Panasonic Lumix GF1 Review
Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from (the cameras) black to clipped white (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).
To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated, in our test we stop measuring values below middle gray as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.
Film Mode setting
The Panasonic GF1 has nine preset film modes, six in color and three black and white. All 'film types' can be modified in terms of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction and there also two user-definable 'My Film' settings. As you can see from the graph all settings demonstrate subtly different tone curves (as each has a slightly different contrast setting) with the Nostalgic and Vibrant/Dynamic settings marking the extremes. They show considerably lighter and darker mid tones respectively. If you're concerned about highlight range/clipping it's worth noting that there is a whole stop of difference between the most contrasty setting (Vivid, which clips harshly) and the least contrasty (Smooth and Nostalgic) modes.
The GF1 offers five levels of contrast (we've only shown the extremes here), but as you can see the difference between the tone curves applied is minimal (and is mainly concerned with lifting the shadows). There's no real difference in dynamic range (and crucially, no difference at all in highlight range). We're all for offering the ability to make subtle changes to the tone curve, but it would be nice if Panasonic offered more latitude when it comes to changing the contrast - this hardly seems worth the effort.
ISO Sensitivity and Dynamic Range (JPEG)
At its standard settings the DMC-GF1 delivers 8.5 stops of dynamic range at ISO 100, which is slightly higher than the G1 only because noise reduction in the shadows keeps noise above our cut off point (highlight range is essentially the same). With just over 3 stops of highlight range the GF1 is broadly comparable with other Four Thirds and APS-C cameras, though the rather harsh tone curve means it can't quite match the best of its competitors (including the Olympus E-P1, which at ISO 200 gives you almost a third of a stop more). Highlight range falls slightly as you head up the range (though as the figures below show, noise reduction at the default setting is high enough to stretch the shadow range out considerably).
|Sensitivity||Shadow range||Highlight range||Usable range|
|ISO 100||-5.4 EV||3.1 EV||8.5 EV|
|ISO 200||-5.4 EV||3.1 EV||8.5 EV|
|ISO 400||-5.4 EV||3.0 EV||8.5 EV|
|ISO 800||-6.4 EV||2.9 EV||9.3 EV|
|ISO 1600||-7.7 EV||2.8 EV||10.6 EV|
|ISO 3200||-4.7EV||2.9 EV||7.6 EV|
Dynamic Range compared
Thanks to the rather harsh tone curve the GF1's highlight dynamic range can't match the best mid-range DLSRs, and at 3.1 EV it can't quite compete with the Olympus E-P1 (at ISO 200). The fact that the GF1 tends to meter quite conservatively (i.e. slightly under exposes) - or can be forced to with a -0.3 EV compensation - means that the highlight retention in 'real world' images is as good as - often better than - the E-P1.
|Camera (base ISO)||
|Panasonic GF1||-5.4 EV||3.1 EV||8.5 EV|
|Panasonic G1||-5.0 EV||3.0 EV||8.0 EV|
|Nikon D5000||-4.8 EV||4.0 EV||8.8 EV|
|Canon 500D||-5.1 EV||3.4 EV||8.5 EV|
|Olympus E-620||-5.4 EV||3.9 EV||9.2 EV|
|Olympus E-P1 (ISO 200)||-5.7 EV||3.4 EV||9.1 EV|
The wedges below are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).
Experience has told us that there is typically around 1 EV (one stop) of extra information available at the highlight end in RAW files and that a negative digital exposure compensation when converting such files can recover detail lost to over-exposure. As with previous reviews we settled on Adobe Camera RAW for conversion to retrieve the maximum dynamic range from our test shots.
