Panasonic Lumix GH1 first impressions and first footage

Follow Me

phil-gh1aPanasonic UK have asked me to take a look at their new Lumix GH1. This is an updated version of the G1 with added video.

Video in DSLRs is a relatively new concept, little compacts have been shooting video for years but it wasn’t until Nikon brought out the D90 and then Canon brought out the 5dmk2 that everything changed. The Canon has been shown to be capable of producing awesome images and is great in low light. I have a D90 as I have about 20 Nikon lenses. The D90 video is ok, just has some rather problematic rolling shutter issues and is only 720p, whilst the Canon is full HD but limited to 30p. Both of these cameras are tricky to shoot with due to lack of full manual controls in video mode. Also you cannot use the viewfinder as they use the live mode.

We all know Panasonic make terrific video cameras but this is their first foray into video on their DSLR cameras. With the G1 being their previous top end cameras.

This camera is NOT a 35mm  camera it uses the micro four thirds technology which is about  17.3 x 9.7mm or something like that!  So not as good as a full frame sensor like the Canon 5dmk2 but it does have a large number of advantages over the 5dmk2.


Thanks to Martin for the sensor chart
Thanks to Martin for the sensor chart

First off is it is WAY lighter. It’s very compact due to the sensor being smaller and the omission of a mirror box. It has full manual controls for ISO. You can change the shutter and iris manually WHILST filming, no exposure lock needed. It has an autofocus that works pretty well whilst recording, both in centre frame mode and using facial recognition mode, something I have recently found outstanding on the little Canon VIXIA HF20. The ability to have full manual controls should not be underestimated. At the click of the dial on the front you can switch between aperture and iris. This can be done whilst shooting.

Another top feature is the LCD, which unlike the D90 and the Canon 5dmk2 swivels out to any angle. Which means doing awkward angle shots is now much easier. Because of the design of the camera there is no longer a true optical viewfinder due to the lack of a mirror box, good and bad. Bad as it is obviously never going to be as crisp and sharp as a real VF like we are used to on SLRs, BUT this does give you the ability to have live view in the VF not just on the LCD meaning you can shoot video with the camera up to your eye so your shots can be that much more stable. SLR is a very old technology and the G1 was the first camera to take the SLR concept and revolutionize it.  Talking of stabilisation there is an optical stabiliser in the stock lens. It works well. More on the lens later, also I must point out that whilst the camera is a production model with English menus the lens I have at the moment is still a pre-production model and will be better on the one that will be sold when it is released in the UK and USA. Also very cool is there is a sensor that detects when you are using the VF and turns off the LCD saving on battery.

0526_panasonic-gh1The LCD is very sharp and very usable. The VF, not so great but still very usable.

My camera also came with a top mic, I don’t think this is standard but is pretty essential if you hope to get ANY proper sound. Although the built in mic is way better than both the Canon and Nikon ones.

GH1 and Canon 5dMk2
GH1 and Canon 5dMk2

Thanks to Chris Hurd of for taking the above photo and the one at the top. The kit lens itself is fine, but really quite slow. it’s 14 to 140mm which roughly in 35mm terms equates to 28 to 280mm, so a nice range but the speed is f4 to f5.8. This is fine for general shots but to get that REALLY shallow DOF and for the camera to be usable in low light you need fast primes without a doubt. There are more lenses coming out and you can use adaptors for other lenses, including ones for the Leica M lenses which probably cost more than the camera itself. But this lens has been optimized to do auto functions really well whilst shooting video. It is totally silent in autofocus mode and the stabilisation is very good.

I am off to Hawaii for a week tomorrow where I will be doing so more shooting with it and I have a Nikon to GH1 adaptor waiting for me there so I can use all my Zeiss superfast primes and I can really test out the low light. The high ASA is noisy with the stock lens so shooting at a lower ASA and/ or with a MUCH faster lens will make a huge difference. One downside to using the Nikon adaptor is I will get a x2 magnification as the lenses are for much larger sensors. Twice the size hence the x2.

I have been down in Austin Texas this week for the Re:Frame Collective gathering which has been taking place at the Alamo Drafthouse movie theatre. I was presenting on Tuesday where I talked about that elusive “film look”, how I achieve it, what I shoot with, how I shoot, some of my post work with Magic Bullet and other stuff. It was great seeing my work projected on the big screen at this famous cinema. It looked awesome. I also got to meet some really great people. So thanks to everyone who came and made it a memorable experience. Big thanks to Julie, Kristen, Bruce, Patrick, Matt and Conrad. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone. Their next one is in October in SF. I don’t know if I will be there but if it’s half as good as this one it will be well worth it. Below is a photo of me presenting on Tuesday and my short film “Return to Dungeness” playing.

