As a technology becomes more mainstream, a reasonable concomitant is to offer the device in increasingly lighter, sleeker, and smaller designs. This has generally not been the case for single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras, which have continued to be large and awkward to carry and move. On October 31, Panasonic—Matsushita until October 1—will release the Lumix G series, which is a step in the right direction. Weighing in at less than 14 ounces (385 grams), the Lumix brand will be the first of its size to offer the SLR technology with interchangeable lenses. SLR viewfinders are special because they display the exact image that the photographer captured, whereas the display of non-SLR camera viewfinders can be substantially different from what the photographer actually captured. The LCD viewfinders in cheaper digital cameras also cannot match the high-end performance of SLR devices.

The obvious benefit of the Lumix’s new mobile design is the increase in photo opportunities. The light weight enables the photographer to travel to more and harder-to-reach places with the camera, while preserving the professional quality of the photographs.

The purchase price for the Lumix G1 is ~$840. The model will release first in Japan. They are expected to release in the United States early November. In 2007, Panasonic was the 7th largest digital camera maker in the world at 7.1 percent market share. The two juggernauts of the industry, Canon and Nikon, have not formally responded to the Tokyo-based company’s announcement.