Canon T2i vs Panasonic GF1

by Enche Tjin on June 26, 2010

Many people who are considering Canon EOS T2i / 550D may also consider Panasonic GF1. The obvious reason is the price difference is quite close ($100-150). Canon T2i is sold at $800 body only and $899 with 18-55mm kit lens, on the other hand, GF1 is sold at $750 with 14-45mm kit lens and $800 with 20mm f/1.7 kit lens.

So which one is the best? Each camera has its own good and bad points. Canon EOS T2i is the best beginner camera out in the market right now. It has inherited many features from its older brother Canon EOS 7D such as 63 zone metering system, 18 megapixel image sensor and full HD movie recording.

On the other hand, Panasonic GF1, which belong to micro four thirds system is far more compact due to its mirror less design, and better built. The difference in size is very obvious when you compare them from the side.

Because of the size differences, it is much more convenient to take GF1 with you when traveling, rather than lugging Canon T2i. However, when you demand a faster and higher quality image, Canon T2i is obviously better due to the larger image sensor and its noise management algorithm. T2i also allow you to record Full HD video clip.

Therefore, if you demand an ultimate image quality and performance, choose Canon EOS T2i, but if you want camera that compact enough to carry with you anywhere you go and better than compact camera,  grab Panasonic GF1.

Features Canon T2i Panasonic GF1
Image 18 MP – aps-c sensor 12 MP – four thirds sensor
Portability Moderate Very High
Video Full HD 1080p Hd 720p
Viewfinder built-in optical viewfinder / penta mirror Optional electronic viewfinder
LCD Screen 3″  1 million dots 3″  460k
Native aspect ratio 3:2 4:3
ISO up to 12800, good image up to 1600 up to 3200, good image up to 800
Build Quality Plastic Metal
Continuous shooting 3.7 fps 3 fps

From above, GF1 looks slimmer than Canon T2i because it has no viewfinder and no pistol grip

From above, GF1 looks slimmer than Canon T2i because it has no viewfinder and no pistol grip

From the side, Panasonic GF1 is far more compact, but notice the lens used is 20mm f/1.7 not the zoom lens. It will appear longer if GF1 is attached with its kit zoom lens.

From the side, Panasonic GF1 is far more compact, but notice the lens used is 20mm f/1.7 not the zoom lens. It will appear longer if GF1 is attached with its kit zoom lens.

From the back, the size is almost similar. Please notice that GF1 does not have optical viewfinder

From the back, the size is almost similar. Please notice that GF1 does not have optical viewfinder

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Chu June 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Hello Enche,

I just came across your blog looking through some camera reviews and I see that you’re based in Philadelphia. I’ve lived in Philly for the past six years, and have been getting more interested in amateur photography. I’m currently deciding on purchasing a camera for a month-long trip to France, and since keeping the weight of what I lug minimal and portability are factors, I’ve been particularly interested in the recent spate of micro 4/3 cameras from Panasonic. I see here that you’ve reviewed both the Lumix GF-1 and G2. Although the G2 is a bit bigger/heavier, it does seem to have a greater feature set (and touch-screen), as well as a built-in viewfinder. I’ve had a Canon point-and-shoot before this that has an articulated LCD, so I’ve gotten used to being able to shoot from awkward angles. Of course, the advantage of the GF-1 lies primarily in its compactness, and it seems that reviewers have spoken highly of its build quality and shallow depth-of-field and low-light images using the f/1.7 20mm lens. My old Canon is about the size and weight of the G2, and I feel that it’s a bit too bulky for taking with me on the run in Europe.

Can you offer any advice on the pros and cons of each, and whether you feel strongly about one over the other? Image quality, build quality, portability, image stability, and the ability to take shots with nice bokeh are paramount for me. I’ll be making my purchase online, so I won’t have the luxury of trying these products in person before I buy. I’m very grateful for your input.

Thanks so much!

Brian in Philly

Enche Tjin June 29, 2010 at 12:09 am

Hi Brian, it is a tough question. Like you’ve said, the difference between GF1 and G2 is really about portability and feature set. Whether you choose G2 or GF1, I recommend you to get two lenses, one is the standard zoom lens 14-42/14-45mm and 20mm/1.7. The zoom lens is for all purpose and the 20mm f/1.7 is for nice bokeh.

I don’t feel bothered carrying GF1 around especially with 20mm f/1.7. Sometimes, I don’t feel that I carry any. But G2 is bigger because it has protruding grip and electronic viewfinder built-in plus the articulating LCD. G2 is more like mini DSLR or super-zoom camera rather than compact camera.

Image quality wise, G2 is a bit in low light condition. Performance wise, they are both the same. Feature wise.. you know that G2 has more to offer.

Despite all of that, I think Panasonic GF1 will be more suitable for you because you don’t want the camera to get in your way, and I assume you’ll likely to shoot outdoor (bright light) rather indoor or night most of the time.

Brian Chu June 30, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Enche,

Thank you for your invaluable advice. Based on what you said, I’ve gone ahead and purchased a GF1 online. I’ll keep you posted on my impressions when I’ve had some time to play with it.

Did you get to try the GF1 with the optional live viewfinder accessory? You’re right that I’ll be shooting in mostly sunny scenes in southern France, so having the attachable viewfinder for bright light conditions is essential. I’ve read mixed reviews about its implementation online.

I’ll be getting both the 14-45 mm lens and f/1.7 20 mm pancake for sure. Did you have any problems taking steady shots with the prime lens, since it’s not image-stabilized?

Brian

Enche Tjin June 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I didn’t have problem because of ethe big aperture (f/1.7). It allows a lot of light so I can crank up shutter speed to keep the shot steady even in low light condition.

About optional electronic viewfinder, it will be helpful in very bright light condition. The other alternative is the external “optical” viewfinder like this one. It is Helios multifinder. It is not 100% accurate but it is a lot clearer.

Enche Tjin June 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Look forward to hear about your experience!

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