Thanks to Joe Simon for the above photo
Thanks to Joe Simon for the above photo

One of the best things was yesterday, about 60 to 70 of us went out on 6th street in downtown Austin with all our various cameras. Everything from my GH1 to 16mm film cameras. Loads of EX1s, A1s, loads of Glidecam rigs. So I took some shots using the GH1 all handheld. Mostly using autofocus to try it out and also some manual focus. It’s all very “run and gun” not my usual beautiful still life  type stuff, which I will be doing more of in Hawaii. I also did some shots in a pool hall we went to. I really needed some fast lenses in there as it was DARK. But I still managed to get some half decent stuff. As I said, once I get my Nikon adaptor I will be able to do some real low light shooting and see just how shallow I can get that DOF. The Stock lens is still very good. As I said before, totally silent motor and terrific autofocus.

I haven’t read the manual yet being a man…I will at some point…Not sure of the max recording time. A 30 minute counter counts down as soon as you hit record so maybe that is the max? EDIT|: Just checked with Panny, confirmed Max recording time is 29 minutes!!! EDIT: This is an EU issue only, the camera in other regions does not have this time restriction, it’s all to do with EU tax law. Read more here.

Here are some frame grabs…


The image out of the camera is utterly terrific, so clean and noise free. Also very sharp. It’s a dream to use operational wise and the auto functions make it even better. I am never a fan of auto but when running and gunning it can be useful. When I shoot some stuff later this week on it using a tripod and better lenses I am sure it will be incredible. Now if this camera had a 35mm sensor in it then it would be a the best thing out there by miles, with the smaller sensor it is still feels like a  much better “video camera” than the Canon and Nikon purely based on the manual controls. As someone who uses a video camera for daily use these manual exposure controls are an utter must for me. I don’t think it is going to be anywhere near as good as the 5dmk2 in low light or the d90 probably….also the code is relatively low bit rate at just 17mbps so it won’t stand up to any heavy grading.

It records in AVCHD and Motion JPEG. It only records full HD in AVCHD mode. I haven’t tried out motion JPEG yet. My camera also records in 25p in a 50i stream. AVCHD is a massive pain for Final Cut as it needs to be transcoded to pro res 422 which is quite slow. I ended up using imovie and converting it to Apple Intermediate Codec just as it was so much faster and I kept getting errors on some of the files in log and transfer. I will look into that and hope FCP 7 will handle AVCHD much better.

Everything is ungraded straight out  the camera. Some shots are underexposed and I thought about bringing them up in post but I wanted to really not touch the image at all so you could get a better idea. Don’t forget this is the first time I used the camera. Much better stuff will come. I will be posting more thoughts and video over the next few weeks. Also do check out my Video Blog for more info. The link is on the right hand side menu.


The compression down to a manageable size has created some blockiness at 1080p.

Please also check out my latest GH1 blog post about shooting in slow motion and low light here

The next Re:Frame collective gathering will be in SF this October…tickets go on sale soon. They will sell out pretty fast… Click here to go to their page

[vimeo 4441911 640 360]

[vimeo 4405518 640 360]

[xr_video id=”c2a4b969386e486fbfa4b51915c86bb8″ size=”lrm”]


  1. Phil, Thank you for the review. I hope you will be getting a cut of all the sales of the GH1, as there will be tons!
    I will be ordering one for sure.

  2. Those pool hall shots look just fine. Interiors shouldn’t look like exteriors, the part of the image that is not the subject of the image should be dark, and that’s exactly what you’re getting there with the kit lens. I love it. I may not buy any primes.

    1. the lens is too slow. primes or a faster zoom would be awesome…in that pool hall i was limited to just the lit areas like the pool table. The joy of these dslrs is the ability to actually get usable footage in next to no light and have be as noisy as hell!

  3. I’ve never seen any footage like that coming from an, in fact, non-pro camera.
    Being European though we will have to be patient a little bit longer for it to land here.
    Can’t wait !

  4. Thanks Philip, very useful. Looking forward to seeing your Hawaii video. On what you have seen so far, would you say the video from the GH1 is inferior or superior to that produced by your Canon HF20? Or perhaps it’s just different. Thanks again.

      1. Philip, many thanks for that encouraging reply comparing the GH1 footage to your Canon HF20. Seems like the GH1 is a serious contender as an alternative to a mainstream consumer HD camcorder – with the advantage of doubling up as a proper DSLR for still images. I think, with the addition of the accessory stereo mic you mention on top of the camera, I am ready to buy! Look forward to seeing your next video using this very interesting camera.

