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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Comments

Edward,
you have not to wait - no problem to open the GF1-RAW-files in Lightroom or to import the files as DNG and than open with Photoshop.

You mean that it won't AF with all the regular 4/3 lenses--it offers AF with all micro-4/3 lenses and some regular 4/3 lenses. AF is actually a bit faster with the kit zoom than with the 20, but I have no complaints about the speed with the 20.

>Better yet, a purse works well—even if, for husbands, it isn't your own purse, but is usually nearby.

Ah yes, the wife/mother/pack mule. How my mother used to complain about that! My wife is smarter - she makes everyone bring their own backpacks.

Thanks for the report on this enticing camera.

"Unlike the Olympus E-P1, the Panasonic GF1 will not provide full auto focus with all Micro 4/3rds lenses, but more lenses that do work with this camera will be coming out. There are a few Leica lenses made for the 4/3rds system that will work, and, with an adapter, almost anything can be attached."

I've seen this a few places online. Can anyone in-the-know confirm if it's true or not? Specifically, that the GF1 will not AF with all M4/3 lenses? Or conversely (I've heard this too), that the EP-1 will AF with all regular 4/3 lenses, with the adapter? I always assumed that all M4/3 bodies will AF will all M4/3 lenses, and only AF with CDAF-capable regular 4/3 lenses.

I would really like to know whether the GF1 offers any real advantage over the G10/G11, in IQ. Certainly the 20mm lens offers its own distinct advantages, but just in terms of sensor IQ, blown highlights, DR, noise, is it worth it. ch

"I would really like to know whether the GF1 offers any real advantage over the G10/G11, in IQ."

For one thing, you can have a bit of out-of-d.o.f. blur (bokeh) back. My friend Nick Hartmann, who has been shooting with a small-sensor digicam (a Canon, but not a G11) for a while, put it, "I'm mostly so pleased with the reappearance of an out-of-focus background in digital files. I don't much care anymore what the bokeh looks like; its mere existence is a joy."

Mike

Thanks very much for this GF1 overview, Ed. Very practical, in-hand observations.

As you know, I went for the E-P1. Despite the E-P1's pokey auto-focus and somewhat awkward controls I will skip the GF1 since the E-P1's in-body image stabilization is more generally valuable to me when I have an M-mount lens attached. But I am glad to see a little, albeit tepid, competition between Panasonic and Oly. Perhaps the next generation of micro four-thirds cameras will really be spectacular.

Ed,

Many thanks for your review. Can you comment on the autofocus performance in low light? I'd also be interested in your thought on the useability of the LCD in bright sunlight and in low light (e.g., does the refresh rate drop?).

Best regards,
Adam

I think I may have finally found my ideal camera.

Question: is there a plan for a fast portrait-length pancake lens from Panasonic for this camera? i.e. something like a 45/1.7?

Chris,
There's this, will that do?

Mike

Surely the juries going to 'stay out' until we see the viewfinder..... How they can introduce a 'serious' camera without a viewfinder is a worrying mystery to me, and does not bode well for what is coming next! Do Japanese camera makers EVER do any market research?

I can't understand why the 45mm lens is so expensive. It's not that fast, and the focal length is not extreme. Is it just the Leica brand name?

I would pull the trigger on this immediately if there was a clip-on OPTICAL bright-line viewfinder available in the 4/3 format for that 20mm. I have zero interest in clip-on EVF, and don't wanna spend $200 for a Voigtländer viewfinder that'll always be off by enough to annoy me!

Perhaps time for Olympus EP-2 with the Lumix 20/1.7 ? I am just dreaming about camera with integrated viewfinder.Please...

"I've seen this a few places online. Can anyone in-the-know confirm if it's true or not? Specifically, that the GF1 will not AF with all M4/3 lenses? Or conversely (I've heard this too), that the EP-1 will AF with all regular 4/3 lenses, with the adapter? I always assumed that all M4/3 bodies will AF will all M4/3 lenses, and only AF with CDAF-capable regular 4/3 lenses."

The GF1 can AF with all micro 4/3 lenses (it's a typo in the article, it should say 4/3), the only AF limitation I know is that the GH1 can only AF in 1080 mode with the HD 14-140mm lens, no other lenses will AF in that mode currently.

