Photokina Impressions of the G1 - and new LX3

Started Sep 30, 2008 | Discussions thread
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viztyger Veteran Member • Posts: 3,278
Photokina Impressions of the G1 - and new LX3

Panasonic sure went all out in terms of advertising. The city of Köln was plastered with G1 ads. At Photokina, Panasonic rented space in the hall immediately after the main entrance. To their credit, they had set up quite a few G1's for visitors to try out. Earlier in the day, strong interest meant waiting for your turn; later in the afternoon I had more time to check out the camera more thoroughly.

The G1 interests me. Other than being smaller, full time live view offers two unique ways to frame photos. One is the very large and clear EVF. Other than showing you the effect of camera settings, the EVF is good enough to review photos on days when glare makes the external screen difficult to see. The other is the articulated screen which will give more flexibility when framing from unusual angles. Of course none of these features are new, but the combination with a direct preview from a large sensor and a responsive contrast detect AF is. And the G1's AF does seem quick.

I alternated between my D300's optical VF and the G1's EVF a couple of times to try to discern the differences. The G1's EVF appears larger and gains up when lighting levels drop. If you move the G1 rapidly, there is a small lag or smear in the view. I'd be interested in trying the EVF out in daylight, though. With just glass between your eye and the real world, the D300's OVF feels more natural. As good as the G1's EVF is, it's still a processed view. Still, the EVF provides a more two dimensional view that is more representative of the actual picture you're about to take. This is especially true if I want to frame a photo in black and white.

As it stands now, I think both optical and electronic viewfinders each have their own specific advantages.

I want a camera with good image quality that is smaller and lighter than my D300. Olympus' µ4/3 concept camera illustrates how small the G1 could have been. Nevertheless, the G1 body is surprisingly compact and actually a good size in relationship to the 14-45 OIS kit lens. The 45-200 OIS lens already seems a little too large in relationship to the body; the space between the grip and the lens barrel is quite tight and the camera feels slightly front heavy with this lens.

Of course if you need the extra zoom and don't already have another solution, then 45-200 OIS is a good investment. But I will probably continue to use my D300 + Nikkor 70-300VR on day trips when I think I'll need more telephoto range.

The G1 and the Micro Four Thirds system in general, offer flexibility to trade zoom range and features for progressively more compact cameras.

If I need a relatively compact camera, I can take the G1 with the kit zoom. Even more compact, and I can leave the house with the G1 and the bright, 20 f/1.7 prime. Somewhere in between, a small body like the one shown by Olympus with the Panasonic OIS zoom lens. In this case, I'm trading in the versatility of both the EVF and the articulated screen for compactness.....and for the ultimate compactness, an Olympus µ4/3 type body with the prime lens. Not a bad range of options for two bodies and two lenses.

But back to the show. Both the G1 body and lens feel well made. As long as it's well put together, I like plastic: it's light and not so cold to the touch. The G1's outer covering feels slightly soft, somewhat like the finish on some of the FX cameras (my old FX7). Controls seem to be well placed. I liked the dual push and turn front control wheel to allow switching between exposure compensation and (for example) aperture.

Regrets? I would have liked a wider zoom lens that starts at 24mm. I would also have sacrificed a little of the zoom range to make the lens brighter - without making the lens any larger. Perhaps a 12-24mm f/2.8-4 or even a constant f/3.5.

I also had a chance to play with the LX3 and the Canon G10. Both of those were contenders to replace my Ricoh GX100 that I sold in February. After returning to Amsterdam I immediately ordered the LX3. The Canon G10 is too large, especially when considering Olympus' µ4/3 concept camera. The LX3, on the other hand, tries to offset the weaknesses inherent in a small sensor by making the camera compact and the lens much brighter than a reasonably sized µ4/3 alternative.

My LX3 arrived! Despite the bad weather, I managed to shoot some test shots during a rare hour of sunshine. Full size, unedited JPEGs, all with NR set to -2 (lowest setting) can be found here:

My whole Photokina 2008 blog:

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