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DanClark 08-03-2009 05:27 PM

Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
GH1 - The wave of the future? Read on...

For at the last year, I've wrestled with conflicting photo and video wants and needs. My Nikon D70 is a decent camera, but 's getting long in the tooth. My Canon HV30 is a decent video camera, but it's tape-based and tape capture is a hassle.

I've been dreaming about getting better still and video cameras with full digital workflow - like the Nikon D300 and D700, and Sony EX3 and Panasonic HPX300. But they range from a bit expensive (D300) to very expensive (EX3). But a big issue is size. All of these cameras are bigger that what I have now.

The other side of the "wrestling" coin is the size and fixed-purpose nature of these cameras - more and larger toys that I need to carry around and never seem to have when good pic-taking opportunity pops up. So I thought about getting a small, very portable P&S camera that takes decent pics and family videos. But these have LOTS of limitations.

Still with me so far? Where is this going? Read on...

In the last few weeks, I've been suffering from insomnia. Not the kind that prevents you from sleeping the first place. No, it's where you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. When that happens, I wander (stagger) into the office and browse the web for a while. Whilst browsing a few days ago...

I chanced on a article about the new Panasonic Lumix GH1 (Panasonic Lumix GH1 Review). Apparently the GH1 is the first USABLE convergence camera, with the ability to take high-quality 12MP still images AND high-def, 1080P video images.

http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/ph...na_gh1_mic.jpg

"Usable" in this context means that it functions well as a still camera and as a video camera. Some video cameras can take still images, but they typically lack flash systems, a wide range of reasonable cost lenses, and/or all the other critical components of a modern DSLR or digicam. Some still cameras can take videos, but their audio systems are non-existent/horrible, they lack a decent EVF swing-out LCD, the video is a marketing afterthought (i.e., mediocre), and/or the other critical components of a modern video camera.

The GH1 can do all of this do it pretty well. For $1,500 (list). In a size that's about 60% of a Nikon D300, which means that it's very portable.

In addition, it's a micro 4/3's camera. Initially, I wasn't impressed at this UNTIL I realized what that means A key benefit is that, using an adapter, you can use most of the lenses that have sold in the last 50 years. For still images? Not much of a benefit. For video? Massive!

And, the imager seems small until you realize that the it's LARGER than those in the 2/3" $30K pro cameras. Which means great depth of field control.

Perfect? No. It's a V1.0 camera. But it shows the way (IMO). You can get better stills with many of modern DSLRs. And you can get better video with higher-end video cameras. However, as a small, very flexible, relatively inexpensive camera, that can perform well as a video and still camera... It's the first available.

Regards,

Dan.

----
Samples:


Review of GH1 (Rating = "Highly Recommended"):
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Review: 1. Introduction: Digital Photography Review


GH1 Forums and Threads:
Panasonic GH1 - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking


Adapters:
http://docs.google.com
/Doc?id=dx428wg_10fdvsmtd7
Adapting Lenses to the GH1 - Repository of Info - Panasonic GH1 forum on Vimeo
The Lumix GH1 & Hot Rod PL Mount Adapter | CineTechnica

Okami 08-05-2009 03:33 AM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
That's cool Dan, are You getting one?

I have the D300, but would also like a video camera. My friend's sister has one, and takes it with her everywhere...she's always pulling it out to capture a funny moment:p
I like Panasonic brand (called National here in Japan) they are mostly good quality!
Cheers!
Okami

DanClark 08-05-2009 04:04 AM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Okami,

Not right now. As much as I'd love to...

My D70 and Canon HV30 video camera are both decent cameras. And I'm still working on the bathroom remodel. So I have a tough time rationalizing a new camera.

Combine that with the fact that the GH1 is essentially a V1.0 camera "ComboCam". It has a few "warts". For example, it appears that the AVCHD codec does not utilize "B" frames when shooting 1080P/24. So it has difficulty predicting fast motion and therefore produces "mud" in some circumstances. And it doesn't have an audio-out, monitoring plug.

My goal is to get a GH2 in a year or so. The bathroom should be finished and a new version of the GH1 will be available. Nikon, Canon, and Sony will probably have their act together and build some competitive cameras - thus driving down the price and improving the feature set.

When I read the Luminous Landscape article, I realized that a ComboCam like the GH1 was EXACTLY what I wanted. But buying one a year from now will be a much smarter move for me.

And of course, my wife will allow me to keep my male body-parts! (Which would be violently detached if I bought a GH1 now.) :D

Regards,

Dan.

