Panasonic Debuts Micro Four-Thirds Camera

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Panasonic has taken the wraps off its Lumix G1 digital camera, which claims to be the first commercially available camera to use Micro Four Thirds technology. The idea behind Micro Four Thirds is that it gets rid of the internal mirror in traditional SLR and DSLR cameras, creating a system that can get the same image quality in about half the physical space. The result should be cameras that can deliver the quality and power of DSLRs—in part by opening up the world of interchangeable lenses—without being big bulky beasts.

"With the LUMIX G1, we are filling a void that has existed for a long time in the digital camera market, because consumers wanted the power of an SLR, but previous models were bulky and inconvenient," said Panasonic national marketing manager David Briganti, in a statement. "The Lumix G answers this challenge as consumers can benefit from the flexibility of changing lenses; a quick Auto Focus; and a sensor that produces high-quality photos. By packing all those powerful assets into an extremely compact body with easy-to-use features familiar to point-and-shoot users, we are excited about G, as it brings new possibilities to the consumer."

The Lumix G1 will offer a 12.1 megapixel resolution and a live preview LCD that can pivot and swivel away from the camera for angled shots. The G1 will also sport a new contrast autofocus that enables users to choose from a range of autofocus modes ranging from 1 to up to 23 focus areas; the camera will also offer face detection (15 faces) and autofocus tracking for moving subjects, and a Quick AF function for focussing when the camera is aimed, rather than having to push the shutter halfway down. The Lumix G1 will also sport a HDMI output for connecting to HD displays. And, perhaps best of all, it’s about 25 percent smaller than a typical DSLR camera, and weighs just 385 grams—about 13.5 ounces.

The Lumix G1 will go on sale in Japan October 31, and will hit the North American market in mid-November as a kit with the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm/ƒ3.5–5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S lens. Pricing for the U.S. hasn’t been announced, but in Japan the Lumix G1 will go for ¥90,000, or about $840. The G1 will be available with red, blue, and black bodies.

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