March 5, 2008 Panasonic's freshly unveiled Lumix DMC-GH1 joins the growing list of prosumer digital SLR models capable of capturing HD video - in this case full HD (1920 x 1080) video at 24 fps or HD video (1280 x 720) at 60 fps backed by a specially designed 14-140mm lens featuring low-noise and continuous auto focusing (AF) capability.

The Micro Four Thirds System compatible GH1 follows the release of the LUMIX G1 late last year and features the same compact size and Live View Finder capabilities made possible by a design which eliminates the internal mirror structure.

Long-zoom interchangeable lens designed for video recording

The GH1 comes with a LUMIX G VARIO HD 14-140mm/F4.0-5.8 lens which delivers a focal length range of 28-280mm (35mm camera equivalent) and, with the help of a silent motor, supports continuous AF for both photo and movie capture.

Video is recorded in either 1920 x 1080 resolution at 24 fps or 1280 x 720 at 60 fps using an AVCHD format (MPEG-4/H.264). Audio is captured in stereo via Dolby Digital Stereo Creator and there's also a "Wind Cut" function designed to help to block out background noise.

A dedicated video record button on the back of the camera allows a quick start to video recording and can be used even while shooting still photos. The shutter speed and aperture can also be tweaked for video capture to give an extra level of creativity.

Live View Finder system

The Live View Finder system lets users preview the effects of camera settings before taking the shot and a built-in eye sensor automatically switches between the viewfinder and the 3.0-inch swiveling LCD when the user looks away. According to Panasonic the Live View Finder and LCD provide a 100% field of view – allowing the user to accurately frame and compose a shot from most any position.

12.1-megapixel high speed Live MOS sensor

The LUMIX GH1 boast a new 12.1-megapixel high speed Live MOS sensor and energy efficient Venus Engine HD with twin CPUs. The sensor is designed for compatibility with full-HD movie recording and has a high signal-to-noise ratio thanks to the new circuit structure that also enhances the quality of still shots. The sensor enables shots to be taken in 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 aspect ratios.

Intelligent Auto mode

Other key features include Panasonic’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode which automatically selects relevant scene settings and includes (in-lens) Optical Image Stabilization, AF Tracking, which enables the camera to lock onto any subject and keep it in focus, plus a clever Face Recognition feature. This last function lets you register a specific face which is then remembered and optimized for focus and exposure in future shots.

On the GH1, these features also extend to video capture.

Gizmag's Dave Weinstein got a close look at the new Lumix GH1 at PMA this week - check out the gallery for more pics or see Panasonic for further info.