Panasonic GF1 Review

by Enche Tjin on April 24, 2010

Panasonic GF1 is a part of micro four third system that employs large sensor and interchangeable lenses. It is very popular among enthusiasts because it is one of the smallest m43 camera in the market. It is usually compared to Olympus E-P1 or E-P2 due to similar size and concept.

However, Panasonic GF1 has different strengths and weakneses compared to Olympus E-P1/2. GF1 does not has built-in body stabilization, but it has better performance especially auto focus speed and accuracy. The other advantage of GF1 is availability of built-in flash. Although it is not as powerful as built-in flash in DSLR camera, it is good to have one. Olympus E-P1/E-P2 do not have built-in flash, but the new Olympus E-PL1 has one.

Here is Panasonic GF1 main specs:

  • 12 Megapixel image resolution
  • Native 4:3 aspect ratio, 1:1, 3:2, and 16:9 options are available
  • 3″ LCD screen, 460k, 3:2 aspect ratio
  • ISO 100-3200, Auto ISO limiter from 100 to 1600
  • 720p HD movie recording, AVCHD/MPEG 30fps, mono sound
  • Lens-based image stabilization
  • Price: $899 with 20mm f/1.7 or $750 with 14-45mm IS lens

BODY & HANDLING

Panasonic GF1 weights 348 g with battery and card. The dimension is 116 x 71 x 35 mm. It is thinner and smaller compare to regular DSLR camera such as Canon T2i. It is just a bit bigger and taller than advanced compact camera such as the venerable Panasonic LX3. But if you mount GF1 with a long lens, then it will be more like DSLR camera, without a viewfinder of course.

Compare to Olympus m43 cameras, Panasonic does not employ in body image stabilization. However, many Panasonic zoom lenses have lens-based image stabilization. It causes two major implications. First, prime/pancake lenses do not get image-stabilized. Second, most of Panasonic zoom lens will be longer than Olympus’.

Panasonic GF1 has one thumb dial and four-way controller and one customizable function buttons. To change major setting such as ISO, AF mode, White Balance is very easy because there are dedicated buttons embedded in four-way controller. There is also a dedicated quick menu button. In addition, GF1 has dedicated movie recording button.

Left: Panasonic GF1, Right: Panasonic LX3

Left: Panasonic GF1, Right: Panasonic LX3

I find GF1’s interface has many similarities to that of LX3, so if you have use that compact camera, then it will be easy for you to adapt. But there are a few differences such as thumb dial replaces small joystick.

Left: Panasonic GF1, Right: Panasonic LX3

Left: Panasonic GF1, Right: Panasonic LX3

The thumb dial is used to change various setting depending on shooting mode. For example, in manual mode, you use it to change aperture value. Then, you can click the dial and change the shutter value.  In aperture priority mode, you use it to change aperture, and click to change exposure compensation. I find it is less efficient way to change setting compare to its E-P1/2 which has two dials.

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