Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Review

June 10, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


When Panasonic officially introduced the World's first ever Micro Four Thirds camera, the Lumix DMC-G1, in September 2008, they also revealed that a video version would be released in the not-too-distant future. Forward-wind to June 2009, and we're now reviewing the new DMC-GH1 camera, which as expected can record both stills and HD video. The GH1 does so using Panasonic's AVCHD format at 1080/25p or 720/50p, and it can also continuously autofocus during recording, importantly something that current DSLR cameras with video functionality can't offer. The Venus Engine HD image processor at the heart of the Lumix GH1 has two CPUs to provide long-time movie recording in AVCHD with low power consumption. Rounding out the video-specific features are a stereo microphone for higher quality audio, 'one touch' Motion Picture button, Creative Movie mode in which the shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted, and a HDMI port. The Panasonic GH1 is only available in kit form with the new 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens, which has been designed in tandem with the video mode and features a silent and continuous auto-focusing function and seamless aperture adjustment. The DMC GH1 retains all of the G1's stand-out features, including a 3-inch swivelling and tilting LCD screen, full-time Live View with contrast auto-focusing, a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, electronic viewfinder with a high-resolution 1,440,000 dots, built-in Optical Image Stabiliser to help combat camera-shake, and a Supersonic Wave Filter to remove unwanted dust. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is available now in black, red and gold for $1499.95 / £1299.99 with the LUMIX G VARIO 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. super-zoom lens.

Ease of Use

In terms of its overall design and handling the new GH1 is virtually identical to the stills-only G1 model, so a lot of the comments that we made about that camera will be repeated here. The first thing that strikes you about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is that it isn't quite as small or light as Panasonic's marketing literature might lead you to believe. Measuring 124 x 89.6x 45.2mm and weighing 385g without a lens attached, it's 6mm bigger than the G1 in height and weighs the same. Compared to the DSLR competition, it's just a little smaller than the Olympus E-450 Four Thirds DSLR (which measures 129.5 x 91 x 53mm), but actually weighs 5g more. Compared to Panasonic's current 20x ultra-zoom compact, the DMC-FZ28 (which measures 117.6 x 75.2 x 88.9 and weighs 370g), the GH1 is both bigger and slightly heavier.

All of this number-crunching ultimately reveals that Panasonic have resisted the temptation to make the DMC-GH1 as small as possible (and to make any significant design changes since the G1), in order to ensure that users with average-sized hands can still operate it comfortably. I found that I naturally gripped the camera with the thumb, middle and fourth finger of my right hand, whilst operating the shutter button with my fore-finger and supporting either the lens or camera body with my left hand.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is a handsome yet understated camera, with the biggest surprise becoming quickly apparent when you first pick it up. The majority of the body is covered in a tactile rubber compound which I haven't seen used on a camera before (other than the G1). It adds a hard-wearing, protective coating to the GH1 and also makes it easy to grip, even with one hand. Overall the DMC-GH1 is extremely well-built, with a high quality metal body, lens mount and tripod socket. The only literal weak-point is the memory-card slot door, which I imagine could be easily snapped off.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is technically not a DSLR camera (because it doesn't have a mirror), making it the second ever compact camera after the G1 to feature interchangeable lenses, which happens to be confusingly just like a DSLR. The GH1 only ships with the new 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 super-zoom kit lens (28-280mm equivalent in 35mm) - there is currently no body-only option.

While the body of the GH1 is comparable in size and weight to other DSLR cameras, the lenses are where Panasonic have really shrunk the overall system. Given the 10x focal length on offer, the new 14-140mm optic is relatively small and light, although it is actually heavier than the GH1 itself. The lens does extend a long way when zoomed to its maximum telephoto setting, making it a little conspicuous, but that's a small price to pay for such an overall compact package. The real downside from a specification point of view are the relatively slow maximum apertures of f/4-5.6, which limits the GH1's use in low-light conditions and makes it more difficult to effectively blur the background to help emphasise the main subject.

