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The Complete Panasonic GF-1 Review

by Chris Gampat on 10/03/2010

M Classics Compact

The review of the Panasonic GF-1 is now complete. As great a camera as it is, it still personally left me wanting my DSLRs for better image quality. That’s not to say that the images from the GF-1 are horrible, but a good portion of that perhaps has to do with the very good 20mm F1.7 lens. Here are our findings.

The Complete Testings

Day 1- Getting a feel for the camera.

Day 2- Tested the autofocus and the image quality as well as the portability.

Day 3- High ISO testing.

Day 4- Problems with the video mode.

Lens Test- Vs the Sony NEX 5

Autofocus

If you’re a photographer that is using something like a Leica M camera of some sort, this is perhaps one of the best back-ups or companion cameras. The reason for this is because of the fact that it is very small and autofocuses very quickly. This compensates for the Leica’s lack thereof. Additionally, your Leica lenses can work on the camera via an adapter.

The autofocus, as stated before, is very speedy, accurate and reasonably intelligent. For most users’ work, it will more than suffice.

Ergonomics

The GF-1felt like it was designed by Leica. The pure elegance in the looks and handling hints towards this and I’m amazed that a Leica version of the camera never came out. This is a camera that seems like it was meant to be shot with primes, just like most Leica rangefinders. The camera is very easy to use and the learning curve is very quick. Because of the light weight though, be sure to hold it very steady when taking images in low-light with the pancake lenses.

Image Quality

This is where I really wish that the GF-1were stronger. Though the RAW files are very versatile, I felt that the overall dynamic range was extremely lacking. Most people perhaps would not even notice if certain lenses were adapted to the camera, but it really is missing some better contrast, saturation and overall color settings. When considering that this and High ISOs are the only major flaws of the camera, it isn’t too terrible.

A skilled photoshopper will make very good use of this camera.

High ISO Testing

This was extremely disappointing. Shooting at high ISOs with this camera reminded me of my days when I shot with the Olympus E-510. Converting to black and white often is not always acceptable either.

As a constructive criticism, this is the one major area that Panasonic needs to improve on.

There is really little else to be said about this camera since I was only testing it with one lens and it was also used mostly as a backup to a Leica. The GF-1does not get my most highly recommended praises though. For the moment, that may belong to the A33, NEX 5 or the Panasonic G2.

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