Field Review: Panasonic GF-1 (Day 1)

Though it is surely not a new camera, the Panasonic GF-1has finally arrived on my doorstep for review. This review should’ve taken place a year ago when I was still at Photography Bay, but complications in shipping prevented it from happening. Now that the camera is finally in my hands, let’s drive deep in! Right before doing that though, I’d like all users interested in reading this posting to also please check out my posting at Digital Camera Review about how to use these cameras like a pro.

Technical Specs

Ergonomics

The Panasonic GF-1is larger than the Sony NEX-5(first day review here) but still isn’t really a large camera per se. It does surely have a hefty feel to it but it is a beautiful camera nonetheless targeted to a more experienced user. In comparison, the NEX-5 is smaller and has less buttons—effectively telling the user to just leave the camera in Auto mode and snap away.

The GF-1can be held in two different ways: like a standard point and shoot and like a DSLR in Live View. The shutter has very little kick to it, though with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7lens one still does need to remain still in order to ensure no motion blur and sharp images that take true advantage of the pancake lens.

The camera in a way remind me a bit of my old Leica CL that I sold years ago. It would’ve been almost dead on if I had the electronic viewfinder sent to me as well. However, it is interesting to note that the aperture and shutter speed are both controlled through the back dial and switched by pressing in the dial. Panasonic has done this with all their G series cameras at the time of writing this and I find it to be very comfortable especially in opposition to holding down another button and then turning the dial.

The screen is nice, but I can’t help but wish that it were higher resolution like that of the NEX-5.

Before I go on, I should note that I am testing the camera with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7lens and nothing else. At the moment, Vincent is reviewing the Olympus PEN E-P2 with 17mm f/2.8 Lens and Electronic View Finderand Will is reviewing the Panasonic G2with the Panasonic 20mm F1.7and the Panasonic 45mm f/2.8 Aspherical MEGA OIS Lensso items will perhaps be swapped amongst one another.

Autofocus

Perhaps the camera’s strongest feature is the autofocus. If Nikon is the king of autofocus in the DSLR segment, Panasonic is the one that needs to be dethroned in the mirrorless compact segment.

Not only is the camera fast (even in low light) and smart about where/what it is focusing on based upon your composition, but it also allows for a very simple Autofocus with manual override function to ensure that the eyes of the beautiful lady you’re about to take a photo of are tack sharp.

Menus

Panasonic’s menus haven’t changed significantly in a long time and I’m quite pleased with this. Like the Panasonic ZS-7 (also reviewed here) the GF-1 menus are simple to navigate and mostly everything that you want to get to is intuitive. My only problem that I had was that I could not figure out how to format my SD card.

No, I’m not joking. This is always the first function that I always look for as well. After a bit of searching, I finally found out how to do it.

Image Quality

So far, the image quality seems very solid although I have not tested the RAW files to a large extent yet. More will come on this as the review continues.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.