GH1 is a better overall camera than the GF1 (IMHO)

Started Aug 20, 2010 | Discussions thread
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millsart
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GH1 is a better overall camera than the GF1 (IMHO)
Aug 20, 2010

When I saw Amazon had the GF1 with 20mm for $649 last weekend, I jumped on the deal, because I've always been curious about getting my hands on a GF1. No local shops stock them and while I'm familiar with the camera and have read plenty of reviews, I like to try things out for myself and see how things work out for my style of shooting and needs, which may or may not match another reviewers.

As a GH1 shooter I thought I'd share some thoughts and observations about how the two compare for me, after spending a few days with the GF1 and trying to carry it with me as much as possible.

Well first and foremost, the GF1 is a cool looking camera. Its not EP-2 sexy, but its still a nice looking photographic tool. Of course that doesn't matter in terms of the images it takes, but still, there is something nice to look at about it, especially with the 20mm attached. GH1 on by comparison just looks like any other superzoom compact on the market really.

Looks aside, its got a really solid feel in your hand. It just feels more substantial than the GH1, even though its actually about 2oz lighter. I found this to be a good and bad thing. On one hand, its nice to pick up a something that feels really well built, but on the other, its a lot less comfortable to hold than the GH1

The GH1 just feels more balanced and with grip section really does make a huge difference when your holding the camera. GF1 sort of wants to twist out of your hand more and that rotational force makes it feel a bit heavier. Add a bigger lens than the 20mm and it gets worse. With the 7-14 and 45-200 it felt pretty unbalanced and like I didn't have a secure grip on the camera, though I didn't drop it. There is a little ridge on the front and a thumb spot on the back but I'd use a handstrap with anything other than the 20mm.

Also speaking of the grip, the dial is on the back, like the g2/g10, and I really thought this would be better, as I don't like the front g1/gh1 dial location but honestly have to say I like the GH1 dial better. The GF1 dial is just sort of awkward to use because its very recessed and as a result doesn't turn that easily, especially if your hands are the least bit sweaty or wet. Just didn't really have any grip to it and I found myself having to grab the camera with my left hand and make an effort to turn with the right. GH1 while not the best location either I could at least work on the fly and with one hand.

Next is the LCD and EVF, or lack there off. As many have said before, the GF1 is hard to see in bright sunlight. There is no getting around that unless you buy the add on EVF which I have never tried, but I'm sure it does work, but also its no where near the G1/Gh1 built in EVF. Additionally the lack of the articulating display I really missed as well. You don't need one for every shot but it really spoils you having it. Shooting something at a low level I'd try to sort of see the GF1 at an angle and its doable but being able to flip and rotate the LCD sure does make life easier.

Now in terms of size, the GF1 is a lot easier to carry, much more so than I thought really, at least with the 20mm. If you carry a lens in one pocket, and the body in another it is a pocketable camera, while the GH1 just isnt. I feel it becomes a moot point if your using anything other than the 20mm though. Additionally even with the lens mounted its really no longer pocketable for the most part. With a 7-14mm etc certainly not.

If you want to travel really lite, the GF1 and 20mm is the way to go though, its a really nice compact kit and while weighting close to the GH1, it takes up a lot less space. If you got some smaller legacy glass as well this would hold true as well. If your throwing a 14-140 on it though, there just is no real difference and the Gh1 grip actually makes it a lot more comfortable to shoot with.

I haven't mentioned IQ yet, well because, you can't really tell them apart. I didn't push the high ISO shots, except for 800 in b/w for fun, and I don't mind a little noise in that style of shooting. IQ just isn't a deciding factor between these two.

Its the overall shooting experience I was looking at, and in that regard, the GH1 just works much better overall for me. Your mileage may vary.

Shooting the GF1 with just the 20mm is fun though. Its less useful than the GH1, not as ergonomic and your miss features.

I liken it to driving a vintage car. Sure your Honda or Toyota is more refined, has take it for granted features like a/c, power windows etc, but theres still something really cool about driving the old car. You wouldn't want to make it a daily driver but for taking out on Sundays its fun, sort of like the GF1

I've thought of maybe converting the GF1 to IR, instead of an older G1 I bought for that purpose, but the LCD viewing issue is sort of a factor for that, especially since the best IR shooting is on bright sunny days.

It wouldn't be bad to have for times when I want the experience of going around with just one camera, and the 20mm, but really if I'm going to take any other lens with me, I'd just take the GH1. Anytime I'm working off a tripod or doing landscapes etc, I'd take the GH1, as with anytime I'd want a longer lens.

In summary I really can't think of any reason to like the GF1 over the GH1, but that said, I'll be keeping the GF1 because even though theres really no logical reason to do so, its just fun to use sometimes.

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