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Panasonic Lumix GH1 Review Diary

review diary by Uwe + Bettina Steinmueller


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Note on image processing

As usual we work only with raw files (Camera Raw 5.5 RC and Silkypix in this case).

All images are also treated with our new DOP Contrast Plus and DOP EasyDS Detail & Sharpness Resolver.

Note on Video Processing

We plan to cover this aspect in more detail in future articles. The final editing is all done in Final Cut Studio 7. Grading performed with Magic Bullet Looks.


11/12/2009 Zion Movie shot with Panasonic GH1 and Canon 7D

We shot this movie at our S to Zion National Park. Besides Video we shot mainly stills.

We also posted it on Vimeo.

This is a first edit version.


Cameras: Panasonic GH1 and Canon 7D
Filters: Sing-Ray Vari ND and Lee Graduated Neutral ND 0.6
All shots from tripod: Miller Solo DS-10
Captured at 1080p 24p
Time Lapse in last clip was shot with 7D in M-JPEG shooting every 5 secs

Lenses: 14-140mm on GH1 and mainly 24-105mm on 7D


Transcoded to 1080p Pro Res LT (for the GH1 using Neoscene and Quicktime)
Time Lapse assembled in Quicktime Pro
Editing: Final Cut Pro 7
Color Corrections in FCP
Music: Royalty free stock music that comes with Final Cut Studio

Exported at 720p for the Internet

Here is our take on using the GH1 and 7D/5D2

We use the GH1 in brighter light because it is good and easier to use:

- Swivel LCD
- Live Histogram (just adjust the exposure via the Vari ND and keep f-stop/shutter speed constant)
- The 7D/5D2 LCDs are hard to read in bright light and these cameras don't have any exposure aids

The 7D/5D2 is our choice in low light

- Here I control the light via ISO/Aperture and no ND needed

9/8/2009 GH1 a true Combo Cam

The GH1 is a true Combo Cam. We can do stills and video with the same camera from the identical tripod position. Here are two still shots from the area near King City (California):


Lost Cabin #1 (kit lens)

Lost Cabin #2 (kit lens)

Here is a short video made at both locations:

Best you download the video to your harddisk and play from there (you need to create a free Vimeo account though).

The video shows that we are photographers making a video. Hopefully in terms of subjct and framing for the good. The "motion" part will take a while to learn.

9/4/2009 "Walking the Monterey Commercial Pier" video

- All clips from one walk.
- GH1 at 1080p.
- Edited in FCP
- Graded with Magic Bullet Looks 1.2 (first steps, lot to learn)

Best you download the video to your harddisk and play from there (you need to create a free Vimeo account though)

Our still gallery from the GH1/G1 (with some shot from this walk).

The GH1 works really as a Combo Cam. We can switch between the two modes very fast (switching between aperture priority stills and manual video settings).

9/1/2009 Hollister Firefighter Training

Wanted to document a training of the firefighters. Light was very difficult and I did not really know what to expect. Also I was the sole operator.

- Left sound as is because the engines are just noisy in real life
- Shot at 720p with kit lens
- Edited in FCP

Thanks to all people involved.

Best you download the video to your hard disk and play from there (you need to create a free Vimeo account though)


8/30/2009 Still image Gallery updated

We added some still samples from the G1/GH1. Some are shot with the GH1 and Leica 50mm lens. We are very pleased about the results.

8/29/2009 Combining Video and Stills

The diea is to show the scene and the resulting photo from that scene. This is a concept we like to improve over time. The stills have black side bars. We did not want to crop or resize the original photos.

Note: We used to high f-stops vor the video. Should have used either ND filters of higher shutter speeds.


8/28/2009 Panasonic GH1/G1 and Olympus E-P1 and compared



Panasonic TZ5 & G1, Canon G9 and Olympus E-P1


The G1/GH1 is slightly bigger and has more of a DSLR look. The E-P1 form factor is very attractive (SLR kind of features disguised like a P&S camera.

AF (Auto Focus)

The G1/GH1 wins hands down in terms of AF speed. Even with Olympus lenses it is faster.


The E-P1 allows AF (though often very slow) with more Olympus 4/3 lenses.


We like the G1/GH1 EVF and miss one for the E-P1.

Image Quality

Very close as they share about the same sensor.

IS (Image Stabilization)

The E-P1 feature in body sensor image stabilization and the G1/GH1 has a lens image stabilization (Mega O.I.S.. Both have their advantages.

Use of legacy lenses

The E-P1 and the G1/GH1 can both use (with adapters) many 35mm lenses. This can be very attractive. The in camera IS works also for these manual lenses while the G1/GH1 have no IS with such lenses..

Drawing attention

With the G1/GH1 (looks more like a DSLR) you draw more attention than using the E-P1 with kit lenses and the LCD as framing device because you look like one of the many P&S shooters.


The E-P1 does not have a built-in flash. The G1/GH1 has an internal flash. Not essential for us but nice to have it in some situations.


