SLRs started a revolution in the photography industry. People love it for the ability to focus and hence produce Studio quality shoots. The revolution became an evolution when it enetered the Digital space with dSLR.
The only drawack we had been complaining about, since years, was the size. Now, Thanks to Panasonic, it gets take care of.
Panasonic’s first two models, the DMC-G1 and DMC-GH1, address the latter group pretty well, but don’t really appeal to the compact-minded folks. Plus, the GH1 is fairly expensive, thanks to the pricey bundled lens designed for optimal video capture performance. On the flip side, Olympus nailed the compact market with the E-P1’s design; however, without a built-in flash or viewfinder, a low-resolution LCD screen, and performance that doesn’t necessarily best the typical point-and-shoot, it doesn’t provide mass appeal for the snapshot upgraders. But with the DMC-GF1, it looks as if Panasonic might have produced the first model that hits all the right notes.
The GF1 essentially crams most of the capabilities of the GH1 into a smaller, more affordable camera–and price was one of my main complaints with the GH1.
Unlike the typical optical add-on viewfinders we occasionally see in these types of compacts, the Panasonic offers an electronic viewfinder that plugs in to a connector above the LCD and intercepts the live feed from the sensor. While I’m not a big fan of EVFs, this scheme does have a couple of advantages. First, it delivers a relatively accurate display of the scene framing. And second, Panasonic’s EVF can tilt for off-angle shooting.
Additionally, the GF1 introduces a new scene mode called Peripheral Defocus that automatically opens the aperture as wide as possible given the exposure constraints, plus a mode that lets you adjust depth of field while shooting video. Panasonic also takes a leaf out of Olympus’ Art Filters book with a My Color mode that provides effects presets such as Expressive, Retro, and Silhouette; unlike Olympus’ implementation, however, Panasonic lets you control color, brightness and saturation.
The GF1’s body is closer than ever in size and weight to the enthusiast compacts it will compete with as well.
The GF1 is a lot more expensive than these types of competitors, and even with one of the pancake fixed-focal length lenses it will still be pretty large in comparison. It does pack that HD video recording, though, and many people would consider the flexiblity of interchangeable lenses worth the extra money.
As for the GF1’s third competitive option, dSLRs, the smaller size may be quite attractive to many people, a lot of whom might be willing to sacrifice the burst shooting speed (and continuous shooting is always easier with an optical viewfinder, regardless of frame rate) and high ISO sensitivity performance; I expect the GF1’s noise profile to look very much like the GH1’s, which was inferior to that of the $900 dSLRs the GF1 faces.
Ultimately, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 makes some promises I can’t wait to see if it can fulfill. It’s slated to ship in early October, though we expect to have an evaluation unit before then.
The camera is certainly a bit larger and heavier than it looks from a distance, but housed within the slightly oversized shell are some pretty good optics and some snappy performance. You can’t replicate the satisfying “kerklunk” of a real DSLR shutter, but the GF1 is responsive and clicky enough to give off a much better vibe than the standard camera in this size range. The few shots we took on auto looked quite vibrant in a variety of lighting conditions, though the close-ups showed a disturbingly shallow depth of field — though that could obviously be tweaked. Being the filthy non-purists that we are, we’re most excited by the camera’s 720p video mode, which offers decently fast autofocus with a half press of the shutter button, and zero jelly vision to worry about. The downsides of no line-in and a higher pricetag than the comparable E-P1 aren’t insignificant, but the GF1 will certainly put up a fight. Stick around for some in-camera test footage later on, test stills are below and there’s a hands-on video after the break.
Sample footage is now posted. It was ripped from an AVCHD file to H.264, so there’s been some generational quality loss, but you’ll get an idea of the colors and the motion. We also just got word that the camera is up for pre-order at Amazon. (via engaget)