The Lens, LCD & EVF
A first glance, the Lumix G1 looks like any digital SLR. It is big and chunky when compared to a pocket point-and-shoot camera. However, as you can see in Figure 4, the G1 is actually quite a bit smaller than a the Olympus Evolt E- 510, which is a Four Thirds Mount full SLR camera with a mirror box. At just about 5” (12.7 cm) wide and under a pound (450 g), the G1 is one of the smallest cameras with removable lenses.
In this figure you will also see that the hardware and controls are similar to those of the Evolt and other digital SLR cameras.
There are, however, several big differences. This camera does not have a mirror box to reflect the picture into the viewfinder, instead it has an electronic viewfinder (EVF). Panasonic calls it a Live View Finder and lists its resolution at 1.44 million pixels. While traditionally most professional photographers do not like electronic viewfinders, this one may even turn a few professional heads. The picture quality of the EVF is superb. It allows you to see exactly what the camera sees. You can also see the camera information superimposed on the view right through the viewfinder. The viewfinder also has built-in eye sensor. When you put it up to your eye, the camera automatically switches of the LCD to conserve battery life.
Another unique feature of the G1 is the 3” flip-out rotating LCD display, shown in Figure 5. The LCD has excellent clarity and provides great visibility even in direct sunlight. The LCD rotates out by as much as 180 degrees and pivots up to 270 degrees vertically. This allows you to take photos above your head, at ground level, as well as at other odd angles.
The Micro Four Thirds system uses special lenses that are also slightly smaller than other lenses. Right now there are very few lenses of this type available, but the number is expected to grow as more Micro Four Thirds cameras are introduced. You can also purchase an adapter so that the camera can use regular Four Thirds lenses, but not all of the auto features can be used with regular Four Thirds lenses. Figure 6 shows the Micro Four Thirds lens next to a regular Four Thirds lens.
Some projected that the Micro Four Thirds cameras might have a dust problem because the sensor is closer to the lens mount and there is no mirror to protect it from dust. But Panasonic has incorporated a Supersonic Wave Filter ultrasonic dust reduction system that shakes dust away when the camera is powered on. We had no problem with dust during our testing and others are also reporting that this anti-dust system works quite well. This is not surprising since the Micro Four Thirds system was created in conjunction with Olympus who was the first to introduce a good dust-reduction system into their digital cameras.