Panasonic Lumix G1 Review
When you consider the incredible flexibility offered by digital capture (unencumbered by the physical need to put the film behind the lens and to advance it frame by frame) it's perhaps surprising that the digital interchangeable lens camera has remained so firmly rooted in a basic design that hasn't changed since the 1950's. The single lens reflex does its job very well, but building a camera around a mirror box seriously ties the designer's hands - not only in the physical size and shape of the body, but in the lenses too (the distance to the sensor means retrofocus designs are needed to overcome the distance from the sensor to the flange).
The reasons for this seemingly dogmatic attachment to the single lens reflex are fairly obvious; the main players in the market have a vested interest in maintaining compatibility with legacy lenses and offering as seamless a transition from film to digital as possible for their millions of existing users. Besides, it's a lot easier to design a body that works in the same way SLRs always did than to launch an entirely new lens system.
There have also been some technological barriers to deal with; the lack of digital displays good enough to produce an electronic viewfinder that can even get close to a good mirror and prism, and the fact that current phase-detect autofocus systems won't work without a mirror being the two most commonly cited.
It is perhaps unsurprising then, that the first company to challenge the SLR hegemony is Panasonic, a manufacturer with no legacy film SLR system to support and a share of the digital SLR market so small that it's relatively easy to simply drop it and move on. We strongly suspect that the L10 will be the end of Panasonic's brief foray into the standard Four Thirds System and that - for all the joint development statements - it was Panasonic, not Olympus that was the driving force behind the introduction of Micro Four Thirds.
And so we have a new system with a new lens mount and this, the G1; the world's first electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens camera. From the outside it looks for all the world like a conventional SLR (albeit a very small one) - we're told that the design (complete with faux prism 'hump') is deliberately conservative; Panasonic's research has shown that its target market (particularly in Japan) still prefers a camera that looks like a camera is supposed to, and wasn't going to risk falling at the first hurdle by producing something too radical.
On the inside of course it is indeed radically different to every SLR on the market; the mirror and pentaprism/pentamirror viewfinder is gone, replaced by a live view-only system using either the newly-developed high resolution electronic viewfinder or the large articulated rear screen (which, interestingly, has a 3:2 aspect ratio - not the 4:3 ratio of the sensor).
Panasonic's stated reasons for introducing Micro Four Thirds are simple; to produce smaller cameras that act more like compact DSCs whilst offering the quality and versatility of a DSLR - and in doing so to convert some of the millions of compact camera buyers who - according to research - are put off digital SLRs by the bulk, complexity and lack of user-friendliness. And our initial tests would suggest that they have solved at least one of the technological problems mentioned earlier (the contrast-detect autofocus is easily as fast as any other entry-level DSLR). The viewfinder is also very impressive and significantly better than any viewfinder we've seen on a digital stills camera before.
The Micro Four Thirds standard - and the Panasonic G1 - represents the first complete break with legacy SLR technology going back well over half a century, and as such represents an important moment in digital photography's short history. It would be fair to describe it as the first truly 'all digital' interchangeable lens camera, and I think it would also be fair to say it finally delivers on the promise made for the Four Thirds system when it was first introduced back in 2002 (to quote from the original press release 'The major benefit of Four Thirds System is that it will allow the design of dedicated, high-performance digital camera lens systems that are more compact than their 35 mm film SLR camera lens counterparts').
It's worth remembering that this 'mini SLR' thing has been tried before; in the mid to late 1990's Canon, Nikon and Minolta all launched compact SLR systems based around the new APS film format, and all failed to make any impact at all. Of course a lot of that was down to timing (digital was already starting to reshape the entire landscape of the photo industry), but crucially these systems also offered little beyond a size reduction (and a far more limited choice of films) to differentiate them from their 35mm counterparts.
Where the G1 - and Micro Four Thirds - has the edge is that there has never been a wider gap between the image quality offered by compact cameras and SLRs. By offering a camera that works and handles like a compact (Panasonic FZ users will feel right at home) but produces output a lot more like an SLR, Micro Four Thirds has carved out a potentially lucrative niche for itself in a market crying out for innovation. It may seem like a relatively low-key product to herald a minor revolution in the digital SLR market, but have no doubt, the G1 is one of the most interesting products we've had under this roof for quite some time. Let's see how it performs in our in-depth review.
Micro Four Thirds
Olympus and Panasonic announced the new, mirrorless format / lens mount based on (and compatible with) Four Thirds in August 2008. The Micro Four Thirds system uses the same sensor size (18 x 13.5 mm) but allows slimmer cameras by removing the mirror box and optical viewfinder. The new format has three key technical differences: (1) roughly half the flange back distance (distance from mount to the sensor), (2) a smaller diameter lens mount (6 mm smaller) and (3) two additional contact points for lens-to-body communication (now 11 points). Removing the mirror mechanism allows this shorter flange back distance, meaning lenses for the new mount can be considerably smaller than current Four Thirds designs. The format will require framing to be carried out using Live View on either the LCD monitor or an EVF. Existing Four Thirds lenses can be used on Micro Four Thirds cameras using an adapter.
