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First Look: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10
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First Look: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G10

4:33 /

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.

[ Music ] ^M00:00:01 >> Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, Senior Editor with CNET, and this is the Panasonic LUMIX DMCG10, Panasonic's entry level interchangeable lens model. LUMIX G10 is a moderately defeatured version of its big brother, the G2. Based around the same Micro Four Thirds standard 12 megapixel 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 entrylevel models. But the company also went with a lowresolution, lowmagnification EVF. When I first picked up the G10 to shoot, my initial response was [making noise]. Not only did it look coarse and small, but the eye cup felt uncomfortably rigid. I subsequently got used to it, and found it about adequate for manual focus, but 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 it's certainly better than nothing at all. Overall, the G10 has intelligently laid out easytounderstand controls that will likely be understood by anyone who's used a relatively sophisticated compact cameraoff 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 the earlier G1. I like the overall design, and it's solidly constructed and comfortable to grip and shoot, even onehanded with a heavyish lens. One of my least favorite changes between the G1 and its successors is the relocation of the SD slot from the grip to the battery compartment. Yes, it's a very common location in pointandshoots, and the Olympus ILC models, but it's annoying if you use a tripod, and it's awkward if you take the card out frequently. More than any other manufacturer, Panasonic's models retain a plethora of directaccess controls. You've got the focus mode options on a small dial at the top left of the body, while the drive modes are switchselectable on the top right. The mode dial contains the usual suspects, including a custom settings slot, which holds three sets. I do 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 to the G2. 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. The jog dial, which could really use a label for better discoverability, controls exposure compensation, aperture and shutter speed. The quick menu button brings up the interactive display for adjusting the most commonly used shooting settings, plus some not so frequently used ones. ISO sensitivity, white balance and auto focus mode all have dedicated buttons on the fourway navigation, while the fourth, the function button, can be programmed to directly pull up settings for film mode, aspect ratio quality, metering, intelligent resolution, et cetera. You rarely need to go into the menu system. But my one frustration with its design 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. Unsurprisingly, given its similar innards, the G10's photo quality is about the same as the G2's. Panasonic manages to produce exceptionally bright saturated colors without significantly shifting the hues. The [inaudible] has some distortion at its whitest, but not a lot. It's fairly sharp and only displays fringing on extreme conditions. There is almost no distortion for the telephoto lens at 40 millimeters. If Panasonic's performing in camera distortion control, it's doing a very good job. But the photos were also pretty noisy. Panasonic's aggressive default noise reduction can smear detail and introduce annoying patterns in JPEGs. Videos look reasonably good, though they use the inefficient motion JPEG codec, and it has a mono microphone. 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 touchscreens. How the G10 stacks up to its competition depends upon your priorities. It's the speed king with the best design for manuallyoriented shooters, but its image quality lags the field. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Panasonic LUMIX DMCG10.

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