What this means is that the Lumix G1 offers potentially the same image quality as a full-size DSLR, but in a much smaller and lighter package. The G1 weighs 385g body-only, compared to around 600g for a typical mid-range DSLR. The shorter lens-to-sensor distance also means that the lenses can be much smaller and lighter. The standard 14-45mm lens weighs only 195g, compared to 420g for a typical 18-70mm standard lens for an APS-C camera. The shape of the G1's body and the layout of its controls bears a more than passing resemblance to the Lumix FZ28, but it is about 8mm wider and taller.
Despite its small size compared to other DSLRs, the G1 is still larger and heavier than most compacts, and as a result it feels more solid and substantial in the hand than one might expect. It has a sculpted handgrip and thumbgrip, and is comfortable to hold, although the finish can be a bit slippery. The camera body is made of a tough plastic, and is finished in an odd smooth matt texture that feels as though the whole camera is covered in a thin sheet of rubber. I'd far prefer a more grippy texture on the handgrip.
The only real handling problem I've encountered is that when the camera is fitted with the wider 45-200mm telephoto zoom, there isn't a lot of room between the lens barrel and the hangrip, which can be a bit uncomfortable for those with larger fingers.
The control layout is simple but effective, and anyone who's used a high-end bridge camera or any recent DSLR should have no problem picking it up right away. Main mode selection is via a large dial on the top plate, with adjoining switches for on/off and drive mode. Commonly used settings can be adjusted via a comprehensive on-screen quick menu, while an input wheel on the front of the handgrip is used to adjust exposure compensation or manual exposure settings. As well as this it has specific buttons for white balance, ISO setting, AF mode and AE/AF lock, as well as a user-defined function button.
In addition to the normal controls, there is also a display option to show a graphic interface, by which all of the common settings can be quickly adjusted by using the D-pad and the input wheel. This will be familiar territory to anyone who's used an Olympus DSLR.
In terms of features the G1 has everything you'd expect to find on a mid-range DSLR, while at the same time having the user-friendly automatic features of a compact camera. The main mode dial has a range of pre-set scene modes, including night shooting, close-up, sports, scenery and portrait, and each of these has four or five sub-options selected via an on-screen menu. As well as this it has a few extra miscellaneous scene modes, and Panasonic's iAuto option, in which the camera automatically selects the scene mode, exposure and ISO settings for you.