The Panasonic cameras will autofocus with some of the 4/3 lenses, specifically the ones which were optimised for CDAF in the L10 and other 4/3 SLRs that supported CDAF. Panasonic have a full table here:

http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/connect/g1.html

For the lenses that don't support AF on the Panasonic bodies the camera will refuse to focus and prompt to switch to MF.

The EP1 can focus with all of the micro 4/3 lenses as well as all of the 4/3 lenses although on non-CDAF optimised lenses it can be slow.

in response to Bob's comment re the electronic viewfinder:

“The viewfinder image may be small and you may be able to see the pixels, but it's pretty sharp and contrasty, and has a high frame rate (60fps). Best of all you can tilt it up through 90 degrees; great for macro and studio work, though to be honest the tilting mechanism is largely redundant for most users and undoubtedly added to the cost and bulk of the unit. We understand the downgrade from the G1/GH1 (apparently the engineers did try, but it proved impossible to make a removable version)...”

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/PanasonicGF1/page6.asp

Even though the resolution is less than half that of the EVF of the Panasonic G1 (1.4 million pixels as opposed to 201,600 for the GF1) it seems to be quite good. or so we hope.
Rich

Bob wrote:

Surely the juries going to 'stay out' until we see the viewfinder..... How they can introduce a 'serious' camera without a viewfinder is a worrying mystery to me, and does not bode well for what is coming next! Do Japanese camera makers EVER do any market research?

You know, I understand the preference for an optical viewfinder, but I guess at this point, I'm motivated to object to the disdainful tone some folks take towards the idea of a camera without one. Express your personal preference, fine, but as with most things photographic, many knowledgeable photographers -- and camera engineers, for that matter -- won't automatically share it. Me, for example. I don't.

My photographic resumé goes back further into the dim past than I even want to admit to myself, starting with an SRT-101 and including SLRs and rangefinders of many brands and formats up to 6x17cm. I cut my teeth on old ... er, classic ... technology. And I have no problem whatsoever with a serious camera that uses an LCD for viewing/framing. None. In fact, in some ways it offers important advantages. (And in other ways, drawbacks, of course. Life, in my experience, is like that.)

In 15 years, people will look back on the moaning about this the same way we now look at the equally loud and mournful moaning about autofocus or automatic exposure control. Electronic viewing, whether by LCD or EVF (really the same thing), is a tidal wave--it's already swept over 95% or more of the imaging world and it ain't slowing down. It will, without question, be the overwhelmingly dominant viewing system even in serious imaging devices in the not too distant future. Arguably, it already is. And we'll all be just fine.

And the same thing, by the way, can be said about still/video convergence. Also a tidal wave. Put on your life jacket.

About that viewfinder: (1) it's very expensive relative to the camera, (2) it's not optical, and (3) it makes the camera bulkier.

--Marc

I REALLY wanted the Leica M9. But, it's way too expensive for a people-shootin', street camera. Now, the GF1 is more like it and the 20mm pancake lens is "the real deal" for foot-zooming. And affordable.

I get it. I REALLY want one.

There's an interesting post on Digital Photography Review this morning, in which Epson claims that they are making electronic viewfinder panels which will be fast and clear enough to fully replace optical viewfinders. We'll see - but the EVF on the G1 is pretty good (I understand that the optional EVF on the GF1 is not so good), and if these new panels are a big step above the G1...then we may finally get rid of the mirror box, and make way for a whole range of cameras the size of the GF1 and EP1.

JC

Chris,

It's not m4/3 or AF, but the Hexanon 40/1.8 AR is cheap and very high quality; adapter required of course. There are other options for legacy lenses with adapter. My assumption is that for actual portraits, AF is not a critical factor. YMMV.

Earl

I´ve had mine for a day now I used it today in the studio for four different sessions today in the studio with my Elinchrom BX250 Ri. I took around 480 exposures, it is a bit slower than my old workhorse Canon 40D with Canon L24-105/4.Being a portrait photographer I really enjoy facedetection. Looking at some old files now this evening I have to print from my Canon they really look soft compared to my new GF-1. I got the Olympus 14-54MKII on it it, works like a charm. The weak anti aliasing filter and CD-AF really makes a difference I think, I like the 4:3 aspect ratio better than 2:3.It's an amazing little package I've got now.

Charlie H - In addition to being able to get a shallower DOF with the M4/3 cameras, you should get much better higher ISO performance over the G10/G11 family. Whether or not that makes it worth it is up to you.

