Angry Robot

GH1 in Effect

Just got the Panasonic GH1 in. I had pre-ordered at adorama in the US, and at Vistek here in Toronto, and due to a lucky turn, Vistek came through much earlier than I had feared. I know from scouring the forums that many are being told they won’t get their cameras until July.

I’ve only barely used it, but I’m already thrilled. Perhaps much of the thrill would be common to any camera in this price range / category; many entry level DSLRs, as I understand it, would have equivalent picture quality and features. But it’s all new to me – my recent cameras are an ancient film SLR, a crappy five-year-old point & shoot, and the iPhone. I’ve taken good pictures with all of them, but never with the ease I experienced since this new baby came.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing is how frickin’ smart the camera is. The autofocus is fast, and shows you what it’s focusing on. The metering seemed always on point. And more than once we noticed it doing crazy-ass face detection. Apparently it predicts motion too? How long until it becomes self-aware, if it isn’t already?

I’m just scratching the surface of video recording, which of course is the reason I bought this camera. It’s harder to get sorted than it needs to be. If you’re going for a film look thing the right settings are crucial, which would be 1080p (“full HD”) and a shutter rate of 1/50. That means you’re recording in the rather nasty codec AVCHD, which causes workflow problems because Final Cut can’t edit that natively. Getting real 24p also requires deinterlacing the shots after that. To make matters worse, the AVCHD footage can break up and create compression mud on fast pans and tilts.

That said the 720 60p works well, and also presents the opportunity to shoot slow motion. And all in all, for the crazy small amount of money this thing costs, you have an HD, 24p camera with a sensor only a hair smaller than a RED camera.

There’s Pride on the weekend, and then I’m off the next week, with the intention of shooting me some (film? AVCHD? MTS files?), so I’ll have at least some test footage to show before too long.

(follow the stills along on flickr)