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Thursday, 16 April 2009

Comments

The G1 is nice, but...hmmm...kinda too soon to put it up in the top 10 list before Olympus shows what it has up its sleeves yeah? But this is a nice compilation, and seeing the zeiss ikon in it brings a smile to my face. my colleagues thinks im nuts.

This quote from you, Mike:

"though not one that has invited much use while it's been in my possession."

is IMHO the worse you can say about a camera. Is like when someone says "this is elevator music": it completely disqualifies the music, in my book. Good music puts me upside down and could never listen to good music in an elevator. (I mean "listen", not "hear").

I do realize you posted many positive comments about the G1, and the fact that it is included at number 7 in your list is quite a good praise.

But personally speaking, if a photodog like you thinks this camera "does not invite much use"... I would possibly look elsewhere for fun. After all, to us amateurs, photography is about fun, and I expect the to enjoy using the camera. If the brand new camera I purchased did not invite me to use it... I did the wrong purchase.

Not to nit pick but if you ever sit in a Ferrari you will appreciate the difference between engine noise and exhaust note. Both to be enjoyed but totally separate.

Uh-oh, now you've done it.

This one's on my personal sh*t-list (will that get through the MJ smut filter?). But that's not so much because it's a bad camera – I really don't think it is – as because I strongly disagree with the way Panasonic is handling the domestic (i.e. Japanese) vs. international marketing, but that's a separate issue so I won't go into it here. But I also have to scratch my noggin over this one because, as Mike suggests, it's really in an uncomfortably grey zone that makes its value as a photographic tool kind of tentative.

It is supposedly a small camera with an almost-large sensor, but is it really that compact? Compared to a Nikon D40x with a larger APS-C sensor, for example? Nope. Admittedly the lenses are a bit smaller than the Nikon offerings, but still ... it's just not quite enough of a good thing. And to my eye that not-quite-enough-of-a-good-thing-ness does manifest in the image quality, which is appealing at first glance, but gradually becomes tiring in a way that's difficult to describe, but I'll try: to me the output detail and micro-contrast look kind of forced and unnatural. But that might just be my underlying prejudice playing havoc with my visual cortex.

Well thank goodness for that! For a few days there I thought you were never going to give me a chance to disagree!

(psst ... thanks.)

Cateto/Jose,
True, but then I am only one person. And my recommendations are still only a starting point for people (if that), not a final word. So my feelings about any particular camera are just another data point, not really a verdict.

Mike

I really want one of these. No, wait, I really want my wife to want one. She has one of the P&S cameras depicted on your 2007 "how to choose" article. She goes to interesting places in Europe on business, takes a lot of pictures, hands me the SD cards and says "please fix."

A G1 (or G10 or for that matter, a ZI) would really help.

"Big Sensors Rock" I like that, someone should put it on a t-shirt.
Interesting comment you made about the attention paid to Japanese car design. Years ago I saw a doc on this subject & they spent some time describing how the first Lexus was developed. Toyota sent the chief designers to live in an upmarket suburb in California & also signed them up to various country clubs & golf clubs. I think they stayed there for several months, essentially living amongst their target market. They paid attention to what that market segment values in a car. I think the main car driven was Mercedes so the designers also drove one. They learned that wealthy Americans like the car door to make a solid sound when it closes so they included that in the Lexus specs. Fascinating stuff & it did pay off for them.

The G1's popularity and brisk sales, despite the "very close, but not quite" opinion it seems to be getting from most reviewers, shows that Panasonic has found a camera niche that photographers want to see receive more attention.

The marketing guys probably said, "Make it look like an SLR!" Grumbling behind them were the camera guys who wanted to make it look like a rangefinder.

Is the pancake lens for this thing available yet?

At last! The end of a 30+ year search for THE Travel Camera - light weight and high image quality. It is a very pleasant camera, I really tried to like it but after four months it went off to eBay.
The EVF - I know that LCDs are hopeless in the bright sun but I was unprepared for the EVF - even though apparently shielded, it is equally hopeless. [I'll keep the G-10 - even a wimpy optical viewfinder is superior to total guesswork]
The sensor - yes, some nice pictures are possible but it really doesn't deliver the high ISO promise of a larger sensor. It gives up a full two stops of ISO to a Canon XTi and it is the first camera that made noise reduction a standard part of my workflow.
And finally the battery and charger - lousy battery life. The charger is a brick [there went the weight savings for travel] with a long thick cord. CanoNikon learned years ago to make a small cordless charger. Where was Panasonic dozing?
Yes, a charming camera but I agree #7 is all it earns.
Great series,
Bill

I haven't used a G1, but I was holding one the other day and thought, "wow, this is nice & small." I didn't dig "nice & small" when, say, the digital Rebel went from a normal-sized camera to one clearly designed to fit into female hands, because it was too big to be super-portable, but too small to hold comfortably. This G1 is small enough to be portable, and the lenses are small, too.

