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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

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Typical Price: £730.00
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The Good Excellent build quality and design; great image quality; LCD display has 460,000-pixel resolution; good high-definition movie mode.

The Bad Expensive; fairly large and heavy.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is part of a new breed of camera that aims to combine the features and image quality of a digital SLR with the convenience of a compact camera. But it's the sheer physical and mechanical quality of the DMC-GF1 that impresses the most. If only all cameras were made like this

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8.3 Overall

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The Lumix DMC-G1 and Lumix DMC-GH1 were Panasonic's first Micro Four Thirds cameras, but they looked and felt like digital SLRs, so it was easy to miss the point. The 12.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-GF1 is the company's first Micro Four Thirds compact, and realises the format's true potential: the photo quality and controls of a dSLR in a compact camera. We tested the £730 kit with the fixed-focal-length 20mm 'pancake' lens. You can also get the DMC-GF1 with a 14-42mm, 3x zoom lens, for about £100 less.

Finesse aplenty
Whichever kit you go for, the DMC-GF1 is expensive. What you've got to bear in mind, though, is that, although Panasonic bills it as a compact camera, there's a big difference between the DMC-GF1 and even a top-notch compact like the Canon PowerShot G11. Normal compacts have tiny sensors, while the DMC-GF1's is the size of a dSLR's, or near enough. Standard compacts don't have interchangeable lenses, and neither do they have the kind of build quality, layout and design finesse that Panasonic has built into this camera.

Between them, the DMC-GF1 and Panasonic's 20mm pancake lens deliver superb textural detail, colours and edge-to-edge sharpness, with little or no discernible chromatic aberration (click image to enlarge)

The DMC-GF1 is a fantastic camera to use. The 460,000-pixel LCD display is sharp and bright; the autofocus is fast; the controls are clear, logically laid out and have the perfect feel; and the shutter delivers a wonderful mechanical 'ker-chink' that you don't get from any other compact. It's rare for an electronic device to be so mechanically satisfying.

Then there's the lens. A fixed-focal-length lens isn't to everyone's taste, but this one is compact, beautifully made and incredibly sharp, even at its f1.7 maximum aperture, which is, incidentally, two and a half stops faster than the average kit zoom.

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