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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic GF1


   

Panasonic GF1 Review

Review Date: Dec 24, 2009

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Panasonic  GF1

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Digital Interchangeable Lens
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2009 - Digital Interchangeable Lens

IMAGE QUALITY

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is targeted to beginner and serious amateur photographers, leaning more toward the "enthusiast" crowd. It features 12.1 megapixel resolution on a Four Thirds 17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS Sensor, Dust Reduction Technology, a large 3.0-in. hi-res LCD (460K dots) and HD Movie (1280×720 @ 30fps) with high quality sound.

We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic GF1 to be very good at ISO 100 with low noise and good image detail. Image quality is very good up to ISO 400, with ISO 800 and ISO 1600 also very usable; at higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail.

The Panasonic GF1 comes with the Lumix G 20mm [40mm equiv.] F1.7 pancake kit lens (46mm filter size) or the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm [28-90mm equiv.] F3.5-5.6 MEGA O.I.S. kit lens (52mm filter size).

Macro
Macro
"Macro" (Sharpened)
20mm Pancake Lens

The closest focusing distance is 20 cm (7.9 in.) for the 20mm pancake lens. If you are seriously into close ups, consider adding a real macro lens, such as the Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm [90mm equiv.] F2.8 MEGA O.I.S. (46mm filter size). It's specially made by Leica for the mFT mount so no mount adaptor is required.

There are 3 metering modes: Multiple, Center-Weighted Average and Spot metering.

Auto White Balance Indoors
AWB Custom WB
AWB Custom WB

As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not accurate indoors under artificial lighting. [I have two energy-saving fluorescent light bulbs on the ceiling.] The Panasonic GF1 allows WB to be easily set manually and this brings out the real colors. AWB works very well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
 
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400
 
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 800 ISO 1600
 
ISO 3200  
ISO 3200  

You can set the ISO on the Panasonic GF1 from 100 to 3200. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 100, 200 and 400 is under control. Noise starts to be visible at ISO 800 but is still very usable up to ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, the presence of noise is visible at full image size and with loss of detail, but usable in small prints and for Web display only. This low noise high ISO characteristic is comparable to that of DSLRs.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA

20mm, iA [i-Scenery], 1/160 sec., F2.2, ISO 100

CA is present in certain high contrast situations using the 20mm pancake lens. In the above photo (and others in the Photo Gallery), the area delimited by the red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows purple fringing. The above picture was shot at F2.2 in iA mode which selected i-Scenery.

The purple fringing surprised us because we read in other reviews that the GF1 is good at avoiding it and is supposed to even take care of it in software (except for here using the 14-45mm zoom lens, here, here and here).

So, we went out and took more high contrast shots using the P mode to make sure our results were consistent concerning the purple fringing -- and they are. We would like to hear what owners of the GF1 are experiencing concerning purple fringing.

You can shoot in RAW as well as RAW + JPEG, with a choice of JPEG resolution.

ART Filters
 
Expressive Retro
Expressive
Pop Art style; emphasizes color
Retro
Soft image effect; appearance of a tarnished photograph
Pure Elegant
Pure
Effect of freshness from cool bright (blue) light
Elegant
Effect of tranquil atmosphere
 
Monochrome Dynamic Art
Monochrome
B&W with a whisper of color
Dynamic Art
Brightens dark areas; enhances colors
 
Silhouette Custom
Silhouette
Enhances subject in shade as a black silhouette
Custom
Adjust according to your preferences in CUSTOM MENU

There are six My Color Modes, selectable from the Mode Dial and using the Rear Dial (or Cursor buttons). You do want to match your scene with the appropriate Color Mode for maximum impact.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
20mm, Aperture-Priority, Spot, 60 sec., F11, ISO 100
Custom WB, Self-Timer (2 sec.), Tripod Used

The Panasonic GF1 allows the use of a long shutter speed of up to 60 sec. in PASM modes. This outstanding exposure flexibility (of having the whole range of shutter speeds and apertures available in all PASM shooting modes) puts many "serious" cameras to shame. This allows us to take some very nice Night Shots. The Panasonic GF1 has noise reduction (NR) and you will notice the time needed to process and save a picture to approximately double.

Even though the GF1 has an AF-assist Illuminator, and the AF beeps to indicate focus lock, we could not lock focus on Bamm-Bamm's face/eyes (the AF locks on a more contrasty area). So we resort to Manual Focus and, as the final result shows, MF works pretty well.

A histogram can be displayed in Shooting mode and Playback mode. You can also display blinking highlights.

Overall, the Panasonic GF1 delivers very good image quality that matches what you would expect from a DSLR, so those who are not yet ready for -- or do not want the added weight, size and complexity of -- a DSLR now have a very viable alternative.

The pictures in the Panasonic GF1 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 4000 x 3000 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod. Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name.

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!

 

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