With the system being so new, there are only three other Micro Four Thirds lenses currently available - the new 7-14mm wide-angle and the 14-42mm and 14-200mm lenses which were released along with the G1. You can use regular Four Thirds lenses or even Leica D lenses via optional adapters, but lenses that are not compatible with the GH1's Contrast AF function can only be used with manual focusing and cannot use the Tracking AF, AFc (Auto Focus Continuous) or Continuous AF functions.

Optical image stabilisation is supplied via the lens, rather than being built-in to the camera body. It can be turned on and off via the Mega O.I.S switch on the lens barrel, with three different modes accessible through the DMC-GH1's menu system. When enabled, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds when the camera is hand held. There are three different modes, Mode 1 is on all the time including image composition, Mode 2 is only on when you press the shutter button, and Mode 3 compensates for up and down movements only (which in turn allows you to pan the camera).

In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference, as shown in the examples on the Image Quality page. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos. Thankfully leaving the anti-shake system on didn't negatively affect the battery life, with the camera managing nearly 300 shots or 120 minutes recording time capacity in AVCHD SH mode using the supplied rechargeable Li-ion battery, just short of the G1's battery life.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Front Rear

Despite offering the same headline resolution of 12.1 megapixels, the GH1 actually has a different image sensor to the G1, utilising a new 14 megapixel sensor. This is both to accommodate the addition of the movie recording functionality, and also to offer four different aspect ratios for still photos (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 and the new 1:1 square mode) without affecting the angle-of-view by cropping or interpolation.

The rear of the Lumix DMC-GH1 is dominated by the large 3 inch LCD screen. The rotating, free-angle LCD monitor, which is hinged on the left side of the camera (looking from the rear), can be flipped out and twisted through 270 degrees. You can use the screen as a waist-level viewfinder, holding the camera overhead, and even for turning the GH1 on yourself for arm-length self-portraits. There's also the added benefit of folding the screen away against the camera body to protect it when stored in a camera bag, preventing it from becoming marked or scratched.

I found that the 460K pixel, high-resolution screen coped admirably with the majority of lighting conditions. This screen is a great improvement on cameras with the usual 230K dot resolution, even being nice to use in low-light. The Auto Power LCD function automatically detects the current lighting conditions and boosts the LCD backlighting by up to 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, helping to keep the screen visible. The high-res, free-angle LCD screen is much more than just a novelty - it's a lot more versatile than the usual combination of optical viewfinder and fixed LCD, providing new angles of view and enhancing your overall creativity. Above all, it's a fun way of composing your images.

Instead of the bulky optical viewfinder of a conventional DSLR, the Panasonic GH1 has a smaller electronic viewfinder. The mere mention of an EVF is usually enough to elicit loud groans from any serious photographer, as they have traditionally been poorly implemented in the past, with low-res, grainy displays that were only really suitable for still subjects. Thankfully the electronic viewfinder on the GH1 is far better than any previous system. It has a large 1.4x (0.7x on 35mm equiv.) magnification, 100% field of view, and an unprecedented 1,440,000 dot equivalent resolution, resulting in a very usable display that won't leave you cursing. The EVF (and also the main LCD screen) operates at 60fps, twice the usual speed, which helps make it relatively flicker-free (although it is still noticeable).

As the EVF is reading the same signal from the image sensor as the rear LCD screen, it can also display similar information - for example, you can view and operate the GH1's Quick Menu, giving quick access to all the key camera settings while it's held up to your eye. The various icons used to represent the camera settings are clear and legible. The icing on the viewing cake is the clever built-in eye sensor, which automatically switches on the viewfinder when you look into it, then switches it off and turns on the LCD monitor when you look away.

The main downside of the GH1's EVF system occurs indoors in low light, as it has to "gain-up" to produce a usable picture, resulting in a noticeably grainier picture. In all other situations, however, the electronic viewfinder on the GH1 is the equal of and in many areas better than a DSLR's optical viewfinder, particularly those found on entry-level models which are typically dim and offer limited scene coverage. The truest testament to the GH1 is that I mostly used it by holding it up to eye-level, something that I wouldn't do unless the EVF was of sufficient quality.

As well as the LCD monitor and EVF, the rear of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 has an LVF/LCD button for manually switching between the two viewing methods (useful if you turn the eye sensor off), a Playback button, conveniently located AF/AE Lock button, Display button and a traditional 4-way navigation pad system with Menu/Set button in the centre. Pressing left, up, right and down on the D-Pad buttons selects AF Mode, ISO, White Balance and Function options respectively. The Function button can be configured to activate one of five key settings - I chose metering mode.

In shooting mode, the Display button alternates between turning the display off, the main camera settings as icons, no settings at all, and a useful Info Display which shows the current key settings in a clear graphical format. You can additionally press the Q.Menu button and then use the navigation pad to move between the onscreen options. The Delete button intriguingly has a second function - it doubles up as the new Preview button. This very cleverly toggles between showing a live preview of the effects of the current aperture (effectively a digital version of Depth of Field Preview) and the current shutter speed. The latter will prove especially useful for beginners, providing a visible way of checking how different shutter speeds will affect the capture of different subjects - running water is a good example.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1


The single new addition to the rear of the GH1 is the Motion Picture button. As you'd expect, it allows you to start recording a movie with a single push of a button, and then stop recording by pressing the same button, regardless of which shooting mode is currently selected. This is a lot more intuitive than having to select the movie mode then press the shutter button, as on most cameras. I did find that I'd unintentionally started recording a movie a few times though, as the Motion Picture button is positioned right next to the rear hand-grip area.

The DMC-GH1 can record high-resolution full-HD 1920 x 1080 movies at 24 frames per second or smoother HD 1280 x 720 movies at 60 fps, both in the AVCHD (MPEG-4/H.264) format. In addition it can also record Motion JPEG movies at 320 x 240 at 30fps, 640 x 480 at 30fps, 848 x 480 at30fps and 1280 x 720 at 30fps, useful as this format can currently be shared more easily. AVCHD features almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with Motion JPEG, but software support is currently a bit thin on the ground. Panasonic describe it as the best mode for playing back on a HD TV direct from the camera, and Motion JPEG best for email and playing on a computer.

The new Creative Movie shooting mode allows you to set the shutter speed, aperture or both settings manually during recording (a Program option is also available). Changing the shutter speed is especially suitable for shooting fast-moving subjects, whilst the ability to control the aperture is convenient when there are several subjects at different distances. In practice this system works well, allowing some really creative effects, but there are a couple of major drawbacks. Firstly the operating sound of the control dial is very audible in the movie, so you'll need to edit the soundtrack later to remove it. Secondly, you can't set the shutter speed to below 1/30 seconds, instantly ruling out more creative slow shutter-speed effects.

The Panasonic GH1's Intelligent Auto mode also works in movies as well as for still photos. Simply select iA on the mode dial and press the Motion Picture button. The Intelligent Scene Selector automatically determines the most suitable Scene mode from five options - Portrait, Scenery, Low Light and Close-up or Normal modes. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts the focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. The Optical Image Stabilizer helps prevent blurring from hand-shake when using the zoom lens.

Stereo sound is recorded during video capture via the large internal mic on top of the camera, which is a big improvement on the rather muffled noises recorded by most digital cameras, helped by the new wind cut function which blocks out most of the noise from background wind. You can also add an optional external stereo microphone (DMW-MS1) to enhance the sound further. The HDMI port allows you to connect the GH1 to a high-def TV set, but only if you purchase the optional HDMI mini-cable.

You can obviously use the zoom lens during recording and really make the most of that versatile 28-280mm focal range. Focusing is set as for still images via the Focus mode dial on the top-left of the camera. On the negative side, you'll find that if you choose continuous auto-focus, areas of the video will be blurred before becoming sharp again as the camera tries to refocus. On a more positive note, the the GH1 is quite fast at re-focusing, and having this system is much better than not being able to auto-focus at all, as with all current DSLR cameras that offer video recording. Hand-holding the GH1 during movie recording inevitably leads to obvious shake, despite the optical image stabilizer, so for best results you'll need a dedicated video tripod.

