Panasonic Joins Nikon + Canon in the Video DSLR Game

In case you blinked and missed it, Panasonic has joined the Video dSLR game with Nikon and Canon with the announcement of their new Lumix GH1, to be released end of May.

They’re touting a couple “breakthroughs”:

_HD footage with autofocus. Personally, I have really developed an appreciation for the manual aspects of the Nikon D90 and the Canon 5d, but I can see why the general (read: non-pro/advanced-am, photo-crazed) population will appreciate this.

_a “multi-aspect”sensor. Short version of explaining this is that you can change aspect ratio’s (eg to 16×9) without losing resolution from the chip.

_an electronic viewfinder. That is, when you pop your eyeball up to the viewfinder, you see an electronic image, sorta like you’re looking at the back of the camera…. Ok for video, but I’m dubious of this from the still photo end of things. Could take some getting used to.

Pogue really liked it here and here. Gizmodo got to play with it. Engadget’s got it. And Philip Bloom put it through it’s paces. Generally this industry is moving along as expected. More of these cameras–from more manufactures–will continue to pop up.

Personally, in just digging around their launch materials, I found most of the camera stuff to be expected. But, did stumble on a slow motion test that Bloom had performed. ‘Twas actually the most interesting to me.

When I want to shoot something overcranked (think “slow motion” — slang for more frames per second in capture so the video appears slowed when played back at traditional fps rates), I’ve defaulted to the shooting with the big-boy toys, the REDone or the Phantom HD. Since those are largely inaccessible to non-pros, Bloom’s tests for turning 50 and 60p into slow motion using FCP Cinema Tools, look passable for the most basic slow motion stuff considering it’s out of a video dSLR. Could bring some slower motion 720p to the masses, which is pretty cool.

Any surprises or opinions as far as you’re concerned?

Sample slow mo video and a link to a vid tutorial on how to do the slo mo thing after the jump.
Here’s Bloom’s blog again and here’s a link to an Exposure Room video tutorial on how to do this stuff…

Other slow motion related video tasties here:

[Chase Jarvis RAW: Kung Fu (featuring Superfad)]
[Laura’s Story]

Hattie says:

Many thanks a lot this publish, it is really terrific!

Marilou says:

Extraordinarily educative thanks, I believe your trusty readers could possibly want even more information like this carry on the good effort.

Anonymous says:

GH1 is not a DSLR.

Philip Bloom says:

I will be doing some shooting at Joshua tree tomorrow with some very high quality lenses on the Lumix and full Matte Box with Tiffen filters to see just how good an image we can get out of it…the pic quality isn’t as good as say the 5dmk2 but the way it works, manual controls and all make it a dream to use!!


EricFerguson says:

Of course the big news with this “SLR” is also the death of the physical shutter, which the 4/3 lens system has made possible. The new fad? Maybe. Gosh I hope not thouh: I’d rather look through the lens with my eye than with an EVF, any day of the week.

Video/Photo convergence is very exciting, but this camera drops the ball in a few key areas: its H.264 compression has a variable bitrate which can go as low as 8Mbps at 1920/1080, which just kills the low light possibilities of the large-censor camera by introducing tons of compression artifacts. It’s also–like its competitors the D40, 5DMKII and the Rebel T1i–very slim on manual controls.

Still, live AF and 720p overcranking is exciting. Hopefully it’ll kick the big guys into gear. I have all my hopes set on the 60D.

brandt abner says:

I love the convergence of DSLRs w/video!
This GH1 seems to have no rolling shutter issues.
Pricey, but with a four thirds adapter, you can use Zuiko glass-looovely!!!

Chase Jarvis says:

don’t recall who asked, but i will def not be picking up one of these.

that said, i do enjoy new toys coming into the marketplace because when the manufacturers compete, we all win.


Glad to see you could post after the car accident from the last post!