Bob - As far as the viewfinder, you can do all the market research you want (as I'm certain the manufacturers have), and not find a consensus on whether or not these cameras should have viewfinders. That's just the way it is. I, personally, have zero problem trading size for a lack of viewfinder. (I personally use Live View pretty extensively on my SLR as it is - although I wish I had an articulating LCD).

Chris,
There's this, will that do?

Mike

It would do nicely if it was about $500 cheaper. :)

Seriously, a GF1 + 20/1.7 + 45/2.8 would end up costing me $1,800. I could get a Pentax K7 (possibly the best prosumer DSLR ever made) + 21/3.2 + 50/1.4 for about the same price.

I get that they're two very different cameras. But I sure was hoping for a more affordable portrait lens that still has AF.

"I would pull the trigger on this immediately if there was a clip-on OPTICAL bright-line viewfinder available in the 4/3 format for that 20mm."

Ben P,
You can set the camera for 2:3 regardless of the lens you use.

Oren tells me that the GF1 just crops the sensor a little bit, and that the GH1 actually has a slightly larger sensor that's fully utilized when using 2:3. FWIW.

Mike

"But I sure was hoping for a more affordable portrait lens that still has AF."

I'm sure there will be one. You'll just have to wait a bit for it.

Mike

"Do Japanese camera makers EVER do any market research?"

Sure. They look at what people are willing to spend. Example: Windows computers typically come with no bells and whistles. Their base price is low. All the extras come at an additional cost. Apple computers typically come loaded, with few extras available. Their base price is high. Windows computers sell at ten times the volume of Mac computers.

Why saddle all buyers with an expensive VF, when the majority will be happy with a lower cost camera that doesn't have one

I'm like Eamon: I started with a Pentax Spotmatic in 1968, and a framed, wired darkroom I built when I was 15. My cousin had a SRT-101, WITH THE 50/1.4!!!

I first resisted the lack of an OVF, then broke down and bought a Fuji F10.

I don't miss it for one second. My wife cannot use an OVF, but the Fuji F10 is instinctive for her. The relentless march of technology. See Epson.

From what I can tell, the greatest challenge to using the Lumix GF-1 is finding one in stock, especially if you want it with the 20mm f/1.7 lens. Amazon's website estimates it will be 1-2 MONTHS before they will be able to fill orders for GF-1s with the 20mm. That's not to say you can't find one elsewhere sooner, but don't expect discounted pricing. You'd think that if Panasonic could do such a great job designing a DMD for the advanced amateur/semi-pro market they'd know the size of the market and be able to meet demand.

I cannot agree more with this review. with the EP1 here were too many shortcomings that I would get the pocket cam when I didnt want to take the 5D2. The only limitation I have I feel with the GF! is my lack of familiarity with the camera. I have a S90 coming. If the IQ and versatility with itcome close to the GF1 I may keep it and sit it out for a year. It looks like its the year of the CLSC compact large sensor camera

I bought one earlier this week while waiting for the G11 to show up... I wanted/desired a little video-capable compact as a complement to my 645 SRL film set-up.

Having owned a couple DSLRs before regressing to their metal, compact 1970's predecessors, the GF-1 is the camera I've been waiting years for. A compact, carry everywhere camera that has a great, metal shell and a fast, compact lens. Having DOF control in something so portable is fantastic.

I think the 4/3 sensor is coming into it's own now. And, like Mike, I shoot predominantly in B&W. Viewed at screen size resolution, I'm pulling off ISO 800-1600 shots that look like my flatbed scans of 135 FP4+ and TMAX100. Maybe shooting film throughout the 2000's has made me less demandingl of high ISO noise, or it could be the fact that digital B&W negates ugly chroma speckling. I also love the screen-filling 3:2 aspect.

I may grab a voigtlander OVF to pop in the hotshoe, and see how that works with using a small, central AF point. Otherwise, my hat is off to Panasonic. Can't wait for the 14mm 2.8!

Gordon: FWIW, "1-2 Months" is what Amazon says when they don't have it in stock and their distributor doesn't have it in stock. It's not a real estimate of availability, and they'll probably have it in-and-out of stock several times over the next few months.

Amen, Eamon.

Best,
Adam

If you'd rather not spend $900.00 on a fast portrait lens, take an old 50mm 1.4 out of the closet and find an adaptor that works. You might be glad you were too lazy to sell your old "film" lenses when they were still worth something.