As you can see the default Adobe Camera RAW conversion delivers less dynamic range than JPEG from the camera (a more contrasty tone curve and less noise reduction in shadows). After experimenting with both ACR and Silkypix we managed to squeeze just shy of 10 stops out of the same file, of which just under 1.0 EV extra was in the highlights (stretching the highlight range to around 4.0 EV), though at that point color was seriously compromised.
|ACR Default||7.4 EV|
|ACR Auto||9.6 EV|
|ACR 'manual'||9.9 EV|
WARNING: Although ACR and Silkypix were able to retrieve the 'luminance' (brightness) of wedge steps which were previously clipped there's no guarantee of color accuracy as individual channels clip before others.
Looking at real world examples it soon becomes clear that the GF1's usable headroom is, as our studio tests suggested, limited to around a stop or so. This means that whilst you can pull back slightly washed out blue skies and correct a modest amount of over exposure, you should most certainly not expect miracles. The first example below shows pretty much the limit of how far you can pull back a raw file before you start to see serious color problems (with magenta creeping into the clipped areas). As with the Olympus E-P1 there's around a stop or so of 100% recoverable highlight detail, though you can normally push it to around -1.5 stops if the shot isn't too over exposed.
|Camera JPEG||Adobe Camera RAW with -1.5 EV digital comp.|
In the following examples we've gone a lot further to see if seriously over exposed shots (as in the first example) or completely washed-out skies (the second example) can be rescued by significantly higher levels of negative digital exposure compensation. As you can clearly see the answer is a resounding no; clipped areas remain clipped, and even when some tone is recovered it has either no color information or a noticeable magenta tint. Anything more than about 1.3 stops risks this magenta tinge (caused by channels clipping at different levels) to creep into the brightest areas.
|Camera JPEG||Adobe Camera RAW with -2.5 EV digital comp.|
|Camera JPEG||Adobe Camera RAW with -2.75 EV digital comp.|
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Introduction
- 3 What's New
- 4 Specifications
- 5 Body & Design
- 6 Body & Design
- 7 Body & Design
- 8 Operation & Controls
- 9 Operation & Controls
- 10 Operation (live view)
- 11 Displays
- 12 Menus
- 13 Menus
- 14 Performance
- 15 Photographic tests (RAW)
- 16 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 17 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 18 Photographic tests (DR)
- 19 Photographic tests (Kit Lens)
- 20 Photographic tests
- 21 Movie Mode
- 22 Compared to
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (JPEG)
- 25 Compared to (JPEG)
- 26 Compared to (RAW)
- 27 Compared to (RAW)
- 28 Compared to (RAW)
- 29 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 30 Compared to (Resolution)
- 31 Compared to (Resolution)
- 32 Real world GF1 vs EP1
- 33 Conclusion
- 34 Samples
|New Forest pony by Dutch Newchurch|
from Equines in 2018
|Leader of the pack by Wu Jiaqiu|
from My Best Photo of the Week
|Czech Crown by Tobik|
from Coins - Macro only
The One Backpack is a 5-in-1 modular backpack that can be used as a camera bag, work & gym pack, suit carry backpack, travel pack or tech-backpack.
This highly-specialized lens is perfect for sports, action and wildlife photography. Check out these first sample images for a taste of what it's capable of.
For KFC Hong Kong’s latest ad campaign, New York City-based advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather used Photoshop to magically morph pieces of flaky fried chicken into fire and smoke in various scenes.
The Android and iOS app from Surpuba AR lets you place animated 3D models in real-world environment using augmented reality technology. You can alter poses and location, insert lighting equipment, and more... right from your phone or tablet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will work together to develop Oppo's smartphone camera roadmap, covering optical zoom, depth mapping and other innovative imaging features that dual cameras allow.
Canon is jumping into the portable printing game with the new IVY Mini Photo Printer: a rechargeable battery-powered printer for creating 2x3 prints and stickers of your smartphone snaps on-the-go.
The program first launched last year, but only as a temporary promotion limited to previous-generation GoPro cameras exchanged for discounts on current-generation models. This time around, GoPro is accepting nearly any digital camera in any condition.
One of the most usable 360° cameras on the market is getting even better. With its latest update, Rylo adds a 180° mode, bluetooth remote capture, and a cinematic motion blur effect for your timelapse shots.
