Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Started Dec 15, 2009 | Discussions thread
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eMialik
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Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)
Dec 15, 2009

I've wanted a compact DSLR for quite some time. I have long considered the E-4xx series but then came out the EP1/GF1. I went out and purchased all three thinking that it would help me make the proper decision.

DISCLAIMER While I have photographed a few weddings, several assignments, I by no means consider myself a pro photographer. When testing the cameras I wanted to find out what the best out of camera results would be for each camera. I did not touch the settings (except for standard vs. dynamic on the Panny), I did ZERO editing in Photoshop except for cropping/resizing.

Not sure if it makes a difference but I used the same Olympus 14-42mm lens on both the GF1 and EP1. I'll be criticized by some for improper testing and I apologize if I've compared these cameras improperly. Here are samples from each camera side by side. Conclusions below:

GF1 and E450 needing flash vs. hand holding on the Oly :

The car photos below exemplify how each camera focuses. The GF1 and E450 almost immediately lock on their target while the EP1 takes some time which is indicative of the car being at the end of the photo. :

MY NOTE   Personal Opinion and Summary:

Panasonic GF1:

Fast focusing camera. It usually bested the E-450; especially true in low light situations where the GF1 had no issues focusing while the other two cameras hunted. AF assist lamp a plus. The LCD is clear and the build is good. Some have complained that the menus on the Olympus cameras are better but learning and navigating the Panasonic menus is an easy thing to do. I will echo the general consensus when it comes to pictures out of camera, the Panasonic produces less "colorful", more flat photographs than the Olympus. Can somewhat be corrected when putting the camera in P: dynamic film mode. A difference that may be more important to some is flash. There were situations where I could not hand-hold the EP1 (snapshot of someone in low light, etc). One thing I did notice and it happened sometimes (may just be my camera), the GF1 tends to underexpose images.

CONCLUSION:: Focusing speed and overall practicality of this camera are its strong points. If one doesn't mind editing/PPing (just doing minor tweaking), the quality of output from the GF1 should not be an issue.

Olympus EP1:

Major issue many raise about the E-P1 is focus speed. This certainly has been overblown. The GF-1 and E-450 do focus faster but the EP1 is no slouch, it does very well for itself. Admittedly, the EP1 does a little bit of trouble focusing on fast moving objects (as in the car photo sample) and is sometimes frustrating (versus the GF1) to focus in low light. Surprisingly, the EP1 and E450 focus similarly in low light. The strength of this camera picture quality. The colors tend to be more vibrant and most photos do indeed appear to have more depth than the other two (opinion NOT fact). From what I read, most who have chosen the EP1 did so for these very reasons.

CONCLUSION: The Achilles heal of this camera is low light focusing and lack of flash. If one can by find ways to bypass these issues, this is a great camera.

Olympus E450: Almost identical to the E420, I chose to add the E450 because of its classic SLR design. Question was, would I be more comfortable with using a body design that I was used to or could I get used to the compact style of the EP1 and GF1. I still can't decide. Compared to the other two cameras, the E450 straddles the middle in just about every category. The focusing is generally quicker than the EP1 but generally slower than the GF1. Out of camera pictures come out in the middle in regards to color, depth, and sharpness. E450 benefits: Has a flash, has the dust filter, it has live view, has the viewfinder (yes, you can add one on to the GF1 for a price, and finally, it is much much cheaper in price when compared to the other two cameras. So why is this not the clear winner? Size. It may be the world's smallest SLR, when placed next to the GF1/EP1 it begins to feel a little bulky. When honestly considering which camera to take on a trip, one would most likely lean toward the EP1/GF1 just because of how compact they are.

CONCLUSION:: If one doesn't mind the bigger/weight, this is a great camera for the money. Performance and quality, the E450 seems to be a compilation of both the EP1 and GF1, which is a great thing.

FINAL WORD: Let me first say that it is IMPOSSIBLE to recommend one of these cameras over the other. The features that outweigh one versus the other are too diverse. You can make your own conclusions reading the posts but the decision comes down NOT to which camera is better, but what you will use the camera for-what kind of photography you primarily do. In almost every case, what one camera does "worse" can be compensated in some way by the person behind the camera=you.

Good luck to those trying to chose between these cameras. To the GF1, EP1, and E4xx owners, each of you has the best camera out there.

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