But I look through that EVF, and it looks like the Zapruder film. It was pretty surprising how grainy and over-bright it looked (I was indoors, with overhead fluorescent lighting). I love the advantage an EVF gives you over a reflex mirror as far as form factor is concerned, but it needs to be improved A LOT before it's gonna replace anything for me.

Of course, I haven't shot with it yet(I plan to in the near future). But already I have three questions: 1. Why can't an EVF look like the image from a video camera? 2. Why doesn't this thing shoot video? and 3. Where's a tiny little pancake 28mm/35mm/50mm lens?

The trick with the G1 is not that its a large sensored P&S but that its smack-dab in the middle of the size category that used to dominate the SLR world. DSLR's are all noticably larger than consumer film SLR's. Even Pentax's 'tiny' K-m is larger than the middleweight *ist was. And we've been given tiny wee viewfinders at the same time. As somebody who has moved away from the DSLR due to excessive size I welcome the idea of a right-sized camera.

The G1 is the same size as Pentax's classic MZ-5n body, with a nice big viewfinder. Finally I don't have to pay the twin size taxes (oversized body, undersized viewfinder) to shoot digital. And better-yet, I'm not stuck with awful P&S ergonomics unlike the m43 body Olympus has been showing off.

I liked your description of the camera, Mike, especially your parallel with an overgrown 3 year old.

I have two questions about this camera, the first aimed at you and the second at Panasonic:

1) How good/bad/OK is manual focusing with the EVF?

2) Why is there a shutter at all???? (While the lens is mounted, I should add.) The one big reason I had to want this camera was silence. I didn't want a mirror slap, and I didn't want a shutter noise. When I heard this camera made noise, I immediately took it off my "wanted" list. Good job I didn't preorder it like I had initially intended and waited for some reviews to come out.

If it doesn't invite much use, that's surely an important indictment - even if it's at the subliminal level. (I'd say the same thing about the Leica MP that you mentioned in passing yesterday, and that's why I use a Konica Hexar RF, which has very few flaws.) I agre, though, that the G1 is an important camera. Once we get past the introductory "1.0" version the ability to use Leica glass via adapters is likely to make its successors a powerfully tempting option for rangefinder users. At any rate, there's a big, captive market out there for whoever figures out how to make a smart, sharp large-sensor small camera for all the owners of Leica glass and Leica-compatible lens mounts.
Howard

This is a hard comment to write because I have to fight the temptation to turn it into an detailed article-length diatribe.

I agree, I suppose, that this camera should be on your list, as it does represent a breakthrough, but, for me, the real story is how poorly Panasonic implemented the opportunity.

I bought one of these in December and sold it in February. I wanted to like it, obviously, but its many annoying features quickly wore me down. I don't remember owning a camera that so aggressively took the fun out of taking pictures.

And the shutter noise? Maybe I got one that came down the assembly line at beer-thirty on a Friday and someone forgot to put the dampener on, because mine said, "CLACK!!" rather than, "zzzp."

I have come to really appreciate my G1. I'm getting older and my vision isn't what it once was. The EVF is much easier to see and with this camera than any optical SLR VF I've ever owned.

Also, I getting lazy. Carrying my 5D and a few lenses is getting to be a chore. My Canon G9 doesn't quite have the versatility I want. I guess it's the Goldilock's camera-- just right.

I can't help but think that in the years to come the G1 will be seen as an extremely significant development, as I believe that this class of camera will account for the majority of growth in the camera industry, and long term may be seen as the harbinger of doom for photocentric manufacturers such as Nikon, Pentax, and Olympus, as it will provide the toe hold for electronics centered companies like Samsung, Panasonic, and Sony to gain significant marketshare. And it really puts the photocentric companies between a rock and a hard place as they can either get on board and help this class of camera gain widespread acceptance in the marketplace or cast a blind eye hoping that consumers will not embrace the elephant standing in the room. If the G1 class of camera takes off, I just don't know that the Nikons of the world can match the manufacturing muscle of Panasonics and Samsung. And watch out if LG gets interested in this segment. (Think of the G1 as the Ford Explorer or the Chrysler Caravan of cameras, of course if I am wrong, we'll look back it as we do with the El Camino.)

Of course the competing scenario is (as others have said here) that the camera phone evolves to such a degree that it becomes the defacto household camera. And if that happens we are doomed.

