Unusual Panasonic LUMIX BGH1 camera wants to ride on your drone

Panasonic has a new micro four thirds camera, but the LUMIX DC-BGH1 might not look quite like you expect it to. The company's first box-style LUMIX, it's sized and shaped for everything from mounting to a drone, to being used for live-streaming or broadcast taking advantage of its remote-control support.

Inside the box there's a 10.2-megapixel Live MOS sensor, using Panasonic's Dual Native ISO system and its Venus Engine processor. Rather than noise increasing along with sensitivity, Panasonic says, the Dual Native ISO system allows the BGH1 to choose the optimal circuit based on sensitivity, before processing the gain.

The result is maximum support for ISO 51,200, and there's also 4:2:0 10-bit C4K/4K 60p or 4:2:2 10-bit All-I C4k/4K 30p internal video recording. You can select a designated gamma curve that's compatible with ITU-R BT.2100, or Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) in Photo Style.

Alternatively, there's a low-bit-rate recording mode C4K/4K HEVC/H.265 for HLG. You can also access 4K 4:2:2 10-bit C4K/4K 60p output over HDMI. Variable Frame Rate (VFR) support means overcranked or undercranked footage is available too, in both C4K/4K (60 fps, maximum 2.5x slower in 24p) and FHD (240 fps, maximum 10x slower in 24p) resolutions.

Borrowed from Panasonic's other micro four thirds cameras is deep-learning powered autofocus tracking. That can spot humans and fast-moving animals – including using separate human head-identification – so that the AF can stay locked on even if the subject turns away from the camera.

All those smarts are wrapped up in an aluminum and magnesium alloy casing, measuring under 4-inches along each side and under 1.2 pounds in weight, with ports including ethernet, USB 3.1 Type-C, 3G-SDI, and HDMI Type-A. Power over Ethernet+ (PoE+) support trims down the required cables to one for tethered use, and the LUMIX Tether for Multicam app can simultaneously control up to 12 BGH1 cameras. If you'd rather hook it up to a system of your own, Panasonic will offer a free SDK for accessing the LUMIX via USB.

There are also Genlock IN and Timecode IN/OUT functions, for integration with gimbals, stabilizers, and other hardware. Dual UHS-II SD card slots are included, along with WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2, and there's a 3.5mm audio in/out jack for wired microphones.

Sales of the LUMIX BGH1 kick off in December, Panasonic says, with the camera priced at $1,999.99.