Panasonic is poised to launch its first Micro Four Thirds camera with video recording capability.

Due out in the UK in mid-May the Lumix DMC-GH1 will deploy the same Live MOS imaging sensor as the 12.1-million-pixel Lumix G1 which debuted last year.

Panasonic has confirmed that the GH1?s ?HD? video mode will feature autofocus, shutter and aperture priority as well as autoexposure functions.

A price has not yet been released. The GH1 will be available as a kit with a new 14-140mm lens (see below). The camera will not be out as a body only.

HD video capture

Video files are recorded at a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels at 25 frames per second.

The movie mode is activated via a separate record button on the back of the camera.

Like Panasonic?s range of camcorders, video files are recorded in AVCHD format (AVCHD stands for Audio and Video Codec High Definition).

Also compatible with video is Face Recognition, along with Panasonic?s Intelligent Auto – a function that aims to apply the best shooting mode for the scene.

A stereo microphone is located on top of the camera body. The GH1 will also be compatible with an optional external microphone (DMW-MS1) designed to sit in the camera?s hotshoe (pictured above).

Lower noise claim

The firm has reduced image noise at higher ISOs to make it more comparable to images produced by a camera with an APS-C- size sensor, claims Michiharu Uematsu, product planning group manager for Panasonic?s DSC Business Unit.

Speaking to Amateur Photographer ahead of PMA, he explained that Panasonic has improved the analogue-to-digital signal conversion to deliver less noise at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200.

Accompanying the camera will be the Lumix G Vario HD 14-140mm f/4-5.8 ASPH lens which has been optimised for video. It features seven aperture blades to help facilitate the smooth aperture movements required for video capture, plus Mega Optical Image Stabilisation.

Lens roadmap

We understand that a new 7-14mm f/4 lens will debut alongside the GH1, though this is not optimised for video capture.

Panasonic also plans to launch a 45mm f/3.8 Macro lens later this year, along with a 20mm f/1.7 ?pancake? optic. These are expected to go on sale in the autumn.

Olympus and Panasonic announced the Micro Four Thirds System standard last year, telling photographers they can expect to see ‘dramatically’ smaller and lighter interchangeable lens camera systems.

The firms aim to win over compact camera users who find DSLRS ‘big, heavy and difficult to operate’.

In technical terms, Micro Four Thirds cameras are not SLRs because they contain no mirror box ? helping to reduce camera?s body size.

The GH1 will be available in red or black in the UK.

* Panasonic has also announced plans to launch adapters that enable Micro Four Thirds cameras to accept Leica M and R-mount lenses, expected to arrive in the autumn.

Panasonic Lumix GH1Latest news from PMA 2009