"I just can't stop the impression that it's more like a slightly inferior DSLR"

That's a very interesting take - and I think it helps me understand why, while I find the G1 exciting, I keep waiting (and waiting) for news on the Olympus. I have a DSLR, what I need is a P&S, and one that I won't hate.

I bought it and then sold it. I think whilst it is an important camera and it has interesting point, it is neither this or that. I think a small one with video (plus adapter for cinema lens/leica lens/... many lens) would have a good niche for this type to live in. But without a bit of work, it is simply does not produce very good photos. It is quite good but just does not shine, compared with M8, D300 or even D-Lux3. The last one has photo that pop (but very slow). This one the picture does not pop, even with Leica glass.

Got some novelty value but been there, done that, not very good!

I think I agree with everything you've said. I have a G1 and it is indeed elegant (hadn't thought of it that way) and I do think it does suffer from the not-quite-a-DSLR effect that comes from having been styled as such. However, I do think it heralds a new class of camera, as you imply. To me, the best analogy is the comparison between word processors and text editors: with the G1, you do get what you see (modulo the idiosyncrasies of the viewfinder). Having 100% view with a real depth of field view and with the image as bright or dark as it will be changes how one uses the camera.

It's not perfect but instead of being a compromise between a digicam and a DSLR, it has the best features of both worlds (for me, obviuosly).

the designer of the original Mazda Miata used to listen to tape recordings of other cars' exhaust notes* on his way to work [...]
*I.e., the sounds the engine makes.

Allow me to nitpick once again. No, the sound of the exhaust is not always the sound the engine makes. There are manufacturers who put valves and stuff into their cars' exhaust pipes in order to get a more exciting sound. Or better to say, a roar. :-)

BTW, did you get the 4/3 -> 4/3 adapter with G1?

After a quick look around the net, I figured out that a Nikon D3 with a 14-24 f2.8 zoom lens weighs almost exactly the same as a 4x5 Crown Graphic with a 135mm lens, at 4.8 pounds. Since the Graphic's lenses are so much smaller, a 1945 news photographer's overall camera kit might well weigh less than a current one. Of course, the big 4x5s were ditched for the small, handy 35s (notably the Leica) when quality from the 35s was determined to be "good enough" for newspaper and magazine work. I think something similar could be happening now -- Nikon, Canon and Sony are producing these huge, ungainly, awkward machines that can do everything for everybody, but a very large number of people would much prefer a smaller, handier product with "good enough" quality. The G1 with two light zoom lenses has replaced my D3/D300 combo as my car camera, the one that I routinely carry around with me. I like the D3's image quality better, but the whole system, including the lenses, is simply too big. They went too far. I'm not sure, though, that the m4/3 system will win out, because the sensor may not be quite good enough, and it might be impossible to make a small-form sensor good enough. The upcoming Olympus camera will tell us a lot. (A guy from Olympus made a public statement that 12mp is enough, a foolish statement reminiscent of the guy who wondered why anyone would need more memory than you got in an IBM Jr., which I think was either 128 or 256K.) Unless Nikon, Canon or Sony get religion, which is unlikely, because their lens systems are as ungainly as their cameras, I think the one to watch might be Pentax. They still have an opening for FF sensors, and a D3-quality FF sensor in a K20D-sized camera -- a camera that was deliberately shrunken to make it as compact as possible -- would be a killer. In any case, I think the G1 deserves a place on the list, as the beginning development of a new lightweight pro-level camera that will be to the huge Canikon dinosaurs what the Leica was to the Crown and Speed Graphics.

I can't get used to the idea of reaching a point where I might even consider the possibility of trying out, let alone use, an electronic viewfinder. But that's not the kid's problem (the "little" camera). It's mine. As you point out someday I'll have to get past that.
If I hafta.

It isn't the smallest camera out there nor is it the tiny camera that Oly has proposed for their m4/3 offering but it is still pretty darn tidy. The G1 and both lenses can fit in a Lowepro Nova 140aw bag with room for other things. The weight with both lenses is very non physical therapy inducing. The size of the camera and lenses means you're rarely hassled by "The Man". (Try and get the canon 100-400 or even the Oly 50-200 into an arena.)

There are other niceties. You can chimp in the view finder. You can check the histogram and everything else from there. You don't need the rear LCD. Or you wouldn't if the rear LCD wasn't so handy. The flexy LCD should be standard on all DSLRs. It is really the only way to live LCD-wise.

The AF is accurate if not as fast as a DSLR. (Very fast on the 14-45. Not so much the 45-200.) The tracking AF allows you to do focus and recompose far more accurately than one shot AF. (Focus on the eye and let the camera track it. I don't do with most of my DSLRs unless I can keep that spot near an AF point.) It doesn't really HAVE focus points. You can put the focus rectangle thingy just about anywhere.

