Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Panasonic GH1.jpg
Panasonic DMC-GH1K
Type Micro Four Thirds System
Sensor 17.3 × 13 mm Live MOS (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
Maximum resolution 4000×3000 (14.0 megapixels multi-aspect; 12.1 mp effective); 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 image format
Lens Micro Four Thirds System mount
Flash Built-in pop up, TTL, GN 10.5m equivalent (ISO100 · m)
Shutter speed range 60–1/4000 sec
Exposure metering Intelligent Multiple (Center weighted, average and spot)
Exposure modes Manual, Program, Automatic, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority
Focus modes Automatic or Manual
Viewfinder EVF color display, 100% field of view, 0.7x (35mm equiv), 1.4x magnification, with 1,440K dots equivalent; LCD or articulated multi-angle 3.0 inch color LCD (460,000 dots equivalent)
ASA/ISO range ISO 100–3200
Flash bracketing ±3.0 EV in ⅓ EV steps 3,5,7 frames* • 1/3 or 2/3 , +/−2.0 EV steps
Custom WB custom modes
Storage SD, SDHC
Battery Li-Ion 7.2 V, 1250 mAh
Weight body+battery 385 g; 14–140 mm zoom lens 480 g

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is a digital mirrorless interchangeable lens camera adhering to the Olympus and Panasonic developed Micro Four Thirds System (MFT) system design standard.[1] Panasonic classified the GH1 as a hybrid stills/video camera and the GH1 was introduced and marketed as a higher end camera than Panasonic's first MFT camera, the stills only, non-video capable Lumix DMC-G1.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 was the second MFT camera introduced under the MFT design standard and the first MFT camera to include HD video recording capability. The GH1 was announced at the April 2009 Photo Marketing Association Annual Convention and Trade Show.

The camera was used to create the first DSLR feature film, "Rejouer" by Liam Finn. [2] [3] As part of the marketing of this camera, Panasonic sponsored some professional filmmakers by allowing them to borrow the GH1 camera for their projects. One such GH1 model camera was used to film the pilot of the Swedish Horror Film Marianne .[4]


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Features

Upon its announcement introduction in March 2009,[5] the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 was marketed as a "Creative HD Hybrid" camera, Panasonic's top-of-the-line Micro Four Thirds (MFT) system camera, and fully compliant with the MFT system standard. The resulting GH1 camera was a remarkably small and lightweight interchangeable lens camera, with an electronic viewfinder, designed not only to take still photos, but perhaps even more importantly a fully HD video capable camera.

At first glance, the GH1 appeared to be just a video capable version of the world's first MFT system camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, first introduced in September 2008.[6] In fact, there were many distinguishing features that made the GH1 a unique, and perhaps even a ground breaking product. A new multi-aspect image ratio sensor, full AVCHD HD video capability, stereo sound recording, dual CPU image processing, and a purpose built super zoom lens were all packaged into a small, lightweight DSLR form factor, but without the bulky mirror box and pentaprism.

Multi-Aspect Ratio Sensor

The HD video capable GH1 was designed around a unique 14.0 megapixel (12.1 megapixel effective) Live MOS sensor.[7] The 14 megapixel multi-aspect image ratio GH1 sensor was designed to cover a slightly larger image circle than the native 4:3 image aspect ratio of its 12.1 megapixel cousin in the G1. This means that the GH1 14 megapixel sensor was capable of recording full 12.1 megapixel images in user selectable, native aspect ratios of 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 with no cropping. This also meant that the HD video was a true 16:9 native image, and not a cropped portion of 4:3 HD video. As of mid-2011, this multi-aspect ratio four thirds sensor design was unique to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 and its successor Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 hybrid still/video camera.[8] All other MFT system cameras, whether produced by Olympus or Panasonic use a single aspect image ratio sensor.[9]

Panasonic first pioneered the concept of a multi aspect ratio image sensor in its compact camera, the 2008 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 which used a much smaller 1/1.63" CCD technology sensor.[10]

