Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Conclusion - Pros
- Reliably good image quality up to ISO 800, usable (just) up to ISO 3200
- Accurate metering and focus
- Good JPEG resolution (though stick to raw for best results)
- Fast and responsive in use
- Good ergonomics all around, excellent build quality, nice handling
- Very useful status panel and quick menu allow direct access to many important settings
- Highly customizable - up to three custom modes and many user-definable options
- Very flexible AF-system with movable AF-area and very effective AF tracking/face detection
- Fastest contrast detect AF to date (with kit lenses), on par with entry-level DSLRs
- Very usable manual focus mode (including new distance scale)
- Face recognition is fun, and works (reasonably) well
Conclusion - Cons
- Poor EVF compared to G1/GH1/G2
- No automatic EVF/LCD switch
- Fixed LCD screen
- Out-of-camera JPEG color not as appealing as best competitors
- New kit lens not as good as predecessor
- Image quality at ISO 3200 poor, ISO 6400 verging on the unusable
- High ISO default noise reduction a bit too high
- Dynamic range still not as good as best APS-C competitors
- User interface looking a bit dated
- Motion JPEG not as efficient as AVCHD (lite) format for video shooting.
For this Quick review we ran some basic studio tests to confirm that the G10's still image quality is as good as identical to the G2. To get all the in-depth information that you expect from a dpreview review on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 you'll have to read both this article and our in-depth review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2.
Although this is review is created in our new 'quick' format, different members of the dpreview team have done a lot of shooting with the G10 from the moment we first got our hands on it back in April. All of us have come to the same basic conclusion - judged on its own merits as an entry-level camera, the G10 has a lot to recommend it, but as an introduction to Panasonic's G-series it sells the system rather short. The biggest frustrations with the G10 (virtually the only frustrations in fact) are its fixed LCD screen and unpleasant EVF compared to the G1, GH1 and its 'big brother' the G2. Given that their excellent EVF displays and articulated LCD screens (touch-sensitive, lest we forget, in the case of the G2) are major selling points of these cameras, it's a shame that in the G10, Panasonic has deleted two of the features that make the rest of the G-series (excluding the GF1) so appealing and fun to use.
As far as its performance as a digital stills camera is concerned, the G10 is an exact match for the G2. Its continuous shooting rate and burst depth are identical, and its metering, white balance and AF systems are equally capable. This is excellent news, and means that the G10 is amongst the most reliable of any entry-level DSLR (or DSLR-type) camera currently on the market. In the hundreds of frames that we've shot with the G10, virtually all of them are correctly exposed, and (assuming that we didn't mess up) accurately focussed, too.
The G10 isn't fantastic at its highest ISO settings, and pretty awful at ISO 6400, but it gives decent image quality in the middle and low end of its ISO range, especially when set to RAW output. Naturally though, in a camera of this type it is JPEG quality which is of paramount concern and although the G10 can't compete with the best APS-C cameras around, it is more than capable of holding its own against current entry-level models. We'd like slightly sharper results at default settings but sharpening can easily be tweaked in-camera. For the novice, or anyone that would prefer not to take control over the G10's extensive feature set, the G10's 'iA' mode more or less guarantees usable (if rather brash) images in most situations without any manual intervention.
In movie mode, the G10 is capable of producing excellent HD footage - the only downsides compared to the G2 being the lack of an external microphone socket and the fact that footage can only be recorded in the Motion JPEG format. We don't consider either of these limitations to be a deal-breaker in a camera of this level, but there is no doubt that for the video enthusiast the G2 (or ideally the GH1) is a better choice of camera than the G10. For an entry-level camera though, the G10 boasts an impressive video specification, and its mirrorless design makes it much easier to use in video mode than its DSLR competitors.
The final word
The G10 is a very capable camera, and as an entry-level DSLR competitor it fulfils its purpose very well. It offers an excellent range of features and a lot of customization, but its 'auto everything' iA mode is on hand for those occasions when you just want to point and shoot.
As far as image quality and performance are concerned, the G10 is an exact match for its big brother the G2, and we're far more inclined to forgive its faults (slightly sub-par image quality above ISO 800 and fairly uninspiring continuous shooting in RAW mode) in a camera of this level.
What is a lot more difficult to forgive is Panasonic's decision to remove from the G10 two of the features that make the G2, G1 and GH1 so much fun to use. The G10's EVF is very poor compared to these cameras, and almost unusable in bright conditions where light leak from around the edges of the viewfinder can be very destructive to the viewing experience. This is most problematic for glasses wearers, but even without glasses, using the G10's EVF is a trial rather than a pleasure.
In our opinion the G10's fixed LCD screen is less of an issue, but it does make the camera less versatile in some situations than the G2. Ultimately, while we applaud the attempt, in trying to cut the cost of the G10, Panasonic has created a camera that lacks either the versatility of the G2 or the charm of the GF1.
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The G10 is Panasonic's first entry-level Micro Four Thirds camera. Its core systems are capable and reliable, and although its menu system is a little dated, the G10 is an easy camera to find your way around. Unfortunately it is marred by a poor EVF, which is almost unusable in some shooting situations.
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