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Compared to...

Like the Panasonic DMC G1 the GH1 is technically not an SLR. However, in both design and specification the Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras are in many aspects not too dissimilar from an 'upper entry level' DSLR such as the Canon EOS 500D or Nikon D5000. However, the GH1's versatile video mode (something that the G1 does not offer) and the fact that it is, at least for the moment, only available as a kit with the new Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm lens lift it above the price levels of these mirrored competitors. Having said that, the GH1 kit price is quite difficult to compare. If you look at the price figures in the table below you should keep two things in mind:

1. At the time of writing of this review at most major retailers the GH1 is only available for pre-order - at the recommended retail price. As soon as larger quantities of GH1s will be in stock prices will almost certainly start dropping but at this point we can only speculate about a realistic street price.

2. The GH1 is only available as a kit with the new and optimized-for-video Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4-5.8 lens that offers a much more variable zoom range and would no doubt, if it was available on its own, be significantly more expensive than the standard zoom kit lenses the DSLRs in this comparison come with. The Canon and Nikon with lenses equivalent to the 14-140mm (Nikon 18-200 AF-S VR f/3.5-5.6 and Canon EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS) would currently cost you around $1400 and $1360 respectively, which brings the overall price much closer to GH1 territory. The Panasonic GH1 can therefore, depending on your photographic (and videographic) needs, be a more than viable alternative to its peers in the DSLR world.

Therefore we have chosen three of those peers to compare it to, each of which competes with the GH1 in one way or another. The E-620 is one of the smallest image stabilized DSLR available. It offers a high degree of external control and customizability, and, like the GH1, a swivel-screen. It has no video recording feature though. The new Nikon D5000 comes with 720p video recording, a swivel-screen and arguably one of the most refined user interfaces in its class. Finally, we've included the Canon EOS 500D, which with 1080p video (20fps) and a 15.1 megapixel sensor is perhaps the strongest all-round DSLR in its price range. Let's start with a quick look at how the competitors line up:

Camera Kit
price
LCD Anti
Shake
Sensor
(effective pixels)
Panasonic GH1 $1499 3.0" / 460k pixels Lens option 12.1 LiveMOS (2.0x crop), Multi aspect ratio
Canon EOS 500D $895 3.0" / 920k pixels Lens option 15.1 MP CMOS (1.6x crop)
Nikon D5000 $800 2.7" / 230k pixels Lens option 12.3 MP CMOS (1.5x crop)
Olympus E-620 $700 2.7" / 230k pixels In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS (2.0x crop)

Panasonic GH1 advantages

  • Smaller and lighter than the competition
  • 1080P AVCHD video at 30fps
  • Full manual control in video mode
  • Auto Focus tracking
  • Kit lens specifically designed for video recording with silent continuous AF and seamless aperture adjustment

Panasonic GH1 disadvantages

  • Price
  • 3 fps continuous shooting
 
Panasonic GH1

Canon 500D

Nikon D5000

Olympus E-620
Price
(single lens kit)
US: $1499 [check price]
including 14-140mm kit lens
US: $895 [check price] US: $800 [check price] US: $700 [check price]
Sensor • 4/3 type MOS ('Live MOS sensor')
• 14.0 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• RGB (Primary) color filter array
• 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS
• 15.1 million effective pixels
• 15.5 million effective pixels
• 23.6 x 15.8 mm CMOS
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• 12.9 million effective pixels
• 17.3 x 13.0 mm LiveMOS
• 12.3 million effective pixels
• 13.1 million effective pixels
Dust reduction • Supersonic Wave Filter • Anti-dust materials
• Low pass filter vibration
• Dust reference image
• Low pass filter vibration
• Airflow Control System
• Dust reference image
• Supersonic Wave Filter
Native image size 4000 x 3000 (4:3)
4128 x 2752 (3:2)
4352 x 2448 (16:9)
2992 x 2992 (1:1)
(multi aspect ratio sensor)
4752 x 3168
(3:2 ratio)
4288 x 2848
(3:2 ratio)
4032 x 3024
(4:3 ratio)
Video 1080p AVCHD @ 30fps
720p Motion JPEG @ 30fps
Dolby stereo sound

1080p @ 20fps
720p @ 30fps
MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)