The center sharpness of the kit lens is amazing although the corners are not nearly so good. (Well corrected by software but sharpness is lost.) The lenses have some of the best bokeh I've seen (I'm not an expert.) even if the four thirds sensor size and the lenses fgoogle to fgoogleplex aperture range means that you don't have a heck of a lot of out of focus areas. The system still only has the 2 lenses but more are coming and it takes lenses I would have never considered buying before.

It is a really nice camera even if it doesn't completely live up to the promise of the new mount.

If I had to choose I would still take my canon dslrs but I've used the G1 far more than any other camera since I bought it.

I think it easily deserves a spot on the list.

Hi Mike,

I must be missing something. If the G1 is well designed and well implemented and if the kit lens and EVF are excellent, how is it inferior to DSLR's? Is it the sensor? If so, would you apply that judgment to all 4/3rds cameras? The selection of lenses? Apparently more are on the way.

I'm planning to get a G1. I like its feel, its size, and that articulated viewing screen, which I probably would use pretty consistently. So what am I overlooking?

Joe Glaser

Mike, you left the Sony dsc-R1 off your list of large-sensor compacts. It's amazing image quality makes it a real disappointment that Sony never made a successor.

The 4/3 concept seems like a good one, except that the 4/3 sensor size half the size of aps-c and a quarter the size of "full frame"

I'm pretty interested in Samsung's NX system which is a lot like the micro 4/3 but using aps-c sensors. Since Samsung makes the chip in the Pentax K20 I would imagine that the image quality would be at least as good as the K20 , but with the ability to use all sorts of lenses. I just hope that Samsung comes to their senses and puts a flip out lcd on it.

This interview with some people from Samsung is pretty interesting.
http://www.dpreview.com/news/0903/09031301_samsunginterview.asp

I own a G1 and a G10, and even more than seeing 2 (!) of my cameras making this year's Top 10 and you're only at #7 (that's an attempt at humor) - I'm also relieved to see the G1 coming in above the G10. I'm sorry, but my G10 has been a major disappointment in terms of noise and IS performance.

But I'd like bring up the G1's use of post processing to enhance lens performance. In my experience with the G1, I think that's a "win", though it certainly helps that it's supported in CS4.

I believe that was part of the original 4/3 specs - was it ever implemented before the G1?

- Tim

Dennis, my pet peeve:

neither Panasonic nor Olympus see μ4/3 as a camera for enthusiasts or even as a supplemental camera for somebody who already has a "more serious" camera. That would be a niche camera.

They want a bestseller entry-level camera.

Panasonic's GH1, their second μ4/3 camera, will have video, but otherwise it will look like G1. Olympus promises a more professional μ4/3 camera in a couple of years. Maybe.

This morning I had some dental work and at one point my technician, seeing the boat anchor F5 I'd brought with me, mentioned that she'd recently got herself a Canon Rebel and was going to take a class on how to use it. Not on photography, mind you. On how to understand and use the FEATURE SET of the camera.

I told her to leave it on "AUTO" and learn something about how light works instead.

Sooner or later some smart company will figure out that this is THE problem with "advanced" digital cameras for non-zealots. But I'm not holding my breath.

This is one of the cases where I wish I could see the camera in person to make size comparisons, but none of our local camera shops carry it. This is one of the options I considered when making the move from point and shoot to something higher performance.

I knew going in that a Canon or Nikon would be more than I wanted to spend and would be too bulky to carry everywhere with me.

I ended up with the Olympus e-420 with the pancake lens, which I'm very happy with, and I've supplemented with other lenses. I'm still curious about the G1, though.

I bought my G1 as an addition to my D200. I am amazed no one has mentioned the swivel LCD which is one of the main reasons I got mine. The almost 360 degree swivel panel opens up a whole new visual world and I have made pictures with the G1 that are just impossible to do with my huge and weighty D200 with it's 18-200 lens.
The G1 makes superb sharp images, is very small, weighs almost nothing, is unobtrusive and I hardly use the EVF. I bought it to supplement my "real" DSLR and am VERY happy with the results.

Dear Mike,

Minor side-point...

Reflex mirror boxes are not only costly, but they (and other indirect systems) are the biggest source of focusing errors in a camera. They're not as horrid as coupled rangefinders, but they're bad.

I've never gotten a camera from the factory that was in *good* alignment. The difference between the cheap and expensive ones was that once you got them adjusted, the expensive ones would drift/get knocked out of alignment a lot less readily. But they all started poorly.

pax / Ctein

"the 4/3 sensor size [is] half the size of aps-c"

This seems a common misconception. For practical purposes, it's really pretty much APS-C cropped to 4:3. (OK, APS-C is about 14% taller.)

