Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Started Dec 15, 2009 | Discussions
eMialik Regular Member • Posts: 234
Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

I've wanted a compact DSLR for quite some time. I have long considered the E-4xx series but then came out the EP1/GF1. I went out and purchased all three thinking that it would help me make the proper decision.

DISCLAIMER While I have photographed a few weddings, several assignments, I by no means consider myself a pro photographer. When testing the cameras I wanted to find out what the best out of camera results would be for each camera. I did not touch the settings (except for standard vs. dynamic on the Panny), I did ZERO editing in Photoshop except for cropping/resizing.

Not sure if it makes a difference but I used the same Olympus 14-42mm lens on both the GF1 and EP1. I'll be criticized by some for improper testing and I apologize if I've compared these cameras improperly. Here are samples from each camera side by side. Conclusions below:

GF1 and E450 needing flash vs. hand holding on the Oly :

The car photos below exemplify how each camera focuses. The GF1 and E450 almost immediately lock on their target while the EP1 takes some time which is indicative of the car being at the end of the photo. :

MY NOTE   Personal Opinion and Summary:

Panasonic GF1:

Fast focusing camera. It usually bested the E-450; especially true in low light situations where the GF1 had no issues focusing while the other two cameras hunted. AF assist lamp a plus. The LCD is clear and the build is good. Some have complained that the menus on the Olympus cameras are better but learning and navigating the Panasonic menus is an easy thing to do. I will echo the general consensus when it comes to pictures out of camera, the Panasonic produces less "colorful", more flat photographs than the Olympus. Can somewhat be corrected when putting the camera in P: dynamic film mode. A difference that may be more important to some is flash. There were situations where I could not hand-hold the EP1 (snapshot of someone in low light, etc). One thing I did notice and it happened sometimes (may just be my camera), the GF1 tends to underexpose images.

CONCLUSION:: Focusing speed and overall practicality of this camera are its strong points. If one doesn't mind editing/PPing (just doing minor tweaking), the quality of output from the GF1 should not be an issue.

Olympus EP1:

Major issue many raise about the E-P1 is focus speed. This certainly has been overblown. The GF-1 and E-450 do focus faster but the EP1 is no slouch, it does very well for itself. Admittedly, the EP1 does a little bit of trouble focusing on fast moving objects (as in the car photo sample) and is sometimes frustrating (versus the GF1) to focus in low light. Surprisingly, the EP1 and E450 focus similarly in low light. The strength of this camera picture quality. The colors tend to be more vibrant and most photos do indeed appear to have more depth than the other two (opinion NOT fact). From what I read, most who have chosen the EP1 did so for these very reasons.

CONCLUSION: The Achilles heal of this camera is low light focusing and lack of flash. If one can by find ways to bypass these issues, this is a great camera.

Olympus E450: Almost identical to the E420, I chose to add the E450 because of its classic SLR design. Question was, would I be more comfortable with using a body design that I was used to or could I get used to the compact style of the EP1 and GF1. I still can't decide. Compared to the other two cameras, the E450 straddles the middle in just about every category. The focusing is generally quicker than the EP1 but generally slower than the GF1. Out of camera pictures come out in the middle in regards to color, depth, and sharpness. E450 benefits: Has a flash, has the dust filter, it has live view, has the viewfinder (yes, you can add one on to the GF1 for a price, and finally, it is much much cheaper in price when compared to the other two cameras. So why is this not the clear winner? Size. It may be the world's smallest SLR, when placed next to the GF1/EP1 it begins to feel a little bulky. When honestly considering which camera to take on a trip, one would most likely lean toward the EP1/GF1 just because of how compact they are.

CONCLUSION:: If one doesn't mind the bigger/weight, this is a great camera for the money. Performance and quality, the E450 seems to be a compilation of both the EP1 and GF1, which is a great thing.

FINAL WORD: Let me first say that it is IMPOSSIBLE to recommend one of these cameras over the other. The features that outweigh one versus the other are too diverse. You can make your own conclusions reading the posts but the decision comes down NOT to which camera is better, but what you will use the camera for-what kind of photography you primarily do. In almost every case, what one camera does "worse" can be compensated in some way by the person behind the camera=you.

