Panasonic Lumix GF1 Review
From a design point of view it's less complex to implement a video mode into a 'live view only' camera such as the GF1 than in a DSLR which needs to flip its mirror out of the way before it can start recording. It was therefore a surprise to many when the world's first Micro Four Thirds camera, the Panasonic DMC-G1, did not come with a video recording feature - though it wasn't long before a second model, the video-orientated GH1, came along to bring true HD video capture to the Micro Four Thirds platform.
The GF1 can't match the GH1 when it comes to video (it only offers 720P where the GH1 can do 1080P), but it's a heck of a lot more useful than the G1, which can't do it at all. The GF1 beats the Olympus E-P1 by offering high quality AVCHD (albeit in the new 'Lite' flavor) capture, but the E-P1 rules the roost on the audio side of things (capturing high quality stereo sound; the GF1 is mono only and has no connector for an external microphone).
In AVCHD Lite mode the GF1 offers high quality HD video capture at 1280 x 720 pixels (720p) at 25/30 frames per second (depending on whether you're shooting in PAL or NTSC format), though the files are doubled up to 50/60 fps for HDTV compatibility. If you record your videos in Motion JPEG format you can also choose a range of smaller video sizes.
The built-in microphone captures mono audio, and unlike the GH1 or E-P1 you can't connect an optional external microphone. There is a small built-in speaker for video playback in-camera.
|Sizes||• AVCHD Lite: 1280 x 720p, 25/30 fps (output as 50p or 60p PAL/NTSC)
L: 9 Mbps
• Motion JPEG:
1280 x 720, 30fps
848 x 480, 30fps
640 x 480, 30fps
320 x 240, 30fps
|Audio||Dolby Digital Creator format (mono), wind-cut feature|
|Format||AVCHD / QuickTime Motion JPEG|
|File size||1.25 MB/sec (720p AVCHD), 3.4 MB/sec (720p Motion JPEG)|
|Max file size per clip||2.0 GB for Motion JPEG, card capacity for AVCHD|
|Recordable time||Approx 100 minutes|
Using Movie Mode
The GF1's movie mode lacks the advanced video functionality of the GH1, but there's still plenty of scope for creative control, including AE compensation aperture priority (though strangely you can't actually choose a specific aperture - you just get a depth of field slider) and access to all the Film and 'My Color' modes.
There are two different ways to capture movies. The first - ideal for quick grabs when out taking pictures - is to simply press the small red movie button just to the right of the main shutter release. Any exposure compensation or color settings (such as film mode) you have currently activated are also used for the movie clips (this includes scene modes and My Color effects), but the exposure is fully automatic, and shutter speeds / apertures currently selected for stills shooting (when in A or S mode) aren't honored. Movie settings such as recording mode, quality, metering, continuous AF and wind cut filter are accessed via the Motion Picture menu (these options override any currently set stills shooting options when using the movie button).
The GF1 also features a Movie-Program (found on the main mode dial). Here you get a little more control - exposure compensation, AE lock and aperture control (using the aforementioned depth of field slider) - and the ability to start and stop movie capture using the main shutter release, which is nice.
Focus in movie mode can be set to auto or manual (though to get continuous AF you need to activate it in the Motion Picture menu - by default movies are one shot AF only).
Movie mode displays
|Motion Picture menu||You can choose between AVCHD and Motion JPEG recording formats...|
|...and a range of recording quality levels.||As well as control over camera basics (film mode, iContrast, focus/metering modes) you get AE compensation and this aperture slider, once you switch to Movie Program mode.|
Video quality comments
Overall impressions are good; the 720p output is clean, smooth and relatively sharp, and looks very similar to the results produced by the Olympus E-P1. The M-JPEG output also looks very similar to the 720P results we got from the GH1. The AVCHD Lite clips are slightly better (though to be honest the difference is minimal, unlike the GH1, which produces stunning 1080 AVCHD output) and they're a lot smaller (less than half the size), but they have the disadvantage that they're considerably less user-friendly, and they have to be converted to another format before you can share them with the world (there's not much can read a native .MTS file).