JerryWork 08-05-2009 06:09 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Hi Dan and all,

When the G-1 (the non-video version came out a bit over a year ago) I was interested in the ability to use adapters to support my old Leica, Canon, Olympus and other great lenses so I purchased one to try. I set up a Leica digital SLR, a Canon 50d and this Pana G-1 side by side on tripods and shot the same scenes at the same time switching lenses as I could. I loaded the test shots on my computer and used my 24" monitor to view full sized images. I was stunned at the result as I could not see any difference between the images. The all metal FN mount Canon 50mm 1.4 produced stunning images on both the 50d with converter and the Pana G-1 with converter, actually a bit better even than the Leica 50mm 2.0 Summacron which was quite a surprise. But, the big surprise was that it and the Summacron both produce images only marginally better than the G-1 "kit" lens. That is likely a tribute to the Pana software engineers who have apparently used the very powerful in-camera processor to do some sophisticated lens correction on the RAW files.

Anyway, the bottom line is I sold the Leica DSLR (the 50d belongs to the Southern Oregon Guild) and now use the Pana G-1 for all my DSLR shooting. While the images are not that much better it is fun to mount the older all metal high quality lenses on this very small body and blast away. The Olympus 500mm F8 mirror tele turns into a very compact 1000mm f8 when mounted on this body. A Leica R 70 to 200 F4 becomes a high quality very useable 140 to 400 F4. But, the most fun for me is mounting an Olympus bellows unit with the exceptional 50mm Olympus dedicated macro lens and fire away at up to 10:1 magnification (on sensor image 10 times life size). Depth of field is almost non-existent at that magnification so you have to select subjects carefully but you can get some "knock your sox of" results.

I now also use the Pana G-1 and a variety of lenses for much of my art photography business and I can't see any difference in print quality (or sales for that matter) even when doing 16 x 20 or larger prints on the very unforgiving foil papers.

Jerry

bruegf 08-05-2009 06:15 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Dan,

I just purchased the G1 and the 2 kit lenses about 3 weeks ago. Its a sweet little camera. I don't care enough about video to pay the 2x premium for the GH1, but I'm very happy w/ the G1.

With the OIS lenses I've taken sharp photos down to 1/6 of second hand-held and have been pleasantly surprised at how clean photos are at 800 ISO.

Fred

MichaelKellough 08-05-2009 06:27 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JerryWork (Post 30250)
Hi Dan and all,

When the G-1 (the non-video version came out a bit over a year ago) I was interested in the ability to use adapters to support my old Leica, Canon, Olympus and other great lenses so I purchased one to try. I set up a Leica digital SLR, a Canon 50d and this Pana G-1 side by side on tripods and shot the same scenes at the same time switching lenses as I could. I loaded the test shots on my computer and used my 24" monitor to view full sized images. I was stunned at the result as I could not see any difference between the images. The all metal FN mount Canon 50mm 1.4 produced stunning images on both the 50d with converter and the Pana G-1 with converter, actually a bit better even than the Leica 50mm 2.0 Summacron which was quite a surprise. But, the big surprise was that it and the Summacron both produce images only marginally better than the G-1 "kit" lens. That is likely a tribute to the Pana software engineers who have apparently used the very powerful in-camera processor to do some sophisticated lens correction on the RAW files.

Anyway, the bottom line is I sold the Leica DSLR (the 50d belongs to the Southern Oregon Guild) and now use the Pana G-1 for all my DSLR shooting. While the images are not that much better it is fun to mount the older all metal high quality lenses on this very small body and blast away. The Olympus 500mm F8 mirror tele turns into a very compact 1000mm f8 when mounted on this body. A Leica R 70 to 200 F4 becomes a high quality very useable 140 to 400 F4. But, the most fun for me is mounting an Olympus bellows unit with the exceptional 50mm Olympus dedicated macro lens and fire away at up to 10:1 magnification (on sensor image 10 times life size). Depth of field is almost non-existent at that magnification so you have to select subjects carefully but you can get some "knock your sox of" results.

I now also use the Pana G-1 and a variety of lenses for much of my art photography business and I can't see any difference in print quality (or sales for that matter) even when doing 16 x 20 or larger prints on the very unforgiving foil papers.

Jerry

What is most surprising to me is that you judged the images from the smaller 4/3 sensor equal to the larger sensor cameras. It takes a lot of honesty and self discipline to overcome the idea that bigger is always better. :clapping1:

bruegf 08-05-2009 06:31 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Jerry,

Just for the fun of it try using the kit lens at its minimum focusing distance and then use 2x digital zoom. I dismissed this as a recipe for garbage the first time someone suggested it, but have seen results that astonished me as to how good the IQ was.