  5. Thanks for the review! I think I’m still going to get a 5DMK2 for while I’m in Hawaii next week and then consider taking another look at this one when it’s available. Perhaps as a second cam. The low light is still more appealing to me with the 5D, but the manual controls and flexible LCD are HUGE in this cam! Decisions, decisions!

    I wish I could have met you at Re:Frame! Kinda weird that we’ll both be in Hawaii at the same time but different islands! Will you be passing through Oahu at all?

  6. Great review! I can’t wait to get my hands on a unit.. I was wondering what Nikon to GH1 adaptor you would recommend and where to buy?

    Have a good one!


  7. Thank you so much for this review. You’ve generated so much buzz out there 🙂 Seems that everyone’s talking about GH1.

    Do you think it’s possible to use modern AF Nikkors with this baby and still get manual iris control plus autofocus?

  8. 17mbps – not ready for the big top. Canon’s camera does between 35-40 mbps. The Broadcasters I’ve worked with now require a large percentage of a program be shot at 35 mbps or more….yeah, I know,it all depends on the content. Thanks for the review Philip, I’ve been waiting for a review like this for the last couple months. Keep up the great work.

  9. you look like your having an amazing time in austin, I felt really there, very very impressed by the camera. I was already thinking about a G1 and now this…
    Now I really must get back to may morning in oxford
    best wishes and thanks

  10. Phil, you mention coming lenses from Panasonic (will also be new lenses from Olympus too) and using legacy lenses with an adapter.

    I thought I’d point out, something that I’m sure you know about, the Four Third lenses from Panasonic and Olympus that work with an adapter. These lenses have been design for the size of sensor in the GH1 and a number of them will work with autofocus (how many of which isn’t completely clear yet and may change as Olympus release similar cameras to the G1 and GH1 – though of course the autofocus has been design for photography so may be heavily floored). They will no doubt give the best image quality possible from the GH1. There is also a huge range of lenses.

    Here’s a list including most of them as well as the current compatibility with G1 regards to autofocus as Panasonic see it – may not be accurate. Haven’t found a list for compatibility with GH1 though.

    Note the 4th panasonic lens is a 25mm f1.4 leica overseen lens.

    More info on Four Thirds lenses here:

  11. Hi
    great review, theres not many cross camera reviews for this sort of spec camera.

    I am desperate for some advice into buying one of these cameras.
    Currently im looking at, the d90, mk2 and now this…
    im getting confused, im fairly new to this but i need a camera that is good for stills, but more importantly HD Video! i need it for, shooting low light, handle fast moving subjects well, blue screen, compositing with cg/3d.

    Can you give me any advice, which is the best option do you think?
    Also, what is the guide price at the moment?


    1. Alex, this would NOT work for the SFX work or fast/low light you mention. At all.

      Its a very cool camera, but you just mentioned the very things that would drive you batty about it.

      Instead, use it for sneaking around for documentary or long remote hiking shoots. Or general life and family memories.

      This will NEVER work for SFX shots. Too compressed and aliasing at the edges will KILL a Blue Screen like your worst DV nightmare.

  12. Footage looks pretty impressive!

    Another quick question… is there a headphone jack?

    (yeah, and it would be great to know about the HDMI during filming, too 😉

    Thanks for posting this, Philip!

    Andy Mac

  13. Hi Phil,

    I’m fairly new to SLR’s but I do want something that has great video capabilities. The video above speaks for itself but as far as stills go, how would you compare the GH-1’s image quality when compared to the D90? Thanks…

  14. Philip,

    I checked the new Canon T1i and Nikon d5000 footage, and this Panny seems to shoot way better

    Do you have experience with both and could you compare to the GH1?

    The GH1 footage that you made (the three so far) looks really incredible for a 14MP still camera.

    Would you use this Panny for (semi-)pro productions?

    What are the artefacts of this AVCHD codec in post-production and grading?

    Could you post some stills?

    When using a lens for 35mm sensors, do you -aside from the smaller FOV, have light-loss? I mean : does a 50mm f1.4 become a 100mm f2.0 or a 100mm f1.4?

    Sorry for the many questions, but -like i said on ER- i might just sell the HV30 and go with this one, until i have some money for a entry-level RED one day.

