Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Digital Camera


In our tests, the DMC-G1 made a less-than-impressive showing. Test images looked dark, and the white balance--at least, when we used its automatic white-balance setting--was really off on a couple of shots. However, one of our test shots requires manual settings, and on that test the DMC-G1 performed much better (most cameras do). Its shots weren't extremely sharp, compared with competing SLRs. Its battery held out for 437 shots--not bad, but most SLRs reach (and surpass) our 500-shot test limit with ease.

The DMC-G1 has extensive exposure controls, of course--aperture- and shutter-priority as well as full manual--but it also has some more consumer-friendly controls, such as face detection, four scene modes, and a few interesting options under the standard shooting modes (for example, in Portrait mode, you can choose from Soft Skin, Outdoor, Indoor, and Creative).

A button on the top-right corner of the camera labeled Film Mode lets you choose dynamic, nature, smooth, nostalgic, vibrant, standard black and white, dynamic black and white, or smooth black and white. It allows for exposure bracketing and white-balance bracketing, but no focus bracketing or flash bracketing. It does have a very useful focus-tracking function: Just aim at your (moving) subject and press and release the shutter, and the camera will lock on to the subject as long as it remains in the viewfinder. When you see the shot you want, simply press the shutter again to take it. The camera lacks video-capture capability, as you'd find on point-and-shoot and advanced cameras (the Nikon D90 is the first DSLR to offer video capture).

I'm sure that the compromise that gives the DMC-G1 its smaller size and lower weight, at the expense of some capabilities, will be okay with some people, but considering the $800 price tag, I'm not impressed. For that kind of money, I could get a pretty darn good true SLR--for example, a , a , or a . Though the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 mimics an SLR in many ways, it strikes me as more comparable to a camera like , albeit one with interchangeable lenses. Furthermore, the lack of available lenses (for now) makes the distinction between those two models smaller than you might imagine.