Choosing the Panasonic GH1

We recently purchased a Panasonic GH1 for the ShedWorx test bench.

There is a lot of movement out there in DSLR camera land, so I thought that I would write up the key differences between the GH1 and the traditional high-end DSLRs.

Micro Four Thirds sensor

The GH-1 has a Micro Four Thirds Sensor which is smaller in capacity than the 'big guns' like the Canon 5D and 7D. Its about 70% of the size of the sensor used in these cameras. This allows for smaller camera bodies. Check out the Panasonic GF1 and Olympus E-2 for examples of smaller cameras using this system. This new system is aimed at bridging the gap between cheaper instant cameras and full-blown Pro DSLRs.

The other interesting thing to note about the Micro Four Thirds system is that unlike the Pro DLRs, there is no mirror used.

On a regular DSLR you look out through the viewfinder, through the lens by way of a mirror that drops down in front of the sensor. This mirror flips up out of the way as the photo is taken.

On a Micro Four Thirds camera you are looking at the image as projected on the sensor at all times, but unlike an instant digital camera, or a video camera, the lens still does its job of opening and shutting to get you your shutter speed and aperture (how far the shutter opens).

The GH1 has a viewfinder but this is just another view of the LCD output.

Price

The GH-1 is a bit cheaper than the entry-level Pro DSLRs. Using Australian retail prices in December 2009, you have the following:
- Panasonic GH-1 (with 14-140mm lens): $2,200
- Canon 7D (with 18-135mm lens): $$2,800
- Canon 5D (with 24-105mm lens): $4,500

Video

As a comparison with its nearest rival, then Canon 7D, both the GH1 and 7D shoot Full HD 1920x1080 video, but here's the kicker: None of the Pro DSLRs have auto-focus while recording video. This can be a deal breaker for those who want to take any sort of action shots with their video camera. It is practically impossible to be manually focusing on a moving video subject.

All of the DSLRs lack motor-driven zoom also. Thats right - manual zoom only.

The big thing with the GH1 video is QUALITY. The sensor used by the GH1 is about 5 times the size of the sensor in a handycam. The GH1 also has a 'real' lens - made with lots of glass and stuff. The lens alone of the GH1 weighs more than our Canon HF11. These two factors combined give the GH1 killer video performance. Its just better than the handycams in all areas - colour, low light, image quality, etc.

The GH1 produces far and away the best AVCHD video in the pro-sumer market.

Wrap-up

The GH1 (and the GF1 and Olympus E-2) marks a new hybrid camera entering the market. Its a great still camera which gets you into DSLR territory and its a killer video camera. I had tried to use my Canon HF11 as a hybrid still and video camera, but to be honest, its still pictures were just rubbish. The stills from the HF11 were always inferior to those shot on our old instant digital (a Canon IXUS 800) so we ended up always using both.

Panasonic looks like it has another hit on its hands. The rugged FT1 (TZ3 in the USA) was a huge hit earlier in the year with stock sold out for months. The same is happening now with the GH1.

The GH1 marks the first time that you can have one camera which can take top-quality stills and video. Its no wonder that they're sold out everywhere for XMas 2009.

Would it be okay with you if

Would it be okay with you if I linked to this page from my website? Just asking since some people don't allow linking to their sites if you don't take their permission.

Engineers who would like to have careers in management positions should seriously think about getting the PMP certification so that they can learn how to manage projects effectively. Getting the certification is a matter of passing the PMP exam which can be done with a bit of online PMP certification training.

Linking

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