Panasonic DMC-G1 - Review / Test Report - Applications
DSLR Reviews - DSLRs

The following section is organized by the variety of photographic scenarios LANDSCAPE, MACRO, NIGHT, PORTRAIT and SPORTS photography.

Nature Photography

The Panasonic DMC G1 could provide pretty much everything you need for outdoor photography. 643g including the kit lens and a proven dust removal system, a dream for almost all backpackers who try to minimize the weight and bulk of gear carried, but this is already where the dream ends.

As of the time of this review Panasonic's lens portfolio lists just one "landscape"-related lens, the LUMIX G VARIO 7-14mm / F4.0 ASPH, but leastwise Panasonic offers a mount adapter (DMW-MA1), which allows mounting a regular four-thirds system lens on the DMC-G1.
In addition, the battery manages only up to ~330 shots, which is pretty inexpedient in regions without reliable power supply. The small number of shots originate in the power consumption of the electronic viewfinder. Finally, the Panasonic G1 has no body sealing, which is nothing special in this class.
Nevertheless, beginners should be sufficient equipped for outdoor photography with the double lens kit, including the Panasonic Lumix G 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH OIS and the Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 O.

Macro Photography

Basically the Panasonic G1, with its articulating display, is very suitable for macro photography, as low level shots are easily possible. Especially the possibility to zoom in up to 10 times, even during viewfinder mode, is blessing for macro photography.

Unfortunately the micro four-thirds system doesn't offer any macro lenses yet, however in combination with the mount adapter DMW-MA1, dedicated four-thirds macro lenses, like the Olympus 35mm f/3.5 or the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 can be used (without AF). This is of course just a workaround, as the mentioned lenses doesn't support the contrast AF of the G1 and can be focused manually only.

The available ring- or twin-flashes show the same situation. Panasonic doesn't offer flash equipment for macro photography, but at least Olympus does. At least the wired remote Panasonic DMW-RSL1 helps to avoid tripod shake.

Night Photography

Just like most of the competitors, the DMC-G1 features bulb exposure, but unfortunately the exposure button has to remain pressed during the whole exposure. However, the camera offers 40, 50 and 60 seconds of exposure time, which is rather unusual.
Bad news for star trails photography - although the optional wired remote Panasonic-DMW-RSL1 offers release adjustment for bulb exposure, the shutter closes automatically after four minutes.

The ISO can be set between 100 and 3200, either in 1EV or 1/3 EV (~f-stop) stepping. This is quite unusual in this class and for sure too much of the good thing - settings beyond ISO 800 should be generally avoided due to exessive sensor noise. The AF in combination with the infrared light is surprisingly accurate in low light situations and additionally, the Panasonic DMC-G1 has a TTL controlled flash socket for the use with Panasonic, Olympus and Metz flashes.

Finally, Panasonic doesn’t follow the trend of camera build-in image stabilizers. They decided to follow Canon and Nikon and provide micro-four-thirds lenses with build-in MEGA OIS image stabilizers. This works fine, but not really better than a build-in image stabilizers. High speed prime lenses are missing at this stage but the upcoming Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 provides a perspective and you can use the Leica 25mm f/1.4 via adapter.

Portrait Photography

The Panasonic DMC-G1 provides all camera features required for portrait photography. For newbies or casual photography, it even offers a face recognition system that can be switched on in live view and viewfinder mode - a nice gimmick, but not really needed for more serious portrait photography.

The flash synchronization is fast enough for the typical focal lengths used for this purposes and Panasonic offers strong system flash units to overcome the limitations of the internal one.

The selection of special portrait lenses is unfortunately very modest in Four-Thirds and especially in Micro-Four-Thirds land. To date the system offers no high speed prime lenses between 80-90mm (40-45mm), but the Olympus 50mm f/2 is mentioned frequently by four-thirds users, however it is equivalent to a "100mm f/3.5" (full format) which is not overly impressive in terms of speed. Sigma has released the four-thirds 50mm f/1.4, which might be a good alternative in combination with the mount adapter DMW-MA1, but again the contrast AF doesn't work on both lenses and only manual focusing is available. The Leica 25mm f/1.4 (equiv. to a "50mm f/2.8") may safe the day though if you don't require a tele portrait lens. However, it is also an option to use Leica M compatible lenses on the G1. Sure, you can't use AF as well as automatic aperture, but you can use a 10x magnification in the viewfinder for accurate manual focusing. There're loads of interesting Leica M lenses such as the Zeiss ZM 50mm f/1.5 or the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 which could be used for portrait photography on the G1. That said - these are still all workarounds for dedicated lenses naturally.

Sports Photography

The G1 can shoot continuously with up to three pictures per second in JPEG-Mode, but the number of continuous RAW images is limited to only seven. This is certainly a limiting factor within this scope. Some may appreciate a rather seldom option: the exposure frequency can be configured to 2 or 3 frames per seconds, so you can adjust it to match your action requirements - within its limited scope.

The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000s – noting special here, but usually sufficient for most kind of action photography. However, the X-Sync speed of 1/160s is one of the slower implementations today, but still fast enough in this class.

The contrast AF of the G1 is fast and reliable for static objects, but sort of slow for AF tracking purposes. Sports photography is the photographic scenario where the electronic viewfinder shows its weakness, as the refresh rate after a shot is too slow to track the target. Guessing the target's location is the only workaround in burst mode.
There is only one micro-four-thirds lens for this photographic scenario, but at least the Panasonic Lumix G 45-200mm f/4-5.6 OIS is suitable for beginner sport photography.