When I first heard about the Panasonic Lumix GH1 from my friend Steve (who saw a prototype and actually got to shoot with it at PMA 2009 in Las Vegas), I didn’t think too much about it. I incorrectly assumed that the GH1 was yet one more of those digital SLR photographic cameras that could also shoot HD video, although with more limitations than desired. But after investigating further, I realized that that first assumption was way off. The GH1 represents several steps forward in the ongoing development of truly hybrid photographic/video cameras, since it removes many of the limitations that other D-SLRs have imposed when used to shoot HD video.
The GH1 rear, with the 3.0 inch, 460,000 pixel resolution LCD opened
Unlike many other D-SLRs which unfortunately force the user to relinquish all manual controls when shooting HD video, Panasonic’s LUMIX Creative Movie mode in the GH1 allows for manually setting both shutter speed and aperture. Also, to my knowledge the GH1 is the first D-SLR to offer 720p59.94 recording (which Panasonic rounds to “720p60”), in addition to 720p29.97 (which Panasonic rounds to “720p30”). On the other hand, the GH1 also does 1080p23.976p recording (which Panasonic rounds to “1080p24”). The bad news about that is that the Panasonic official press release says that it records “24p” over “60i” with pulldown, which means much more work in post to edit on a true 23.976p timeline and later export as true 23.976p, as explained in my When 25p beats 24p article. However, my friend Steve says that his 23.976p clip (which he shot with the prototype at PMA 2009) was indeed native 23.976p raw footage. I hope that the ony error is in the Panasonic press release, and that in that respect, the production model (set to be released in June 2009) will actually offer native 23.976p recording, as the Panasonic AG-HMC150 (USA segregated version) and the AG-HMC151 (open European version) do. Although the press release also covers 25p, 50i, and 50p (for 720p50 only), it is still too early to tell whether the GH1 will be an open model (where all framerates are available worldwide) or a segregated model (where the USA version is restricted to 1080p23.976, 720p29.97, 720p59.94 only). As I have mentioned in other articles, Panasonic sometimes segregates cameras, and other times doesn’t. What is fortunately certain is that both HD spatial resolutions of the GH1 are full raster: 720p is full raster 1280×720, and 1080p is full raster 1920×1080. No subsampling with the GH1!
Panasonic offers an assortment of accessories, including other removable lenses, and the optional mountable stereo microphone, shown above in the first picture.