Ctein,
Yes, absolutely. The topic of imprecision and the slop necessary to mask it would be an interesting one. One of the big impediments to building 100% finders for SLRs (digital or film) is that the precision needed to manufacture it accurately costs a lot of money. A finder that covers 92% is great in that it allows a certain amount of slop without the slop being a problem. If a 100% finder is off by 4%, you'd know it. If a 92% finder is, you won't.

The tolerances of a good flange/mirrorbox/focusing screen/prism/eyepiece assembly are remarkably small. It takes a lot of precision to manufacture that whole arrangement out of a multitide of parts to the needed degree of precision. I think it's a big part of what you pay for with high-priced SLRs. A good viewfinder is a beautiful thing, and *not just to look through*. [g]

Hard to say what the current economy is doing to cameras now in development, but I'd bet all the manufacturers are slavering over the thought of doing away with all the G1 is able to do away with. It's not going to be too many years before you'll have to go much further up the food chain than you have to go now before you'll find a flipping mirror.

Mike

I bought one a couple of months ago. So far I'm very satisfied with it. Can't suscribe to the image quality complaints,it's good enough for me, almost stellar, and I think bashing the EVF because it is not what it should be is a bit absurd. Takes some time getting used to, but is less frustrating that the small, dark tunnels on most DSLRs. Most surprising feature coming from working with an SLR is watching the EVF freezing after the shot.
I wanted it for street photography, I do shoot a lot without framing or using the viewfiner, and it works. It' silent and discreet enough. The IS is pretty good, so I shoot mostly at 400 ASA (I was schooled in TriX and E6) Controls are well designed and in all, my major problem is dealing with two different makes' menu system when switching cameras.
Guess it's really a lot a matter of expectations: You just should not expect a 35mm p&s' to deliver comparable image quality to an 8&10 cameras, and it isn't fair or sensible to compare them.
It's certainly one of my favourite cameras, And I don't think I'll drop it. I'm into pentaxes and I am pretty sure I'll upgrade my camera soon (specially if they produce a FF model) but I'm sure I'll take the G1 with me every day for many many years.
Oh! I fully agree with the Oly guy about the 12 mega thing. Plenty enough for me. I remember a friend who used to run a whole production line in a factory with a 64k chip and never ever needed more. Most of a modern computer's resources are not used to make it work, but to make it look fancy. And lots of megas beg bigger computer, bigger disks, etc.

JK @ Studio Hatyai (hi John),
Agreed. I always go the other way and say that there's no real difference between 4/3 and APS-C. That's not exactly right either, but its closer to the truth than the common perception that APS-C is hugely bigger and greatly superior, which is just what you hear from people who haven't tried both and made prints from both.

Mike

The G1 isn't a contender for me till that 20/1.7 comes into play. If that is a decent (it doesn't have to be great even) lens - then I would love to get a G1! But, that and the 7-14/4 would make a nice little travel set for my style.

Sorry, but I just can't get excited about this camera without the availability of a single fast prime lens. A 20 mm (40 mm EOV) lens has been promised since the announcement of the camera, and, so far has been vaporware. Yes, you can mount a number of manual focus primes on this camera with (heavy) adapters, but that isn't the same thing. A compact capable camera like this just cries out for a few decent prime lenses. That would make it interesting. Maybe in another year once Olympus adds some lenses to the mix, this type of camera will become appealing to me.

About that swivel LCD:

The one thing it can't do is give you a waist-level finder on the lens axis. A simple flip-up would be fine for me. The new Nikon has this, which is nice to see.

I had the G1 and recently sold it. Not a true compact and not up to snuff when IQ is compared to my larger Olympus E30 DSLR. But it was fun.

Interestingly, though the G1 is supposed to be a "hot" camera I had a really hard time selling it. Very little interest and I sold it for dirt cheap. Would have kept it, but did not need the clutter of more gear just because.

His this your review of the G1 with the M-mount adapter you had earlier? Is this your take on the 'Li'l bastard' you'd shown us before? Is this all? I was hoping for a li'l more... Or did I missed some earlier post? I think not... The camera might not be the greatest thing, but I thought with the adapter, at least it would be fun.
Digital as spoiled us all a little, I know...

José

"It gives up a full two stops of ISO to a Canon XTi"

Bill,

In my hands (http://www.seriouscompacts.com/2008/12/panasonic-g1-nikon-d700-iso-shootout.html), the G1 gives up just about exactly 2 stops to the Nikon D700.

Amin

Tick, tock, tick, tock, LX3? Tick, tock, tick, tock. Time is passing.

