Panasonic just announced its Lumix GH1 DSLR at PMA 2009. The GH1 is the successor to the G1 with the ability to record Full HD video in AVCHD format (MPEG4 in H.264)–that would be 1920 x 1080 at 24fps! You can also step down to 1280 x 720 at 60fps. For capturing fast-movement (children for example) the 720/60p would be the better choice. Like a camcorder the GH1 is capable of continuous autofocus in movie mode making use of its contrast-detect AF system and an all new Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm F4.0-5.8 lens. The Lumix G Vario HD lens feature the company’s OIS (Optical Image Stabilizer) and includes a silent and continuous auto-focusing and aperture adjustment functions–perfect for video capture. I wonder how quickly the autofocus system responds in video mode using the contrast-detect AF system. The reason why I ask is because Canon’s 5D Mark II seems to have slow autofocus capability using its contrast-detect AF system–manual focus is recommended.
According to Panasonic, the GH1 using the AVCHD format can record almost twice as long compared to Motion JPEG: a nice touch. The body, except for a few additions, is the same as that of the G1. The differences are minimal but significant: a dedicated video recording button, a built-in stereo microphone, video mode on the mode dial, external and HDMI external connections.
In addition, the image sensor in the GH1 is all new and different from the G1. The Live CMOS image sensor has a 14MP capability and is able to take pictures in four different aspect ratios: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9. You can also get the GH1 in three colors: black, red and gold. The Lumix GH1 from Panasonic seems to be a credible (and serious) threat to any DSLR starting from the smaller size, interchangeable lens, and 1080p HD video capture capability.
Currently, the G1 is going for $629.99 with the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 lens at Amazon. The GH1 will certainly be a bit more expensive than the G1, but let’s hope it isn’t too much more expensive. In contrast, Canon’s 5D Mark II (body only) is being sold for a hefty $2849.99 at Amazon. Of course, the 5D Mark II is a semi-professional DSLR with weatherproofing and a full frame CMOS sensor.