As with previous Panasonic models it's not actually capturing at the full 50 / 60 fps you see in the file (each frame is doubled up to ensure compatibility with 720P televisions), so don't expect to see better motion in AVCHD Lite files.
Continuous AF with the kit zoom (or the 14-140mm video lens) is pretty good, though as with all camcorders it will hunt mid-movie and is usually best left turned off. With the 20mm pancake attached we'd highly recommend turning focus off - it's pretty slow and the lens motor can clearly be heard on the soundtrack.
Talking of audio, the lack of stereo recording or a microphone socket means that sound is the GF1's weak spot, bettered by the Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic GH1 (as well as many DSLRs), and pretty much rules it out for serious video use. The built-in mike is pretty sensitive (and quite directional), but the sound quality is unimpressive, especially in windy conditions.
Overall, then, the GF1's video mode is, much like those found on mid-range digital SLRs, something to be thought of as a bonus (and one I found myself using a lot in social situations), rather than a serious videography tool - for that you'll need the GH1. The quality is far better than you'd get from a compact digital camera (or most camcorders, for that matter), and if you use the 20mm pancake you can play around with shallow depth of field for creative effect. Throw in the custom film modes and you've got a fun and easy way to play with creative video capture that comes free with an excellent stills camera.
Sample videos - MJPEG
Caution: very large files
Sample videos - AVCHD Lite
- 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
Oct 14, 2009
Sep 2, 2009
Oct 10, 2012
Oct 12, 2012
|Sophisticated construction by the nature by Orchideon|
|After the Rain by Flor Tempra|
from Macro - Something Pink
|Asilah by Limburg|
from Cozy Corners
Via its strategic partnership with Huawei Leica is already involved in the development of smartphone cameras but chairman Andreas Kaufmann can imagine the German manufacturer taking things one step further.
In a blog post the imaging engineers behind the dual-camera in Andy Rubin's Essential Phone explain how the imaging components were developed and calibrated for best performance.
Tamron calls it an 'ultra-telephoto,' and for good reason: this lens offers a massive 27-600mm equivalent zoom range. But is it sharp?
It started with a great idea and a slick promotional video, and ended with the company headquarters being raided by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. Wired reports on Lily, the selfie-drone maker that never got off the ground.
With card readers disappearing from MacBooks, USB-C card readers are now a necessity. Macworld's helpful guide compares five models and decodes the current mess of card speeds and certifications.
A Sony a7S II mounted on the outside of the ISS' Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) for the last seven months has sent back some impressive 4K video and stills.
A Federal judge has refused to throw out a copyright case against controversial artist Richard Prince, who used an image by photographer Donald Graham in an exhibition.
Sony has teased its customers with news of an upcoming announcement: it will soon take the wraps off a new CineAlta motion picture camera, one sporting a 36x24mm sensor.
QuikStories is integrated into the latest version of the GoPro app and automatically creates 'stories' using the video clips you've shot during a day.
Journalists photographing a protest in the US Capitol building claim they were told by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of arrests.
The Meizu Pro 7 Plus secondary display can be used for music playback, date and weather-related information, or as viewfinder when taking selfies with the rear cameras.
Nikon is marking its 100th anniversary in many ways, including the creation of a new scholarship program for 'future visual creators' in the USA and Canada.
Take one Digital ELPH (or IXUS), rotate it vertically, add a fully articulating LCD and a lens with a camcorder-like focal length, and what do you get? Why, the Canon PowerShot TX1, of course. In this week's Throwback Thursday we revisit Canon's one-of-a-kind hybrid stills/video camera.
Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, here's the definitive video proof that yes, a $50,000 cinema camera beats the pants off a $50 camcorder in a side-by-side test.
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.