    1. you are asking so much!! 😉 Don’t know about canon t1i and havent seen new Nikon… the panny is a good semi pro camera but not a pro camera to be honest…it is great for holidays and stuff as it shoots awesome pics and video and is tiny…

      17mbps causes artifacts without a doubt….you don’t get more light loss just longer focal length…i think it’s probably better the hv30…

  15. Thanks for the review. What about that jelly effect or wobling effect when you move the camera while shooting video? and framerate? best regards

  16. thanks for this first review, i was waiting for this to place an order…

    if you put a leica M serie lens on it with a rig, it will still double the focal length ?

  17. Beautiful stuff. I think you are now the go-to guy for testing out new gear. We actually purchased our EX1 because of the footage you released early on and now we are shooting a feature with it.

    The footage from REFRAME in Austin makes the event look like a lot of fun. I couldn’t afford the event this time, but this video has definitely raised it higher on my list of priorities.

  18. Hey Philip,
    very interesting stuff. Thanx for sharing.

    Did you notice anything like the rolling shutter problem that similar products suffer from?

    Looking forward to see the Nikon shots!

  19. I am very interested in getting one of these cameras
    and keep checking for reviews or whatever. Ran across yours today on a Google search. What a useful site! Thanks for this. The videos look terriffic. And I saw the rest of your site as well-going bookmark it- i like your stuff.
    One thing I thought would be useful on a camera like this is the ability to record high quality audio files. Photographs of course, high quality video that’s great, High quality audio only files would be excellent. All the field equipment in one neat little wrapper.
    Thanks again

  20. Hi, just like Jack above (or will it be below when I post this?), I stumbled on your site looking for examples from the Lumix GH1, which is about my financial limit. Looks great on your examples. Then I watched almost everything else you have shot and posted on vimeo, fantastic work. Truly inspirational. I’m going to put more work into my video and hopefully get to travel to all those amazing locations that you do.

    You are one talented and lucky chap. thanks.

  21. How is exposure/focus settings using adapted lenses? Ie – a canon lens sans aperture ring? Is it comubersome using a lens with an adapter?

    I was planning on getting a few cheap fast FD lenses for this (actually I’m not a big user of autofocus, so aperture is mainly what I’m concerned with)

  22. Hi Philip,

    I found out about you and your work earlier this week, and have been absolutely fascinated by all of it. I really want to thank you for all the information you share and the great videos/films you have put up. I have spent quite some time reading your informative articles.

    It is all very inspiring for someone like me. I am relatively new to the arts of photography and film-making, but it is something I am considering putting a lot of time into lately out of my own personal interest.

    A lot of my research and study has mainly been online, but I am now thinking to step up and actually buy myself a camera/camcorder to start experimenting since I can finally afford something.

    I’ve recently read some good stuff about the Panasonic GH1. Some from you, and some of other reviewers as well.

    However, I still wonder, if this would be the best tool for a newcomer like me who wants to learn the trade and experiment starting from the basics. I really want something that has a wide range of abilities to keep me on my toes but also not a very large price tag.

    Is the GH1 something you would recommend for a newcomer like myself?
    What would likely be a advantages or disadvantages of it?

    Thanks for your views, and keep up the great work.

  23. Hi Philip,

    I am a go for the GH1, you convinced me (weel, I hesitate between red and champaign). Is the GorillaPod SLR sufficient for the GH1 (your shot of the sunest in Hawaii)? Indeed, the objective is in the 450g plus category, with 385g for the body, might be critical.

    Have a good day,


  24. HI Philip,

    I have seen the review and videos you shot for GH1, and it looks awesome. But it creates trouble for me now, I was going for GH1, and after I 5D mark II update its firmware. I dont know which one to get.
    Which one do you prefer? GH1 or 5D mark II? I guess 5D, right? better price value as well? Can you give me some recommandation?thanks

      1. Ah… the eternal question.. stretch to buy a 5DMKII or get the GH1 and have a few quid to buy other things…

        A question I’ve been struggling with myself for quite some time now too!

        So, since I last asked a question on this (very cool) site, I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a 5DMKII from my local LCE shop! (yes – they’re very cool too!) and I have to say I was very impressed


        I encountered the dreaded rolling shutter problem and started to research the challenges around that.

        So from what I was able to ascertain, lenses with stablisation seem to help quite a bit (not fully sure why but it does seem to help) but they make heck of a lot of noise which gets picked up by the internal mic and I suspect would get picked up on a mic mounted on the hotshoe too.

        Increasing the frame rate would help if that were an option (I’ll come back to this point in a moment), and using a slower shutter speed can help mask the RS problem by making it look like motion blur.

