Wednesday, November 19, 2008

This camera is so cool, it's worth having even if you don't take pictures

I'm a sucker for red. I have a 30-year-old tomato-red Fiat sports car. I have a website that specializes in red phones. My favorite uncle and an important girlfriend had red hair. I even had red walls in my apartment until I married a different girlfriend who didn't like red walls. I refuse to eat "white pizza." If it doesn't have red sauce, it's not pizza.

As soon as I saw the new Panasonic LUMIX GMX-G1R digital camera, I started salivating and panting.

Although I've been a Nikon fan and owner since 1970, I am well aware of the inroads that Panasonic has made into the digital camera business, especially since they started using Leica lenses on some products. Panasonic has long been an important innovator in video cameras and camcorders, and now they're kicking ass in still progography, too.

In general, I use my big Nikon D70 DSLR for "serious" photography, and a compact Nikon Coolpix L6 is always in my briefcase or car for unplanned photos. In my office, there's an older Coolpix 5000 on a tripod for taking product pictures. I also have a bunch of Nikon film cameras going back to an ancient Ftn that has shot miles of Kodachrome. I occasionally fondle the film cameras, but I haven't shot film in years.

I'm not ready to ditch my shelf full of Nikons, but I'm definitely ready to add a Panasonic.

The LUMIX DMC-G1 is the world’s first Micro Four Thirds system camera. Panasonic says it's the world’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens camera system, with the body and standard "kit" lens weighing about 20 ounces. It fills an important middle ground between my big and small Nikons, offering the quality and versatility of an SLR in a much smaller package, and has a bigger display than either of them.

Based on the new Micro Four Thirds System standard, the LUMIX G1 eliminates the internal mirror structure that's used in other single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, and so it reduces the size and weight by nearly half.

With the mirror-less system, the G1’s distance between the lens mount and the image sensor, has been reduced from 40 mm –- as specified in the Four Thirds System –- to approximately 20 mm.

The G1's Full-time Live View lets you see in the LCD screen how adjusting the exposure, white balance, aperture and even the shutter speed will affect the photo. This kind of super-easy live view shooting has never before been possible with a conventional digital SLR camera.

Intelligent Auto mode activates six detection and compensation functions that work automatically, leaving you free to just aim and shoot.
  • Shake detection - MEGA O.I.S. Helps prevent blurring when the camera shakes.
  • Motion detection - Intelligent ISO Control Helps prevent blur caused by subject motion.
  • Light detection - Intelligent Exposure Adjusts the brightness of dark areas in the image.
  • Advanced Face - Detection Face Detection AF/AE Helps deliver clear portraits.
  • Scene detection - Intelligent Scene Selector Selects the optimal scene mode for the situation.
  • Subject detection - AF Tracking follows moving subjects and adjusts accordingly.

  • The 3.0-inch free-angle LCD with high 460,000-dot resolution 180° horizontally and 270° vertically, making it easy for you to capture dynamic shots from extreme angles without getting into an awkward position. And when the lighting around you changes, the LCD backlighting level automatically changes too, so you get comfortable, easy-on-the-eyes viewing at all times.

    In My Color mode you can freely adjust the color, brightness and saturation of an image, while checking it with Full-time Live View. This gives you the power to control how your image will look. You can even make dramatic color changes.

    Film mode lets you capture photos with a special mood or expressiveness. Much like changing the film type in a film camera, you can get a wide range of expression based on six color modes and three monochromatic modes. When the multi-film mode is selected, you can record pictures having up to three different effects with each press of the shutter button.

    1920 x 1080-pixel HD (high-definition) photo recording. The G1 shoots wide-screen, 16:9, full-HD images. These images can be displayed on an HDTV, which handles about four times the data of a standard-definition TV.

    The camera has an HD output so it's easy to connect to an HDTV for high definition viewing. If your TV is HDMI compatible, a single HDMI mini cable is all you need. If you have a Panasonic VIERA HDTV, you can also operate the G1 with the VIERA remote control for even easier viewing.

    The image sensor has 13.1 total Megapixels. There's a Supersonic wave filter dust reduction system. Lens focal length is 14mm to 45mm. The 35mm film camera equivalent 28mm to 90mm, which I've always considered the ideal zoom range for most shooting.

    ISO Sensitivity can be selected for Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / Intelligent ISO. White Balance choices are: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1,2 / Color temperature setting

    The G1 should be available now. You can get a kit with the new LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S lens. Also available is the LUMIX G VARIO 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S.lens.

    The LUMIX G1 is also apparently the world’s first interchangeable lens camera with color choices, just like some Panasonic phone models. You can choose basic black, electric blue or bloody red models.

    For current Four Thirds users with a collection of lenses, an optional mount adapter will allow Four Thirds lenses to be compatible with the LUMIX G1.

    Panasonic is also offering a wide-variety of accessories including: External Flash DMW-FL220(GN22); PL Filter: DMW-LPL52; Mount Adapter: DMW-MA1; Battery Pack: DMW-BLB13; DC Cable: DMW-DCC3; Soft Case: DMW-CG1; Soft Bag: DMW-BAG1; Shoulder Strap (Stylish) DMW-SSTG1-A/C/R; Shoulder Strap (Woven) DMW-SSTG2-W; Shoulder Strap (Leather) DMW-SSTG3-T.

    Suggested retail price for the LUMIX GMX-G1R is $799.95.
    This is a preview, not a review.

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