Photokina Show Report Pt. 1

Panasonic G system official launch, and first look at HD camera.

If you’re wondering why there have been no camera reviews posted for a couple of days, it’s because I’ve been attending the Photokina photographic trade show, which runs every two years in Cologne, Germany.

Photokina is the world’s biggest camera show. The Kolnmesse convention centre in which it takes place is three quarters of a mile long and half a mile wide, and the show fills 15 of its vast halls. Over 1,500 exhibitors from all over the world come to display their wares, which include every kind of product related to photography. There’s an entire hall just for picture frames.

Naturally all of the major camera manufacturers are here, with huge trade stands where they meet with dealers and journalists. As we’ve seen over the past few weeks there have been a number of new cameras launched recently, most of which are getting their first public airing at the show.

The first highlight, actually taking place two days before the show had officially started, was a Panasonic’s lavish press event to officially launch of the new Panasonic Lumix G1, the company’s first camera using the newly-developed Micro Four Thirds lens mount. I had a chance to try out the camera on a day’s shooting trip, with both the 14-45mm standard lens and the 45-200mm telephoto zoom.

I’m happy to report that the G1 seems, at least on first impressions, to be a great little camera. The camera body is roughly the same size and shape as the body of the Lumix FZ28, and the tiny 14-45mm kit lens is just the cutest thing ever. The build quality on our pre-production test cameras was extremely good, and the camera feels solidly made and balances nicely in the hand. It is heavier than I’d expected, and certainly feels like a “proper camera”.

The G1 is aimed at photographers who want a versatile high-quality system camera but don’t want the bulk of a full sized DSLR. To be honest this initial model is probably going to be to complex for most users upgrading from a compact camera, but it will appeal to serious photographers looking for a more portable alternative to a mid-level DSLR.

We were also given a tantalising look at a mock-up of the proposed next camera in the G-system series, which will feature HD video recording. Note the twin microphones on the top of the flash housing for stereo audio recording.

I’m hoping to get a review sample of the G1 soon, but in the meantime here are a few sample pictures to whet your appetite. Thanks to my good friend Ian Burley of for modelling the camera, to give you an idea of its size.


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