I likewise agree with Eamon, although not just because the tidal wave of EVFs and LCDs makes their use inevitable. Coming from a view-camera background, I find I have no problem whatsoever composing and focusing images on an LCD (provided it's a good one, that is ... to my eyes, the one on the DP1 & DP2 was just on the wrong side of acceptable.) I suppose being nearsighted also helps, because I can just look over the top of my glasses and focus on the LCD with it barely a few inches in front of my nose.

Following upon on Eamon's comments above, I, too, like an optical viewfinder, but imagine the possibilities of a good EVF: push a button, and you can see blown out areas, color relationships before the shot, maybe even thermal imaging for very dark subjects. Much potential here.

alex

Today has been a busy day. As you can tell from my review, I never checked to see if there was an update for Adobe Camera RAW that would support the GF1. I just assumed it would take weeks or months for Adobe to offer support for such a new camera.

Anyway, I took RAW + jpg since I received the camera, so I have been playing around with all my RAW files all day. I would like to report that as good as the jpegs looked to me, there is a small but significant improvement when the RAW files are adjusted in ACR. In short, color, sharpness, contrast and ability to handle dynamic range are all noticeably better after manual adjustment. Adjustments can be done on jpegs, but with less latitude.

Also, I received the electronic viewfinder today, and I have been playing around with it. Steadying the camera with your head while looking through it is a good thing. The viewfinder really makes a difference in bright light or in the sun. The image in the viewfinder is a little coarse, but not in an annoying way. Having information in the viewfinder is nice, too. Even when I display information on the external screen, It doesn't seem to register with me, but in the finder, I actually notice it.

One last thing -

For those of you wondering about why your photos are sideways, the GF1 will only tell your computer how to correct the orientation of your photos if you use certain lenses. I think you need a lens with image stabilization. The 20mm does not have IS and does not auto rotate the images. Now that is annoying.


Ed

At first I thought that the 17mm was really a wide lens. Then I realised that it has a 2x crop. Do I need 8mm lenses to have a fisheye equivalent on this?

So again the usual discussion on viewfinders. I don't care whether it OVF or EVF, but viewfinder must be (for me). I was totally happy with LCD framing up to few years ago, but now, you know, presbyopia hit hardly (and it ia a royal pain in the .. as Ctein once wrote). Anyway, the show stopper for me is the lack of image stabilization on board. It is such a useful, and by now well proven, technology that I promised I'll never buy a camera without. So, once more I found the right excuse not to drain my wallet.

R

For all of you who think it sucks that Panasonic is making too few GF1s available, at least you're not in a place like Taiwan, where Panasonic has outright refused to sell GF1s at all. Period.

"I would really like to know whether the GF1 offers any real advantage over the G10/G11, in IQ."

I would assume that the larger sensor will give you the typical larger sensor advantages. Less noise, better color, better acuity. At low ISO and small print sizes one would probably not care, but it's not too hard to notice that even the best of the small sensor cameras can't really make a sharp edge even at base ISO. And I would think that the 4/3rds sensor would be somewhat better.

I wonder if composition is affected by using an LCD screen in bright conditions, where the difficulty of seeing detail means that simple bold compositions result. ( I do not know about the GF1's screen)

Some years ago there used to be a photographer in the UK who had extremely poor eyesight and used an autofocus film SLR. He worked on his own but had a darkroom assistant. He made photographs with bold compositions and colours.

I also wonder if photographs taken on box cameras with those fingernail sized viewfinders were similarly affected, though it might be harder to tell amongst the usual posed shots of relatives.

I looked at Herman Krieger's pictures (TOP September 25th) taken on an Ansco box camera and compared them with other shots on his site. I think that there is a trend to simple compositions in the shots taken with the box camera. His Ansco has quite large 'finders though, say more the size of the nail on my big toe. I was thinking about my No. 2 Brownie. Herman's pix are well worth a look either way.

I know that different cameras can influence the sort of pictures made with them, but is it the viewfinder?

"I know that different cameras can influence the sort of pictures made with them, but is it the viewfinder?"

I imagine it must have something to do with it. I remember the first time I ever looked through a TLR after having used only SLRs, RFs or P&S compacts up to that point.

The left-to-right flip was a revelation; it totally changed how I needed to work with that camera.

For that matter trying RF viewing for the first time was a revelation too, in low-light the image kind of "glows" (or maybe that's just the framelines). The illuminated RF patch gives me a lot more confidence in getting spot on focus, vs potential AF hunting in my (consumer-level) dSLR.

