Apart from a slightly larger 'faux prism' (to house the stereo microphones) the GH1 is the G1's identical twin. The camera is in every dimension smaller than arguably the smallest DSLR that is currently on the market, the Olympus E-450, which is one of the benefits promised by Micro Four Thirds' elimination of the reflex mirror. From a design point of view it is, in almost every respect, very careful to mimic DSLR design, with a large grip and command dial embedded in the front of it. And the result is a camera that will be instantly familiar to DSLR users and, perhaps more importantly, one that is consistent with the expectations of users aspiring to own a DSLR.
The soft micro-textured finish and overall build quality make the camera feel anything but 'cheap' (though a little more 'grip' or texture to the surface would be nice - there was some slight concern that the current texture felt slightly plasticy).
In your hand / grip
Despite its small size the GH1 features a respectably sized grip that fits well in the hand and puts both the shutter button and mode dial in easy reach. The 'push and turn' control dial avoids the need for any buttons to be held down when changing settings, meaning the AF/AE Lock button can be placed very conveniently. With the 14-140mm lens mounted the GH1 feels reassuringly 'dense' - it's certainly heavy enough to feel solid and stable in the hand.
Side by side
Below you can see the GH1's dimensions compared to a typical entry level DSLR, the Canon EOS 500D, with equivalent lenses (14-140mm F4.0-5.8 on the GH1 and 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 on the 500D). As you can see shooting with a Micro Four Thirds system combination means a fairly significant saving in terms of dimensions compared to an equivalent DSLR/lens combination.
(W x H x D)
(inc. battery & card)
|Panasonic Lumix GH1||124 x 90 x 45 mm (4.9 x 3.5 x 1.8 in)||460 g (1.0 lb)|
|Canon EOS 500D||129 x 98 x 62 mm (5.1 x 3.9 x 2.4 in)||524 g (1.2 lb)|
|Nikon D5000||127 x 104 x 80 mm (5.0 x 4.1 x 3.1 in)||611 g (1.3 lb)|
|Olympus E-620||130 x 94 x 60 mm (5.1 x 3.7 x 2.4 in)||521 g (1.1 lb)|