By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: Panasonic yesterday chose the salubrious heliport adjacent to Rosehill Racecource to launch its two new models of Micro Four Thirds cameras. Not far from where Miss Finland and Forensics have saluted the judges in the Golden Slipper, this setting provided Panasonic with a launching pad for its new range.

The key advancement in the new Panasonic Micro Four Thirds range is a new unit hitting a sub-$1,000 price point. The G10 comes without much of the bells and whistles of its much better-featured counterpart, the G2, but it offers consumers a cost effective stepping stone up from digital compact to a more professional level of photography.

The G10 will be available from June 2010 for RRP $999, though this is just a single lens kit (the Lumix G Vario 14-42 millimetres). There will also be a twin lens kit available for RRP $1,299, with the 14-42 lens joined by a 45-200 millimetres lens in the kit bag. This model is only available in black.

The marquee product, however, is the new G2, which features an intuitive touchscreen with flip operation for reviewing photos and accessing the feature menu. Users can touch the screen to identify faces or moving objects to track, can adjust the settings through touch and can capture images through contact with the screen. The screen can be reversed for self-portraits. Both the G2 and the G10 are 12.1-megapixel cameras.

The intelligent auto feature on both cameras enables users to focus more on the subject they are capturing than on the camera’s myriad of settings. A good example of this was yesterday in a helicopter, when the G2 was used to photograph both near objects (another helicopter flying in formation) and far objects (the Sea Cliff Bridge just north of Wollongong).

The G10 will be available in June in three colours: black, blue and red. The camera only is RRP $1,099, a single lens kit is RRP $1,299 and a twin lens kit is RRP $1,599. Panasonic has ensured that these cameras have the same fittings as previous models, meaning that consumers can upgrade just the camera body and continue to use previously purchased accessories.