True HD Video AVCHD Recording

In full compliance with the MFT system design standard, the GH1 was designed from the ground up to be capable of AVCHD recording in true HD 1080p at 24 frame/s or 720p at 60 frame/s high-definition videos with continuous autofocus (AF) and Dolby Digital stereo sound recording. The GH1 was also the first consumer-priced interchangeable lens camera to also offer continuous autofocus capability while shooting HD video. While capable of recording in AVCHD, the GH1 can also record in more popular Motion JPEG formats at a maximum resolution of 720p at 30 frame/s. AVCHD is a file based (non-magnetic tape) format for recording and playback of HD video, jointly developed by Sony and Panasonic in 2006[11] for HD recording. All still or video/sound recording is to a SD or SDHC memory card. The user is also able to manually select shutter speed and aperture openings for more creative control over HD video recording.[12] Dolby Digital stereo sound is recorded via a stereo microphone, with a wind blocking feature to reduce background wind noise, built into the camera. More capable, optional external stereo microphones may also be fitted to the camera.[12]

In the United States, the HD video recording length is limited to the capacity of the memory card (or the battery life, unless the AC power adapter is used). File sizes are no larger than 4 GB due to the SDHC file allocation table limits, but the video will be seamless between files. In Europe, however, the HD video recording length is limited to 30 minutes, due to EU regulatory and tax reasons.[13]

Dual CPU Engine

HD video is extremely data intensive, and Panasonic designed the GH1 around a dual CPU image processing system named the "Venus Engine HD".[12] This dual CPU greatly speeds up HD image processing and offers a number of other advantages, including improved image noise reduction performance, ability to display a live view direct from the sensor for either the fully articulated LCD display on the camera back or the high resolution electronic view finder, a very fast contrast detect auto focus system, and even the ability to output both images and sound via HDMI directly from the camera.[12]

The camera has a dedicated video button and a stereo microphone, features not present on then contemporary competing video-capable DSLRs.[14]

The dual processor Venus Engine HD also allows perhaps the fastest contrast detect autofocus marketed at the time, as well as implementation of a live view electronic viewfinder with DSLR like functionality, but without the penalty of a complex and bulky mirror box and pentaprism.[15] A 23 area or user-selectable single point focusing system and face detection are additional features offered by the increased processing power.

Contrast Detect Auto Focus with Face Recognition

Traditional digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs), typified by Canon EOS or Nikon FX or DX offerings use Phase Detect Auto Focus (PDAF) systems. PDAF are typically very fast and responsive systems. When used in Live view mode, especially for video, traditional DSLR's must rely on direct output from the main image sensor in order to autofocus. Relying strictly on the sensor output to autofocus is called Contrast Detect Auto Focus(CDAF). CDAF as implemented in traditional DSLR's is so slow as to be almost unusable for all but non-moving objects.[15]

The GH1 lacks a separate PDAF sensor and relies solely on CDAF to autofocus. Designed from ground up as a live view, CDAF camera, and not as an "add on" auto focus system for a primarily PDAF centric camera, the GH1 CDAF system breaks new ground. In combination with the dual processor Venus Engine HD, the GH1 CDAF system is easily as fast any traditional PDAF DSLR in the same price range.[15] In combination with other features, including a 23 area AF, user selectable single AF point anywhere in the frame, subject tracking AF and facial recognition AF, the GH1 offered the fastest and most comprehensive CDAF system available at the time in a consumer camera, on par in most performance areas with similar entry level DSLRs.[16]

When taking still photos, the GH1's Contrast Detect Auto Focus (CDAF) performance is comparable to the phase-detect autofocus systems in similarly priced DSLR systems.[17]

HD video mode also uses this purpose-designed contrast-detect AF system, making the GH1 the only DSLR type camera at the time available to offer continuous autofocusing while shooting video.