        This leaves the following questions / problems –

        The 50/60fps of the GH1 in 720p mode ~should~ reduce the RS problem, and the quiet OIS on the kit lens probably helps too (without forcing you into tricky off camera mic set ups which can be challenging if you want to just be out and about shooting footage on your own)


        The GH1 has other image quality problems when panning / moving the camera because it can only handle 17mbps (which results in a ‘mud’ effect).


        Ultimately for future proofing and that burning urge for perfectionism, we’d all like to be shooting at ‘Full HD’ (and probably at 24fps too) anyway.


        You then think to yourself, how about stretching to the 5D to get the quality you really want, and put up with taking the mic off camera, using expensive IS L series lenses, invest in a steady cam rig or very sturdy tripod to shoot everything and fix any remaining RS issues that creep slip through the net in post. You want to be a professional right – so maybe those are the lengths you have to go through for your art…?


        When you look into the various anti-RS ‘fixes’ that are available as post solutions, you discover that you actually have to crop the resulting image because (of course) the frame is moving around, so you have to hide the black borders that result. This means you’ve no longer got a ‘Full HD’ native image and your whole argument for trying to get the best kit is a little flawed….


        You flip back to thinking, it’s better to get out there and be shooting stuff than spending all this time reading about the problems on websites and forums – plump for the GH1, get an adapter and some old fashion good quality fast glass…


        It hits you – the whole reason you’ve been looking to get a DVSLR is to achieve a narrow DOF close up shots with wide lenses to give that cinematic feel..


        The GH1 has a tiny little chip! Narrow DOF much harder to achieve. Low light performance a problem…


        GH1 not great at over 400ASA too…


        Brain about to explode…

        What was wrong with my HG10 and the homemade 35mm adapter I made anyway???


        Wait a minute – this RS problem is only on CMOS ship camera’s – my old VX2000 has 3 CCD chips and was pretty darn good in low light – figure out what the latest HG version of that is – job done!

        GOOGLE ‘CCD Camcorder HD’

        EX-1 Hmmm CMOS
        EX-3 CMOS too

        Must be a Sony thing?

        JVC GY-HM700 3 CCD – Hurrah! Solution? How much?

        HOW MUCH!!!??


        Anyone else feeling the same pain? Or is it just me?

        FWIW – For my budget I’m going to go with the GH1 I think… the way I figure it now is, better to get something and get out filming and save some pennies for when we progress to the 2nd / 3rd generation of this new(ish) breed of camera’s.

        Now… do I get the 24/60 US model and save a few quid but risk flickering light problems or stick to a UK 25/50 Camera and try to forget the extra couple of hundred quid that I could be saving, and do I go for the red one or play safe and get black…

        Save us Phil – tell us what to buy 🙂

        1. wow…that’s a post!! Well the GH1 doesn’t have a a tiny chip…it’s equivalent to a 2/3″ chip. The Cmos on the EX1 and EX3 is not a problem. The JVC 700 is bad in low light…what exactly do you want the camera for?

          1. Yeah – sorry about that 🙂

            Interesting to hear that about the Sony’s – I saw a Red One verus 5DMKII comparison an Vimeo the other day, and that showed quite well how even the Red One suffers from sloping verticals due to Rolling shutter when panning… but promising news if Sony have it sorted (although probably I’d have to rent to use one of those camera’s…. which may be the way to go in the end anyway – just quite like the idea of getting a new toy and having access to a camera all the time)

            What do I want from the Camera? Well… I’m making a short about Alien abduction and want to get some shots (whilst on holiday) of Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the desert, and Charlotte on the way towards Area 51. I’d love it to be in ‘Full HD’ so I have the option of sharing it with as many people as possible, I want some nice wides of the GC when the sun goes down, and I need to be able to do some action shots at night in Vegas. I’d like to make use of a few Canon FD lenses that I have managed to get reasonably cheaply (28mm f2.8, 135 f3.5, 50mm f1.4) plus a 400mm f5.6 I have my eyes on which I’d like to combine with a 2x converter (that I already have) to get some shots of the moon.

            On holiday i’ll be limited as to who can help me film – so recording audio needs to be as simple as possibe, but I do recognise the importance of audio not being forgotten.

            (I also want to inter-cut some aerial shots from a VGA spy/pen camera I plan to mount to the bottom of a toy helicopter – which I’ll probably have multiple versions of on screen at the same time to fill the frame rather than stretching the 640×480 footage which I suspect will look horrible…)

            Oh, and I’d like the moon on a stick too please 🙂

            Love to know your thoughts / advice on this – you’re a true gent for taking the time to help us all!


