The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 is one of the pioneers of a whole new breed of digital camera. The GH1 doesn't seem to know or care whether it is a point and shoot on steroids or a compact DSLR with attitude.
The GH1 provides all of the manual exposure capabilities and interchangeable lens options more serious shutterbugs demand from traditional SLRs and all the "gee whizz" features and bells and whistles more casual shooters expect on "auto-everything" point and shoots. This may be the ultimate bridge camera, delivering both amazing ease of use and impressive creative functionality with no intolerable compromises.
Lens Interchangeability (micro 4/3 format), eye-level electronic viewfinder, depth of field preview, manual exposure modes, high "tweakability" quotient, RAW images, and flash hot shoe offer DSLR functionality in the GH1.
Fully articulated tilt-swivel camcorder style "live view" 3.0 inch LCD, 1080p/24 fps HD video capability, Dolby Digital stereo microphones, built in flash, intelligent auto (easy) mode, face recognition AF, and 25 scene modes are certainly some nice bells and whistles.
How well does this "best of both worlds" approach work? I only had the camera (and two lenses) for eight days, but I really put the GH1 through its paces - at a 19th century hemp plantation, a historic cemetery, a neighborhood farmer's market, the local extreme sports park, my back yard, and the Kentucky State Fair - it consistently delivered excellent images in both point and shoot mode or DSLR mode.
After just over a week with the camera, my initial take is that the GH1 is neither the best 12 megapixel dSLR on the planet nor the best 10x zoom point and shoot that money can buy, but if this unit is a harbinger of what the future holds for digital cameras - then this is probably the best point and shoot/dSLR currently available.
Coming up next...
Our full review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1, as usual, will offer an in-depth analysis of performance, usability and all those bells and whistles the GH1 features. Stay tuned.