Panasonic huh? I think the price point is a bit high in comparison to the offerings by Nikon but it is good to see other camera makers building on technology. I can’t wait to see what we call a DSLR in 2025 – 100 MP point and shoot with dynamic range equal to a pro camera?? We can only hope.

Ashraf Azlan says:

With a maximum data rate of 17mbps, I doubt this will be much use for serious post processing.

Price = YOWZERS!!! That is an expensive tiny camera. Hopefully having this out will motivate canon to fix the mark II inadequacy re. aperture control. Can’t imagine where this one quite fits in the whole picture given the price.

batgeek says:

For people that doesn’t know, it has a $1,499 price tag!!

I think Panasonic has hit just the right place in the market. I do not want one, because it just does not fit my needs, but I am VERY glad these cheaper 4/3rds (it is, right?) cameras are out there. You have better quality than the grain-sized point-and-shoot sensors and video. Perfect. This is what people want. Now, let’s see if the advertising can properly let them know about it.

Car Blog says:

Thats a deadly combination. Cool stuff :)

Anonymous says:

Looks like most of the cost of the kit is the lens: it’s silent and able to adjust the aperture continuously while shooting.

I have the G1 and the electronic viewfinder is actually quite nice, IIRC has 1.4 million pixels: think pro video camera, no other still camera has had one even close. Having info like the histogram there, getting 100% coverage is very nice. It’s also quite bright, so much that I am always surprised switching back and forth with the Canon 20D. The only drawback is in very low light it can get a delay of about a tenth of a second, I assume it is ramping up the exposure and needs longer to get light. I only notice this when it is quite dark.

I’m looking forward to seeing what Pentax is releasing on the 21st. Leaked photos show an HDMI slot on their new K-7 DSLR too.

I think you mean “Digital Video/Still Camera”. I can’t classify G1 or GH1 as a DSLR as they never were. Totally different camera system. Hope you can correct that. :)

Anonymous says:

price. ouch.


They’ve also made a microphone for this thing so I expect the audio capture to be very good. This is an area where Nikon need some work.

Matt Lange says:

Nope. Right on course…

Anonymous says:

The cost seems kinda out there, more than a d90/d300/50d. Sure 2/3 of those dont shoot video but for stills will (should) rinse the Panasonic.

Interested to see what people will do with this thing and a Leica 50/.95 videowise though.

mogfxdesign says:

This is really cool. Of course this is more for your average consumer and not geared for Pros. The beach video looked really good, but at the end, it was noted that it was graded with Magic Bullet. Which is a plug-on for FCP which provides color grading as well as reproducing film looks.

I've also run into issue with editor compatibility with Pro Cameras, like the Panasonic Varicam. I know the Varicam functions well with FCP and AJA, but I believe at least with an earlier version, you couldn't do the same with Black Magic capture system. Although the technology is great, it does create headaches when trying to match up new video capture, editing and playback technologies. It's better to wait until the next version when the vendors start incorporating the new codecs into their software.

If you really like high speed images and played back in slow-mo, check out Time Warp on Discovery. That's all that show is about and they use the Phanton HD camera.

In the end we can all benefit from this new technology and being someone that loves new gadgets/toys, I'm all for it (although I can't afford it). But having the newest & latest doesn't make you the best. There is still a new skill set and techniques to be mastered if one wants to be successful regardless of what new features are added to equipment.

batgeek says:


I’m curious to know what techniques you use with the manual aspects of the Nikon D90 when shooting video…? Maybe this is a topic by itself.


shashank says:

the biggest plus point for the GH1 is that fact that you can control the Aperture and Shutter (in movie mode) unlike the 5D.

Anonymous says:

Electronic Viewfinder sounds good for video, but I’ve never liked it for still photos. Wondering about shutter delay on this camera too.

Sticking to Canon and Nikon.

Cool for sure! There is no reason I would make the switch just for it. Nikon Glass al day for me and When they step up their video DSLR, i’ll upgrade.

Highslide for Wordpress Plugin