Compared to...

When we reviewed the Olympus E-P1 recently we noted that it had no direct competitors, being designed to combine DLSR quality with compact camera ease of use and portability. Well, now it does have a direct competitor, the GF1, and - despite having an awful lot in common - there are key feature and specification differences (many of which we covered earlier here).

Like the E-P1, the GF1 straddles the great divide between high end compacts like the Canon G10 and low to mid-range digital SLRs, such as the Nikon D5000 and Canon EOS 500D. You could also argue that it appeals to the same audience as the Sigma DP1/DP2 and the forthcoming Leica X1 (the world's only 'large sensor' compacts) - despite their lack of zoom or interchangeable lenses.

The E-P1, G1 and GH1 reviews clearly showed that Micro Four Thirds cameras can compete with entry-level SLRs (and in fact demand no compromises at all when it comes to image quality), so we're not going to bore you with endless comparisons between the GF1 and every SLR on the market. Instead we'll look at how it compares to the E-P1 (which is what everyone really wants to know), to the Canon EOS 500D (which acts as a pretty good benchmark for mid range SLRs) and to the Panasonic LX3, one of the handful of 'enthusiast' compacts still on the market.

Again, like the E-P1, the GF1 trades off some DSLR functionality (mainly the optical viewfinder and ultra fast autofocus) in order to keep the size down, but the overall feature mix is competitive with similarly priced 'full size' cameras. The chart below shows how the headline spec compares with a range of cameras in both the DSLR and compact sector - the cameras in bold are featured in the studio comparisons on the pages that follow.

Camera Kit*
Viewfinder LCD Video Anti
(effective pixels)
$899 Optional electronic, 0.52x 3.0" / 460k pixels 720p, AVCHD Lite and MJPEG Lens 12.3 MP LiveMOS
(17.3 x 13 mm)
$799 None 3.0" / 230k pixels 720p, MJPEG In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS
(17.3 x 13 mm)
$700 SLR, 0.48x * 2.7" / 230k pixels None In-body 12.3 MP LiveMOS (17.3 x 13 mm)
Nikon D5000 $780 SLR, 0.52x * 2.7" / 230k pixels 720p,
Lens option 12.3 MP CMOS
(23.6 x 15.8 mm)
EOS 500D
$830 SLR, 0.54x * 3.0" / 920k pixels

1080 @ 20fps, 720p, H264.

Lens option 15.1 MP CMOS
(22.3 x 14.9 mm)
$499 None 3.0" / 460k pixels VGA, MJPEG Lens 10.1 MP CMOS
(8.0 x 5.5 mm)
Sigma DP2 $649 None 2.5" / 230k pixels 320 x 240, MJPEG None 4.6 MP x 3 X3F
(20.7 x13.8 mm)
Canon G10 $480 Non-SLR, Optical 3.0" / 460k pixels VGA, MJPEG .MOV Lens 14.7 MP CCD
(7.6 x 5,7 mm)

* The viewfinder sizes have been corrected for sensor size. Kit prices include standard zoom lens

Panasonic GF1 advantages over E-P1

  • Faster autofocus and AF subject tracking
  • Higher resolution screen (twice as many dots)
  • Built in flash
  • Optional Viewfinder
  • AVCHD Lite
  • Fast (F1.7) pancake lens kit

Olympus E-P1 advantages over GF1

  • Currently supports autofocus on a wider range of Olympus Four Thirds lenses
  • In-body IS
  • Collapsible kit zoom
  • Stereo Sound
  • Dual control dials
  • Art Filters