Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 – First Micro Four Thirds Camera

2008 Photokina Mirrorless News Panasonic

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1At the beginning of August, Panasonic and Olympus made a joint announcement about Micro Four Thirds, a brand new camera standard. The goal of the new camera format is a smaller, lighter camera with changeable lenses, built around the Four Thirds digital SLR sensor. The smaller camera size is achieved by eliminating the mirror system used in all SLRs. I’m always interested in smaller, lighter pro-level camera gear that’s easy to travel with and I’ve been anxiously waiting to see the first Micro Four Thirds camera. On Friday, Panasonic introduced the first – the Lumix DMC-G1.

The 12.1-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 weighs less than a pound (0.85 lbs / 386 g), and by eliminating the SLR mirror system the body size has been considerably reduced. The camera dimensions are approximately 4.9 inches x 3.3 inches x 1.8 inches (124mm x 84mm x 45mm). Although the Panasonic press release says it’s half the size of a current DSLR, they’re comparing it to their Lumix DMC-L10. Compared to the world’s smallest DSLR, the Olympus E-420, it’s one third smaller and a few grams heavier. (Olympus E-420 body-only weight is 380 g / dimensions: 129.5mm x 91mm x 53mm) Given that the Micro Four Thirds lenses are also smaller and lighter, that should make for an exceptionally light and compact camera.

When the Micro Four Thirds format was announced (Micro Four Thirds announcement article), my biggest concern was the viewfinder system. Since the mirror is being eliminated, I was worried the camera might only have an LCD display. Thankfully, that is not the case. The G1 has a high resolution (1.44 million dot equivalent) Live View Finder EVF (electronic viewfinder). Performance of the EVF is yet to be seen, but it’s definitely the right choice for this camera. Shooting any kind of action with only an LCD is pretty much impossible. EVFs have had a bad rap because of poor resolution and slow refresh rates, making it hard to accurately time photos or track action. But If the resolution and refresh rate are good enough, this could mark the beginning of professional level EVF viewfinders.

Besides the EVF, the Panasonic Lumix G1 has a fully-articulated 3-inch LCD display (180 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically). Photographers stepping up from a compact digital camera will be able to compose and shoot with the LCD as they would with point-and-shoot digital cameras. The tilt/swivel LCD will be particularly useful for outdoor macro photos (i.e., flowers and bugs) and tabletop studio photography, making it easier to compose and focus when shooting at awkward angles.

Along with the G1, Panasonic also announced two Micro Four Thirds lenses – the Lumix G VARIO 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S kit lens and the Lumix G VARIO 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S.lens. Both lenses include Panasonic’s MEGA O.I.S. optical image stabilization system. Normal Four Thirds lenses from Olympus, Leica, and Sigma can also be mounted on the G1 with an optional adapter.

The camera also includes some of Panasonic’s latest innovative technology like Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Scene Selector, new Venus Engine HD image processing, and Quick AF. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 will be available in mid-November. Prices for the camera body, kit, and lenses haven’t been announced yet but should be published by the middle of October.

The Micro Four Thirds cameras may be the perfect compromise between point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras, making it possible to get pro-quality performance and image quality without the weight and bulk of a digital SLR. They’ll be a great option for people currently considering superzoom digital cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 or the Canon PowerShot S5 IS as well as an interesting alternative to premium compact cameras like Canon’s PowerShot G9 or Panasonic’s recently announced LX3. Outdoor and travel photographers like myself who need to pack small and light but don’t want to compromise on performance should also be interested in the G1 and the Micro Four Thirds system. Olympus should also be making a Micro Four Thirds camera announcement soon – hopefully at Photokina, next week. It will be interesting to see how their first Micro Four Thirds camera differs from the Panasonic G1.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Press Release >>

Related Content:
Original Micro Four Thirds Announcement Article
Panasonic Digital SLR User Reviews
All Panasonic User Reviews
Four Thirds Cameras Forum
Digital SLR Forum
More Panasonic News And Articles
Panasonic Cameras Web Site

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 - Blue
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 - Red
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 - Black
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 - Rear
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 - Swivel LCD

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • Jimson says:

    I’ve invested lots of cash in Oly 4/3 gear, so I’ll admit I cringed a bit when I read the press release on the new micro 4/3 format. My first thought was “crap, is all my gear going to become obselete overnight?”. But the more I think about it, the more I figure it’ll be a good thing! We have yet to see the performance of this new format (and I think the EVF is going to make or break it), but I for one would love to slap my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on a candy apple red Lumix G1 and take it for a spin…

    Panasonic reps: feel free to send an evaluation unit (red please!).

  • Sabine says:

    The only thing leaving me hesitant is the viewfinder….but if that works out, merry christmas to me.

    And its red!

  • Panasonic is coming out with some very nice features and i love this look of this new cameras look and smooth lines and the colour skeam looks nic ebut remember people need not make thier cameras so obvess . My self i all ways put my sameras too my side behind my back . I guess don,t show unless you are reeady . These days sad to say you never know when some one hungry may fly buy Snich snach goodbuy. Let wait too see the performance test shows. Thanks ken

  • Patia says:

    Ken, I also have mixed feelings about the “pretty” colors of the G1. I think it’s a beautiful camera, and I’m a sucker for red, but do we really want to call attention to our cameras? Both for reasons of theft and keeping a low-profile when shooting ….

    David Pogue of the NYT wrote about the G1 last week:

    But while he thinks the G1 sounds very promising, he said there are even smaller and better innovations coming along soon. “At the Photo Plus camera show in New York this week, Olympus is showing a Micro Four Thirds camera prototype that’s about the size of a bar of Ivory. With the lens detached, you could probably wedge it into a jeans pocket.” Apparently Olympus is also promising video on 2009 models.

