Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

The Panasonic DMC-GH1 offers the ability to shoot movies in Full HD at 1080 or smooth HD at 60 frames per second at 720p with Panasonic’s AVCHD. According to Panasonic their format enables users to shoot for longer because AVCHD takes up less memory than Motion JPEG format while remaining clear and detailed. With Creative Movie Mode you can change settings mid-shoot to change the images with Aperture Control and Shutter speed with full manual control. Along with the ability to shoot movies you can record sound with the built-in Dolby Digital Stereo Creator microphone. This microphone features Wind Cut which minimizes the noise from background wind to get clearer sound. The DMC-GH1 has iA mode for those who want point-and-shoot ease. It detects the most suitable Scene, corrects blurring, focus, brightness and problems. This camera comes with a 3 inch LCD screen which can be rotated 180 degrees horizontally and 270 degrees vertically. Using Live View users can see how their image will look with their adjustments before taking the photo. Using the 12.1 megapixels this camera offers aspect ratios of 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. The GH1 uses the Micro Four Thirds System which removes the mirror and optical box making this camera smaller than most SLRs while maintaining image quality. This camera also comes with a mini-HDMI port that will allow you to hook up your camera to a Panasonic VIERA HDTV to view your images and movies on the big screen.

Features List:

– Full HD Movie filming

– 60p 720 smooth HD filming

– Creative Movie Mode

– Built-in Dolby Stereo microphone

– Wind Cut Function

– Intelligent Auto mode for point-n-shoot ease

– 3 inch LCD screen

– LCD screen can move 180 degrees vertically and 270 degrees horizontally

– 3 ratios avialable: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9

– 12.1 megapixels

– Micro Four Thirds System

– Mini-HDMI port

– Connects to Panasonic VIERA HDTVs

Memory card buying tips

Name Brand: Buying a name brand memory card can sometimes cost an extra few dollars, but along with the name comes a trustworthy company, a good warranty, a generous exchange policy and a reputation for stability – something that’s much more critical than it sounds.

Speed: Not all Flash Memory cards are created equal. Some are terribly slow and others are turbo charged for high-end digital photography. True high-speed Flash Memory cards will have their speed ratings prominently displayed, whether on the card itself, the product packaging or both. You’ll see ratings like 80X, 133X, 266X, or perhaps 8MB/second, 20MB/second or 40MB/second. If you don’t see this number, inquire with a sales rep. If they don’t know or if the manufacturer hides this info, don’t buy the card. Look for a card that has at least a 9MB/second or 60X rating. Why is this speed important? If you’re taking numerous photos in succession, you don’t want the camera to stop taking photos so it can slooowwly save the images to the memory card.

Storage capacity: There are many factors that affect how many photos you can store on a single card – how many “megapixels” the camera is rated for, whether you’ve selected highest-quality photo settings or if you’ve set your camera to take slightly smaller photos. For example, an 8 megapixel Canon point-and-shoot camera can fit around 2,200 high-quality photos on an 8GB Secure Digital card. By this standard, even a 1GB memory card could hold up to 275 high quality photos. A whopping 16GB card could hold nearly 4,400 pics! That’s a lot!

Flexibility and Options: SLR or Point-n-Shoot?

Lens Flexibility: Point-and-shoot cameras offer a wide variety of zoom lenses from the basic 3x up to 26x. If you’re thinking compact, you have many options, but we recommend starting out with a basic wide-angle view (28mm or so) then multiplying that to your heart’s content. A 24x model like the Nikon Coolpix P90 even offers 28-624mm options so you can take nice group shots and zoom into subjects you can barely recognize. There are many small cameras with wide focal ranges that are easily toted around-a huge plus for point-and-shoots.

Contrastingly, DSLRs are far from compact and typically are supplied with a 3x kit lens. From there you can go crazy, spending a small fortune on interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon, the two biggest DSLR sellers by far, each have over 65 to choose from. And these lenses use finer glass than point-and-shoots, adding to overall quality advantage of DSLRs. The downside is that they are much heavier, bulkier and require at least a backpack to lug everything around. Still, for the professional or prosumer, DSLR is the natural fit.

Options: Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer limited manual options for adjusting aperture (f/stops) and shutter speeds. Granted, the vast majority of amateur paparazzi out there couldn’t care less about this small range of potential adjustments, and will be perfectly happy firing away in Auto mode. But while DSLRs have Auto settings too, they also let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz by adjusting depth of field, blurring subjects and going wherever the creative muse takes you. If you’re looking to get more creative with photos, a DSLR is the right choice.

What Should I look for in an LCD Display?

Camera manufacturers market display size quite prominently because it’s easy to visualize, but other factors also come into play. Resolution (usually measured in the number of pixels, like 461K) will determine how clear the display looks, and brightness will help determine whether it gets washed out when shooting outdoors. An optical viewfinder makes a great backup when shooting with a less-than-ideal LCD.

LCD screens are measured diagonally and 2.5 inches is a common size. We prefer even larger ones, up to 3 inches. If your eyesight is a bit challenged, definitely look for a larger LCD. Screens are measured in pixels, just like image size. Again, the more pixels, the better the image you’ll see on screen.

Key differences between SLR and Point-n-shoot

Price: According to industry analysts, the vast majority of cameras sold go for less than $200. Making the leap to a DSLR will definitely set you back, but many shoppers obviously believe that the investment is well worth it.

Speed: Speed is the one of the most critical factors. If you’ve ever used a compact digicam, you know that these devices take time to focus and save images to memory cards. During these delays, you can easily miss a smiling face or a running child. To put things in perspective: Point-and-shoot digital cameras generally capture 1 frame per second, while most DSLRs take 3 frames per second or more, making them better suited for fast action shots or sporting events. The difference between snagging the perfect picture and missing it entirely is one of the biggest factors weighing heavily in DSLR cameras’ favor.

Image quality: Compact cameras use much smaller imaging devices. By cramming so many megapixels on a small chip, digital noise is a constant problem. In our reviews, we always recommend keeping the ISO (sensitivity) of a digicam at 400 or less. DSLRs have much larger APS-C sized imagers, meaning you’ll encounter less noise in low light situations and better picture quality overall. Using one, you can shoot in more dimly lit conditions without a flash with little image degradation. In addition, if huge prints are in your future-or extensive cropping-DSLRs should be in your sights.

Get our Top Stories delivered to your inbox: