Received my GF1 (First Impressions)

Started Dec 6, 2010 | Discussions thread
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iamatrix
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Received my GF1 (First Impressions)
Dec 6, 2010

As you all know, I am a former owner of the EP1 Pen and recently I took order of a G1 and sent it back in favor of the GF1. I found it confusing in making a decision on the camera as their is too much disinformation on these forums (though understandably certain aspects of the camera are subjective).

1) Build quality is superb. As someone who has owned a number of professional and consumer bodies over the years, let me point out that the build quality of the GF1 is nothing short of excellent. It's a weighty camera (and that's without a battery and lens attached), very solid with a majority of the body finished in metal. The fit and finish, placement of buttons and dials, and quality of said buttons and dials is superb. To me this is the poor man's leica and is one of the reasons that this camera is so damn attractive.

2) JPEG quality is excellent. I have read debate after debate over the color output of the JPEGs. Thus far I find no fault in the JPEG engine. Images straight out of the camera are very sharp, artifact free, and contrasty (maybe a tad too much in regards to the later). Skin tones, foliage, and some other around-the-house items I have tested show that the GF1 produces very accurate colors that seem neutral in temperature. From someone coming from a p&S, the GF1 may seem a bit bland, from someone coming from a DSLR, the GF1 is spot on.

3) The EVF is fine for manual focusing. I have read that the EVF is not good enough for manual focus which is absolute B.S. The EVF image is really small and could use a proper eye-cup, however that being said manual focus even in low light is very easy to achieve and I was able to nail targets on the first try without any problems. This is something that I could never do with an SLR even when my D200 was fitted with a split prism (katz-eye) focusing screen.

4) The rear LCD is wonderful. It's clear, crisp and bright and the images on the back of the LCD actually match (color, tone, and detail) those on my monitors which means WYSIWYG.

5) The camera is actually comfortable in hand. I knew when I bought the GF1 that the grip would be a big compromise. Though a DSLR still wins in this regard, Panasonic did a great job in the design. It fits perfectly in my hand (and I do have big hands). The read dial, thumb rest and shutter fall naturally into the place. The first time I picked up the camera, I was ready to go without the need to think about the layout, a testament to Panasonic's engineers.

6) The menu is simple and intuitive.

7) Camera performance is excellent. Coming from a DSLR, I found that this camera rarely leaves you waiting. In all honesty, in feels DSLR 'fast' in everything from menu navigation to focus to write speeds, etc.

Cons:

Dynamic range is limited coming from an SLR, of course this was to be expected. The good news is that the metering of the GF1 is very good and tends to lean towards underexposure in contrasty situations.

High ISO noise. Again this was to be expected. I am not a noise-junkie as most photogs are these days, to me noise is another way to incorporate creativity into the process. If I need to shoot ISO 1600, I change to dynamic B&W or do whatever is required to make the most of the situation (of course I like to be challenged, but than again that's me).

Well nothing has shocked me so far, but only time will tell. I wish Panasonic had included a wrist strap as opposed to a neck strap, but of course this is a very subjective thing. I do wish the external EVF provided a larger image or at the very least included a proper eye-cup.

As far as the G1 is concerned, it's an excellent camera, but the GF1 looks and feels smaller. Some people pointed out to me that there is very little difference between the size of the GF1 and G1 - and on paper this may be so, but to my eye, hands, and jacket pocket the GF1 looks and feels very portable. Maybe it's purely a trick of the imagination, but it works.

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