            Ps. I also have a snow machine and plan to make use of that in the film – from experience that can be a challenge on the compression codec’s (HG10 and FX1 have both shown a lot of artifacts when I’ve tried this before…)

  25. from berlin,germany
    – the gh1 just reached our local dealer one week ago and he couldn´t answer many questions, so far as as you did.
    thx philip – good work – g.d
    — so how did your leica lens experience go?

  26. Hi Philip.

    I really admire your work, its fantastic!

    The video function on the GH1 seems to be great, but I would also like to expirement with DOF, low-light, macro etc.
    Would you recommend the camera for still photos aswell?

  27. Phil-

    Can you tell me if the camera will take a still at the same time as shooting a video?

    I am getting conflicting info from Panasonic on this.



    PS – Great videos!

  28. Dear Philip,

    Besides the fact that you convinced me about the GH1, I went through your site and have been quite impressed by the videos (I am a photographer, so movies are still not in my repertoire). I very liked the themes and your vision of things, congrats.
    I read that the GH1 seems to have problems between zoom and AF when shooting movies: “…the AF function does not work when the zoom ring is turned after the video button is pressed.” (in although the report speaks about a prototype version).
    I do not quite understand what the problem is, but did you observe this when you worked with the GH1 (from the shoots you have on your site, I do not see any problem at all)?

    Keep on your fantastic work, you got a new fan,


  29. Hi Philip,

    I have one doubt: can you switch between AF and manual focus during filming, or is that not possible?

    By the way, congrats for your great videos!

  30. Hi Philip,

    Just a presumably not technical question: why are all the bodies of the main manufacturers simply available in dull black?
    I like the way Panasonic is going with offering different colors (I am also a go for the red body).

    By the way, is the GH1 body metallic?

    Have a gorgeous day,


    1. pretty sure that the reason for black (at least on all professional level equipment) is so the equipment does not reflect light on the shot.

  31. hi Philip,

    my complimentes, seems great things come out of a small box…. is this really true? Is it possible to control the image properly? Is it possible to set a proper white balance? (Your shots in the snooker hall are a bit yellow….)

    thanks, rob

      1. And now Olympus unveiled the Pen E-P1, great retro-design but comes quite short on the movie side (7 minutes video in 720p and 14 minutes in 640×480, so far).
        Probably the true micro four-third design (compactness)!

        1. …and I got my GH1 in red last saturday. Awesome, I really like it. I left 35mm cameras some 10 years ago for a compact digital (some Canon IXUS of the early league) due to weight issues (mountaineering)ending a couple of years ago with a Canon G9. Back to SLR with the GH1 is just a pleasure and Philip did a very good job in commenting on this camera. Thanks again for your critical eye, I love the GH1.

        2. Well, Panasonic strikes with the GF-1, this is definitively the real, true, absolute Micro Four-Third to my eyes. Olympus EP-1 is just left behind. Just hope that Panasonic or other 3rd-party suppliers will come up with a broader range of lenses (some good tele in the F2.8 range).

  32. P,
    Great stuff exposing us to the cam! Just got my US model last week .

    one thing that was huge for us was the not-so-professional features of the Panasonic electronics. the face recog. and intelligent everything modes for stills and video means the wife will actually pick it up and push the button… and be PLEASED with the results (She took it to an end of school party for the kids the day after we got it).

    Anyway, thanks for the eye-opening experience!

    1. can you explain what are you asking as i don’t get it? are you asking why I am shooting wide open? if so then to achieve the shallowest depth of field possible with the stock lens.

  33. I’m considering this camera, however my concern is still the jell-o effect of a rolling shutter. Most of your set up seem to be static which would make the jell-o effect moot. Or were moving shots so wobbly you edited them out? The larger sensor is very seductive to one who has been shooting with smaller sensors (usually 1/2′ – 1/3″) since the demise of 25mm plumicons and low cost 16mm film. BTW your work rocks.


  34. I’m trying to get one of these here in Toronto Canada…

    I was informed by the Panasonic rep that these units will not be available until the end of August, despite the fact that I was told by the camera store where I placed an order that they should have some stock on July 1st…shipment has been pushed back because of high demand and lack of availability…

    It’s too bad because I was hoping to use it during the summer and on vacation…

    Apparently it’s not unusual for Panasonic to underestimate demand on products and not be able to supply the product…

    I’ll take a deep breath and hope that despite the ETA it will actually be here sooner…



  35. Beautiful images Philip, I watching the first day tests, I have a pretty decent internet connection, It seems like there was a little studdering, is that a function of the memory in the camera?
    Maybe my connection.