Found on top of the Panasonic DMC-GH1 are the small Focus mode dial, external flash hotshoe and built-in pop-up flash, burst mode/bracketing/self-timer switch, on/off switch, and large tactile shutter button. There's also a traditional dial that lets you choose the different exposure modes. The usual selection of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual are available for the more experienced photographers. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras, and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. The more beginner-friendly Scene modes and Intelligent Auto are also accessed via this dial.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Front Top

Additionally there is a custom mode, marked CUST, which allows you to configure your favourite settings and quickly access them, and a My Color mode which sets the brightness, saturation and color of the image before you take it. Also on the top of the camera is the Q.Menu button, a very welcome addition which provides quick access to most of the principal controls, including ISO speed, image size, image quality and white balance (there are 16 settings in total, depending upon the shooting mode selected). You can still access all of these options from the main menu system too.

Intelligent Auto mode tries to make things as easy as possible for the complete beginner. It allows you to point and shoot the camera without having to worry about choosing the right scene mode or settings. Intelligent Auto Mode automatically determines a number of key criteria when taking a picture, including selecting the most appropriate scene mode (from 5 commonly used presets) and ISO speed, and turning face detection (up to 15 faces), image stabilization and quick auto-focus on.

The Intelligent Auto Mode includes Intelligent Exposure, which increases exposure only in the under-exposed areas of the image, Digital Red-eye, which automatically detects and removes red-eye, and AF Tracking, which continually tracks a moving subject and keeps it in focus, without you having to hold the shutter button halfway down as on most other cameras. Intelligent Exposure and Digital Red-eye can also be turned on in the other shooting modes via the main menu.

Face Recognition is a new addition to the GH1's Intelligent Auto mode. This is a fun and genuinely useful new feature, which "remembers" up to 6 registered faces and then always prioritizes the focus and exposure for that person in future pictures. Very useful for group shots where you want your loved ones to be the centre of attention. You can specify the age of the registered subject, stamp the age of the subject onto your photos, change the focus icon for a particular person, and playback only the photos that contain a certain face. The camera will even automatically switch to Baby mode if someone registered as less than 3 years old appears in the frame!

In practice the Intelligent Auto Mode system works very well, with the GH1 seamlessly choosing the most appropriate combination of settings for the current situation. The 5 available scene modes are Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Portrait and Night Scenery, so obviously not all situations are covered by Intelligent Auto Mode, but it does work for the majority of the time. It makes it possible for the less experienced photographer to easily take well-exposed, sharp pictures of people, scenery and close-ups by simply pointing and shooting the camera. Also catering for the beginner are a total of 10 different scene modes.

Unlike a conventional DSLR camera which uses a phase detection auto-focus system, the DMC-GH1 employs the same Contrast AF that is commonly used by compact cameras. As with the EVF, experienced photographers will now be tutting loudly at the thought of having to use a traditionally slower system. I'm happy to be able to report that this decision hasn't resulted in a slow and unpredictable AF - quite the contrary in fact. There were very few occasions when the GH1 failed to lock onto the subject, especially when using the centre AF point. There are a wide range of AF modes on offer, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, Face Detection, and AF Tracking. The GH1 also has a useful Quick AF function that begins focusing as soon as you point the camera.

In a throwback to the days before digital took over the world, the top of the GH1 offers a range of Film Modes via a dedicated button, with 6 colour types and 3 types of monochrome to choose from. This applies to both JPEG and RAW files, so you can effectively shoot a black and white RAW file, for example, out of the camera if you wish (although I'm not sure why you'd want to...). As you select a different Film Mode, the effects can clearly be seen on the LCD screen. In addition, you can change the contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and saturation levels for each one, and even create 2 custom modes of your own. The Multi Film option takes up to three consecutive images using different Film Mode settings (this doesn't work in RAW mode though).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

On the front of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is the small focus-assist and self-timer indicator lamp, lens release button, lens mount, rubberised hand-grip, and most important of all, the front control dial. This is used for, amongst other things, changing the aperture and shutter speed by turning from left to right and back again. As with the shooting mode dial, this is a common feature found on DSLR cameras, so you'll be right at home if you've used any DSLR before - compact camera users will need to get used to using this dial, although it is possible (but rather long-winded) to set aperture/shutter speed via the LCD screen. The control dial can also be pressed in to switch to setting the exposure compensation, and is thankfully more difficult to inadvertently activate than on the G1.