Phase One has released the first major update to its Capture One Pro 11 photo editing program. The update adds support for 8 new cameras and 16 new lenses, and includes several new features and functional improvements that speed up workflow.
We recently got our hands on Samsung's latest and greatest smartphone, the dual camera, variable aperture Galaxy S9+, and took it to mostly sunny Southern California for a long weekend.
It's spring, and that means wedding season is upon us! If you're one of the many photographers planning wedding shoots this year, this is a great time to think about including aerial photography in your plans.
The first firmware update for the Sony a7 III addresses an issue in video mode wherein "blinking pixels" would show up along the base of footage recorded with certain settings.
Researchers with Switzerland's EPFL have developed a soft exoskeleton that enables its wearer to control a drone using their upper body. The human-robot interface is said to offer "natural and intuitive control of drones."
Photokina has released an official list of confirmed exhibitors for the 2018 expo, quieting rumors that major brands like Canon and Profoto might follow in Elinchrom's lead and skip this year's show.
For owners of Sony's a7R III, a9 and the new a7 III, there's now an easy fix for the rare but dreaded 'striping' in backlit shots with lots of flare. Click through to learn more.
The team behind the ubiquitous JPEG format has unveiled an all new image format designed to quickly and efficiently stream content across wired and wireless networks alike. Surprisingly, it actually uses less compression than traditional JPEG.
Canon USA has released a promotional video showcasing its latest CMOS sensor technology. Albeit over daraticized, it’s an interesting overlook at the work it’s continually putting into its camera systems.
The large-format digital LargeSense LS911 is the "world's first 8x10 digital single shot camera for sale." The camera features a 12-megapixel 9x11-inch monochrome CMOS sensor, which translates into massive 75 micron pixels.
Pricing and availability have been announced for Tokina's high-end Fírin 20mm F2 FE AF autofocus lens for Sony E-Mount. If you're curious about this lens, you'll be able to pick up your own starting in June for $950 USD.
It's the copyright lawsuit that refuses to die. In September 2017, PETA finally settled its monkey selfie lawsuit with photographer David Slater, but the request to dismiss the case has since been rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
As part of his ongoing ‘Good Light’ YouTube series, London-based photographer Sean Tucker has created a simple tutorial on how to find good natural light for portraits.
The 2018 Pulitzer Prizes were announced yesterday, with the photography awards going to photojournalist Ryan Kelly for image of a car plowing into protesters in Virginia, and the entire Reuters photo staff for a series on Rohinga refugees fleeing persecution.
When it was announced in 2016, the Rokinon AF 14mm F2.8 FE was among the first full-frame autofocus lenses for Sony's a7-series mirrorless cameras. We wanted to see how this affordable wideangle prime performs on Sony's latest a7R III.
ARQ files shot using the Pixel Shift mode in the Sony a7R lll—and processed using Sony's own Imaging Edge software—can now be opened and edited in Lightroom Classic CC after the latest update.
Lensrentals put together a very useful overview of all the memory card options out there for photographers and videographers. It covers speed ratings, card formats, and explains everything you need to know to pick the right card for the job at hand.
If you look at the cameras used to shoot the winning photos in the prestigious World Press Photo 2018 competition, you'll see that DSLRs dominated over mirrorless, and Nikon dominated over everyone.
The MindShift Gear BackLight 18L daypack joins the 26L and 36L versions, providing users the same heavy-duty build and convenient rear-panel access in a more portable form factor.
You think you know everything there is to know about Lightroom? Think again. Photographer and YouTuber Jamie Windsor thinks he can still teach you a thing or two.
Skylum Software has released the latest update to its image processing software Luminar. The update improves speed across Windows and MacOS, and brings new features including automatic image distortion correction and a new Raw conversion engine.
With the Canon EOS M50 review wrapped up, we've revisited our Best Cameras for Parents Buying Guide – and have some new recommendations in the category.