Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Review Summary
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Assessment
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is one of the rare digital cameras to support interchangeable lenses and not be a DSLR. The goal of this design is to give the flexibility of changing lenses with the portability of a compact camera and still produce high-quality photographs.
The final rating of this camera therefore depends greatly on whether it is being compared to a compact camera or against a DSLR. The differences between this one and similar models boil down to handling as they all currently share the same sensor and lens mount. So this is either the best performing compact camera ever, a good DSLR or an average (by default) interchangeable lens camera.
|Large Fixed-Lens Camera||Excellent|
|Interchangeable Lens Camera||Average|
For the final rating, the GF1 was put in the large digital camera category because it is not a DSLR but when we take into account the size of the lens, even the smallest, it does form a rather sizable camera. Anecdotally, the reason the rating would be higher in the DSLR category is because the rating system considers performance of all DSLRs which have been around for much longer.
There are not many competitors to look at. The GF1 has a larger, SLR-shaped sibling, the GH1, that looks more like an ultra-zoom than anything. It has nearly the same feature set except that it can shoot 1080p video instead of the GF1's 720p. There was an older model, the G1, which did not have a movie-mode at all. It is interesting to see that these cameras are evolving to offer a more distinct proposition than their predecessors.
There are certainly a few things that will be changed as the interchangeable lens camera market picks up. It is about rethinking what the camera can do when there is no reflex viewfinder to accommodate. The main usability draw-back of the Panasonic GF1 is the lack of a built-in viewfinder which makes it harder to steady the camera and see subjects in bright light. For this, Panasonic has an optional EVF that goes into the hot-shoe instead of an add-on flash. This EVF provides reasonable visibility but is far from being best-in-class, something that belongs to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 with its 1.5 MP EVF, the highest resolution ever made.
The bottom line is that the GF1 outperforms fixed-lens cameras in most regards and by a fair margin when it comes to image quality. Speed is good but there are some very fast models in this category which will run circles around a GF1. Compared to a DSLR, things are different because of the Panasonic Lumix GF1's smaller sensor, it shows more noise and less dynamic range than virtually all DSLR cameras. The proposition though is that this digital camera can be taken to more places and is considerably more discrete than the average DSLR.
|Very good image quality, just below average for a DSLR||Reduced dynamic range compared to a DSLR, causes highlight clipping|
|One of the smallest interchangeable lens digital cameras||Button-dial is clunky and exposure may change accidentally|
|Very good metering and white-balance systems||Shutter-button difficult to reach when using strap|
|Accurate image colors in standard mode||Digital preview not so good or useful|
|Quick autofocus||Slow shutter-lag|
|Excellent LCD refresh||Relatively weak flash|
|Good LCD visibility||Not exposure priority|
|Very flexible display option||Useless continuous drive as LCD cannot keep up|
|Continuous autofocus possible in movie-mode||Cluttered view, too many icons overlaid|
|Good build quality other than the built-in flash||Cannot autofocus with most Four-Third lenses|
|Startup almost as fast as a DSLR||Limited selection of lenses at this time|
|Short battery life|
Recent Similar Cameras
Panasonic DMC-GF1 Facts
Mirrorless digital camera
|12 Megapixels Mirrorless (SLD)||ISO 100-3200|
|Micro Four-Thirds Mount|
Sensor-Size: 17 x 13mm
Actual size when viewed at 100 DPI
|0.20" Optional EVF 200K Pixels||Full manual controls, including Manual Focus|
|Built-in Dust Reduction||Custom white-balance with 2 axis fine-tuning|
|3 FPS Drive, Unlimited Images||Spot-Metering|
|1280x720 @ 30 FPS Video Recording||Hot-Shoe|
|3" LCD 460K Pixels||Lithium-Ion|
|Secure Digital High Capacity|
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