Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 review:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Comparison: interchangeable lens cameras Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Olympus E-P1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
Sensor (effective resolution)
Color depth
Sensitivity range
Focal-length multiplier
Continuous shooting



Viewfinder
Autofocus
Metering
Shutter
Flash
LCD



Image stabilization
Video (max resolution at 30fps)
Battery life (CIPA rating)
Dimensions (WHD, inches)
Weight (ounces)
Mfr. price






Comparison: enthusiast compact models Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Canon PowerShot G11 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
Sensor (effective resolution)
Sensitivity range
Focal-length multiplier
Continuous shooting


Viewfinder
Autofocus
Metering
Shutter
LCD


Video (max resolution at 30fps)
Battery life (CIPA rating)
Dimensions (WHD, inches)
Weight (ounces)
Mfr. price


Comparison: Similarly priced dSLRs Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Canon EOS Rebel T1i Nikon D5000
Sensor (effective resolution)
Focal-length multiplier
Color depth
Sensitivity range
Continuous shooting


Viewfinder
Autofocus
Metering
Shutter
LCD


Video (max resolution at 30fps)
Battery life (CIPA rating)
Dimensions (WHD, inches)
Weight (ounces)
Mfr. price



The GF1 performs similarly to the G1, and markedly better than the E-P1. Its autofocus system operates quickly, especially compared with the Live Mode AF of digital SLRs; unlike those models, it supports continuous AF during movie capture and is very responsive. It powers up and shoots in a zippy 0.8 second. In bright light, the camera snaps a photo in 0.5 second; in low-contrast light, it takes 0.6 second. It typically takes about 0.7 second to shoot two consecutive images, with just over half a second added for flash recycling time. While its 2.8 frames per second continuous-shooting rate is competitive for its class, the lack of an optical viewfinder makes keeping active subjects in frame the real burst shooting problem, not frame rate or AF tracking. The autofocus operates just a tad slower than I'd like during movie capture, but it's adequate.

Though it's not articulated like that of the G1 and GH1, the LCD is quite nice: bright, large, and viewable in bright sunlight. Panasonic CIPA rates the battery at about 350 shots, which is a bit low, but in practice that seems a conservative estimate. And the rating of more than 2.5 hours of video shooting (it depends upon the lens) is better than many camcorders.

The GF1 delivers photo quality on par or slightly better than the G1--it improves on the G1's exposure and color accuracy--and with entry-level dSLRs, and I'd rank them as two of Panasonic's best digital cameras to date in this respect. Depending upon subject matter and lighting, the GF1's ISO 1,600 photos look acceptable printed as large as 12x16; more generally, color noise appears in JPEGs at ISO 400, with detail smearing becoming a problem by ISO 800. However, overall color consistency remains good as you increase sensitivity. You can also generally get better noise performance by shooting raw, however, and adjusting the settings yourself.

My one complaint is that occasionally scene elements in depth-of-field limbo--not quite out of focus but not quite in--had a tendency to look oddly digital. Not crunchy or oversharpened, just...digital. Nonetheless, overall I was very pleased with the GF1's photos. I'm less enthused about the camera's movie quality. It's not bad at best quality, saturated and relatively sharp with no unusual artifacts, but the 720p video looks soft when scaled up for a large display or TV.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is the first camera to truly deliver on the benefit of a mirrorless system: interchangeable lenses in a compact design without sacrificing features, speed, or photo quality at a competitive price. Its one drawback is the inherent inappropriateness of an LCD/EVF-based viewfinder system for shooting action. But if you aspire to something more sophisticated than a point-and-shoot and will be shooting subjects slower moving than toddling kids and running pets--and it's still better than the typical snapshot camera for that--I recommend the GF1.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1
0.8
0.9
0.9
0.6
0.4
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1
1.8
0.9
0.9
0.6
0.4

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