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Panasonic updates G1 with video

Panasonic's second hybrid camera adds HD video capture, filling a big hole in the feature set for the first model.

When I reviewed Panasonic's groundbreaking Lumix DMC-G1 hybrid camera, my biggest criticism about its features was its lack of movie capture; since Panasonic had announced it would ship a model this year which included the capability, it felt a bit premature to recommend that version. Well, next year is here, and so is the movie-capable version of that interchangeable-lens non-SLR camera, the Lumix DMC-GH1.

While technically the camera records 1080p HD video (1920x1080), that's at 24fps, which isn't quite as nice as 30fps; it drops to 1280x720 for 30fps 720p recording. It's also the first still camera to support AVCHD (though Panasonic announced the TS1earlier this year which uses a stripped-down version of the codec, AVCHD Lite). You can record to the capacity of the card. There's a stereo mic on top of the camera.

Bolstering the video capability is a revamped version of Panasonic's Venus Engine image processor, the Venus Engine HD, with dual processors to handle the extra data load. Panasonic simultaneously announced two new lenses, one of which (dubbed an "HD" lens) is designed specifically to support continuous and quiet autofocus while shooting video. The Lumix G Vario HD f4-5.8 14-140mm lens will ship in a kit with the GH1. You can control aperture and shutter speed during capture as well, and the company includes its Intelligent Auto capabilities in this mode.

The company also announced plans to release a 45mm f2.8 OIS macro lens and 20mm f1.7 later this year, as well as Micro Four Thirds adapter mounts from partners such as Leica.

I guess Panasonic didn't like the blue of the G1; this model comes in red, gold, and black. The company chose not to announce pricing and availability at this time; will update when I get them.