Newly introduced for Panasonic MFT cameras was "Face Detection", a facial recognition technology. The GH1 implementation of Face Detection was an improvement of the concept first introduced in 2007 on the high end Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 Four Thirds (not Micro Four Thirds) DSLR camera.[18][19] Th GH1 allows the user to memorize two different faces. When a face is recognized, the camera will automatically prioritize focus on that face in both still and video recording modes.

High Resolution Electronic Viewfinder

The GH1 uses a high resolution (1.44 million dots) electronic viewfinder (EVF),[20] a sophisticated projection system to achieve a clearer, smoother display than that of compact camera EVFs. The high resolution electronic viewfinder uses a technology known as LCOS, the same technology used in Panasonic's professional high end video cameras, and is supposed to be capable of much higher resolution than either LCD or plasma display technologies. As implemented in the GH1, the effect is 60 frame/s full time live view with no visible pixels for an image as large or larger, and brighter than competing optical viewfinders using a mirror box and pentaprism than most prosumer DSLR's.[21]

The EVF has a high enough resolution view that manual focusing is possible. Unlike traditional optical viewfinders which may use a ground glass focusing screen, the GH1 EVF takes a small portion of the scene and magnifies it 10X. This magnified portion may be moved around to any section of the live view. In manual focus mode, touching the lens focus ring will immediately turn on the magnification for manual focusing.

The MFT system standard specifies the lens mount flange to image sensor plane distance (flange focal distance) as 20mm, which is less than half that of typical DSLRs.[7] The effect is that the GH1 body is smaller in every critical dimension, especially depth, and is also lighter weight when compared to a typical DSLR. This 20mm flange to image sensor distance prohibits the practical implementation of the traditional mirror box and pentaprism optical viewfinder of the typical DSLR. The Panasonic electronic viewfinder is the solution to that packaging issue.

With an electronic viewfinder, in addition to providing a clear brighter than DSLR view, the user can also select between a variety of image aspect ratios (4:3; 3:2; 16:9 and 1:1) looking through the lens in live view, something impossible with the traditional DSLR optical viewfinder.

The EVF allows additional flexibility is in information and situational awareness. The user may select various overlays so that more than 20 pieces of critical information are available at a glance to the user without removing the eye from the electronic viewfinder. For example, flash setting, optical image stabilization mode (there are 3), drive mode (single, burst, bracket, timer), image aspect ratio, image quality (RAW, JPEG or both), exposure indicator, ISO speed, shutter speed, aperture, record mode, white balance, composition grid lines, histogram, etc. are just some of the available pieces of information in the EVF, all without ever having to move the eye from the viewfinder.

The EVF live view mode also allows a preview of the actual exposure in manual mode. The user can adjust shutter speed and aperture in manual mode and see the actual effect on the recorded exposure in the EVF. In addition to the usual depth of field preview, the GH1 allows a unique shutter speed effect preview, giving the user a fairly accurate preview of the finished image blurring when using a slow shutter speed.

In low light, the EVF has another advantage, in that it can brighten up the scene, allowing the user to see more detail than might typically be possible with a traditional optical viewfinder, the same way TV broadcasts of sporting events at twilight show much more color and detail than human eye can see.

The EVF has some disadvantages, however. In extremely low light at the sensor limits, image quality degrades into a grainy, and often lagging image. It should be noted that at such low light levels, optical viewfinders become equally difficult to use. With the EVF being an electronic display, the GH1 uses considerably more battery power than the traditional DSLR, requiring more frequent battery changes. In burst mode, when the main image sensor must pull double duty recording the image and also feeding a live view to the EVF, image lag may become apparent,and it can be difficult to follow a fast moving object in the viewfinder. As a result, the GH1, as are all current EVF centric MFT cameras, is not a strong action sports camera.

Virtually all the functionality of the EVF is available on the articulated 3-inch (76 mm) LCD display panel on the back of the camera. The EVF also has an eye sensor, so that the EVF will turn on almost instantaneously, switching off the LCD panel when the eye is brought up the EVF.


