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Monday, 07 November 2011

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I love my GF1 with the 20 mm and bring it on all sorts of mountain, climbing, skiing adventures and I agree in those conditions the lcd is usually unusable. I would much prefer a viewfinder in the camera (like the nex-7), potentially trading it for the flash. The viewfinder I would use most of the time, flash I've never used on the gf1.

Another issue with the detachable (and articulated) viewfinder is that the camera suddenly becomes a lot less pocketable and that matters a lot when you cary it in your harness along with plenty of gear.

I owned the GF1 with a couple lenses and the LVF1 viewfinder for a few months, using the system as an everyday, carry-around camera when I didn't want to lug a DSLR. For me, a viewfinder is not optional--I need to put the camera to my eye. Although the images the GF1 produced were lovely, shooting with the low-resoulution LVF1 was frustrating and I eventually sold the system.

What I want (and maybe other "enthusiasts" are with me on this) is a serious "tweener" option: a smaller body camera with minimal compromises that sits between a DSLR and my iPhone. It must have good handling, a nod to traditional aesthetics (sorry Sony), easily usable manual controls (you shouldn't have to dive into a menu to change ISO), control over DOF (tiny sensor P&S models need not apply), excellent image quality, a few fast prime lenses, and a good viewfinder. In principle, the right Micro Four-Thirds body would be perfect. I thought the GF1 would be that camera for me but the viewfinder was a dealbreaker. I have an eminently pocketable Canon S95 but rarely use it. For most things I might do with the S95 (videos of the kids, snapshots), I can get acceptable results with the iPhone.

The Fuji X100 has the right look but I'm not jazzed about the manual focus or the inability to switch lenses. I haven't tried the Olympus PEN E-P3 with its viewfinder; it may be a contender for my "tweener." The new GX1 may be a contender as well if the new viewfinder is good. We'll see. Am I asking too much?

Barnett's shooter's report hints at some problems with the autofocus and focus tracking, though he acknowledges he is using a prototype and those problems might be shed in the final version. I hope this isn't a case where Panasonic has tried to cheat, much like Sony with the glazed noise suppression on the a77. Enhancements I like from the previews 1) Use of the better G3 sensor, 2) mode dial, 3) orientation.

Excellent news. If Panasonic had come out with a m4/3 version of the X100 or NEX-7, I'd have had to scrape together $1200 or $1400 or whatever to buy one; but with this, I can keep all my money in my pocket.

Barnett doesn't mention if the touch-screen can be turned off; that would be nice, since otherwise you'll have to reset the focus point on almost every single shot.

I'm glad to hear that the iAuto button can be set to require press-and-hold, though being able to turn it off would be better, since it's in a perfect spot to be accidentally pressed all the time. I hope the even worse-placed movie button can be disabled, as it can on the GF-1. It would be nice if useless buttons like that could be customized, but that is apparently un-possible.

"['pro mirrorless'] might actually be a contradiction in terms, I don't know."

Once upon a time all cameras, pro and otherwise, were mirrorless.

The camera looks brilliant in silver for some reason. Really cool finish.

Funny how these things turn out. I could never pull the trigger on the G3 despite the tilt screen and built in viewfinder - it was a little plasticky and I could never loved the faux DSLR styling. Around comes the boxy version with faux leather grip and top trim, and I'm all in.

I have been looking for some time for a camera between my DSLR and P&S. I was very close to buying the G3 until this GX1 announcement.

What do you think the benefits would be of the GX1 over the G3? I see that in terms of size the G3 has shrunk quite a bit compared to its predecessors and has lost the big grip, making it look more like a compact than a DSLR. So I think there isn't much of a size advantage for the GX1, especially if you include the viewfinder. In terms of controls they also appear to be very similar. Also the G3 has the advantage of the articulating display - I've never used one but I can imagine situations where it would be very handy.

If the GX1 had an EVF at that size (or if I didn't want an EVF, but unfortunately I do), it would go to the top of my wanted list. However I don't see any obvious advantages over the G3. Is it about the build quality?

Couldn't agree more about the 20mm - currently the only lens I use, now on an Olympus E-P1 body. I started on micro 4/3rds with a Panasonic G1, and, while I got very nice results, I never took to the feel of it.

Also very much agree on the surprising usefulness of an articulating EVF. Had one on my old Ricoh GX100, and what I thought was a bit of a gimmick at first turned into one of my favorite and most used features.