On the bottom of the Panasonic DMC-GH1 is a metal tripod socket, importantly in-line with the middle of the lens barrel, and the battery compartment, and on the right side is the SD/SDHC memory card slot. On the left is the Remote /Mic socket for use with the optional remote shutter release or external microphone, and two connection ports, including a HDMI port for connecting the GH1 to a HD television or monitor. Unfortunately, Panasonic have decided to cut costs and not include a HDMI cable as standard in the box, which means that you'll have to purchase one separately to take advantage of this camera's HD connectivity.

The main menu system on the DMC-GH1 is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu/Set button in the middle of the navigation D-Pad. There are six main menus, Record, Motion Picture, Custom, Setup, My Menu and Playback. Most of the camera's main options, such as white balance, image quality, auto-focus mode and ISO speed, are accessed here, so the Record menu has 20 options spread over 4 screens, the Motion Picture menu has 7 options over 2 screens, and the Setup menu has 22 options over 5 screens. As an indication of how configurable the GH1 is, the Custom menu has 25 different options, allowing you fine-tune this camera to suit your way of working.

As mentioned previously, the addition of the Q.Menu button on the top of the camera speeds up access to some of the more commonly used options. Due to the large LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to five, the various options and icons are clear and legible. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Panasonic have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you for easy reference.

The start-up time from turning the Lumix DMC-GH1 on to being ready to take a photo is impressive at around 1.5 seconds, although it's slower than the G1. The Contrast Auto-Focusing system is quick in good light and the camera achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by the AF assist lamp - the GH1 doesn't have any notable problems locking onto the subject in low-light situations. The visibility and refresh rate of the 3 inch LCD screen are very good, and the pixel count of 460,000 is excellent, with virtually no visible grain.

It takes about 1 second to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a barely perceptible LCD blackout between each image. Storing a single RAW image takes around 5 seconds, but thankfully it doesn't lock up the camera in any way - you can use the menu system or shoot another image while the first file is being written to memory. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 has a pretty standard Burst mode which enables you to take 3 frames per second for an unlimited number of JPEG images at the highest image quality, or 7 RAW images. Overall the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 is about average in terms of operational speed compared to a DSLR, but much faster than a lot of compacts.

Once you have captured a photo, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 has an average range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 30 onscreen at the same time and in a Calendar view), zoom in and out up to 16x magnification, view slideshows, delete, protect, trim, resize, copy and rotate an image. You can also select favourite images, change an image's aspect ratio, add a sound clip to an image, delete Face Recognition data, and set the print order. The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a small brightness histogram available during shooting and RGBY histogram during playback.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12M Fine JPEG image size option, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 produced images of very good quality during the review period. It produces noise-free images at ISO 100 and 200, with limited noise starting to appear at ISO 400. ISO 800 exhibits quite visible noise and loss of fine detail, and ISO 1600 and 3200 are even noisier. The images were soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results. Anti-shake is a feature that sets the DMC-GH1 apart from its competitors and one that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range. The Film Modes allow you to quickly and easily customise the look of the camera's JPEG images. The pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 60 seconds allowing you to capture plenty of light.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 which you can select at any time if the camera is in one of the creative shooting modes. There is virtually no discernible noise at the slowest settings of ISO 100 and 200, and ISO 400 also looks fine, with some noise creeping in. More obvious noise and slight loss of detail is apparent at ISO 800, particularly in the shadow areas, and at the fastest settings of ISO 1600 and particularly ISO 3200, image quality has deterioated a lot. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:



ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100_raw.jpg

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200_raw.jpg

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400_raw.jpg

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800_raw.jpg

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600_raw.jpg

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200_raw.jpg

File Quality

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (5.74Mb) (100% Crop)

Normal (2.52Mb) (100% Crop)

quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg

RAW (14Mb) (100% Crop)



Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level by tweaking the Film Mode, with five different settings available.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg


The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

Flash Off - Telephoto (280mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (280mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-Eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds and there's also a Bulb option for exposures up to 4 minutes long, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 10 seconds at f/5.6 at ISO 100. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg

Film Modes

Panasonic's Film Modes, similarly to Nikon's Picture Styles, Canon's Picture Controls and Olympus' Picture Modes, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and noise reduction settings. The nine available Film Modes are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. There are also two My Film options so that you can create your own look.



film_mode_standard.jpg film_mode_dynamic.jpg



film_mode_nature.jpg film_mode_smooth.jpg



film_mode_nostalgic.jpg film_mode_vibrant.jpg

Standard B&W

Dynamic B&W

film_mode_standard_bw.jpg film_mode_dynamic_bw.jpg

Smooth B&W


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Panasonic RAW (RW2) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 can record full HD video at 1920x1080 pixels and 25fps in the AVCHD format. This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1920x1080 at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 12 second movie is 32.8Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Front of the Camera / Pop-Up Flash

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Vari-Angle LCD Screen


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Vari-Angle LCD Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Info Screen

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Live View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Bottom of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Battery Compartment


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is the best attempt yet at implementing video recording on a DSLR-like camera. The combination of high price, compulsory kit lens and so-so image quality in low-light conditions won't make it suitable for everyone though.

If you're looking for high-definition video in a DSLR format, then the Panasonic GH1 is easily your best choice. The ability to continuously auto-focus during recording simply isn't offered by the likes of the Canon EOS 500D or Nikon D5000, which force the user to manually focus. Although the GH1 is sometimes a little slow to re-focus, having this functionality makes the world of difference, ensuring that the main subject is amlost always sharp. In addition, the GH1 also allows you to change the aperture and shutter speed during recording as well as before, something that only the much more expensive Canon EOS 5D Mark II can do (with its recent firmware upgrade). Again there's a caveat, as you can clearly hear the click of the GH1's mode dial in the movie, but you can always edit this out later if you have the software and know-how. Sound is otherwise a real high-point of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 's movies, with the built-in stereo mic and wind cut function helping to create a much better soundtrack than virtually any other digital camera.

In terms of still image quality, the Panasonic GH1 also gets most things right. Colours are accurate when using the default Standard setting, with 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 lens helps to keep things sharp in low-light. The new 14-140mm kit lens exhibits commendably few signs of distortion at either end of the focal range, although images were noticeably soft at the default settings. The notable downsides are the traditional bug-bear of Four Thirds sensors, namely noise at slow ISO speeds (it's clearly visible at ISO 400), plus the comparatively poor macro performance if you're used to the 1cm focusing capability of many compact cameras. Ultimately the DMC-GH1 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.

As it's so clearly based on the older G1 model, the GH1 offers almost all of the same handling benefits. 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.

As with the G1, however, the single biggest problem with the GH1 is its price-tag. A recommended price at launch of $1499.95 / £1299.99 with the 14-140mm kit lens 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 50D, Nikon D90, Sony A700 or Olympus E-30, all with kit lenses. Unfortunately for the GH1, virtually 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. On the other hand, the all-in-one nature of the GH1 package will undoubtedly appeal to many people. As long as you don't mind the relatively slow maximum apertures of the 14-140mm kit lens, you could buy the GH1 and never have to purchase another lens. Ultimately we'd like to see the GH1 offered as body-only so that at least the consumer has the choice.

In summary, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 offers a fantastically well-implemented Live View experience in a small and portable DSLR-like format with the addition of an intuitive video mode that mere mortals, and not just experienced videographers, can produce great results with. If you don't need the video capabilities, though, the much cheaper DMC-G1 camera is by far the more logical choice.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 from around the web. »