Complimenting the GH1 is a purpose built video optimized "kit" super zoom lens, the HD video-optimized LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S. lens. This optical image stabilized (Panasonic brand name "MEGA O.I.S") is video unique because it is near silent in operation, designed with a silent internal direct-drive linear motor for fast and continuous accurate contrast detect auto focusing, and a silent, step-less circular aperture diaphragm. The 14-140mm lens is a 35mm camera equivalent focal length of 28mm wide-angle to a 280mm telephoto with manual zoom control

Body Colors and MSRP

The camera was available in three colors — black (suffix K), red (R) and gold (N). In the United States, initial MSRP was USD 1500.00 (June 2009) for both the camera body and the 14-140mm kit zoom lens. Later on in the GH1 sales life cycle, the GH1 body only price was USD 700.00 and the 14-140mm zoom lens only price was USD 850.00

Successor Model

The GH1 camera's successor model is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 which was announced in September 2010.

Firmware Updates

Panasonic Releases

Panasonic has released the following firmware updates[22]


Non-Panasonic authored hacks have been developed and posted on the Internet. The unauthorized hacks primarily enhance video capabilities of the GH1, enabling faster bit rates and more flexibility for the independent film maker. Reportedly, the hacks do not enhance the stills side of the camera, although the hacker has said there is always the possibility that a future hack could work on stills capability[23].

Panasonic has not endorsed the hacks, and certain firmware releases from Panasonic, notably 1.3, made the camera unhackable, that is, until about May 2011, when another hack was developed to get around the Panasonic version 1.3x.

The hacks are not for the faint of heart. An incorrect application of the hack can "brick" the camera, rendering the camera totally inoperative. There have been anecdotal reports from Panasonic of hacked cameras being returned with "fried" CPU's.[citation needed]

Recording Formats

Still Photography Formats

AVCHD Format (.MTS files)

M-JPEG Format (.MOV files)

Micro Four Thirds Camera Introduction Roadmap

Item Model Sensor Electronic View Finder (EVF) Announced
1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effective) EVF; 1.4x magnification; 1.44K dots 2008, October [24]
2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 4:3; 3:2; 16:9 (multi-aspect); 14.0 mp (12.1 mp effect) EVF; 1.4x mag; 1.44K dots 2009, April [25]
3 Olympus PEN E-P1 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) optional hotshoe optical VF-1; 65 degree AOV 2009, July [26]
4 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF LVF1; 1.04x mag; 202K dots 2009, September [27]
5 Olympus PEN E-P2 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2009, November [28]
6 Olympus PEN E-PL1 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2010, February [29]
7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effect) EVF; 1.04x magnification; 202K dots 2010, March [30]
8 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effect) EVF; 1.4x mag; 1.44K dots 2010, March [31]
9 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 4:3; 3:2; 16:9 (multi-aspect); 18.3 mp (16.0 mp effect) EVF; 1.42x mag; 1.53K dots 2010, September [32]
10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF; 1.04x mag; 202K dots 2010, November [33]
11 Olympus PEN E-PL1s 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2010, November [34]
12 Olympus PEN E-PL2 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2011, January [35]
13 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 4:3 / 16.6 mp (15.8 mp effect) EVF; 1.4x mag; 1.44K dots 2011, May [36]
14 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.1 mp effect) N/A 2011, June [37]
15 Olympus PEN E-P3 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2011, June[38]
16 Olympus PEN E-PL3 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2011, June[39]
17 Olympus PEN E-PM1 4:3 / 13.1 mp (12.3 mp effect) opt hotshoe EVF VF-2; 1.15x mag; 1.44K dots 2011, June[40]


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  14. ^ "Panasonic DMC-GH1 brief hands-on". Digital Photography Review. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 11 March 2009. 
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  17. ^ "Panasonic DMC-GH1 Review Page 12". 
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  29. ^ "Olympus unveils the affordable Pen". Digital Photography Review. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
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External links

Media related to Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 at Wikimedia Commons

Preceded by
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
Panasonic Micro Four Thirds System cameras
November 2008–present
Succeeded by
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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