Review Price £549.99
One thing that hasn't been cut down is the camera's exceptional performance. It can start up and take a picture in a little over one second, and in single shot mode it can maintain a consistent speed of one shot every 0.7 seconds, which is very good by any standard, although some full-size DSLRs are faster. In continuous shooting mode it can maintain approximately three frames a second, although the number of shots it can shoot in a row depends on the speed of the memory card being used. With a fast class 10 card it can manage 18 shots before slowing down to empty the buffer.
Like other mirrorless system cameras the G10 has a contrast detection autofocus system which uses the imaging sensor, rather than the faster phase detection systems used in conventional DSLRs. Nonetheless focusing is exceptionally fast and reliable in all lighting conditions, and doesn't slow down noticeably in low light. The G10 has a bright AF assist lamp with a useful range of about three metres. The pop-up flash is also very good, with a guide number of 11 at 100 ISO, and is easily capable of filling a large room with good frame coverage even at wide angle.
In terms of overall image quality the G10 is virtually indistinguishable from the G2. Exposure metering is extremely accurate and reliable, colour depth and saturation are superb, and dynamic range is also very good. The new 14-42mm standard kit lens is significantly better than the old one, with excellent edge to edge sharpness and no visible chromatic aberration at any focal length or aperture setting.
Noise control is very good at lower ISO settings, but like most Four-Thirds sensor cameras there are some problems at higher sensitivities. There is visible noise and colour mottling at 400 ISO, and this gets progressively worse as speed increases, until the 6400 ISO setting is virtually unusable. Hopefully Panasonic and Olympus will adapt the new back-illuminated sensor technology to the Four-Thirds system and reap some of the benefits of reduced noise. Until then however the larger APS-C sensors employed by its rivals will continue to have an advantage in image quality.
Although it is lacking a few amenities, the Panasonic Lumix G10 doesn't lose out too badly to its more expensive stablemate the G2. The viewfinder is a bit disappointing, but the performance and image quality more than compensate. Build quality, handling and usability are all first rate, and the camera has the feel of a quality product. The only question is whether it can compete with its new rivals at its current price.