No integral EVF... The thinking behind this completely eludes me. Of course it does offer an opportunity to screw a few additional bucks out of the punters for a ludicrously anachronistic add-on VF.

Who buys these things?
Roy

Mike said: "I'm almost more sick and tired of cameras that are excessively crudded up with marketing features than I can tell you, but that's a rant to reiterate on a different day."

I agree completely, but those features you and I consider useless must appeal to somebody or they wouldn't keep including them. A possible easy solution: allow each "advanced (sic) feature" to be hidden via a setup menu question.

The camera presents a quandary for me, as it does for Kostas (above.) I have the GF1 and the GH2, and really like the GH2's abilities and the articulating screen. The problem is, it's not *that* much smaller than compact DSLRs, which have bigger sensors and better viewfinders.

There is a difference with the G3 and the GX1, because they *are* significantly smaller than the GH2 (and the GX1 is notably smaller than the G3), especially with the primes, of which I've acquired a nice array. (Primes don't help so much with the GH2, because it's the viewfinder that gives the GH2 its ungainliness.) I would like to have the G3's articulating screen, which I've found to be quite useful, and the integral viewfinder, but the tiny size of the GX1 really appeals to me as well.

I dunno. Maybe I'll die before they come out, and I won't have to worry about it.

By the way, I've seen some reviews of the new X lenses, and they tend to be not great. Not terrible, but less good than I'd hoped.The very compact zooms have the same appeal as the very compact bodies. I guess there's no free lunch.

According to dpreview's preview, the GX1 has a "much-improved" coating on LCD that makes it more usable in bright lighting (compared to the GF1).

I have both the GF1 and the DMC-LX5. The older LVF1 fits both models, but I didn't buy one because of the so-so quality due to its low resolution. I had given up on there being an LVF2, but when the GX1 was announced I was thrilled to hear of it.

One thing though: no one has explicitly said whether or not the LVF2 has the same mount and connection as the LVF1. As in, that it will fit the GF1 and LX5.

It would be insane for it NOT to have the same mount and connections, but this is the land of gadget marketing. If these were Apple devices there would definitely be a different connection just to force people to upgrade.

I don't know if Panasonic suffers the same insanity. I really hope not, because I'd love to have a LVF2.

My GF1 (known as Jeff to friends) has all the marketing stuff hidden under black tape because no one except me needs to know it does HD video. I like the classy little 'L' in the bottom corner on Lumix cameras though so I leave that alone...

What I don't understand ist, why all those "enthusiast" cameras (e-p3, nex-7, x100) have in-build flash. Does any of the TOP-reader use it?

Off topic: I purchased an Oly EPL-1 about a week ago. I am surprised at how much enjoyment this little camera provides. The 4/3 format is a lot of fun. The quality is fine for 8X10s and the movie function is a blast. It's nice to be able to pick up a small camera and take it everywhere.

Ugly grip. I like the one on the LX5 better. Touch screen? Ouch! And those ugly microphone holes. Guess I'll skip this one.

Mr. Barnett says: "... the GX1 forgoes a built-in viewfinder in the interests of keeping body size and cost down ..."

No sale. First, as far as I'm concerned, that's like saving size and weight on a car by forgoing the wheels.

Second, at $950 for a big point-n-shoot, they've got a ways to go in "keeping the cost down".

Sorry I sound so crabby. I'm just unhappy that the world has come around to the point where the companies can save money by leaving something important off their cameras, add a new revenue stream by selling that piece separately, and telling me that that's progress.

ed.g: Glad you asked about the touchscreen. You can turn it on or off under Touch Settings in one of three categories: Touch Tab, Touch Shutter, and Touch AF.

With Touch Shutter and Touch AF active, you press to select the AF point and it fires the shot almost instantly thanks to the very fast autofocus. Resetting to the center point is as easy as pressing the center of the screen. I would likely disable it most of the time.

Jeremy: What I was saying there is that a good many of my images are so soft I can't tell where the point of focus is. The softness is likely due to noise suppression. But because we didn't run it through the lab, I can't be sure of the cause at this point. In shade, even at low ISO, the shots are soft; in bright sunlight, they're better. But because Panasonic was clear that image quality wasn't final, making a judgment on this point is a bad idea. I only mention it because it keeps me from evaluating focus accuracy in most of my shots. And I was leery of doing that. It's unfair to turn anyone away from the camera based on my impression of a prototype, but it's also not right to be unduly positive about a camera that might turn out to have a problem when it ships.

