With one exception, the G10 ranks as the fastest camera in its class thus far, though it still can't match competing dSLRs like the Pentax K-x. It wakes and shoots in a zippy 0.7 second. Time to focus and shoot in good light is 0.5 second, a hair behind the Sony NEX-5's 0.4-second speed; in dim light, it matches the rest of Panasonic's crew at a relatively zippy 0.6 second. It takes about 0.7 second for two sequential shots, regardless of file format (raw or JPEG), and flash recycling brings that up to a full second. Its 3fps burst speed matches the G2 and sits in the middle of a fairly tight pack, but that just means that you've got a slightly better change of accidentally getting the shot.
With the G1 and G10 announcements, Panasonic also introduced a new kit lens. It has a slightly shorter range of 14-42mm (28-84mm equivalent) compared with the older model's 14-45mm range, but it retains most of the same optical characteristics: 12 lens elements in nine groups with a single aspherical element, f3.5-5.6 maximum aperture, 7-blade aperture, 52mm filter, and closest focus distance of about a foot. It's a hair longer physically--2.39 inches compared with 2.36 for the older 14-42mm, but about an ounce lighter.
Notably different, though: the 14-42mm lens uses an internal focus (the lens doesn't extend as you zoom, instead shifting the lens elements within the barrel). An internal focus system can be quieter than a standard focus system, which is important when shooting video; however, this lens isn't as quiet as the video-optimized and expensive 14-140mm lens that ships on the GH1. Panasonic also dropped the stabilizer switch on the barrel of the lens.
The two lenses I shot--the 14-42mm kit lens and the 46-200mm supplementary telephoto--are pretty nice. The kit lens has some distortion at its widest, but not a lot, is fairly sharp, and only displays fringing in extreme conditions. There's almost no distortion for the telephoto lens at 40mm; if Panasonic's performing in-camera control, it's doing a very good job. (The distortion samples, shot with the G2, are.)
Unsurprisingly, given its similar innards, the G10's photo quality is about the same as the G2's. It delivers accurate color and exposures, even on its defaults. Though several of the preset options do induce some color shifts, they're not as egregious as I've seen on many consumer dSLRs. Panasonic manages to produce exceptionally bright, saturated colors without significantly shifting the hues.
But the photos are also pretty noisy. Panasonic's aggressive default noise reduction can smear detail in JPEGs as low as ISO 200. The camera simply has a poorer noise profile than most of its competitors. At ISO 100, the default settings don't introduce artifacts as they do at higher ISO sensitivities. They have cleaner edges and lack noise patterns. I was able to get significantly better results by processing the raw files instead. Videos look reasonably good, though they use the inefficient Motion JPEG codec and a mono mic.
The $200 price difference between the G2 and G10 will probably shrink as the months go on, and I think it's worth paying a little extra for the better EVF, articulated display, and better video capabilities of the G2, even if you're not into touch screens. 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.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)