The DMC-GH1 is essentially the same camera as the G1, with one big difference: it records movies in high definition, with its new 14 - 140 mm kit lens allowing for continuous autofocus while you're doing so. For those of you who have tried taking video on a digital SLR, you know how big of an advancement this is. While both the G1 and GH1 have 12.1 effective Megapixel Live MOS sensors, the one on the GH1 is newer, and supports shooting in multiple aspect ratios without affecting the angle-of-view. The GH1 also has a few other minor changes that I'll tough on throughout this review.
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Want to be on the cutting edge of digital photography and video? Meet the ultra-light, Micro Four Thirds 'hybrid' camera: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1. This dSLR-alike shooter is fast and has great photo quality. It also supports video capture and delivers the most camcorder-like recording experience we've seen to date from a still camera. You'll have to empty your pockets, though.
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The first manufacturer to develop a Micro Four Thirds camera, Panasonic now markets three distinct models. These include the original DMC-G1, the pocket-size DMC-GF1, and the DMC-GH1 which benefits from the best features of the other models. These 12 megapixel cameras are all smaller/slimmer than DSLRs because they’re not equipped with a reflex mirror or a pentaprism. They also accept smaller lenses but employ a much larger sensor than most digicams with built-in lenses. That allows for much larger pixels for “cleaner” images – with a less “grainy” effect – at ISO 400 and above.
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Camera Type Digital interchangeable lens system camera
Recording media SD memory card, SDHC memory card
Image sensor size 17.3 x 13.0 mm
Mount Micro Four Thirds mount
Type Live MOS Sensor
Total pixels 14.0 Megapixels
Camera effective pixels 12.1 Megapixels
Colour filter Primary colour filter
Dust reduction system Supersonic wave filter
Recording file format Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21), RAW, DPOF compatible / Still Image with Audio: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21) + Quicktime / Motion Image: AVCHD / QuickTime Motion JPEG
Aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 (Multi-aspect recording except 1:1)
File size(Pixels)
Motion Image Motion Jpeg [4:3] QVGA : 320 x 240, 30fps / VGA : 640 x 480, 30fps / Motion Jpeg [16:9] WVGA : 848 x 480, 30fps / Motion Jpeg [HD] 1280 x 720, 30fps / AVCHD NTSC [Full HD] 1920 x 1080, 60i (sensor output is 24fps)(FHD: 17Mbps) / AVCHD NTSC [HD] 1280 x 720, 60p (SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps) / AVCHD PAL [Full HD] 1920 x 1080, 50i (sensor output is 25fps)(FHD: 17Mbps) / AVCHD PAL [HD] 1280 x 720, 50p (SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps)
Still Image [4:3] 4000 x 3000(L), 2816 x 2112(M), 2048 x 1536(S) / [3:2] 4128 x 2752(L), 2928 x 1952(M), 2064 x 1376(S) / [16:9] 4352 x 2448(L), 3072 x 1728(M), 1920 x 1080(S) / [1:1] 2992 x 2992(L), 2112 x 2112(M), 1504 x 1504(S)
Image quality RAW, RAW+Fine, RAW+Standard, Fine, Standard
Colour space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Type Live View Finder (1,440,000 dots equivalent)
Field of view Approx. 100%
Magnification Approx. 1.4x / 0.7x (35mm camera equivalent) with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1
Eye point Approx.17.5mm from eyepiece lens
Diopter adjustment -4.0 ~ +4.0 m-1
Type Contrast AF system
Focusing mode AFs/AFc/MF
AF mode Face detection/ AF Tracking / 23-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing
AF detective range EV 0-18 (F3.5 lens, ISO 100)
AF assist lamp yes
AF lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed in AFs mode
Others Pre AF (Quick AF/Continuous AF), AF+MF, MF Assist (5x, 10x)
Light metering system 144-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Light metering mode Intelligent Multiple / Center Weighted / Spot
Metering range EV 0-18 (F2.0 lens, ISO 100)
Exposure mode Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual
ISO sensitivity Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / Intelligent ISO
Exposure compensation 1/3EV Step ±3EV
AE lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed
AE bracket 3,5,7 frame, in 1/3 or 2/3 EV Step, ±2 EV