Dear Mike and JK,

In addition to which, most metrics for image quality and optical performance scale as the linear size of a sensor, not its area. Which reduces the difference even further.

Hey, Mike, apropos mirror assemblies, remember the folks CIS's PhotoForum who'd assert that the camera itself didn't count much for what brand they'd buy into, because a camera body was just a box that held film and a lens? Made ya wanna roll your eyes.

pax / Ctein

"Dennis, my pet peeve:

neither Panasonic nor Olympus see μ4/3 as a camera for enthusiasts or even as a supplemental camera for somebody who already has a "more serious" camera. That would be a niche camera.

They want a bestseller entry-level camera."

Have to find what "pet x" meant but even I am annoying you, please do acknowledge that Panasonic wanted position may not be the actual position this camera is in. For some it may be an entry SLR. But does it get a system (small lens) and can it easy to take picture of your cat/dog/kid in football field/... I would doubt it can compete with small SLR. ... Whilst one think it can market positioning, this camera market position is anything but an entry SLR as of now. Here in Hong Kong (a gadget place) only essentially 1 shop sold it. The only reason people knew about it is when you said "the one who can take Leica and many others lens". When I sold it, the only selling point is I sold it with an Novo adapter. It is a niche product as of now. I do agree that it should be on this list, on the radar of camera watching, ... but it is not good for pet and hence not me!

Dennis, I'm not annoyed with you but with Panasonic and Olympus.

Your point that the position G1 found itself in is not the position Panasonic intended is just what I'm talking about.

For me, the problem is that they don't recognise all μ4/3 can be. Instead, Panasonic styles G1 like an SLR* and it seems that the first Olympus μ4/3 (apparently coming in June) won't have a viewfinder at all, just an LCD.

Both seem to ignore the fact that the small flange-back distance enables μ4/3 cameras to take almost whatever lens people want. Okay, this one is not a simple issue, but positioning G1 at least slightly away from a camera that bridges the gap between compacts and DSLRs might have helped in the public's perception of the camera. The fact that people buy it and then buy the adapters is not because of Panasonic's marketing decisions but in spite of them.

Both seem to ignore the fact that people who might want to buy the camera might also want small bright primes. So we still haven't got the 20/1.7, but Panasonic has two entry-level zooms with one more coming, while Olympus is rumoured to have a 14-45 zoom with their camera.

Panasonic also seems to repeat the same mistake they did with their DSLR's—send them out and hope. As you said, one place in Hong Kong is selling it. Here in Zagreb, Croatia, I saw a huge billboard with G1 on it. That surprised me as it seemed a step in the right direction. But then I came to an official distributor's shop and I had to explain to the salesman what you do with such a camera and how you handle it.

* There's apparently a popular misconception that if a camera looks like an SLR it is an SLR and therefore more desirable. See David Pogue's latest column where he talks about the miniaturisation of the SLR and then puts Nikon D5000 and Canon SX-1 IS in the same basket, just because the latter looks like an SLR.

The G1 is sick. It's just a good all around camera and I much prefer it to the G10 which I actually had right before I replaced it with this camera. This is a really great top ten list. When you're done with is, you can post this to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/ and then link back to your site. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.

I have seen the future.. and it doesn't have a swinging mirror. Holding off on any big SLR spending until Olympus show their hand.

Seeing how the G1's appearance has little to do with the experience of using it and nothing to do with the quality of the images it captures -- presumably the two most important factors to consider when choosing any camera -- I find it interesting that this is the only actual shortcoming you pointed out.

That said, I likewise find the G1's faux-DSLR look rather off-putting as well (although, as you know, I managed to overcome this and buy one anyway!) and as a result, I'm already scheming to replace it with a camera whose cosmetic appearance seems to be a better fit with my perceptions.

Out of curiosity, what does your son think of it? Unless you've poisoned his thinking, he would seem closer to Panasonic's target demographic than you are...

Dear James (and others),
I have been using my G1 with a micro 4/3 to M mount adapter and the 15mm and 21mm Voigtlander lenses, and also the 40mm Summicron. Even with the lens and adadpter connected, they are "pancake sized".

Above comments are fascinating:
From those who lambast it for trivial reasons (what difference does an on-axis WLF make compared to one that is to the side; for me it sits closer to my body this way?), those who say they bought it and then sold it again (in my opinion, you should have tried it before you bought it from your bricks and mortar dealer - I tried it for 1 hour before returning to the shop and viewed all the images on my laptop over a beer in the pub - as I do with most of the cameras and lenses I buy) to those who point out (almost with embarrasment sometimes) what they like about it.

