Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Review

Review Date: November 25th 2008
Author: Mark Goldstein

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Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

Conclusion


Ratings (out of 5)
Design
4.5
Features
5
Ease-of-Use
5
Image Quality
4.5
Value for Money
3.5

Introducing a completely new kind of camera when nearly everyone now owns a camera of some kind, and at at time of global economic turmoil, is certainly a brave move by Panasonic. On paper the Lumix DMC-G1 makes perfect sense in a lot of ways, and it happily gets most things spot-on, unlike the majority of first-generation products. Users looking to move-up from a point-and-shoot compact should definitely consider the G1. It delivers a near-seamless Live View experience which doesn't feel as though it has been literally forced into the overall design, as with the Live View function on the majority of DSLRs. The combination of the high-resolution, swivelling LCD screen and the outstanding electronic viewfinder is a joy to use, and in many ways actually surpasses what a comparable SLR camera can offer. Despite its technological advances, the EVF can't quite rival a good optical viewfinder, as it has a noticeable flicker and becomes grainy in low-light, but it is preferable to the small, dim viewfinder of many entry-level DSLR. The DMC-G1 isn't as small as you may have hoped from looking at the glossy marketing shots, but it subsequently handles really well, even for someone with large hands. There's really very little to complain about in terms of the G1's design, feature set and ease-of-use. It delivers all the convenience of a compact camera shooting experience in a DSLR-like package that is smaller and more portable than most DSLRs.

In terms of image quality, the Panasonic G1 also gets most things right. As you'd expect with the G1 using a regular Four Thirds sensor, the quality is very similar to other Four Thirds cameras that we've reviewed. Chromatic aberrations are kept to a minimum with both kit lenses, colours are accurate when using the default Standard setting (and there's lots of scope to adjust the JPEG output to suit your own tastes), and the auto white balance is spot-on in most lighting conditions. The pop-up flash is fine for use as fill-in, the ability to make bulb exposures up to 4 minutes long will please night photographers, and anti-shake via the supplied lenses helps to keep things sharp in low-light. The notable downsides are the traditional bug-bear of Four Thirds sensors, namely noise at slow ISO speeds (it's visible at ISO 400 on the G1), plus the comparatively poor marco performance if you're used to the 1cm focusing capability of many compact cameras. Ultimately the DMC-G1 can't rival a DSLR camera with an APS-C sized sensor in low-light, but otherwise it delivers very good image quality that most of its target audience will love.

Which sadly cannot also be said about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1's price-tag. This is the single biggest problem that the G1 faces - a recommended price at launch of 599 / $799 is simply too high for a camera targeted at customers used to spending far less on a compact. It also doesn't compare well to a more traditional DSLR, with that kind of money easily buying you a Canon EOS 450D, Nikon D80, or Sony A350, all with kit lenses. Unfortunately for the G1, all of those cameras also offer better image quality, so if that's the most important factor for you, there are plenty of options available for the same or even less cash. Despite its sky-high price-tag, the Panasonic G1 still makes perfect sense for a lot of photographers. If you want a fantastically well-implemented Live View experience in a small and portable DSLR-like format, with all the image quality, handling and flexibility improvements that that format offers, then the DMC-G1 is the right camera for you. Panasonic's first attempt at a brand new camera format is undoubtedly a great success.

Page 1
Introduction / Ease of Use
Page 2
Image Quality
Page 3
Sample Images
Page 4
Design
Page 5
Specifications
Page 6
Conclusion

DIWAPhotographyBLOG is a member of the DIWA organisation. Our test results for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 have been submitted to DIWA for comparison with test results for different samples of the same camera model supplied by other DIWA member sites.

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