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327 of 336 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally The Digital Camera Holy Grail
Bottom line up front: The elusive compact camera with interchangeable lenses, DLSR Image Quality, DSLR Focusing speed and DSLR performance has finally been made. It is the GF1.

I live in Japan so I have been lucky enough to have been playing with this camera since 18 Sep. This camera sold out on the first day from Bic Camera in Japan so it is going to be...
Published on September 25, 2009 by shuTTL3bus

versus
4 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars only consider if you can hack this camera!
I would only consider this camera if you are able to hack it. Panasonic put so many limitations on this camera, its a shame how corporation try to control consumer.
If you are able to apply the hack out there it makes the camera great. But you may loos your warranty from Panasonic...
You will be able to control iso while filming. Which makes a big difference...
Published on October 10, 2010 by Adrian Lewandowski


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327 of 336 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally The Digital Camera Holy Grail, September 25, 2009
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
Bottom line up front: The elusive compact camera with interchangeable lenses, DLSR Image Quality, DSLR Focusing speed and DSLR performance has finally been made. It is the GF1.

I live in Japan so I have been lucky enough to have been playing with this camera since 18 Sep. This camera sold out on the first day from Bic Camera in Japan so it is going to be hard to get a hold of one. Please be aware that this camera is "region" coded so if you buy a Japanese version you will not be able to change the menu language to English.

This review is equally applicable to both versions of the GF1. I personally prefer the 20MM (40MM equivalent) f1.7 lens to the 14-45MM (28-90MM equivalent) f3.5-5.6 lens for the following reasons: 1) Since the m43 is relatively small compared to a full frame sensor you need a fast lens to get shallow depth of fields. 2) As a fast lens it is far more usable in low light situations. This lens is ~2 to 3.5 f stops faster than the 14-45MM lens. What this means is that given a certain situation, if you were to select the same shutter speed you would let in 4-11 times more light (Each full f stop change changes the light by 2. Going to a small f stop doubles the light. Therefore, you arrive at how much more light there is by raising 2 to the number of f stops. 2^2=4 and 2^3.5 =11) allowing the use of a lower ISO setting or you could set a 4-11 times faster shutter speed to allow you to prevent motion blurring. 3) This lens is smaller so it makes the camera eminently more portable. What you give up is the ability to zoom with your hand. There is a work around for this and it is called zooming with you feet. However, in confined situations, you may not be able to move back are far as you need to. If this is the type shooting you routinely do then the 14-45MM zoom is probably for you. For me, and I believe for most people, I like the great flexibility the faster lens gives me and I am not usually constrained by space. Additionally, the 20MM lens, in my non-scientific tests, appears to focus faster than the zoom. Both focus fast but the 20MM feels faster.

STILLS

This camera along with the G1 and GH1 has the best contrast detection autofocus on the market. It is as fast if not faster than my Nikon D40 and is almost as fast as my D700. This is a great technological breakthrough and is what allows the camera to be smaller than a DSLR while giving nearly identical performance. With this camera you will not miss photos of your children or other fast moving subjects while you wait for your camera to focus. Bravo.

On top of the great focusing performance , this fresh design allows this camera to handle exceedingly well. In many ways it takes the best of the point-and-shoot (P+S) world and mixes it with the best of the DSLR world. It doesn't have as many dedicated buttons as my D700 but the Q Menu system works very well and allows for quick changes of most shooting parameters. There is a detailed menu system but I don't find myself using it very much while shooting. I feel that this setup allows photographers moving up from the P+S world to feel immediately comfortable on this camera while also giving experienced photographers the control they need to work their craft. It seems many reviewers find fault with the Panasonic one control click wheel that changes aperture and shutter speed (other cameras have two wheels or have a button and 1 wheel combination). I actually prefer the click wheel on this camera. With the other types of setups (which I have on the D700 -- two wheels and D40 -- 1 wheel plus button) I usually have to look away from the scene to find the other wheel or button. With the setup on this camera my finger is already close by the wheel and I just push it to change functions.