This is just the 45-200 kit lens at 200mm (400mm 35mm equivalent) wide open, hand held at 1/160 at 400 ISO, no digital zoom

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3461/...058ba35f_b.jpg

Fred

DanClark 08-05-2009 09:02 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
What amazes me about these cameras is that everyone sees them a little differently:

- Okami is looking at this as a potential video camera.

- Jerry sees this as a very good still camera with the ability to leverage a lot of great glass that he owns or to which he can get access.

- Fred sees this a still camera that takes very good pics. BTW, that's a very good pic. But... Effective 400mm at 1/160 and handheld? That's an EXCELLENT pic!

- For me, I see the GH1 as sort of a combo. It should be a good all-around camera for taking stills. And give me the ability to take kid-shots of my grandsons and then switch to video on the fly. And to be a good still/video travel camera. And to shoot some educational videos that I'm planning. And maybe, just maybe, shoot a video with artistic merit. Speaking of which...

Here's a video shot with a GH1: To get the full affect, watch it in HD on YouTube.

IMO, this is a very good clip from a guy (director/producer) with great potential. Considering it was shot on a little-bitty, prosumer grade camera... Simply amazing!

FYI, here are his comments about video and lighting equipment from this post: GH-1 Action Test: Quick and Dirty - DVXuser.com -- The online community for filmmaking
Quote:

1080/24 and 720/60 mixed together.
Glass Used: Zeiss 50/1.4, Vivitar 25/2.5, Kit Lens
Lights: 150w HMI, 85w 5500K CFL, available security lights. Just enough to actually get exposure, no real lighting or anything. Sorry.
It would be interesting to see what this fellow could accomplish with good sound and lighting equipment.

I see these little cameras - especially the GH1 - as a significant paradigm shift. Nikon, Canon, and Sony have nothing to worry about in the short term. But...

Many people (including me) will start wondering if it's worth it (to them) to buy an expensive DSLR. And then buy a video camera. When I saw the GH1, the "ah ha!" moment came. I quickly realized, "That's the kind of camera I want!"

I wonder what the landscape will look like in five years?

I almost forgot...

Yesterday, I stopped in a local camera store to check out the GH1. No luck. But they did have a G1. So I took a look.

The G1 is a very nice little camera. That's praise, not a slam. It felt good in my hands. Focusing was fast and accurate, and the viewfinder was much brighter than my Nikon D70's viewfinder. Shot to shot time was very fast. If I needed a still camera now and wasn't so interested in video, the G1 would be prime candidate for me.

Regards,

Dan.

p.s. I'd like to see Festool use something like this to create training and educational material.

bruegf 08-07-2009 12:55 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Hey Dan,

I assume you're the Dan Clark I saw over in the micro four thirds forum on dpreview. Not a bad forum, but I think it was better when the G1 was still in the Panasonic forum. The 4/3 forum has been pretty much taken over by the Oly EP-1 folks.

Fred

immunoboy 08-07-2009 04:13 PM

Re: Panasonic GH1 and The Benefits of Insomnia
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by DanClark (Post 30090)
GH1 - The wave of the future? Read on...

For at the last year, I've wrestled with conflicting photo and video wants and needs.

The other side of the "wrestling" coin is the size and fixed-purpose nature of these cameras - more and larger toys that I need to carry around and never seem to have when good pic-taking opportunity pops up. So I thought about getting a small, very portable P&S camera that takes decent pics and family videos. But these have LOTS of limitations.

Interesting thread Dan. We have been wrestling with some of the same issues. The family day trip with the two year old and all her stuff, plus the Canon DSLR bag with a few lenses and a video camera, is often just too much to carry. We actually went down the point-and-shoot path two months ago. The limitations you mention are often a real problem. I find myself wishing for my DSLR and a particular lens more often than I can count. HOWEVER, I am impressed with the convenience of a PS camera. On our last Sunday bike ride, we stopped and Sophia wanted to play with some caterpillars she found. They were not the best quality pics, but that small PS was able to capture the moment - stills and a short 1 min video.

Its nice to see a future choice for us that will combine the DSLR and the video camera but still let us continue to enjoy our lens collection. I have high hopes that some day soon my blackberry, mini-laptop, Garmin GPS, MP3 player, mobile high capacity hard drive and PS camera will all be one, well integrated device with good functionality for every use. One chord, one charger - yeah!


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