Compared to... Olympus Pen Digital E-P1

The GF1's only direct competitor is the Olympus E-P1, which has the same (or a very closely related) sensor and a similar form factor and feature set.

Note: Regular readers will spot something different in this section; our standard studio shot has been updated to include a lot more fine detail, some shadow areas and lots of challenging textures. You can read all about it here.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Panasonic GF1 vs. Olympus E-P1

Camera settings:

  • Panasonic DMC-GF1: Olympus 50 mm F2 Macro lens (@F6.3), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer

  • Olympus E-P1: Olympus 50 mm F2 Macro lens (@F6.3), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/SHQ, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Olympus E-P1
6.6 MB JPEG (4000 x 3000)
7.6 MB JPEG (4032 x 3024)

With the same lens and (almost) the same sensor it should come as no surprise at all that these two cameras produce superficially similar results. The more you look at the two shots, however, the more differences you can find - and the more obvious it becomes that Olympus is still beating Panasonic by just about every measure when it comes to in-camera JPEG processing. The E-P1 is not only capturing fractionally more detail, but its output is cleaner (without the GF1's moiré and artefacts) and is less 'digital' looking, certainly when viewed this close.

The color differences (which we've covered in more detail elsewhere) are more likely to affect most users than minor differences in pixel level rendering; you've got to be looking pretty closely to see the E-P1's superior JPEG performance, but superior it most certainly is.

Sure, the GF1 has slightly less intrusive default noise reduction in the shadows and slightly better highlight retention at base ISO, but you can turn down the E-P1's noise filter if you prefer to retain every last smidgeon of texture, and you can just as easily switch the E-P1 to ISO 200 to get significantly more highlight dynamic range, thus negating any argument in the GF1's favor.