Micro Four Thirds is an extension of the Four Thirds standard that Olympus, Leica and Panasonic have used for their recent DSLRs. An adaptor ring is available, allowing existing Four Thirds lenses to be mounted. Auto Focus only functions on lenses compatible with contrast-detect AF, which limits choice. Click here for an up-to-date list of compatible lenses on the Panasonic website.
Although details are still a little sketchy, Panasonic has released a lens roadmap for Micro Four Thirds (expect something similar from Olympus at some point soon):
- 18 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 19 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 20 Photographic tests (DR)
- 21 Photographic tests
- 22 Compared to
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (JPEG)
- 25 Compared to (JPEG)
- 26 Compared to (JPEG)
- 27 Compared to (JPEG)
- 28 Compared to (RAW)
- 29 Compared to (RAW)
- 30 Compared to (RAW)
- 31 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 32 Compared to (Resolution)
- 33 Conclusion
- 34 Samples
Jan 19, 2009
Sep 12, 2008
Jan 18, 2012
Jan 12, 2012
|The Engineer by EXX|
from Steam Trains
|Madrid subway by MAGMATCICO62|
from Your City - Public Transport
|Incandescent Bulb by Kukla|
from Illuminate- Macro only
|Curiousity by PERCY2|
from Macro - Your Best Macro Ever
|Hoar Frosted Trees by sabishiT3T|
Rotolight has released the Anova Pro 2 circular LED for stills and video, boasting a 70% increase in brightness and what the company describes as "unrivaled battery performance."
Designer Vinicius Araújo has imagined what he believes the perfect Adobe software keyboard might look like. From customizable touch pads, to a scroll wheel, to a little display that shows the tool in use, his design is pretty compelling.
Peak Design has teamed up with Leica to release a limited-edition backpack made special for fans of the Red Dot.
A portrait of an android woman has beaten over 5,700 pictures of humans to take third place in this year’s prestigious Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize. The judges were not told the subject was an 'android' until after the winning images were chosen.
Hauling around C-Stands just got a whole lot less annoying thanks to these new Matthews shoulder and roller bags, which can hold two or three C-stand (respectively) plus accessories.
Neal Preston has shot timeless photos of everyone from Led Zeppelin, to Whitney Houston, to Michael Jackson. In this interview, he offers insights into his craft to up-and-comer Elijah Dominique.
Future prosumer Canon DSLRs might feature light-up buttons, if this newly published patent is any indication of the camera company's plans.
Sony's a7R Mark III shoots 42.4MP files at 10fps and incorporates a robust video feature set, large battery, refined ergonomics and more. It certainly looks impressive, but what is it like to use, and how does it stack up against the rest of the market? Find out in our full review.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017 – the Fujifilm X100F takes the bronze and the #3 spot.
There's never been a better time to shop for a new camera, but the number of options available can be overwhelming. In this series of buying guides we've provided customized recommendations for several use cases, from shooting landscapes to buying a first camera for a student photographer.
Shopping for a camera with a set budget? No problem! We've rounded up our favorite cameras, broken them into price brackets and picked the best of the bunch.
Looking for a lightweight compact camera that's easy to bring with you anywhere? Or maybe you're smartphone-shopping and want the one that takes the best picture. And what if you want to shoot from above? In these buyers guides we have recommendations for the best compact cameras, smartphones and drones.
Despite reports to the contrary, analysis of DPReview images by our friend Jim Kasson confirms a disappointing fact: Sony a7R III is still a Star Eater. But there may be some improvements.
As the saying goes: A photo is worth a thousand words. And if you're sending that photo through Facebook Messenger, your thousand words now look twice as nice after today's update to 4K resolution.
Get to know the new Leica CL in short order by giving our 90 second 'First look' video a watch.
Leica has just released the CL, the forth in its series of APS-C L-mount cameras. Despite sharing a name with a camera released in the mid-70s, the new CL is a thoroughly modern ILC, with a 24MP sensor and built-in electronic viewfinder.
The Leica CL is a 24MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, which sits alongside the TL2 in the company's APS-C lineup. We've been using one for a few days – check out our gallery of images.
While it shares a name with one of Leica's most popular and affordable cameras of the 1970s, the new CL is separated from its namesake by more than just years. We've been using one for a few days - click through for a detailed first-impressions report.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #4 ranking goes to the Leica M10.
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.