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Last week, we were let loose on the streets of Osaka, Japan to test the new Panasonic GF1 prosumer camera.

Like the Lumix G1 and GH1 before it, the GF1 uses the Micro Four Thirds system, which means it will fit compatible third-party lenses. We used the version supplied with a 20mm pancake lens.

Though the camera comes with a dozen or more scene modes, of most interest to us was the Peripheral Defocus mode which aims to give the user Bokeh-type effects without the need for special lenses.

We took lots of different shots, from foliage to landscape, portraits and "action", with and without the Peripheral Defocus mode on. Though we only had 30 minutes with the camera, we were impressed by its relatively quick performance and ability to avoid overexposure.

Ty Pendlebury travelled to Japan as a guest of Panasonic.

The streets of Osaka. The traffic in the background was moving but even the wheels are in sharp focus.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

In "Peripheral Defocus" mode you are able to focus on individual elements in the frame in a similar way to the Apple iPhone 3GS. However, instead of "tap to focus" you need to use the eight-way switch to move a cursor around the screen to the point you want in focus. Notice how the dog is sharply detailed but its owner isn't.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

This time we used defocus on a street sign. As a result the leaves in the foreground are out of focus.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

Streetscape. Notice how the car is in focus despite driving through as we took the shot.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

A pink baby whale hangs in the foyer of the Hep Five shopping centre.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

Defocus used here to highlight a pigeon standing in front of the HEP Five shopping centre's Ferris wheel. The pancake lens and its fixed focus limited our ability to get a tight shot here, because if we stood any closer the bird would have flown away.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

Flower arrangement in a hotel lobby.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

More indoor plants — here with a pronounced Bokeh-effect courtesy of defocus.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia

The Panasonic GF1 as we used it, with 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens attached. It retails for AU$1649.

Caption by / Photo by Ty Pendlebury/CNET Australia
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