Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Panasonic GF-1

I've spent the last four days trying out the newest Panasonic G series, the GF-1. While it shares many features with its other "G"
siblings, this model is the stand out in my estimation.

What I liked: While small, it handles very nicely, with a very slight protruding grip on the right side. It feels very solid, a well machined tool.

I tried it with the 20mm/1.7 lens and this would always be my choice, though there is a 14-45mm zoom also available in kit form. The JPEGs are very nice but this is a camera for someone who likes RAW. The depth and color of the RAW image was beautiful. I needed to use the supplied Silkypik converter as my Mac does not, as yet, read the G's raw format.
Up to 800 ISO, the G is the equal to any camera in the price range, beyond that, it does give up some noise control, but it is a fine grain that I prefer to some of the overly "cooked" high ISO you often see in other brands. Its AF is definitely as good as the competition, though how they got the Contrast AF to focus this fast is a mystery.

Though I only tried it once, the video mode is clearly superior to that of the Nikon 5000 and Canon T1i. This system was designed for video capability and it shows.

What could have been better: We didn't have the eye-level viewer at the time of my test and I really would prefer this to holding the camera in front of my face. Not everyone will feel the same, but having the option is valuable. There were also many controls located deep in menus, and I didn't have the time to figure them all out. The built in flash only has a guide # of 6, so has little power. It's better than no flash, but has limited usefulness.

Would I want one? Yes, I would. It reminds me of the Leica CL I've carried over the years with a 40/2 and 90/2.8 lens. In fact, I used the same case to carry the GF-1 as I use for the CL.
With the adapters coming that will allow using M series, as well as other brands of lenses, this is a way to connect to many wonderful lenses of the past.

By: Bill Herbert (Richmond Camera Charlottesville)