We'll find out when we getting a shipping copy, when we'll both look at the images onscreen and print them out like we always do. I have hope for the GX1 to deliver most of what GF1 fans were looking for in an upgrade.

DMW-LVF2 looks enough like Olympus's VF-2 to probably share the technology. If that's the case, it should be a very nice finder.

re. the touchscreen, the DC Resource preview notes, "The nice thing about the GX1 is that you can choose which touch features are active. You can shut most everything off too, if you're a button person like me."

So perhaps there's hope of enough redundency and user control to mostly avoid the touch interface?

It's an intriguing little camera and if not too much of a pain to lug and stow on the go with the EVF, worth considering for outdoor pursuits. I've been hoping for a µ4/3 body that represents a realistic option to a high-end compact. Keeping my eye on Oly for their next offering, as I prefer the IBIS approach.

Interesting to note, as is the norm these days, the videos posted on various "photography" websites for the launch virtually exclusively involved some website "writer" not asking very difficult questions of the ubiquitous "Senior VP of Marketing" who was showing how "awesome" the touchscreen is. I'm curious if a photographer ever has any input into a mass-market camera?

I recently moved into m4/3 with the purchase of a GF2. It's the worst camera I've ever owned. It's too easy to hit the display button when carrying the camera... and this design feature doesn't appear to have changed. The 'ia' button and video button sit next to the shutter release button... on the wrong side, where they too can be accidentally pressed. The touch screen is nice at times, but if carrying the camera with your left hand it's too easy to bring up options and change the setting, from A (aperture priority) to ia for example, or something worse, and this will go unnoticed until you're ready to shoot.

The thing about the camera that aggravated me the most was when I'd try to grab a shot quickly and lifted the camera and quickly pushed the shutter release... only to get nothing. This lack of consistency and shutter lag are something I can't live with for the kind of photography I do.

That said, my first digital camera was a Panasonic which was very nice, and I may go for the G3 (or G4). But later, because I love my Ricoh GRD3 and this week am trading in the GF2 for a GXR.

@Kostas: I have a G2 (+ 20mm), and while I agree it's not a very pretty camera, it doesn't seem very different, sizewise and functionally, from a GF1/GX1 + LVF. I never thought I'd have any real use for an articulated screen, but I was pleasantly surprised when trying to shoot a candid portrait of my mum while she was talking to a friend. Every time I brought the camera up to my eye she would notice and put on a fixed smile (and I've shot plenty of candids before, so it may not be entirely the photographer's incompetence :) -- the mum just goes into freeze mode). So I finally just held it at waist-level and got this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wasteland/6290979170/ . The tilting screen (and, er, face-detect autofocus?) really bailed me out in this instance, and gave a slightly unconventional angle to the shot as well.

I'll comment on the touchscreen... It's probably not as bad as you think.

I ended up buying a GF2 a few weeks ago without really planning on it. I had been toying with the idea of a buying a camera that was smaller than my 5D for quite some time. A Saturday in October found me in one of the local camera shops here in the Houston area playing with the various Olympus, Panasonic and Nikon compacts that they had.

Other than smart phones and tablets, I'm not really a fan of the touchscreen interface on personal electronics. I find it cumbersome, especially when compared with buttons, knobs, etc. But, I ended up with the GF2 because its interface felt more familiar and more open to me than the Olympus (The Nikon V1 or whatever its called seemed like it would be a joy to use... but it was also significantly more expensive.) When I picked up the Olympus I spent a few minutes trying to figure out what did what and the camera never felt quite right in my hand. The Pany just felt better and easier to use.

Anything that I need to change with any sort of frequency (ISO, exposure, AF, etc.) can be done with a physical button. The touch screen only rears its head for a few tasks and has a decent level of customization to it. You can use the screen as much or as little as you like.

I'm liking the GF2, even though I haven't gotten too much milage out of it yet. For a "consumer" body it feels very solid. I'm not a big fan of the 14-42 zoom lens, I'd much prefer a pancake (I'm planning on picking up the 20mm at some point in the near future).

All that to say: if you are interested in a micro 4/3s camera, don't let the touch screen steer you away from a GF(x)/GX1.

