Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 hands-on: Eye-popping video, eye-watering price

Panasonic has officially launched and priced the video-shooting GH1 Micro Four Thirds camera. We had a play with it, and it's ace. Sadly the only way we could afford it is if we married an aging oil millionaire

After it debuted at PMA back in March, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 camera has now been officially announced for release in the UK in June. We got our hands on the second entry to Panasonic's G-series, and you can colour us impressed -- but, of course, there's a catch. There's always a catch.

The GH1 may look pretty similar to the G1, but under the hood there are assorted new features. The headline feature is high definition video recording at 1080/ 24p video, or smooth 720/ 60p.

Other video-shooting dSLRs have tended to have certain pieces of the video puzzle missing, but the GH1 provides one of the most complete video experiences we've seen. Sound is recorded in stereo, and there's even a mic input. There's a dedicated video button, so you don't have to hunt through menus to start filming. The camera can continuously autofocus as you shoot, unlike dSLRs limited to manual focus adjustment in videos. And Panasonic has thought through lens design with a silent autofocus motor in the 10x zoom kit lens, so you don't get a whirring noise in your videos.

Of course, the GH1 isn't an SLR, because it is built on the Micro Four Thirds standard, omitting the mirror mechanism that adds bulk to a dSLR body. That's the secret of its reduced dimensions, and it really is just as light as the G1. It features the same flip-out 76mm (3-inch) screen and another excellent electronic viewfinder.

So what's the catch? You guessed it: the price. With the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm kit lens, the GH1 will set you back an eye-watering £1,300. Do what?! As much as we enjoyed using the GH1, it'd be a while before we could afford one on a Craver's salary* -- the only people who could afford that are bank presidents and maybe MPs. At those prices, it'll be a while before the GH1 takes a bite out of the superzoom and entry-level dSLR markets. Still, with Olympus set to debut a Micro Four Thirds camera in mid-June, things are about to hot up.

If you haven't been put off by that towering price tag, check below for our hands-on video from the launch and read our full Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 review.

*£24.55 per month, the occasional slap in the face and all the penny sweets we can eat.