Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 (with 14-42mm lens)

(Part #: DMC-G10K) Released: May 28, 2010
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Fastest in its class thus far; well-built; intelligent design for enthusiasts, with lots of direct-access controls.

The Bad Mediocre EVF; no dedicated record button; overly noisy JPEG photos.

The Bottom Line How the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 stacks up to its competition depends upon your priorities: it's the speed king, with the best design for manually oriented shooters, but its image quality lags the field.

7.5 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Image quality 7.0

Panasonic's entry-level interchangeable-lens model, the Lumix DMC-G10, is a moderately de-featured version of its big brother, the G2. Based around the same Micro Four Thirds-standard sensor and lens mount, the G10 is a solid ILC model, but one that has a few weaknesses compared with similarly priced competitors.

The displays seem to be where Panasonic cut corners to get the G10's price down. It has a fixed, instead of articulated, LCD, though that's par for the course in the entry-level models. But the company also went with a low-resolution, low-magnification EVF. When I first picked up the G10 to shoot, my initial response was "what a horrible EVF." Not only did it look coarse and small, but the eye cup felt uncomfortably rigid. Though I subsequently got used to it, and found it just about adequate for manual focus, it's probably the worst of the interchangeable-lens models. Still it's better than some of the EVFs I've seen on megazoom cameras and certainly better than none at all. It also lacks an automatic sensor that toggles between the LCD and EVF when you bring the camera up to your eye, but I generally prefer manual control over that and tend to turn the off the sensor.

Overall, the G10 has intelligently laid out and easy-to-understand controls that will likely be understood by anyone who's used a relatively sophisticated compact camera (off Auto, of course). Though a few of the buttons and controls are different, the G10 uses basically the same body and layout as the G2 and earlier G1. I generally like the overall design and it's solidly constructed and comfortable to grip and shoot--even one-handed with a heavyish lens. One of my least favorite changes between the G1 and G10 (and G2) is the relocation of the SD slot from the grip to the battery compartment. Yes, it's a very common location in point-and-shoots (and the Olympus models), but it's annoying if you use a tripod and awkward if you take the card out frequently.

  Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS
17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm
Processing engine version Venus Engine HD II Venus Engine HD Venus Engine HD Venus Engine HD II Venus Engine HD
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Focal-length multiplier 2x 2x 2x 2x 2x
Continuous shooting 3.2fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3.2fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
Viewfinder
(effective magnification)
EVF
202,000 dots
0.52x
Optional EVF EVF
1,440,000 dots
0.7x
EVF
1,440,000 dots
0.7x
EVF
1,440,000 dots
0.7x
Autofocus 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF
Metering 144 zone 144 zone 144 zone 144 zone 144 zone
Shutter 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LCD 3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated touch screen
460,000 dots
3-inch articulated
460,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (max resolution at 30fps) 720p Motion JPEG MOV 720p AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG MOV None 720p AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG MOV 1080/60i AVCHD
Audio None None None Mic, headphone Mic, headphone
Battery life (CIPA rating) 380 shots 350 shots 300 shots 370 shots 300 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9 4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8
Weight (ounces) 13.9 12.2 15.1 13.1 15.2
Mfr. Price
$599.95 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$899.95 (with 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens) $799.95 (with 14-45mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$799.95 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$1,499.95 (with 14-140mm f4.0-5.8 lens)
n/a $899.95 (with 20mm f1.7 lens) n/a
n/a n/a

More than any other manufacturer, Panasonic's models retain a plethora of direct-access controls. The focus mode options (single, continuous, manual) sit on a small dial on the top left of the body; the drive modes (single, continuous, bracket, and timer) are switch-selectable on the top right. The mode dial contains the usual suspects: PASM, movie, custom settings (which holds three slots), a handful of scene modes, and a slot leading to the entire selection. As with the G2, it's a bit hard to decipher which settings can be saved, even with the help of the manual; for example, it seems like it won't save shutter speeds in still-photo modes, but it will in video mode. Though that's not uncommon, in my book it's aggravating and counterintuitive that you can save all the settings surrounding a shutter-priority mode except for the most important one: the shutter speed.

