The Panasonic Lumix G10 is a new camera in a new market segment. Micro Four-Thirds format, still in its infancy, is part of an evolutionary change in camera design. It's a movement to place a bigger image sensor in an interchangeable lens camera the size of a large point-and-shoot. At the introduction of MFT to the market, the cameras seemed a bit pricey, and it was a little unclear to the market as to its benefits.
Now, a defined niche is being carved out by cameras like the Panasonic G10. Among other features, they're small, affordable and aimed for camera novices. The G10 offers beginner-friendly usability and a sizable sensor, compatibility with multiple lenses and HD video capture for $599, a price that includes the 14-42mm kit lens.
Although it might be called the lowest man on the MFT totem pole, it has some pretty powerful specs, including a 12.1-megapixel resolution, 1280 x 720 HD video capture, Intelligent Auto (iA) mode, AF tracking for focusing on moving subjects, and Mega O.I.S. in their lenses to reduce blurry images. It also has some unique features like My Color Mode, which is a set of eight different modes that let you apply digital effects like Retro and Silhouettes filters to your images. With the camera body weighing 11.8 ounces, the G10 is fairly lightweight.
The G10 competes with the Olympus E-PL1, which is similarly priced ($549 with 14-42mm kit lens). I've shot with each camera, both of which are considered to be entry-level models, so it will be interesting to see how they compare to each other. Read on to find out how the G10 performed in the lab and in the field.
BUILD AND DESIGN
Design-wise, the Panasonic G10 doesn't deviate far from its GH2, G1 and G2 siblings, but it is very different from the GF1. It has the same plastic-like feel that is common on many Panasonic MFT cameras. Its dimensions are 4.88 x 3.29 x 2.91 inches, and it weighs 19.68 ounces with the 14-42mm kits lens attached or 27.33-ounces with the 45-200mm lens that Panasonic also provides.
The camera feels very light in the hand, and is balanced well, thanks to a design that puts it in both hands like a traditional DSLR, with a handgrip on the right. Whether or not you think it's not heavy enough is a personal preference. I like a camera that feels sturdy and rugged in my hand, and the G10 feels a little too light for my taste.
Ergonomics and Controls
The G10 has all the bells and whistles of a classic SLR, with a shutter button, a pop-up flash, hot shoe for an external flash, AF assist lamp, diopter adjustment dial, viewfinder, mode dial, playback button, a 3.0-inch LCD, a menu button with a four-way cursor array, and a rear dial. The buttons are laid out pretty naturally, especially if you are used to shooting with a DSLR.
There is also a dedicated Intelligent Auto button that lights up when you press it, indicating that full auto is on, which is especially useful for beginners. The camera's interchangeable lens system includes the mount and lens lock pin on the front of the camera.
If you are familiar with using one of their previous MFTs cameras, the G10's button layout is going to feel logical.
Menus and Modes
The G10 has a two-menu system, made up first of a tabbed infrastructure of menus that can be accessed by pressing the Menu button, which takes you into six separate tabs that let you control various camera functions. Second, there is a Quick Menu, which can be accessed by hitting the dedicated Q.Menu button on the back of the camera. It provides access to things like white balance, ISO, image quality settings, different film modes, etc.
On the mode dial of the G10 there are 13 different options, including:
The LCD monitor is a 3.0-inch display, a pretty standard size among both point-and-shoot and DSLR cameras. It has a 460,000-dot resolution with a 100% field of view. The LCD monitor's playback is quite nice, and gives you a great idea of how images are going to look out of the camera. However, the viewfinder, which is electronic, is slightly smaller in resolution than its predecessors, coming in at 202,000 dots of resolution where the G1's has 1.44 million dots of resolution. It looks like this is where some of the corners were cut to bring down the price.
The viewfinder leaves a little something to be desired, mostly because it has a lot of lag and doesn't look great when you are using it. When using the live view LCD, it is fast, but the viewfinder is sluggish. The other pain is that you have to use the LVF/LCD button to switch between the monitor and viewfinder, which is kind of annoying when you want to review images onscreen after you press the shutter. Instead of having it go right to the screen, you review images in the viewfinder, which really isn't as accurate as the LCD.
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