Pogue wasn't wowed by last fall's G1 model, though he acknowledged that it was "a technical breakthrough that took a giant stride toward the holy grail of photography: gorgeous, professional-looking photos from a small camera." (It was Popular Photography’s Camera of the Year.)
But the updated version, to be released in May, features for the first time full, unlimited-length, 1080p high-definition video, with autofocus, a first for an SLR-style camera.
You can use different lenses for shooting video, including ultra wide-angle. You can use all photo controls for video, including macro (extreme close-up). You can achieve sharp foregrounds with blurred backgrounds, which is impossible with a regular camcorder.
Pricetag: $1500 -- nearly twice the cost of its predecessor. "Panasonic says that most of the increase over the videoless G1’s $800 price is because of the new included lens. And it is a beauty: a 10X zoomer, specially made for video (for example, it’s silent when focusing and zooming)."
In the end, though, $1,500 doesn’t seem that bad when you consider what you’re getting: the world’s first SLR that captures full high-definition video — and keeps it all in focus. Plenty of SLRs cost that much and don’t take any video at all — and plenty of $10,000 hi-def video cameras don’t take stills.Pogue's review / Slideshow of Pogue's sample images.
The camera is fast, well-designed, enormously satisfying to use, and generally tops in image and video quality. Overall, the Lumix GH1 is a big leap toward a future when pro-style photos come from consumer-size cameras.