Good luck to those trying to chose between these cameras. To the GF1, EP1, and E4xx owners, each of you has the best camera out there.

JLacan Regular Member • Posts: 194
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

nice dog! does he always look angry or was he against animal testing?
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OP eMialik Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Thanks! Definitely against animal testing :). He's usually a happy guy.
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wwsong New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

your comment and comparison is really good reference for me! like u say, even looking at your comparison, i also found that e-p1 produce vibrant photos than gf1.. but if gf1 in dynamic tone, it did improve the image's colour but i still feel e-p1 is better..

but build in flash and faster AF are really pro for GF1..so its realy hard decision..anyway, i will choose e-p2 which is almost same as e-p1 i believe.. due to IS, jpeg quality, high iso with lower noise, EVF..if the price can be cheaper, that even better..

ajmeeker Contributing Member • Posts: 893
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

I agree for the most part, the IBIS and Jpeg color out of the oly is great, but the panasonic has faster AF, better screen, flash, better C-AF in video, etc..

The oly definitely looks pretty though, and when EP1's get cheap (like $200 cheap), i might buy one.

Boris Moscow Contributing Member • Posts: 784
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Thanks a lot for a great review.
It's what the doctor ordered, at least for an average shooter like I am.
Still undecided about the choice.
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'Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans'.
M. Millar

meteor484 New Member • Posts: 6
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

The most important is the quality of the final result. It would be great to have a very Fast AF (as GF1), but I would prefer less of quantity of better color pictures than more 'deadly' blue dyed photos.

wStudios Regular Member • Posts: 103
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

These two cameras have been beat to death. I'll put my 2 cents in now that I own both.

1). IQ - you can tweak the parameters on both cameras enough to equalize output and IMHO, both deliver stunning output. TIE

2). On camera flash. People seem to argue about this be a selling point, guess what it isn't. In my 10 years of shooting. I have probably only ever used the built on camera flash a dozen times - why because on camera flash typically isn't very good. Want do to do flash, get a real external speedlight. TIE

3). LCD. The panasonic is sharper, the ep-1 is easier to see in bright daylight. TIE

4). Focusing. The panasonic is a tiny bit faster than

(as dpreview stated, it's milliseconds), the ep-1. This depends on the lens used and focus settings. In real world conditions I honestly could not tell the difference between the two. TIE

5) Menus. The panasonic menus are a tad nicer, but both systems are rather antiquated compared to nikon and canon. The Olympus menus are more customizable and have a super control panel that is quite handy. TIE.

I honestly could not find anything one could not do over the other. It's the reason why the debate won't end. It's purely a matter if what you like better in the way the looks - that's pretty much what it comes down to. Both cameras have the same sensor and use the same lenses. Nuff Said.

Quest21 Senior Member • Posts: 1,873
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Did you do any comparison in RAW?
I'm wondering if e450 is as sharp in raw as GF1...

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Boris Moscow Contributing Member • Posts: 784
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Agree, IQ is the thing #1 for me too (though I think it's better to call what pleases my eyes best at the moment).

And here I do appreciate what E-P1 does in the jpeg (especially in the compartment of "attractiveness on the first glance"), but sometimes I wish it can learn a thing or two from GF-1, images of which can be more comfortable to my eyes in a long gaze.
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M. Millar

OP eMialik Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

wStudios wrote:

These two cameras have been beat to death. I'll put my 2 cents in now that I own both.

1). IQ - you can tweak the parameters on both cameras enough to equalize output and IMHO, both deliver stunning output. TIE

Somewhat true. I tried but could not get the E-P1 and GF-1 to look the same (would make the choice a lot easier). The E-450 is more versatile in this regard.

2). On camera flash. People seem to argue about this be a selling point, guess what it isn't. In my 10 years of shooting. I have probably only ever used the built on camera flash a dozen times - why because on camera flash typically isn't very good. Want do to do flash, get a real external speedlight. TIE

True, I rarely use flash myself but many of these cameras will find themselves in the hands of casual shooters who'll be looking for some in-door flash or fill flash without the "bother" of an external speedlight.

