Micro Four Thirds Panasonic G1 impresses with high image quality in compact package

Written by Gary on November 30th, 2008

The first camera in the Micro Four Thirds system – the Panasonic G1 has impressed.

This review on luminous-landscape.com demonstrates how compact the kit is and suggests the image quality is very high with the two Micro Four Thirds lenses tested, and perhaps just as importantly, the contrast-detect AF was almost as fast as normal dSLR AF while the EVF quality seems to be the best available.

It also sports a nice flip out live preview LCD which can be rotated for self-portraits / family shots as well as rotated to protect the LCD screen when not in use.

See the video at the bottom of the review page to realise just how small the G1 is compared to a Nikon D90 or Canon 450D/Xsi.

The lenses currently available are both optical image stabilised:

  • 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS giving 28-90mm field of view
  • 45-200mm f/4-5.6 OIS giving an ultra compact 90-400mm field of view lens

Forthcoming lenses that have been announced thus far (presumably available in 2009) include:

  • 14-140mm f/4-f.5.6 OIS
    • should be a great walk-around lens giving 28-280mm 10x zoom coverage at reasonable aperture and with image stabilisation, thus should be attractive option to many
  • 7-14mm f/4
    • this is exciting as the current Olympus 7-14mm is extremely expensive due to the need for special optical design to overcome the lens to sensor distance imposed by the mirror which is eradicated by the Micro Four Thirds, so hopefully we will get a much more affordable high image quality 7-14mm lens (ie. 14-28mm ultra wide angle zoom)
  • 20mm f/1.7
    • this is also an exciting lens as it would potentially be a great street photography lens in the Leica rangefinder style giving 40mm field of view with a nice wide aperture
  • of course, Olympus should be announcing their range soon too, although I would be expecting Olympus to use sensor-based image stabilisation in their Micro cameras and add movie modes

another user’s review

addendum Jan 2009:
dpreview.com’s in-depth review of the G1 gives the camera a thumbs up with highly recommended for its compact size, high quality jpegs out of the camera with lots of detail, reasonable image noise performance to ISO 1600, high quality EVF and tiltable LCD screen, fast contrast detect AF as good as entry-level dSLRs and with very effective AF tracking and very usable manual focus mode.

Their main concerns were the current limited choice of contrast detect AF compatible lenses, EVF not easy to use in low light, sensor can be more readily touched with clumsy fingers when changing lenses, no movie mode, battery life, relatively noisy shutter for a non-dSLR (yep, I want a silent camera please so I can use it in classical music concerts, lectures, etc without disrupting everyone!).


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