I don't know what kind of plastic Panasonic uses on this camera but I love the way it looks and feels. Also, I think having a red, white, or grey camera is cool (unfortunately only available in black in the US. The G1 was available in multiple colors but so far the GH1 and GF1 are "available in any color as long as it is black.") and this combined with its size makes it look more like a "consumer" camera rather than a "professional" camera. With the photographer unfriendly laws proliferating the world, it is nice to have an incredibly capable camera that doesn't look like a professional camera.

This is a micro-4/3s camera system. That has some pros and cons. The chip is smaller than most DSLR chips. A full frame (FX in Nikon speak) sensor is ~860 sq mm, a Nikon DX sensor is ~370 sq mm, the 4/3 sensor is ~225 sq mm, and the typical sensor used in a point and shoot range between ~25-50 sq mm. However, a 2/3 sensor like many TV shows are shot with is ~60 sq mm and a 1/4 sensor like most home video recorders is only ~10 sq mm. What does all of these numbers mean? From a "stills" perspective the 4/3 format is relatively small when compared to DSLRs. That means that for the same megapixel rating, the 4/3 sensor will have smaller photoreceptors and that means more noise. However, the 4/3 sensor is roughly 60% of a DX chip so while this is a great physics discussion, in real life you will not be able to tell the noise difference based on sensor size even with a picture blown up to 100%. This is born out by the GF1's excellent noise control up to ISO800. You can also still use shots taken at ISO 1600 and 3200 but those low light shots are usually better turned into black and whites for that noire grainy look. That is the "downside" (not really much of a downside especially when compared to the up side) of the micro 4/3 system. The upside is that because you have a smaller area to cover, you can make lenses smaller (less weight and less cost). You also get a 2x multiplication factor on your lenses. So now that 200mm lens gives you 400mm of reach. Yea. However, a down side of the 2x multiplication side is if you want to shoot wide. You need a 7mm lens to get a 14mm viewing angle and those can get pretty expensive (panasonic makes are really nice and small 7-14mm that is more expensive than this camera). The point of all of this mumbo jumbo is that this camera takes great pictures and the lenses are smaller than DSLR lenses. Less weight and smaller size with no practical image quality compromise equals great camera.

On thing that is a negative is the slow 1/160 flash sync speed. This will be very limiting for off camera flash during bright light. With such a slow sync it will be exceedingly difficult (impossible?) to get shallow depth of fields while lighting. Most people probably won't use this feature but for those that do it will be a bummer. (Super FP mode and ND filters can help with this though)

This camera, also, does not have in Camera IS. The IS is in the lenses. The reason that Canon, Nikon, Panasonic do this is they say on-lens IS performs better. From what I have seen that is a true statement. However, in camera IS is better than no IS. Also, this camera can mount lens from numerous other systems. None of those will have IS. If you have an on board IS, then all of those other lenses will now have IS. The Olympus E-P1 does have in camera IS. The camera has many flaws but that is a benefit. Also, the E-P2 is supposed to be announce on 31 Oct 09 so hopefully many of the flaws of the E-P1 will be fixed.

I also love the face recognition on this camera. When I am taking group photos, the faces that I really care about are my families'. Now I can register 6 peoples' faces and it will focus on them. Nice

VIDEO

In many ways, this camera lacks some of the features of a dedicated video recorder and doesn't do the 1080P of the GH1 or have the manual shutter speed control. So why would I want to use this camera for video. There are two main reasons. The first reason is Depth of Field (DOF). As I mentioned earlier the micro 4/3 sensor has 4 times more area than the 2/3 sensor used for many TV shows and is 22 times more area than many video recorders. Smaller sensors = larger DOF. This makes it harder to isolate your subject from the background by having the background out of focus. Pay attention to movies when you watch them and you will notice how they shift focus to "highlight" their subject. If you have wondered why you can't do that with a home video recorder, now you know. If you shoot with a F4 lens on a 4/3 system you will need a .8 aperture on a 1/4 system to get the same DOF (by the way there is no such home video recorder). The second major reason to use the GH1 is the ability to change lenses. Right now there are not many micro 4/3 lenses. However, the micro 4/3 format is so flexible that, with an adaptor you can use just about any camera lens you want (Nikon, Canon, Leica, etc). The trade off is that you lose autofocus with most non-4/3 lenses. The ability to change lenses grants two major benefits. First, you can put all sorts of exotic lenses on. For example if you put on a 7mm lens, you would give your video a perspective not often seen in home footage. On a 1/4 sensor of a video recorder you would need a 1.4mm lens to get the same perspective as the 7mm on the 4/3 system. (Most camcorders are not going to go wider than 4mm which is roughly equivalent to a 20mm lens on a 4/3 system.) Secondly, you can put exceedingly "fast" (a fast lens is one with a low aperture number. A lower aperture number means more light hitting the sensor so you can run your shutter speed faster. Hence fast lens) lenses on to get shallow DOF. You could easily put a f1.4 lens on this camera. You would need a f0.3 lens to get the equivalent DOF on a 1/4 sensor.