Also, all this just really makes me want to try out a 4x5 :)

So anecdotally, yes I think the camera and especially the viewfinder makes a huge difference in how you take pictures. I think there's a false distinction here though, the two are kind of inextricably linked. In a way it seems that every type of camera developed has been an attempt to change/rethink or possibly "improve" how we view and compose. (Form follows function I guess).

@Peter -- yup, yes, precisely, yes yes and yes.

"At first I thought that the 17mm was really a wide lens. Then I realised that it has a 2x crop. Do I need 8mm lenses to have a fisheye equivalent on this?"

Well, Olympus does have an 8mm Fisheye for regular 4.3's.

@ Popcorn:

Panasonic has announced an 8mm fisheye for next year. When next year? Nobody knows.

There is also a 7-14/f4.0 zoom (non-fisheye, non-stabilized). By all accounts an excellent lens, and priced accordingly.

And of course with the right adapter you can mount almost any manual-focus lens w/ aperture ring on a micro4/3 camera. (And even some lenses without aperture ring via certain pricier adapters.)

However, there have been reports of softness issues with ultra-wides whose rear elements protrude into the camera body and get too close to the sensor, e.g. the 12 and 15mm Voigtlanders.

It seems like everyone, myslef inlcuded, imagines that the larger sensor, over a G11 that is, would produce lower noise at higher ISO's but does it actually?

It's interesting that no one has commented on how much the GF1 looks like a big brother of the LX3. I have used an LX3 and its predecessor the LX2 since mid 2007, and while they have never been my idea of perfect P&S cameras, in most regards they have been vastly superior to any non-DSLR I've ever used. I love their size and heft, their Leitz lenses, their overall build-quality, and their responsiveness. These jewel-like little instruments fit my hand - and my eye - like they were made for them, and I've recently published a book of HD format almost-panoramas that I've taken with them. (http://rpkphoto.smugmug.com)

These features of the LX3 are all characteristics that Panasonic clearly has carried over into this new camera, and I very much look forward to seeing what I can do with one.

Sounds like I'll have to replace my LX3. One thing has me a bit confused (please don't laugh if this is standard knowledge for a photographer): why can the LX3 focus down to 1 cm, while the GF1 can "only" do 20 cm? The 1 cm macro option on the LX3 is really fantastic, I've gotten some truly amazing shots.

Oliver: Minimum focus for non-rangefinder lenses is usually 10x their focal length.... 50mm lenses usually focus around 45-50 cm, so a 20mm lens would do around --- 20 cm.

Your LX3 with its tiny sensor has a focal length of 5.1mm... so in normal shooting you'd expect 5cm to be the closest. Like a macro lens, the macro mode allows closer focus than 10x the focal length, in the same way that a 100mm macro lens can focus much closer than 1 meter.

The 20mm lens on the GF1 does not have a 'macro mode' that would require significant extension of the elements to facilitate super close focusing.

Regarding availability, it is not the GF1 that is unavailable, it is the 20mm kit. I could order a GF1 from Adorama, B&H and Amazon with the 14-45mm kit for immediate delivery. The 20mm is available from Amazon for immediate delivery as well. Although I am not sold on the GF1, I bought the 20mm for the heck of it. Helluva lens by my reckoning. Now, if I could just mount it on my D700.

Chris

"Can you comment on the autofocus performance in low light?"

I'm also enjoying the GF1 and the 20mm, and not the least the autofocus. I never have trouble with it, not even in the lowest light.

See a couple of my GF1 posts and pictures here.

Addendum to Craig's answer to Oliver:
Not to forget that the 20 cm are given from the sensor plane while the 1 cm is from the front lens.

Until they introduce a serious optical viewfinder like the PEN F's, I will continue to view them as Dr. Johnson did the dog that walked on his hind feet, " It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Peter, some interesting points you make, re my earlier post. I have almost never used a TLR, mostly several film and one digital SLR, plus a few direct vision cameras. Thinking about it, nearly all were 35mm format in the same proportions.

It would do me no harm to use a TLR for a while.

It will be interesting to see how the Panasonic GF1 compares against the new Olympus EP2. The only thing putting me off buying the GF1 is the poor audio recording from the mono mic that picks up zoom noise. If only the GF1 would allow an external mic to be attached!

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