White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1,2 / Color temperature setting
White balance adjustment Blue/amber bias, Magenta/green bias
Color temperature setting 2500-10000K in 100K
White balance bracket 3 exposures in blue/amber axis or in magenta/green axis
Type Focal-plane shutter
Shutter speed Still Images: 1/4000 ~ 60 and Bulb (up to approx. 4minutes)
Self timer 2sec / 10sec / 10sec, 3 images
Remote control Remote control with bulb function by DMW-RSL1 (Optional)
Movie SCN mode Portrait / Scenery / Sports / Low Light / Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Macro) / SCN (Sunset/Party/Portrait) / (Activated by selecting Still Image SCN mode then pressing Movie Button. Still Image SCN modes without corresponding Movie SCN mode is recorded in Normal mode.)
Still Image SCN mode Portrait (Normal/Soft Skin/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative) / Scenery (Normal/Nature/Architecture/Creative) / Sports (Normal/Outdoor/Indoor/Creative) / Close-up (Flower/Food/Objects/Creative) / Night Portrait (Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Illuminations/Creative) / SCN (Sunset/Party/Baby 1,2/Pet)
Burst speed 3 frames/sec (High speed) or 2 frames/sec (Low speed)
Number of recordable images 7 images (when there are RAW files with the particular speed) / Unlimited consecutive shooting (when there are no RAW files) / (depending on memory card size, battery power, picture size, and compression)
Type TTL Built-in-Flash, GN11 equivalent (ISO 100 ?m), Built-in Pop-up
Built-in flash(Mode) Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
X-Sync(Synchronization) speed Less than 1/160 second
Flash output adjustment 1/3EV Step ±2EV
Flash synchronization 1st. Curtain Sync, 2nd Curtain Sync.
Hot shoe TTL Auto with FL220/FL360/FL500(Optional)
Type Low temperature Polycrystalline TFT LCD
Monitor size Free-angle 3.0inch / 3:2 Aspect / Wide viewing angle
Pixels 460K dots
Filed of view Approx. 100%
Brightness adjustment Auto, Power LCD, Manual (7 levels)
OSD language English,German,French,Italian,Spanish,Japanese
Digital zoom 2x, 4x
Extra optical zoom Max.2x (Not effective with L size recording. Magnification ratio depends on the recording pixels and aspect ratio.)
Real-time Histogram YES
Guide Lines Guide Lines (3 patterns)
Colour Standard / Dynamic / Nature / Smooth / Nostalgic / Vibrant
Black and white Standard / Dynamic / Smooth
Others My Film1 / My Film2 / Multi Film
Playback mode Normal playback / 30-thumbnail display / 12-thumbnail display / Calendar display / Zoomed playback (16x Max.) / Slideshow (duration & effect is selectable) / Playback Mode (Normal/Picture/AVCHD/Motion JPEG/Face Recognition/Favorite) / Title Edit / Text Stamp / Resize / Trimming / Aspect Conversion / Rotate / Rotate Display / Print Set / Protect / Audio Dubbing
Protection Single / Multi or Cancel
Erase Single / Multi / All / Except Favorite
Print PictBridge compatible?Print size, Layout, Date setting is selectable ?
HDMI miniHDMI TypeC (1.3b corresponding) Video: Auto / 1080i / 720p / 480p (576p in PAL system) Audio: Dolby® Digital Stereo Creator
USB USB 2.0 High Speed
Speaker YES
Microphone Stereo, Wind-cut: Off / Low / Standard / High
Remote/External microphone input φ2.5mm. stereo mini jack
Audio video output Stereo Type, NTSC/PAL, NTSC only for North America *Check the website of the Panasonic sales company in your country or region for details on the products that are available in your market.
Battery ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 1250mAh) (Included) / Battery Charger/AC Adapter (Input: 110-240V AC, DC Cable is required)
Battery life Still Images CIPA Standard : Approx. 300 images(LCD) LVF : Approx. 320 images with LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. Motion Images Approx. 120 minutes (LCD) Recording time capacity in AVCHD SH mode
Dimensions [mm]
Width 124.0
Height 89.6
depth 45.2
Weight Approx. 385g / 13.58 oz ?Body only?
Operating Condition
Operating temperature 0 dig.C to 40 dig.C (32 dig.F to 104 dig.F)
Operating humidity 10% to 80%
Standard Accessories
Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.1 HD Edition / SILKYPIX® Developer Studio 3.0 SE / USB Driver
Standard accessories Battery Charger / AC Adapter / Battery Pack / Body Cap / AV Cable / USB Connection Cable / AC Cable / DC Cable / Shoulder Strap / CD-ROM

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