Kept LX3 returned GF1

Started Oct 23, 2009 | Discussions thread
sean000 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,354
Re: Kept LX3 returned GF1

Charles Bandes wrote:

My background is fairly similar, and I too have an LX3 as my 'fun' compact - I love the LX3, but it just isn't fast or flexible enough for me to feel comfortable using it for anything serious. Similarly, my D700 is just too big, heavy and valuable for me to feel good about using it for all-the-time street photography. So I needed something in-between.

Similar experience here. I use a D200 as my main DSLR, and I used an LX2 as a compact for a couple of years. I liked that the LX2 had decent manual controls, multiple aspect ratios and RAW, but of course it was useless above the base ISO. I also missed have any degree of depth of field control whenever I would use it. My main complaint was just that it was slow to use. When you are used to the instant response you get out of a DSLR, it's difficult to enjoy using a camera that doesn't take a photo immediately when you want it to. I considered upgrading the LX2 to the LX3, but in the end I decided that even though it would be an improvement both in the sensor and the lens... it just wouldn't be enough. I wanted something more responsive that had a larger sensor. I also wanted HD video. Even though I'm not much of a video person, my wife is having her first baby this year... so I figured I might make some home movies. I wanted a camera that could take at least 720p short videos that could be edited together with some still photography. The GF1 with 20mm f/1.7 fit the bill.

I considered a small Nikon body like the D3000, but even those when coupled with a decent lens are fairly large. The GF1 is, so far, pretty much perfect for me - dramatically better performance (AF, shutter, image quality) than the LX3 without being really all that much larger.

Being a bit disappointed with the LX2 I took to carrying around my D200 with a 35mm f/2.0 attached. That's not a huge combo and fit into a small Domke f-5xb bag. I could put the 35mm f/2 on my older D70 and it was even lighter. But it's still a chunk. It won't fit in a coat pocket, and there are times when you just don't want to be so conspicuous. Even with the small prime the D70 and D200 are cameras people notice. I don't care if I'm out to take pictures, but if I just want to take a candid of some friends while we are having drinks in a restaurant or bar I would rather use a smaller camera like the GF1.

When the GF1 arrived I put it with the 20mm attached next to my D200 with the 35mm prime attached. The size difference is enormous. I have looked at the D3000 in a camera store. Yes it is smaller than the D200, and even smaller than the D70; but it still dwarfs a GF1. Just as the 35mm prime dwarfs the 20mm f/1.7. The GF1 also shoots video and has some other nice tricks up its sleeve like the multiple aspect ratios. I enjoy composing in the different aspect ratios. It kind of makes up for having to use an LCD. I might add the EVF later, but so far I don't mind the GF1's LCD much. It's awfully nice to look at... unless you're in bright sunlight. Technically my D200 is a bit cleaner at ISO 800 and 1600; but on the other hand the 20mm f/1.7 is sharper wide open than the 35mm f/2.0.

At the moment I'm trying to decide if I think it will be adequate for serious travel photography, or if I will need to haul my 'real' gear on my international trips.

If I know that I will be be taking a lot of photos, I have a hard time leaving the D200 behind. I would typically carry my Tokina 12-24, 17-55mm f/2.8, and maybe even the 80-200mm f/2.8. For lighter travel I carry the Tokina 12-24, 35mm f/2, and 18-200mm VR. Then there is the tripod and SB-800 flashgun. I could see traveling with the GF1, but I would want at least a couple more lenses. I like wide angles, so of course the 7-14mm is attractive to me. I'm a little reluctant to spend that much on an ultrawide when I already have the 12-24 and 10.5mm fisheye for my Nikon cameras... but I will need something moderately wide... at least the 14-45mm to comfortably use the camera for travel. The 45-200mm would also be nice and it seems to be a bargain. I know it won't match my Nikon 300mm f/4, but it doesn't look bad at all for the price... and I rarely pack the 300mm f/4 for travel... only if I expect to be photographing some wildlife. Most of our travel takes us to more urban environments where I'm more likely to use the wide to normal range.

I mainly wanted the GF1 + 20mm for daily use. A camera I could put in my coat pocket or carry in a small bag just big enough to hold the GF1, my sunglasses, and iPhone. I've only had it for a week, but so far I feel like the GF1 is a huge success for this purpose. It's such a success that now I'm starting to think it would be great to use it for hiking and travel as well. With larger lenses the size advantage of the GF1 isn't as great, but with native m4/3 lenses the total kit size and weight are reduced compared to carrying a comparable DSLR kit. I don't know... I might end up selling another DSLR lens in order to finance more m4/3 lenses.

One funny comment about the size of the GF1: I did use it along with the 20mm to take some candids of friends at a restaurant the other night. One of my friends had a very tiny and slim Nikon Coolpix that made the GF1 suddenly look much bigger, but still not huge. When one of my friends saw the GF1 she asked, "Is that a digital camera?" Her question made sense, because the size of the GF1 + pancake is reminiscent of some compact P&S film cameras from the 90s. It may not look as retro film-like as the Pen series, but it seems like most people think it looks more like a film camera than the latest thing in high-end compact camera technology.


 sean000's gear list:sean000's gear list
Olympus Stylus XZ-10 Nikon D70 Nikon D200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Olympus OM-D E-M5 +14 more
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