3). LCD. The panasonic is sharper, the ep-1 is easier to see in bright daylight. TIE

True

4). Focusing. The panasonic is a tiny bit faster than

(as dpreview stated, it's milliseconds), the ep-1. This depends on the lens used and focus settings. In real world conditions I honestly could not tell the difference between the two. TIE

You may be getting a different result than me if you have the Panasonic kit lens(which some say is better) but when it comes to low light af, the GF1 is more than a tiny bit faster.

5) Menus. The panasonic menus are a tad nicer, but both systems are rather antiquated compared to nikon and canon. The Olympus menus are more customizable and have a super control panel that is quite handy. TIE.

True

I honestly could not find anything one could not do over the other. It's the reason why the debate won't end. It's purely a matter if what you like better in the way the looks - that's pretty much what it comes down to. Both cameras have the same sensor and use the same lenses. Nuff Said.

While both cameras may have same/similar sensors and lenses, in camera processing is completely different. Technically as stated, this shouldn't be a debate, rather an exploration of what camera fits whose needs. I unfortunately won't be lucky enough to keep all of the cameras tested. So when I do chose, it won't be because one is better than the other but because one suits my photography stile over the other.

Thanks for your input wStudio :)!

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OP eMialik Regular Member • Posts: 234
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

I have been playing around with RAW post-review. JPEG sharpness was relatively similar as are RAW comparisons in my opinion. Let me know if you'd like me to post some crops.
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karl boyle Senior Member • Posts: 1,088
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

wStudios wrote:

These two cameras have been beat to death. I'll put my 2 cents in now that I own both.

Here are my 2 cents worth as well........

1). IQ - you can tweak the parameters on both cameras enough to equalize output and IMHO, both deliver stunning output. TIE

I agree totally.

2). On camera flash. People seem to argue about this be a selling point, guess what it isn't. In my 10 years of shooting. I have probably only ever used the built on camera flash a dozen times - why because on camera flash typically isn't very good. Want do to do flash, get a real external speedlight. TIE

You forget to add "guess what, it isn't" for your type of shooting with flash. I was in a real dim restaurant over the weekend and even the 20mm at 1.7 at ISO1600 was not good enough to freeze my slightly posed subject (1/4s) across the table even if I have IBIS. I just popped the flash and shot at f1.7 and ISO800 to let as much ambient light into the scene. With the AF iluminator and the fast AF, I got the shot off in an instant and it was clean and detailed. I have had similar experiences in very dim lit bars also. I also have used the pop of flash on many a P&S for a bit of close quarters fill outdoors. Also, if I bring a external speedlight with me anywhere like in a restaurant.....I might as well bring a DSLR.

3). LCD. The panasonic is sharper, the ep-1 is easier to see in bright daylight. TIE

I agree.

4). Focusing. The panasonic is a tiny bit faster than

(as dpreview stated, it's milliseconds), the ep-1. This depends on the lens used and focus settings. In real world conditions I honestly could not tell the difference between the two. TIE

Well the OP has given his experiences in real world conditions (extreme lowlight) and I tend to go along with that. He found that the EP-1 without a AF illumination on board, hunted frustratingly a lot while the GF1 locked not effortlessly even against the DSLR. Far from a tie IMHO.

5) Menus. The panasonic menus are a tad nicer, but both systems are rather antiquated compared to nikon and canon. The Olympus menus are more customizable and have a super control panel that is quite handy. TIE.

I agree.

I honestly could not find anything one could not do over the other.

I could. I could get a pin-sharp image with the EP-1 at 1/4s with the 20mm pancake with 4 stops of IS. I would struggle to get a pin-sharp image with my GF1 or get any image at all.

Also, I could get a shot with a lot more quality with a pop-up flash from 5-6 feet where even a 20mm + IBIS would fai in certain conditions (as described above in my restaurant situation). Also, I might be in a situation where I might miss an opportunity with the EP-1 with it's 2 second start up time as opposed to half a second on the GF1.