Anyway, it is relatively easy to make beautiful videos with this camera. It does not do 1080P. However, I don't think that will be a loss to most. The GH1 1080P files are much bigger, require more post work to achieve really good results, and, from normal sitting distances, most people can't tell the difference between 720P and 1080P. Also, in the movie mode you can set aperture but the camera will set the shutter speed automatically. This leads to a caveat that you need to be aware of when shooting movies with this camera. If you want to use the wider apertures in bright light to get the smaller depth of fields then you will need some neutral density filters to put over the lens. As a rule of thumb you want your shutter speed to be twice the frame rate. So you need to shoot at 1/120. On a bright day at f1.7 you could easily need 1/9600 to properly expose at ISO200 (Well beyond the camera 1/4000 shutter limit). 5 to 6 Stops of ND would get the camera to set the shutter speed around 1/120. If you just set the camera on automatic it will take care of the exposure for you so you can just press the record button and go. However, one of the reasons to step up to a camera like this is take some control for yourself and create some art from within.

I will finish this review by making some comparison between some other camera choices out there.

First, this camera works very similar to the G1 and GH1 so what people have said about those cameras applies to the GF1. The big difference is the GF1 is smaller, the G1 doesn't do video, the GH1 can do 1080P, the GF1 does not come with a Electronic View FInder, the GF1 separate EVF is not in the same league with the G1 and GH1, and finally, the GF1 does not have an articulated screen like the G1 and GH1 do.

GF1 vs GH1 vs G1 vs Olympus PEN E-P1 vs Canon G11 (Not yet released)

GF1

Pros:

Smallest camera in the world with DSLR performance
Blazing focus performance
Great Picture Quality
HD 720P video capability
Compatibility with nearly every lens every made including Leica, Nikon, Canon, etc (you do need to purchase an adaptor to do this and you do lose auto focus in most instances)
Great Handling

Cons:
No built in EVF (add on not in the same league as G1 and GH1)
Live View screen not articulated
Hard to find
Relatively expensive
Only Black in the US

Who's it for?: Anyone who want to have a small compact and lightweight camera that packs the performance and features of DSLR. It does nice video but not nearly as well as the GH1.

Panasonic DMC-GH1 12MP Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Camera with 1080p HD Video

Pros:

Blazing focus performance
Great Picture Quality
HD 1080P video capability
Compatibility with nearly every lens every made including Leica, Nikon, Canon, etc (you do need to purchase an adaptor to do this and you do lose auto focus in most instances)
Best EVF seen to date
Awesome articulated Live View screen
Best Implementation of video in a "stills" camera
Great Handling

Cons:
Expensive
Hard to find
Only Black in the US

Who's it for?: Anyone looking to have a camera that takes great still images and has best seen to date video integration in one package. Larger than the GF1 but worth it if you are serious about your video.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 12.1MP Digital Camera with Lumix G Vario 14-45 mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Mega OIS Lens (Blue)

Pros:

Blazing focus performance
Great Picture Quality
Compatibility with nearly every lens every made including Leica, Nikon, Canon, etc (you do need to purchase an adaptor to do this and you do lose auto focus in most instances)
Best EVF seen to date
Awesome articulated Live View screen
Great Handling

Cons:
No Video

Who's it for?: Anyone who wants an all around great stills camera and wants to save money by not paying for video features.