720p @ 24 fps
AVI Motion-JPEG, with monaural sound

no video capability
Lens support • Micro Four Thirds mount lenses
• Four Thirds mount lenses via adapter DMW-MA1PP (AF not available with all lenses)
• Canon EF mount
• Including EF-S lenses
• Nikon F-mount
• Includes DX lenses
• AF only available with AF-S or AF-I lenses
• 4/3 standard lens mount
• Olympus and third party 4/3
FOV crop 2.0x 1.6x 1.5x 2.0x
Body shake reduction No No No Yes
Live view The GH1 has a mirrorless design and therefore always operates in live view Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face detection) or Phase detect AF Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face priority) or Phase detect AF Yes, Contrast detect (inc Face detection) or Phase detect AF
File formats • RAW
• JPEG (2 levels)
• RAW (comp. lossless 14-bit)
• JPEG (2 levels)
• RAW (compressed)
• JPEG (3 levels)
• RAW (comp. lossless)
• JPEG (4 levels)
RAW+JPEG RAW + JPEG (Any quality) RAW + JPEG (Fine) RAW + JPEG (Any quality) RAW + JPEG (any quality)
Auto focus • Contrast detect AF
• 23-Area-Focusing/1 Area Focusing
• Manual focus
• Face Detection
• AF Tracking
• 9 area TTL
• Cross-type F2.8 at center
• Range: -0.5 to +18 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view
• 11 area TTL
• Cross-type at center
• Range: -1 to +19 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view
• 7 area TTL
• Range: -1 to +19 EV
• Contrast detect AF in live view
AF illuminator Built-in lamp Flash strobe, must be raised Built-in lamp Flash strobe, must be raised
Color space • sRGB
• Adobe RGB
• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
• sRGB
• Adobe RGB
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
• Evaluative
• Partial
• Center-weighted average
• 4% spot

• 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Center-weighted average
• Spot

• Digital ESP
• Center-weighted average
• Spot
• Highlight based spot
• Shadow based spot
Exp. comp. +/- 3.0 EV
+/- 2.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV +/- 5.0 EV
Sensitivity • ISO 100 - 3200 • ISO 100 - 3200
(with 6400 and 12800 equiv)

• ISO 200 - 3200
(with 100 and 6400 equiv)

• ISO 100 - 3200
Auto ISO Auto (100-1600)
Intelligent ISO
Auto (100-1600) User definable maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed Auto (100 - 1600)
High- ISO NR Yes (5 levels) Yes (4 levels) Yes (4 levels) Yes (4 levels)
Shutter speed • 60 -1/4000 sec / Bulb
• Flash X-sync 1/160 sec
• 30 - 1/4000 sec / Bulb
• 1/200 sec Flash sync
• 30 - 1/4000 sec / Bulb
• 1/200 sec Flash sync
• 60 - 1/4000 sec / Bulb
• 1/180 sec Flash sync
Continuous
shooting
• 3 fps
• Unlimited JPEG/HQ frames
• 7 RAW frames
• 3.4 fps
• 170 JPEG/Fine frames
• 9 RAW frames

• 4 fps
• 67 JPEG/Fine frames
• 11 RAW frames

• 4 fps
• Unlimited JPEG/HQ frames
• 5 RAW frames
White balance • Auto
• Five presets
• Two custom presets
• Kelvin temperature
• Fine tunable
• Auto
• Eight presets
• Manual preset
• Kelvin temperature
• Fine tunable
• Auto
• Twelve presets
• Manual preset
• Fine tunable
• Auto
• Eight presets
• Manual preset
• Kelvin temperature
• Fine tunable
Flash Electronic release pop-up Electronic release pop-up Electronic release pop-up Electronic release pop-up
Viewfinder • Electronic Viewfinder
• Color LCD Viewfinder
• Field of view 100%
• Eye point 14 mm at -1 dioptre
• Magnification 1.4x (equivalent to 0.7x on a 35mm camera / 50mm lens)
• Dioptre adjustment -4 to +4 dioptre
• 1,440,000 dots
• Field Sequential (RGB)
• Pentamirror
• Eyepoint 18 mm
• Frame coverage 95%
• Magnification approx 0.87x
• Precision matte screen
• Pentamirror
• Eyepoint 18 mm
• Frame coverage 95%
• Magnification approx 0.78x
• B-type Bright View Clear Matte Mark V
• Pentamirror
• Eyepoint 16 mm
• Frame coverage 95%
• Magnification approx 0.96x
• Lumi-Micron Matte screen
LCD monitor • 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 460,000 dots
• Hinged/swivel
• 3.0 " TFT LCD
• 920,000 dots

• 2.7 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• Hinged/swivel

• 2.7 " TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• Hinged/swivel
Storage SD/SDHC card SD/SDHC card SD/SDHC card • Compact Flash card
• xD Picture card
Battery DMW-BLB13PP (1250 mAh 7.2v) LP-E5 (7.4 V, 1050 mAh) EN-EL9a (7.2 V, 1080 mAh) PS-BLS1 (7.2 V, 1150 mAh)
Vertical grip No BG-E5 (option) No HLD-5 (option)
Software • Photofun Studio
• Silkypix
• Canon DPP
• Canon PhotoStitch
• Canon ZoomBrowser EX
• EOS Utility (Remote Capt.)
• Nikon Transfer
• ViewNX
• Nikon Capture NX (trial)
• Olympus Master 2.0
• Olympus Studio 2.0 (trial)
Dimensions 124 x 90 x 45 mm
(5.7 x 3.5 x 1.8 in)
129 x 98 x 62 mm
(5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)
127 x 104 x 80 mm
(5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)
130 x 94 x 60 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)
Weight (no batt) 385g (0.8 lb) 480 g (1.1 lb) 560 g (1.2 lb) 475 g (1.0 lb)
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