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Regards,
Karl B.

wwsong New Member • Posts: 23
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

honestly this debate will never end.. so just follow your suit and taste..prefer direct jpeg output without pp, higher iso with lower noise & Built in IS for use with any other lens go for e-p1.. prefer built in flash, more nature colour tone, shooting raw, or little tweaking, AF lamp assist, faster AF speed go for GF1.. or else if u got money, get both and use it depend on condition and situation of the surrounding..

JeffNew Regular Member • Posts: 198
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

eMialik: great comparison. After reading your comparison, I prefer EP-1 for its IQ. So in your mind EP-1's and GF-1's IQ are definitely much better than G10 and other P&S cameras, right? I don't care about DSLR, I just need something better than P&S but is still very compact.

blauwemac Forum Member • Posts: 59
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

I would love to learn from you what settings on the GF1 match the EP-1 jpeg's as closely as possible. I usually shoot RAW, but for some occassion I like to use jpeg, but really can't live with the default GF-1 output.

gama Forum Member • Posts: 92
Re: Comparison Test: GF-1 vs. E-P1 vs. E-450/420 (photos included)

Thanks for your efforts in posting this comparison.

I have never been interested in 4/3 nor micro 4/3 until EP1/EP2/GF1 came out. I suppose it is the combination of form factor & image quality that make me consider having one. There are times when I could not bring my DSLR and although my P&S are generally good enough I wish I have more of the DSLR functions/capabilities.

I wish I can make up my mind but as many have pointed out choosing between EP1/2 and GF1 is not that easy. I was surprised to see how underexposed GF1 photos are in the first few samples! Here EP1 looks better. However, from 'the girl in the sofa photo' and 'house porch', GF1 looks to have better white balance!

I suppose I can PP/adjust the camera setting to get the 'right' look?

I'm currently leaning on GF1 due to flash. Yes some people rarely use flash but my experience with P&S F31fd's flash has been positive. In fact, I never like other P&S's flash after I use Fuji. Even with my DSLR I often use flash as fill.

On the other hand I can appreciate having IBIS as some shots are better taken with ambient light...aarrghh..!

I suppose I can get GF1 + lenses with IS or EP1/2 with add-on flash?

How I wish I have the chance to buy and evaluate both! I will hang around on this forum longer and wait until the prices drop (still rather expensive vs many entry DSLR).

HelenaN Regular Member • Posts: 188
GF1 colors and WB adjustment

Interesting comparison. I have the G1 and don't plan to get one of the smaller ones (GF1 etc.) at this time, but wanted to share a tip:

Those who shoot JPG and aren't completely happy with the Panasonic output, did you know that you can adjust the white balance? I disliked the slight magenta cast and wanted warmer colors, so I chose Dynamic Color film mode and adjusted AWB towards more green (to take away the magenta cast) and towards yellow (for warmth). Now I'm very happy with the colors I get from my G1. I normally shoot Canon 5D and L primes, but this little camera still impresses me.

Boris Moscow Contributing Member • Posts: 784
Very interesting,

that was the reason I passed on otherwise perfect to my needs G1, and now pausing in buying GF1.

Looks like you've solved the problem of as I called "looking through a sunglasses" effect seen (at least by some) on the jpeg images of these Panasonic cameras.
If it's possible, an example or two of the corrected images would be great.
Thank you.
Boris.

HelenaN wrote:

I disliked the slight magenta cast and wanted warmer colors, so I chose Dynamic Color film mode and adjusted AWB towards more green (to take away the magenta cast) and towards yellow (for warmth). Now I'm very happy with the colors I get from my G1.
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'Life is something that happens to you while you're making other plans'.
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DougRight Regular Member • Posts: 111
Re: Very interesting,

Boris Moscow wrote:

that was the reason I passed on otherwise perfect to my needs G1, and now pausing in buying GF1.

Looks like you've solved the problem of as I called "looking through a sunglasses" effect seen (at least by some) on the jpeg images of these Panasonic cameras.
If it's possible, an example or two of the corrected images would be great.

I second the call for a few examples of correct the Pany output. It would be very interesting.

Thankyou,
DR

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