very tempting purchase, especially for those who need decent still and video.

Those who are brave can even now modify the firmware to open up more video modes for even better video quality.

I look forward to Panasonic’s replacement as this type of combined stills/video camera is just what the discerning amateur wants.

11:08 am - Sunday, July 18, 2010

#18 Ang

Panasonic has invested tons of money into R&D and it shows.  If the GH2 inherits the video quality of the GH1 and implements the new bells and whistles applied to the G2 they’ll have an automatic winner.  But they need to add in more (and cheaper) lenses for four thirds cameras.  Also lets hope Panasonic will use the firmware hack to the GH1 as a tool to better utilize its capabilities.

That being said, the four thirds cameras will never match APS-C in low light conditions and speed so just don’t expect it.

1:48 am - Monday, August 23, 2010

#19 Mike B

Well I decided to get a GH1 with 14-140mm lens as the price was so tempting (£700) and have used it this Christmas during our family gatherings, all indoors and mostly with flash (external Metz bounced off ceiling).

I have been very impressed with the results that are as good as my brothers Nikon D90 (in fact some came out better) and much better than my mums Panasonic TZ10, which seemed to have a lot of image noise in dark areas.

Overall it has so far been a good buy and if the GH2 improves on it then I would seriously add it to your list of cameras to try.

12:35 am - Saturday, January 1, 2011

Entry Tags

hd video, compact, 12 megapixel, dslr, lumix, micro four thirds, dmc-gh1, gh1, panasonic gh1, gh-1

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