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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1: Micro Four Thirds gets HD video, we get a bit giddy

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 takes the G1's lightweight, interchangeable lens system and runs with it, adding the wonder of 1080p hi-def video. We're excited. Are you excited? We're excited

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 has kicked the doors down at the PMA camera show in Vegas today. The GH1 doesn't look too different from the G1, which has us excited from the get-go, as we always felt the G1 had unfulfilled potential. The GH1 takes a giant step forward with the addition of video, and glorious full high-definition video at that.

It's based on the Micro Four Thirds format, which packs a full-sized Four Thirds sensor into a body with a reduced lens mount for a smaller and lighter camera. Inside, there's a 12.1-megapixel high-speed CMOS sensor and a Venus Engine HD image processor, which packs two CPUs.

We've had the G1 in for a while, and it's won us over with its light weight, 76mm (3-inch) screen and sweet, sweet viewfinder. But we'd still hesitate to pony up 600 quid for a camera that didn't do video. The GH1 solves that problem in some style: it shoots 1080/24p video, or smooth 720/60p at the touch of a dedicated movie button.

Footage is saved in AVCHD format, sound is recorded in stereo, and, unlike the Nikon D90 dSLR, continuous autofocus can be used while recording movies. Still photo settings can be carried over to video shooting so you can, in theory, switch seamlessly from one to the other, while intelligent auto mode also takes care of things in video mode.

The GH1 debuts alongside a new lens, the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 with image stabilisation and a 35mm equivalent focal length of 28-280mm. Panasonic declares this 10x zoom lens was designed for movie recording thanks to a silent autofocusing function. You don't want a noisy lens ruining your mini-masterpiece, after all.