  36. Thanks for this great article Phil. When using the top mic does it pick up sounds of camera operation, such as AF noise or button clicks (excluding the super quiet kit lens)?

    Do you find a need to capture seperate audio anyway?

  37. The US Panasonic website now shows that the GH1 will not be available here until Sept. Hopefully, by that time Panny will have incorporated the 1.1 update and fixed the codac for 1080 into the camera.

      1. Since you were asked to review the GH1 by Panasonic, do you think they will be addressing your opinion as to improvements? GH1 blogs at Vimeo and other sites also say the same as you and the videos posted at 720 re-enforces the need to fix the 1080 codac.

  38. You Said:

    “One downside to using the Nikon adaptor is I will get a x2 magnification as the lenses are for much larger sensors. Twice the size hence the x2.”

    Is there a way to get around this?

    And, how much quality am I losing using these lenses – in terms of pixels?

    1. If you’re doing green screen, use a cam that has live HD output from the HDMI, capture from the HDMI straight into the computer either in ProRes422 or uncompressed on a PC. The Canon AVCHD cameras offer uncompressed 4:2:2 output from the HDMI, but only in live mode. Also the jello-cam effect can be eliminated by using a new plug-in from the foundry called “Rolling Shutter”

  39. Hi! I’ve just bought a GH1. I’m experiencing some problems with AF during video recording. When the subject moves and the AF is set, the image wobbles. With manual focus everything is ok… Is it something wrong with my settings???

    thanks in advance

  40. Hello Philip.
    I recently purchase a GH1. After a tested a camera of steel and video files show a terrible banding almost on every ISO speed. Did you have any problems whiz your GH1.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey there, I noticed the same banding on my cam and not only in video but even in the pictures, well something that is obvious at it is the sensor itself. Some people recommend “burning in” – letting the camera film uninterrupted for a very long time…lets say 24 hours or so. I dont believe in this to go away entirely with this kind of trick, and brought the camera back, very dissapointed.

  41. Have you tried attaching an external microphone other than the one supplied by Panasonic? (Could come in handy for “fishpoling” or lavalier mikes).

    The camera has no manual recording level settings. When recording an interview, for example, with loud background noise, do you find that the background noise “pumps up” during speech pauses, then “pumps down” when the speaker continues talking?

    Thanks for any insights.

    1. I have both a Canon 5DmkII and Panasonic GH1. I shoot LOTS of interviews, so good sound is essential. My bread and butter cameras are Panasonic HMC150’s.

      Both the 5DmkII and GH1 have a preposterously bad AGC. For me, the issue is most pronounced when recording interviews in a quiet environment. When the person stops speaking briefly, the AGC pumps up the background noise. The best solution I found is the Beachtek adapter for the 5D mkII. It also fits on the GH1 if you remove one of the mounting pins. It allows you to use professional mics and has a switch that defeats the AGC by directing an inaudible tone onto channel 1. I’ve used it for a few interviews and it seems to work well.

      The Beachteck also provides phantom power, which is nice. Plus is has a headphone jack which is missing on both these cameras. Unfortunately, the headphone monitoring is upstream of the camera so you will not know if you have a bad connection to the camera, but at least you can monitor for wind noise, popping p’s etc. You need sensitive mics for this device though, -35db or better, for it to work properly.

      I also sometimes use a Zoom H4N as Philip does. With the Zoom, you need to take the time to sync the video and sound files in post. Getting your settings correct with respect to drop frame and non-drop frame are essential. But for the most part I use the HMC150 cameras for interviews because of the complexity and risks of the other options with the 5DmkII and GH1. These DSLR’s are great b-roll cameras as you can see in Philip’s movies.

      I have a few other quibbles with the GH1 that are unrelated to sound, but mostly I love it. I particularly love the articulating LCD viewfinder.

  42. Thanks for sharing your knowledge about this camera.

    Your posts and the wonderful footage you shot with the GH1 inspired me to buy one myself (just got it, it was very difficult to get hold of one here in the Netherlands)! But I’m new to filming (not new to pro video editing though) and there are similarities with still photography but also big differences!

    One question you might be able to answer: I have a PAL version of the GH1 and as such some forums recommend shooting at 1/50s shutter speed when using 720P AVCHD (this should be 50p if I’m right). However in good light this quickly results in small aperture sizes where lens diffraction comes into play. I will get a 8xND filter to compensate a bit, but with bright sunlight it’s not enough to get a shallow depth of field / large aperture size. Is there anything fundamentally wrong with a faster shutter speed to reduce the exposure? And if so, does that need to be an integer multiple of 50 (like 1/250 1/500 etc.)?