I like my G1 and think it a great camera. In the same way that I like the ZI because the G1 makes me think differently to when I use my other cameras (DSLR, 35 and MF SLR, TLR and compact film). I like the AF (the first camera I have with this feature), I love the swivel screen, I love the red colour which makes people think it is not a serious camera and I love the size. It is a little smaller than the Oly 420 which itself is smaller than the 620 which was the other serious contender when I chose this G1. If I go on Safari next year, I look forward to using the G1 with my SLR 105-280 zoom lens attached. Which is the other reason I love it: I want to try my old lenses (Nikon AI, Canon FD, Leica, Voigtlander, Zeiss) and see how they compare to each other on the same body.

I've been using the G1 since December, trading off between it and my two DSLRs. It's an excellent performer, image quality quite on par with the Olympus E-1, Panasonic L1 and Pentax K10D (plus some resolution for my preferred print sizings). It's supreme adaptability to any lens I want to use with it makes it a delight in many ways, with a better viewfinder for manual focusing than *any* DSLR I've used to date (including the Canon 1Ds II). It's small size and light weight, compared to the DSLRs (even the Pentax *ist DS which was quite small) ensures that it is the camera I most often have in my daily carry-around bag.

The only negatives I find with the G1 are:

- It's a little too small for my hands. The controls are slightly cramped, and it's somewhat easy to hit the wrong button occasionally.

- It's only a consumer market design ... I'd like something with a more pro-advanced amateur design, slightly larger (and fewer) controls, less of the convenience consumer features, a metal skin and weathersealing.

- A set of fast, compact primes designed specifically for micro-FourThirds lens mount (12/2.8, 20/1.7, 25/1.4, 40/1.4, etc) would be fantastic. I use adapted 20, 25, 35 and 40 mm lenses most at present.

I'm happy to see you've included it in the "Ten Recommended Cameras" list. It certainly deserves to be there in my opinion.

what difference does an on-axis WLF make[?]

More compact, more discreet, actually on the axis for more intuitive composing, less chance of breakage...

Not "trivial" to me. I could turn this around and ask how often a finder that points forward is necessary. For me, pretty much never.

Other stuff:

Focus-assist beam blocked by lens-holding hand.

Control-dial under shutter button changing exposure settings inadvertantly at slightest brush.

Buttons on camera changing functions according to menu settings instead of just doing one thing all the time...

...leading to freeze-ups at critical shooting moments.

You are right. I should have test-driven it first, but I was about to fly across the country. Not an excuse, but there it is.

Anyway, I'm glad you like it. For me, it just wasn't a pick-up-and-shoot kind of camera. I found it finicky.

The top 10 funniest reasons not to buy a G1...

#10 It's neither fish nor fowl.

Chortle, inevitably spoken by APS users who are probably just sore about getting sand kicked in their face
by (medium format wanabee) full-framers.

#9 It looks like an SLR! Why can't it look like a rangefinder?

Snort. Retro SLR form too conservative - retro rangefinder just too cool?? Personally I want two lens and a flip top
LCD. Then we can put a kinetic crank on the side to charge up a capacitor and do away with the battery.

#8 The battery costs too much.

Cough. Yeah it's annoying, but so what? You don't need it yet unless you are a pro or the kind of dork who claimed
to drain it taking 40 shots because the G1 is so complicated....

#7.It's got a horrible EVF! How could you ever focus!

Wheeze. You haven't actually used a G1 have you? You didn't play with it in the shop, did you?
You saw it in a magazine, right?

#6 You can change it 2 stops with an accidental swipe of the wheel.

Guffaw. Uh, try 2/3's. IF YOU PUSHED IT FIRST.

#5 The button symbols wear off.

Smirk. All together now: AF, ISO, WB - AF, ISO, WB - underwear, socks, shoes - underwear, socks, shoes

#4 The charger's a brick on a long cord.

Eye roll. Have you ever actually seen a brick?? Panasonic used to make plug-in charger. Probably they changed it just
so you wouldn't buy it.

#3 Why does it have a shutter?

Belly shake. It's a camera. It takes pictures. Using light. Uh, this is going to take a while...

#2 It doesn't have any lenses! Okay, it can use more lenses than anything else, but with adapters!

Smile. The old slipping on a banana peel. It just never loses its charm!

#1 The one thing it lacks, the LCD on the lens axis.

Hysterics. I've only seen this once, proving quantity is unnecessary if you have quality. Personally I thought the "one"
thing missing was it didn't make me a cappuccino in the morning, then drop on its knees and...well maybe we won't go there...

