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Panasonic GH1 versus Panasonic G1

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in March 2009 and September 2008. Both the GH1 and the G1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12 megapixel. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic G1

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Panasonic GH1 and the Panasonic G1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the GH1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic G1
Compare GH1 versus G1 top
Compare GH1 and G1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G1 is notably smaller (7 percent) than the Panasonic GH1. Moreover, the G1 is markedly lighter (6 percent) than the GH1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the GH1 nor the G1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog. Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Panasonic GH1» 4.9 in 3.5 in 1.8 in 13.6 oz 300 n Mar 2009 1,499- i
Panasonic G1« 4.9 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 12.7 oz 410 n Sep 2008 599- i
Olympus E-P2« » 4.8 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 12.5 oz 300 n Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-450« » 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.5 oz 500 n Mar 2009 499- i
Panasonic G3« » 4.5 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 11.9 oz 270 n May 2011 599- i
Panasonic GX1« » 4.6 in 2.7 in 1.5 in 11.2 oz 320 n Nov 2011 949- i
Panasonic GF2« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 10.9 oz 300 n Nov 2010 549- i
Panasonic GH2« » 4.9 in 3.5 in 3.0 in 15.6 oz 330 n Sep 2010 1,499- i
Panasonic G2« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 15.1 oz 360 n Mar 2010 599- i
Panasonic G10« » 4.9 in 3.3 in 2.9 in 13.7 oz 380 n Mar 2010 499- i
Panasonic GF1« » 4.7 in 2.8 in 1.4 in 13.6 oz 380 n Sep 2009 749- i
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The G1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 60 percent) than the GH1, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic G1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Panasonic GH1 and Panasonic G1 sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 12 megapixel. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the GH1 and the G1 have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the GH1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 5 months) than the G1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time.

GH1 versus G1 MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the GH1 provides substantially higher image quality than the G1, with an overall score that is 11 points higher. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Panasonic GH1» Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
Panasonic G1« Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000-21.110.346353
Olympus E-P2« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
Olympus E-450« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.510.551256
Panasonic G3« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
Panasonic GX1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p20.810.670355
Panasonic GF2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/60i21.210.350654
Panasonic GH2« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60i21.211.365560
Panasonic G2« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
Panasonic G10« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
Panasonic GF1« » Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.351354
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The GH1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the G1 does not. The highest resolution format that the GH1 can use is 1080/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic G1

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The GH1 and the G1 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 1440k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Panasonic GH1, the Panasonic G1, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Panasonic GH1»1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic G1«1440 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4001 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-P2« »- n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 n Y
Olympus E-450« »optical n 2.7 215 fixed n 4000 3.5 Y n
Panasonic G3« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 4.0 Y n
Panasonic GX1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 4.2 Y n
Panasonic GF2« »- n 3.0 460 fixed Y 4000 2.6 Y n
Panasonic GH2« »1534 n 3.0 460 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic G2« »1440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 4000 2.6 Y n
Panasonic G10« »202 n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 2.6 Y n
Panasonic GF1« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the GH1 and the G1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The G1 was replaced by the Panasonic G2, while the GH1 was followed by the Panasonic GH2.

Review summary: Panasonic GH1 vs Panasonic G1

So how do things add up? Is the Panasonic GH1 better than the Panasonic G1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1:

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (11 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/24p movies.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 5 months after the G1).


Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4001/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 300) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the GH1 comes out slightly ahead of the G1 (5 : 4 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

GH1 05:04 G1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the GH1 or the G1 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Panasonic GH1»HiRec72/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 1,499- i
Panasonic G1«HiRec70/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599- i
Olympus E-P2« »Rec69/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799- i
Olympus E-450« »--4/5-4/5 Mar 2009 499- i
Panasonic G3« »HiRec75/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2011 599- i
Panasonic GX1« »Rec77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2011 949- i
Panasonic GF2« »82/10070/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Nov 2010 549- i
Panasonic GH2« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Sep 2010 1,499- i
Panasonic G2« »-72/1004/54/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599- i
Panasonic G10« »-70/1004/5-4/5 Mar 2010 499- i
Panasonic GF1« »85/10069/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2009 749- i
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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