    I’m off to the Maldives in a couple of months which gives me some time to practise. But extreme amounts of light and really white sand will be challenging.

    1. hi Ramon

      Wen shooting 50p have shutter at 1/100th. Always double the frame rate for proper film motion but yes you need ND. Look on ebay for the Fader ND it will help enormously (search my site for Fader Nd Vari ND to find blog)



      1. Thanks Philip,

        I think I get the ‘double’ of frame rate exposure thing (180 degree shutter). But nobody seems to mention why higher shutter speeds would be bad. Is it because it causes multiple exposures per recorded frame, so movement would be seen as multiple freezes of that motion per frame? Why would that be bad? Would that give a non blurred and less natural look for fast movement? (I’m trying to visualise this).

        Thanks for the great Fader ND tip! That’s something I’m going to order for sure as it seems to be the missing link for correct video exposure on the GH1! You almost wonder why this isn’t an optional Panasonic part.

        1. Shooting video with a high shutter speed is more of an artistic gripe than a technical one. When shooting at 60th of a second you get a certain amount of motion blur that appears ‘natural’.

          Shooting at much lower shutter speeds (24th, 12th, 6th, or half of a second) will give you a steadily increasing amounts of motion blur and make the video look unnatural. (but will also give you a cool effect if that’s what you’re going for.) Of course, be aware that 24th of a second will be the bottom limit unless you want to mess with the frame rate.

          Shooting at much higher shutter speeds (500th, 1000th, what have you.) will elliminate motion blur almost entirely and can give you a disconcerting strobe effect.

          If you have a strobe light you can try this as an experiment: find a willing accomplice and have them tear around your room for a bit. Then Turn out the lights and set your strobe light to flash 24times per second and repeat.

          Even though the strobe light is illuminating your compatriot at 24 times per second (same frame rate as movie film) the movement will appear unnatural. Why? Because the extremely fast flash of the strobe has eliminated motion blur.

  43. Hi,

    I have always been interested in film making but have been put off by the flat image that camcorders give. I love editing using Final Cut express 4 at the moment but want to shoot something more film like. I think I like the editing more than the shooting because I’m not getting what I’m after with a tiny sensor SD camcorder. It’s going to start off as a hobby along side my DSLR stills shooting. Do you think I can use a GH1 exclusively for shooting video or is it a good idea to mix footage with a HD camcorder, remembering this is for fun to begin with. I think I can do a lot without panning, hence avoiding any rolling shutter issues.

    I’m sorry if this is too amateur to post on your site but we all have to start somewhere.



  44. I purchased the 20mm (40mm/35mm equivalent) pancake lens and believe me or not, the GH1 fits in the pocket of my jacket.
    Now I have my sport camera with an amazing lens and the compactness I always was looking for.
    I keep the 14-140mm for holidays, and the 20mm for daily use.

  45. Hi Philip,

    I bought a GH1 and the 20 mm lens and a Rhode mic (all at B & H). Love it. Tell Panasonic all because of you. I picked it over the Canons you recommend because of the EVF, articulating screen, smaller size and less $$$. Maybe I should have waited for the new Canon T2i, but then I would have needed the Zacuto VF and then it gets bigger. Took it to Spain and hit the streets of Madrid – not quite “Madrid’s People” but fun none-the-less.

    The one annoying thing is the weak 1080/24P video, I see interlacing all the time. It’s not really ‘p’ is it.

    If I were the god of firmware upgrades I would fix that, drop the silly motion JPEG stuff (way too much memory), and add more frame rates at 720p, especially for travel.

    You seem to be in touch with Panasonic – any hope of getting these firmware upgrades?



    1. I get that to, what up with that. Upgraded to the new hack but have not fired it up yet. I guess Hacker 13 has corrected all the problems that Philip saw when he first used the camera about 4 months ago. Some of the GH1 users are saying that the video out of the GH1 has really improved and rivals that of the 5d but doesnt have all the issueS that the 5d has. The main problem that I am having is with the Composer not seeing the AVCHD footage. I used a converter program from Panasonic and I just get error messages, so that is a real pain but the Composer 5.0 takes it in natively and also Redcode, so when I upgrade it should take care of that-HOPEFULLY!

      1. You have to search in its menu (page 4 I guess) and turn on the option: Shoot without lens.
        After that it works perfect with any manual lens, I use mine with nikkors, and its a dream come true.

Leave a Reply