    That’s the problem with technology. There’s always something newer and better just around the corner.

  • bobb says:

    I want one ‘coz it’s RED!

    Seriously, that’s what prevents me from a full-sized DSLR, if it’s too bulky, I’d just tempted to leave it home.

    As always though, I’ll exercise the law of personal eletronics, I’ll wait for version 2.x!

  • Prem says:

    Hi Frndz,

    Luckly got an oppertunity to have G1 in my hands just for 15-20 minutes.She is a beauty.And performs very well.
    I can’t put a review like a Pro.But,this is one real good camera one can be proud of.Colour n shape of the cam is much more appealing than what you see in the pictures here.I mean there is some x-factor in its overall look and performance.
    I can’t tell anything about Pic Quality coz I hav’t got a chance to preview it on PC.And I wonder how well it performs in bad light & at night with almost no light ! This is the only this that is of concern right now.

    And ofcourse …………….Price !!! It really IS a big concern.A much better drop in price for the double kit lens will make it a perfect cam which is really valuable.

    Personally I think G1 has all things you need in your cam.And I truely belive that G1 is an experimentation with LVF (i always hated the bulkiness of that mirror bok system) and ….in future Panasonic will go further for a full frame sensor camera with the same technology (ofcourse not with micro 4/3 lens).I mean a LVF – no mirror – small body -(may be a small lens too) & with a full frame !!! After handiling G1 I really dream of a Digital Camera like that.Not bulky ……Yet hulky performance wise.

  • steven says:

    i can’t decide between this, the Nikon d40, and the Pentax k200d.
    i like the pentax because it’s waterproof and because of the in-camera shake reduction…
    i like the D40 because of the great image quality
    and i lke the DMC G1 because of it’s size… obviously.
    i’m thinking of going with the G1 because the others are a bit big and i would leave it at home more often… i’m just concerned about the limited lens choises… although it doesn’t really bother me that much.

    the one real concern i have is the image quality. i’ve seen some samples and it doesn’t seem to have that good image quality. is it good image quality? i think mainly because of it’s size, it seems… puny.
    i’ve heard that for a tiny camera it packs a punch… but is it as good as the other cameras i’m looking at? in all of the reviews i’ve read, it talks about the size but barely even mentions the image quality. does anyone know about the sensor size? is it smaller because it’s a smaller camera? or is it the same size…
    help :S

  • Photo-John says:

    All three cameras will have excellent image quality. I don’t know what you’re shooting with now. But if you’re stepping up from a compact or an older digital SLR, any one of the cameras you’re looking at will be an improvement. Be careful about judging image quality based on what you see on the Internet. There are too many “pixel-peepers” who look at everything blown up to 100% on the computer monitor. This isn’t a real-world measure of image quality. The only way to really practically compare image quality is by making test prints ot comparing at output size (web images, prints, etc.). A 5-megapixel and a 10-megapixel camera might have the exact same noise level at 100% on the computer. But in a print, the higher-resolution camera will effectively eliminate that noise because the pixels will be smaller. In other words, one of the cameras you’re looking at may indeed have better image quality. But at a normal print size – 8×10 or 11×14 – they should all be very good in normal lighting and shooting conditions.

  • Prem says:

    Hi Steven,

    I’m also interested in G1 than the bulky SLRs.But for the time being G1 is very costly compared to D40x kit and D60 Kit.

    I had made a few test prints from some sample pictures put on I took some prints in a colour lab nearby.I think I could get very neat 6×8 prints in all ISO upto 1600 in full 4000×3000.Even ISO 3200 in same resolution shot on RAW and noise reduction done give no so bad prints (but its not extremely good enough).Again,6×4 prints are good at ISO3200.I think 8×10 upto ISO 800 is really good.
    And even the 8×10 at ISO1600 seems to have not much problem.But agian I’m not sure about the print sizes above these.But seeing the image quality of my print at ISO100 8×10,I guess ISOs upto 400 or may be 800 can be printed in

    NB: This is my personal experience n review.I’m not a pro.So take my comments in sense only.

    My personal opinion is that you & me both should wait a bit more till a lots of aunthentic reviews comes out about G1
    especially with the 45-90mm kit too.From what I have experienced from G1,I guess I’ll buy G1 only of the price is lowered and ofcouse 14-45 & 45-90 give a real good output with G1.

    But one thing I can assure u from my experince is that becoz of a much lager sensor ie,4/3 sensor,it gives a super image when compared to my brother’s
    Sony Cybershot T200
    I own this

    Cool! You know a lot of things others would love to know. Go ahead and write your own review and let the world know if you made a great choice!

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    Sony Cybershot T200 ,my cousin sis’s Canon SX10 IS & my own Panasonic TZ5 ……….and in some areas I think it gives good images than D40 & D40X.

    wait till you get a professional review/comment.

  • Photo-John says:

    Looks like your links didn’t work. That’s ok. We have user reviews here on They’re actually the foundation of this site. Here’s a link to the Panasonic Lumix G1 user review page:

    Read & Write Panasonic Lumix G1 User Reviews >>

    And we will be getting a G1 for review. I’m very much looking forward to trying it out for myself. So far, everything I’ve seen – inlcuding sample photos – make it look pretty good.

  • Prem says:

    Hi Frndz,

    Look at the test shots from this site (this site seems bit Cannon Biased )

    Any comments ????????



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