Panasonic Unveils Lumix G Series 4/3 Cam

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Secaucus, N.J. - Panasonic introduced Wednesday the Lumix DMC-GF1 Micro Four Thirds camera and two new interchangeable lenses for the Micro Four Thirds model family.


The DMC-GF1 is part of Panasonic's Lumix G Series, and is billed as "the world's smallest and lightest system digital camera with a built-in flash."

In October, Panasonic will ship the camera in two kit options, both carrying a $900 suggested retail. One includes the camera and a newly announced Lumiz G 20mm/F1.7 ASPH lens, a compact and lightweight "pancake" lens, while the other includes the camera and a Lumix G Vario 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S lens.

The new camera is said to be more compact than previous G-series Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The camera also includes the ability to record up to 720p HD videos.

The Lumix GF1's Venus Engine HD records 12-megapixel images using a Live MOS sensor that separates chromatic noise from luminance noise and applies the optimal noise reduction to each.

The GF1's sensor technology is said to combine the benefits of a CCD with the low power consumption of CMOS sensors.

All Lumix G Series Micro Four Thirds cameras eliminate the pentaprism found in traditional interchangeable lens cameras, allowing a dramatic reduction of both size and weight from tradition d-SLRs.

"The new Lumix GF1 continues the evolution [of the Micro Four Thirds technology] and is the perfect addition to our Lumix G series, as its sophisticated, small body makes it easier and more convenient to carry," said David Briganti, Panasonic imaging senior product manager. "The GF1 is ideal for point-and-shoot consumers looking to step up to d-SLR-quality or for current d-SLR users who want greater convenience without compromising performance quality or creative flexibility."

Other key features in the DMC-GF1 include a dedicated video recording button. The camera will capture up to 1,280 by 720 HD video in AVCHD Lite, a format that enables longer recording times, Panasonic said. Also supported is recording HD Motion JPEG in 720p and other video recording formats, including QVGA, VGA and WVGA. 

A Movie Program mode allows adjusting the depth of field while shooting in HD video, so background and foreground can be blurred to give creative effects.

A new My Color mode includes seven preset effects - Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, Silhouette and Custom - all of which let users manually set the color, brightness and saturation levels.

A Live View function allows users to see how the settings will affect the photo before they shoot.

A total of nine Film modes are offered along with the ability to set the contrast, sharpness and saturation levels for each.

For quick and easy creative shots the camera includes a number of automatic settings, including Scene mode, Peripheral Defocus that lets users take a photo where the foreground is in focus and background is blurred - or vice versa.

Also included is Panasonic's iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, which employs a system of automatic settings for intuitive use when shooting still or video images.

In video, the iA activates Panasonic's OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) to reduce video-blurring from handshake.

A face-detection function automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion.

Other features include a built-in flash; 3-inch Intelligent LCD with 460,000-dot resolution and automatic backlight control, fast AF system with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, face detection and AF tracking.

To further expand the Lumix G-series system, Panasonic Micro Four Thirds digital cameras can be used with Four Thirds System interchangeable lenses via an optional mount adaptor DMW-MA1 and with Leica M/R lenses using Panasonic's DMW-MA2M DMW-MA3R. These adapters give the user access to the unlimited number of lens properties.

As accessories, Panasonic will offer the DMW-MA2M and DMW-MA3R at $250 suggested retails. An optional Live View finder, DMW-LVF1, will retail for $200. All are available in October.

New lenses for the G-series Micro Four Thirds camera family shipping in October include the aforementioned 20mm/F1.7 ASPH "pancake" lens ($400) with high brightness, and what the company calls "the world's first Leica Micro Four Thirds lens, the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit T 45mm/F2.8 ASPH/MEGA OIS  ($900), which is said to offer "exceptional image quality in a compact size."

The new Leica lens uses both an aspherical lens and an ED lens comprised of fourteen lenses arranged in 10 groups. It incorporates an inner focus motor system for smooth and silent action when capturing still and video content. By flipping a switch on the lens barrel, the minimum focus distance changes to 150mm or 500mm.


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