************

Seriously, I moved from film compacts, to a Coolpix 4500, to a Panasonic FZ5. When the G1 became available before a
vacation to Europe, I pounced on it. It's perfect for me - the complete flexibility of interchangable lens in a very
tidy package not much bigger than an FZ28. And it's unique - the EVF is the future. And it's got good lenses and lots
of innovative features. It's going to be beat by APS-DSLR's in some situations, and won't be as handy as a compact in other
circumstances. But it's hard to find fault with what it is, rather than what it's not.

Which makes the responses here so strange. Yes it's a bit pricey and Panasonic marketing can be annoying. But it is a special camera in a way that #6 E-420 the world's smallest DSLR and #9 G10 the dusty standardbearer of a dated concept,
are not.

For sales and marketing purposes, and that is why it is built - to make money, a camera has to look like a dslr or a Leica/Zeiss/Dp1 type body. Because it does not look like the favorite style should not belittle its existence or capabilities.
Some of the reasons against the camera seem quite fabricated and trivial - it reminds me of the often repeated
'' Sorry my dear, but the Rolls has to go! Oh, why my love,its such a lovely car? Yes I know, but the ashtray is full! ''

Mr. Goodbar,

Item #10. Most of this is due to people seeing the Oly mockup and wanting that (that being a competitor to the Sigma DP1) rather than just a really small slr.

Item #9. I don't see any reason for it to look like an SLR. I see no reason for it to look like a rangefinder. Other than the lens goes in front.

Item #8. Most of us who have taken a camera on vacation like to have a spare or two just in case we don't have an opportunity to charge the battery. Hardly requires being a pro or an idiot.

Item #7. Agree completely.

Item #6. Yes, if you pushed it first. The issue is that you might not realize you've pushed it. No idea why that doesn't have a timeout. I actually look to the +- EV display before I even frame the image.

Item #5. It's a sign of a cheap camera. The markings around the heater controls in my truck wore off early, too. And it did come to mind when I was buying a new vehicle.

Item #4. A small, easily packable camera with a pain in the ass to pack charger. Easier to just buy a bunch of extra batteries and not charge on the trip. Oh, wait....

Item #3. There are electronic shutters.

Item #2. With AF? If the 7-14 and 20 were ever released no one would care.

Item #1. Hadn't heard that one before.

I've had a lot of fun with the G1 but there are legit complaints.

They are all legit complaints, but ludicrous reasons to black-ball the G1, which is what they are being used for. Of course, you and I are just in violent agreement...

10. The Olympus design loses both the EVF and articulated LCD, making it a large, expensive, and superior interchangable lens compact, rather than a revolutionary new camera. There is a place for it, but obviously it's not first choice.

9. I find it genuinely funny that the alternative to the 'unimaginative' SLR form is the even hoarier rangefinder form. Really, there's nothing wrong with either one, and both are functional forms. But without film to roll across, the video camera is also in play. How about a "bluetooth" EVF with a cable to a pistol gripped lens mount? That would stir things up...

8. Sure. But it a 'like' not a 'need'.

7. The EVF is so cool...

6. I look too. Hey! I may have missed it, but this is the first time I've heard a timeout suggested. Brilliant!

5. It's the sign of cheap signage. Since it would be fairly trivial to have embossed symbols, I suspect it's more of a rush job than anything else.

4. OK I measured. It's 35% larger than my FZ5 charger, draws twice as much amps, and when doing double duty as the AC adapter, outputs nearly three times as much. I could do without the cord, but it tucks very neatly opposite the two lens in a Lowe 140 bag.

3. The G1 with a usable electronic shutter would be outrageously good. Unfortunately they are yet realistic.

2. 'Ever'??? the camera has been available for hardly more than 5 months and the lens appear to be right on schedule. It is a brand new system launched in the middle of a recession...

1. Even this complaint is legit. But it's a trade-off - who wants the LCD banging into the tripod? - and, er, lacks gravitas.

The G1 is a really innovative camera that is THE perfect digital travel camera for its size and segment. I don't see the point of comparing a D700 with a Zeiss lens costing easily 5 times as much as the G1 with the kit lens to prove that the D700 is a better camera. Completely asinine.

The G1 has been designed to work very intelligently with the way people process photos on the computer especially if they use Lightroom. I can't think of a camera offering as many innovations - valuable innovations - to professionals and amateurs alike.

It has a funky shutter sound but so does the Contax G2 which was more than twice the price when it was introduced.

What more could you want from a camera? Learn how to use it and its quirks and the results - which are easily publishable for commercial purposes - are worth the price of admission many times over.

I reach for it more often than I reach for my Nikons, or my Contax G2 or my Fuji rangefinders. And that says a lot.

I remember when reviews of the Leica M8 started coming out and people were disappointed without even owning one. The G1 is a worthy holder of camera of the year since it's a rethinking of the camera not only from the perspective of how a device is designed but also how it's used.

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