I really miss the dedicated movie record button that's on the G2, but otherwise the mode dial and drive mode options, as well as the dedicated Intelligent Auto button, are identical. You have less manual control during movie capture than with the G2--just a limited ability to change shutter speed, which requires a slog through the manual to find. You press the button labeled with aperture and garbage icons, which then brings up text that says "flicker red. cancel," at which point the scroll dial lets you choose a yellow-highlighted number from 50, 60, 100, and 120. I'd never have guessed that as the way to set shutter speed.

On the back is a smallish thumb rest. Above that are the jog dial and AE/AF lock button; the jog dial, which could really use a label for better discoverablity, controls exposure compensation, aperture, and shutter speed. Below the thumb rest sits the Quick menu button, which brings up the interactive display for adjusting the most commonly used shooting settings: flash, Film Mode, image stabilization, image/video quality and size, Intelligent Contrast/Resolution, AF mode (single, 23-area, tracking, and face detection), metering, shutter speed, exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity, and white balance. ISO sensitivity, white balance, and AF mode all have dedicated buttons on the four-way navigation, whereas the fourth, Fn, can be programmed to directly pull up settings for film mode, aspect ratio, quality, metering, Intelligent Resolution, Intelligent Exposure, extended zoom (a form of digital zoom), and guide lines.

You rarely need to go into the menu system, but my one frustration with its design is that instead of letting you create a custom menu of potentially frequently needed options, such as Format or monitor brightness, it simply lists the most recently accessed options.

  Olympus E-PL1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10 Samsung NX10
Sensor (effective resolution) 12.3-megapixel Live MOS 12.1-megapixel Live MOS 14.6-megapixel CMOS
17.3mm x 13mm 17.3mm x 13mm 23.4mm x 15.5mm (est)
Color depth n/a Venus Engine HD II n/a
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 6,400 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Focal-length multiplier 2x 2x 1.5x
Continuous shooting 3fps
n/a
3.2fps
unlimited JPEG/7 raw
3fps
10 JPEG/ 3 raw
Viewfinder
(effective magnification)
Optional plug-in articulating EVF
1,440,000 dots
0.58x
EVF
202,000 dots
0.52x
EVF
VGA/921,000 dots
0.86x
Autofocus 11-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF
Metering 324 area 144 zone 247 segment
Shutter 60-1/2000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes 60-1/4000 sec; bulb to 4 minutes 30-1/4000 sec.; bulb to 8 minutes
Flash Yes Yes Yes
LCD 2.7-inch fixed
230,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
614,000 dots
Image stabilization Sensor shift Optical Optical
Video (max resolution at 30fps) 720p Motion JPEG AVI 720p Motion JPEG MOV 720p H.264 MPEG-4
Audio I/O Mic None n/a
Battery life (CIPA rating) 290 shots 380 shots 400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.5 x 2.8 x 1.6 4.9 x 3.3 x 2.9 4.8 x 3.4 x 1.6
Weight (ounces) 12.4 13.9 14.5
Mfr. Price $499 (est) n/a
n/a
$599.99 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$599.95 (with 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens)
$699.99 (with 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 lens)

The G10 isn't big on novel capabilities. Like the G2, the most notable is the bracketing, which supports up to seven frames and two stops in either direction. As with its line mates, you can register up to six faces in the camera memory with names and birthdays, priority (for AF and exposure), and a custom focus icon. During playback, the person's name appears. However, you can't use this information to search during playback, and it doesn't seem to appear anywhere in the EXIF data for the photo. Panasonic's Intelligent Resolution feature sharpens distant details that its image processing would normally render kind of smeary. I found it kind of hit-or-miss; after testing in a variety of scenes in both the G2 and the G10, I only saw useful improvements in one set of shots.

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