This camera looks very nice indeed, but if I were in the market for a camera such as the GX1 I would also be very interested in Fuji's forthcoming ILC. I know nothing about it other then I am pretty sure that it will look great, have fantastic lenses and some sort of unique viewfinder.
But it may just be that I am biased toward Fuji. I did just order an X10 and I am now frantically selling off gear to pay for it. Speaking of which, I should really get back to that....
Ian

http://www.petapixel.com/2011/10/25/fujifilm-x-series-interchangeable-lens-camera-to-arrive-in-feb-2012/

Lugging a full frame Canon and 24-105mm lens became a pain. My GF1 and a spare lens or two is smaller and lighter than the Canon rig, fits in a smallish purse and covers a range equivalent to 14 - 400mm on the Canon. However, in low light the GF1 image noise is a serious problem. From the initial posted images for the GX1, it seems the shadow noise is substantially improved, answering my plea. Unless someone finds a show-stopping flaw in the production version, I'll buy one.

The LVF could be glued to my GF1. I never take it off. Trying to compose and shoot at arm's length is torture. I'm disappointed the GX1 doesn't have a built-in viewfinder like the NEX-7, but I'll buy the LVF2 and consider it part of the body cost.

Orientation FTW...so tired of manually correcting the orientation in LR. That was one advantage the EP series had over the GF1, IMHO, but no more. I love the GF1 but always wished it had a bit more oomph in the high-ISO department and AF speed, and this looks like it will do nicely. That said, I wonder how much of an improvement older lenses like the 20mm will see as far as AF speed goes.

We keep saying this, but GF1's files are really 'film like'. They look like as if shot on film.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/nov/08/olympus-admits-hiding-losses-20-years?INTCMP=SRCH

This will surely effect the four thirds market, let's hope Olympus survives.

Whatever anyone thinks of the X100 and the Nex-7, they clearly show that an EVF doesn't mandate a big lump on the top of the camera (whether accessory or built-in).

Panasonic have blown it this time around, can Olympus do any better?

@Shawn Barnett: Thanks for the information that all the touch screen functions can be turned off.

@Stephen: The problem with the GF2 touchscreen was that the focus-point function could not be turned off. That meant that if I carried the camera turned on, every time I raised it the focus point would be set somewhere random--and that meant the camera was useless for me. (That wasn't all I disliked about it, but it was fatal.)

On the G3, every touchscreen function can be turned off, and from what Shawn Barnett says, that's true on the GX1 as well.

I'm still not enthusiastic about the GX1. It's not what I'd call an "upgrade" to the GF1--an "upgrade" would have to have a much better sensor and/or a built-in finder. But, at least it's a camera I'd consider buying if something happened to my GF1. Panasonic hasn't made such a camera since they discontinued the GF1 itself.

Dear Mike,

While I am reluctant to diss a feature that I have never used, I am really leery of these touchscreens. I find that my Olympus Pen is usable in daylight, so long as I'm not shining direct sun on the screen, but that's because of an efficient anti-reflection coating on the screen. Finger grease (any kind of crud, really) messes up said anti-reflection properties. I'm very careful not to touch the screen and I carry a microfiber cloth in my pocket to clean it off regularly.

This makes me very averse to the notion that I am SUPPOSED to touch the screen.

Anyone out there with experience or knowledge: do these touch sensitive screens use a different design on the anti-reflection coating so that it is insensitive to dirt and fingerprints? (Such as thing as possible, in theory, I've just never seen it on a product.)


pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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Follow-up to my own question about whether or not the LVF2 will work on the GF1 and LX5: apparently not. I have read from a couple of sources that the signal from the GF1/LX5 only supports the lower-res LVF1. Apparently it's a hardware issue.

...which pisses me off. As if Panasonic couldn't have anticipated a higher resolution viewfinder, especially when the Olympus viewfinder came out about the same time, with specs similar to the LVF2.

Frankly, it makes me want to sell the whole boatload and load up on Fujis. (But I will take a breath and try to calm myself... By now I should be used to the cycle of planned obsolescence.)

In my experience the only touch screens that are worth using are the ones on the iPhone. They are responsive and tactile.

I, for one, do not miss the viewfinder in a camera of this size and shape. There are times when the screen on the back is hard to see, but this is made up for by the lack of a huge bulge on the top of the camera. If I want a viewfinder I'll use my Nikon. For small cameras I'll give it up.

Of course, if it were like a Leica viewfinder, I might reconsider.

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