The E-P1 can take nice 720p HD videos. Unfortunately with hardly any control about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. The G1 does not have HD video capabilities. The GH1 is in a complete different league with its 1080p 24fps and 720p 60fps modes. The GH1 allows faster AF during video, silent lens motor and full manual control.


If you want a viewfinder, good zooms and a snappy AF the G1/GH1 wins. If you like the LCD for framing and want a smaller package use the E-P1 with the kit lenses. With the 17mm the E-P1 can be a lot of fun. Overall we personally prefer to have an EVF (G1/GH1).


8/21/2009 New Version of "Lost Memories" in B&W (V5)

We improved the video in Final Cut Studio by using some transitions. We publish the videos at 3 different places because different viewers have different experiences with the video hosts.

8/19/2009 Diary Start

The Panasonic GH1 will be the first camera we likely use more for video than for photography. If you are interested only in still photos the GH1 is very close to G1 in terms of features and still image quality (read our G1 review here).

We bought the GH1 to experience one of the most advanced Combo Cams (does HD video and still with larger sensor than the consumer video cams). The main differences to the G1 are:

  • 14-140mm f/4-5.8 MEGA O.I.S. (28-280mm equivalent)
  • HD video capabilities at 1080p 24fps and 720p at 60fps

The G1 is about half the price of the GH1 but we are not sure how long the G1 will be still available. A small part of this price difference is due to the added HD video capability. Most of of the difference is the price of this lens.

The lens itself is something new:


  • Silent motor (important for sound recording in camera)
  • Fast with GH1
  • Small and light for this huge range (shows the promise of the Micro 4/3 system)
  • Very useful range (hardly the need to switch lenses unless you want WA wider than 28mm or if you want to go beyond 280mm


  • Slow lens (hard to get this range and keep the lens small and light)
  • Still a kit lens

As said this time we started first doing videos because using the GH1 as a still camera is well known (although not with this lens).

In camera lens corrections

With the G1 there was a loud debate whether in camera lens corrections (distortions and CA) are a good thing or evil. For us it is very clear that in camera correction is wonderful for video. You can also do these corrections in video postproduction at the following cost:

  • Hard to find right filter and settings
  • Time consuming (rendering times explode)
  • You work on very compressed images (like strong JPEG compression) which very easily degrades the image quality
  • You have much lower resolution than 12MP stills to work with

Check out our first video (last one feaured) below and look at a scene with the 7-14mm lens at 7mm. We also added a single frame to our SmugMug Video gallery.

Our first GH1 videos

Note on viewing videos on the web: Playing videos is a task that needs fast internet speed (real and not nominal) and a solid computer performance. Over time we try to optimize the demands on the internet download.

Disclaimer: We are no experts in video. This means we are the same position as many photographers that plan to use the new bread of Combo Cams. We share our experience "as we go". Like with our still photography we report about real world experience.

Lost Memories

Lenses used

  • Panasonic m4/3 14-140mm Kit lens

Lessons learned

  • Motion not smooth (this could be again due to bad conversion or other factors)
  • Need to learn better panning
  • Need still smoother fluid head

This was the first time where we had the urge to take a still photo during video recording. This was so easy because the framing was ready and we just needed to switch the camera to still photo settings.

Lost Memories (not cropped but CS4 post processing)

This was actually the situation where the GH1 shines because of all of this:

  • Small package for the lens range and the sensor size
  • Competent in HD and still photography
  • Very good feature set


Vintage Car Shop

Lenses used

  • Panasonic m4/3 14-140mm Kit lens
  • Olympus 4/3 12-60mm lens for indoor shots to keep ISO down

Lessons learned

  • Motion not smooth (this could be due to bad conversion or other factors)
  • C-AF works but has sometimes issues to keep track fast enough
  • Manual focus easy and fun to use
  • Need still smoother fluid head
  • Getting on speed using Final Cut Pro 7. We think Final Cut is worth the investment into learning it (and there is a lot to learn here)
  • Use now ProRes 422 LT codec for editing (we cover the basic workflow steps later)

First Panasonic GH1 video and single frames

We shot our first very short video with GH1 the first day we got the camera

  • Different ISO settings used
  • Different video quality settings used (1080p and 720p)
  • Different lenses (14-140mm kit lens and 7-14mm)

At SmugMug we show this video in full size and also feature single frames out of the video stream.

SmugMug GH1 Video Gallery

GH1 Video at Vimeo

The SmugMug gallery also includes single frames extracted from the video.

First conclusions about the GH1

  • The GH1 is clearly the most complete Combo Cam (below $5,000 for sure) as of today
  • So far we are quite pleased with the quality
  • The automatic lens distortion and CA corrections are a big plus
  • The GH1 features electronic wind filters that make the sound recorded by the camera often more usable outside (compared to other Combo Cams)
  • Live histogram and full manual mode very helpful
  • Swivel LCD essential
  • 720p is quite usable but 1080p shows more fine details

Our videos are shot to get simple yet nice documentaries of:

  • Places
  • Scenes
  • Events

We also plan to experiment with more abstract form of videos.



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