From GF1 and back again... a love story.

Started Sep 23, 2010 | Discussions thread
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From GF1 and back again... a love story.
Sep 23, 2010

I've been a photo enthusiast since I was in High School (1979), and got into D-SLRS in the early 2000's with a Canon D30. Through the years I upgraded Canon bodies at regular intervals, and had reached the "pinnacle" with a 5D MkII in late 2008. The 5DII was too big to carry around, ski with, etc., but I was spoiled, and the IQ of point-and-shoots was just not good enough for me anymore. I wanted something small, but with IQ closer to the 5DII. Enter Micro FourThirds. I knew the GH1 was highly regarded, but I didn't want a D-SLR style body. I wanted smaller… more like a rangefinder. I had read about the upcoming GF1, and the body style, size and specs were perfect. As someone with serious "Leica-envy", the GF1 looked like a "poor mans' Leica", especially with the 20mm (40mm) f/1.7 lens. So I pre-ordered and waited. And waited. When I finally got my hands on GF1/14-45 kit, I was in heaven. Wow. I instantly "bonded" with the diminutive GF1. I sat and gazed at it on my desk. I picked it up just to hold it. (I know, too much information! lol)

I immediately launched into a year of searching, contemplating, buying and selling camera gear - looking for the "perfect kit".

During that year, I touted the IQ of the GF1 as being very close to the 5D MkII (pixel-for-pixel), and began contemplating if I could chuck all my Canon gear and live with the GF1. I bought the Pana 20mm, 45-200, 9-18, and got into the whole vintage MF lens craze with a slew of Konica and Voigtlander purchases. Then I started doubting that I could really get rid of the 5DII and be happy with only the GF1. I knew the GH1 had slightly better IQ, and the 14-140 lens looked like a winner, so I bought a GH1/14-140 to try out. Oh my, I was in heaven! This was truly a step closer to the 5DII, and the 14-140 lens could do almost everything I needed. So I sold the 5DII and the GF1 and happily used the GH1 as my only camera during the spring and summer of 2010.

Then I started to become unhappy with the GH1 - it was STILL a little too big to carry everywhere. Also, I was shooting a lot of indoor concerts, and the high ISO banding was rearing it's ugly head. I tried noise reduction software, but I was losing interest fast. My son had a Canon T1i, and the IQ, especially the high ISO IQ, was a lot better than the GH1, and the T1i body was really NOT that much bigger. I knew the new T2i would have even better IQ, so I sold the GH1 and ALL my Micro FourThirds lenses (except my prized Konica 57mm f/1.2) and bought a T2i plus the highly-regarded Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 lens with $ left over! I had held onto my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 and 50mm f/1.4, so now I had a screaming fast and versatile Canon kit again! Woo Hoo! I was "done". Time to shoot more and lurk on forums less! Ha, ha!

But, I quickly realized that the T2i was not the camera I wanted to tote "everywhere". Like the GH1, it was just a little too big/heavy. So I began a search for a small, but "high-end" point-and-shoot. Like a miracle, the LX5 was announced and I was hooked! I pre-ordered the LX5 and waited. And waited. I finally got the LX5 a few weeks ago, and I was thrilled… it looked and felt like a miniature GF1! I was in heaven. UNTIL I started shooting with it. I thought the fast f/2 lens would give me some nice background blur even at wide angles, but I was disappointed… images from the LX5 looked, well, like images from any other "point-and-shoot". Not bad in any way, but there was no "magic". Sharp, well-exposed, competent, yes. But uninspiring. And the bokeh was not smooth. Not even close to the shallow and smooth DOF blur I was getting with the GF1/GH1 and lenses like the Konica 57 f/1.2. I had other issues with the LX5 as well - it's small, but still not "pocketable", the lens cap was annoying, DR was not great - I had to shoot at -2/3 EV to avoid highlight clipping, but then the shadows were noisy, even at 80 ISO - etc., etc. Very disappointing.

So… I sold the LX5 and bought ANOTHER GF1! It's like finding a long lost friend. My friends who are photographers, and who have followed my "journey", were not surprised! They had heard me lament over and over about selling the GF1, and they knew how close I was to that little camera. So, I've been out all day today, happily shooting with my "new" GF1 and 57mm f/1.2! I'm so happy! I have my little "Leica" back!

I am truly "done", and finally have a "perfect kit". Almost. Part of my plan is to add the upcoming Voigtlander 25 f/.95 (already pre-ordered!), and the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 lenses. Then I'll have a perfect set of fast "primes" in 35mm equivalent 28mm f/2.5, 50mm f/.95 and 114mm f/1.2. Done! Done! Done!

For now… I really miss my 5D MkII!

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