Of very similar dimensions and build quality to the Canon PowerShot G1, the 12.1Mp Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 offering is the only model here with interchangeable lenses. But in using the new Micro FourThirds system, it's technically not a digital SLR. Updated, December 1 2009.

Powering up in just over a second, the DMC-GF1 does away with the internal mirror mechanism to bring lens and sensor closer together. Its manufacturer is therefore claiming the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 as the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera, with both RAW and Jpeg capture offered.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 doesn't have an optical viewfinder (an electronic viewfinder costs an extra £165), so you must rely on the impressively clear 3in LCD for composing and viewing snaps. A pop-up flash is included, along with an accessory shoe. Artistic types will enjoy the colour effect controls - we particularly liked the ‘dynamic art' option.

There's also a Peripheral Defocus Mode that blurs potentially distracting backgrounds to draw attention to your sharply focused subject. Up to and including ISO 400, images are noise-free.

With a very narrow ridge to the front and the lack of any rear padding, we found it difficult to get a firm grip on the Panasonic when shooting handheld. Still, it's possible to use the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 as a glorified point-and-shoot - the intelligent Auto mode recognises given scenes and subjects and adjusts its settings automatically.

There's a dedicated button for HD video capture and you can also shoot in AVCHD Lite or Mpeg formats at a resolution of 1280x720. If you're attaching a zoom lens you'll need to manually adjust framing and focus when filming, however. An HDMI port is provided.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 presents a highly portable option for photo enthusiasts who want the option to switch lenses without the bulk of a digital SLR. Anyone who already owns a digital SLR will find this less appealing as a replacement, however, since they will have to invest in a whole new set of Micro FourThirds-compatible lenses.

NEXT: our first look, from September 2009 >>

EXPERT VERDICT ON PAGE 3 >>


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