DigitalCameraReview.com
Panasonic: New Micro Four Thirds lenses, HD movie capture in 2009
by David Rasnake -  9/21/2008

In preparation for Photokina, Panasonic held a press conference this morning in Cologne, officially launching the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 for European markets.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
Mamoru Yoshida, Panasonic VP, announces the G1 launch

Announced in the U.S. last month, the G1 is a compact, 12.1 megapixel interchangeable lens camera and the first product to market that makes use of the Micro Four Thirds system standards outlined several months prior. While most of the G1 news to come out of the official launch was already public knowledge, Panasonic did put an official timetable on two related product groups: the release of several new Micro Four Thirds lenses, and the launch of a HD-movie capable Lumix G camera.

On the lens front, Panasonic has slated three new system optics previously seen on the system lens roadmap for release in 2009, showing pre-production samples of each new model at the event today. The first is a 7-14mm f/4 ultra-wide lens. Working out to an equivalent 14-28mm with the Four Thirds system's 2x crop, the 7-14mm provides one of the widest Four Thirds lenses yet.

Panasonic 7-14mm f/4

A 20mm f/1.4 "pancake" prime will offer fast-aperture, normal perspective shooting in an arrangement that coordinates nicely with the G1's compact camera dimensions, creating an overall setup small enough to fit into a large pocket.

Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Finally, a 14-140mm f/4-5.6 O.I.S. lens with an "HD" designation offers wide to telephoto range in a lens tailored especially to provide support for the Micro Four Thirds system's forthcoming video capture technology.

Panasonic 14-140mm f/4-5.6

A newly designed focusing motor provides what Panasonic promises to be essentially silent auto focus, meaning less extraneous operational noise for the camera's mic to pick up in video mode.

While one of the primary aims of the Micro Four Thirds system has been to provide movie recording in an interchangeable lens camera, the G1 didn't come to market so equipped. According to information supplied at the press conference today, however, an additional Lumix Micro Four Thirds product – to be added to the line in 2009 – will be video capable.

Panasonic Lumix G concept

Panasonic had an early sample of the as yet unnamed camera under glass, and based on what can be discerned from control arrangements and form factor, the upgraded model may well prove to be essentially a G1 with video capture as the only substantive addition.

Not surprisingly, we weren't provided detailed information on firm release dates or pricing at this point. Given the level of development seen today, however, it's possible that the new glass could begin to roll out to retailers as early as next spring (presumably, an official product announcement will come during PMA 2009).

We'll keep an eye on these product concepts to see if more specifics can be gleaned this week during the show.