According to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 brochures it's about time for a "New-Generation Digital Interchangeable Lens Camera" and this refers to the world's first micro-four-thirds camera, as well as our chance to verify if the "enormous photographic power in a palm-sized camera" is ready for the market.
The camera features a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor with a built-in self-cleaning sensor unit, a immensely improved electronic viewfinder, an eye-catching free-angle 3-inch LCD monitor with 460K dots and an advanced AF featuring Intelligent Auto Mode.
Furthermore, the camera is available in a range of three different colors - black, blue and red - which is already an indication for the intended target market. The camera is not meant as a replacement for a DSLR, but it's targets the "upgrade" segment of digicam users who want a little bit more from their camera without the size and weight constraints of a DSLR. According to Panasonic this market segment can grow to 20% (total) over the next few years and being the first is obviously a good idea.
The Panasonic DMC-G1 sells for around ~600€ with the dwarfish Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS, a lens with an average to good optical quality. (Lens review). A double lens kit with the Lumix G Vario 45-200mm f/4.5-5.6 OIS is also available for around 1000€.
Panasonic has announced 2 more lenses for June/July 2009 - the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm 4.0-5-8 OIS and the Vario 7-14mm f/4. At some later stage there'll be a 20mm f/1.7 prime lens. Conventional four-thirds lenses can be used via a adapter, but you will usually have to live without AF in this case, because only a handful of Olympus lenses support contrast AF. The most interesting candidates for an adapter solution are the Olympus 9-18mm f/4-5.6 and the expensive Leica Summilux 25mm f/1.4 as well as the Leica Vario 14-150mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS. The amount of other accessory items is fairly slim so it's an obvious conclusion that micro-four-thirds is still at the beginning of its era.
Let's start with Panasonics' key features:
4/3-type 12-megapixel Live MOS sensor
Full-time Live View
Venus Engine HD image processor
Advanced AF featuring iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode
Built-in dust reduction system (Supersonic Wave Filter)
Supplied with LUMIX G VARIO 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./MEGA O.I.S.
Available in a range of colors
... and if you want to play around with a virtual shadow of the camera ... here we go ...