Olympus PEN E-P1 12.3 MP Micro Four Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 17mm f/2.8 Lens and Viewfinder (Silver)

Pros:

Small Size
Great Picture Quality
HD 720P video capability
Compatibility with nearly every lens every made including Leica, Nikon, Canon, etc (you do need to purchase an adaptor to do this and you do lose auto focus in most instances)
Image Stabilization(IS) built into the camera not the lens (it makes no IS lenses into IS lenses!)
Styling of the camera has Cache. (I personally prefer the GF1 but there are a lot of people commenting on how nice the PEN looks)

Cons:
Abysmal focus performance (worse than most point and shoot cameras)
No flash
Incredibly poor low res live view screen (The GF1 has twice the resolution as the E-P1)

(I would really only recommend this camera to someone who has lenses from other systems that is looking to make them Image Stabilized and is willing to manually focus them.)

Who's it for? Anyone who wants to have a small compact and lightweight camera with great image quality, are not concerned about focus speed/flash and want to use the in camera IS to stabilize non-IS lenses.

Canon PowerShot G11 10MP Digital Camera with 5x Wide Angle Optical Stabilized Zoom and 2.8-inch articulating LCD

Note this camera is not out yet and I have not gotten my hands on one yet. I have seen sample photographs from this camera however. I was blown away with how noise free they were at ISO 3200. I don't know if this is from aggressive noise reduction smearing detail, the decrease from 14.7 MP to 10MP or the increase in the chip size. Either way I think it is worth considering because of the all in one aspect and low price)

Pros:
Smaller Size than any other camera listed here
Great Picture Quality(??)
All in one package and lens (28-140MM) no need to buy other lenses
Optical View Finder
Articulated Live View Screen
1/2000 flash sync speed!
Impeccable construction quality (Built from metal tough and heavy)
Built in flash
Built in ND filter on Lens
Relatively Inexpensive

Cons:
No HD movies (640x480 is the largest movie format)
Can't swap lenses (this is both a plus and minus and there are modifiers you can put on to make the lens "wider" or "longer")
Small Sensor (1/1.7 sensor is only 43 square mm compared to 225 for the m43. This usually equates to poor ISO performance all thing being equal. It seems Canon has figured out how to make things not equal. However, if shallow depth of fields are your thing then look elsewhere.)

Who's it for? Anyone who wants a tougher and more portable camera than any other listed here, with great(??) image quality in a all-in-one package with nothing else to buy.

As I mentioned before, this camera is not out yet so you have to keep that caveat in mind. However, after seen the ISO3200 samples, I am now strongly considering this camera.

OVERALL

The Panasonic GF1 is a fantastic camera and the first to deliver on the promise of a compact camera with DSLR performance and image quality. It obviously has places in which it can improve. However, for the current state-of-the-art, this camera is the best performing small camera available. Panasonic's contrast detect autofocus has raised the bar and no more excuses can be made for this type of autofocus system. (It probably heralds the extinction of the DSLR) Based around this, Panasonic has engineered the worlds first compact camera with "DSLR" level performance and has created an outstanding stills camera with good HD video camera capabilities. It's a great time to be a photographer!
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72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consumer review for consumers (i.e. parents) looking for increased photo quality, February 1, 2010
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
This review is really intended for parents, grandparents and non-pros who are looking for a camera that will improve the quality of their photos, without strapping a massive camera around their necks. This is a great camera for that.

Per the title, I'm not a pro or even an amateur photographer. I had a Lumix DMC-TZ3, which is very small and has a big zooms. It worked well for pictures of our children outside in bright light. However, the indoor and low light quality was not as good as we wanted. Since many of these family photos will be kept, saved, and archived for a long time, we were willing to spend some extra money IF we could find a camera that would do it and that was convenient and easy to use.

As an aside, we tried a couple other point and shoot cameras (thanks to Costco's great return policy) but, with some research, realized that ever increasing megapixels and zoom were not going to help us. We needed better lenses and bigger / better sensors.

The key features that were most important to us in comparing other cameras in this price range were:
1. Improved image quality than our point-and-shoot cameras, especially capturing active children in low-light / indoor light conditions. (We tend to turn off the flash and use room lighting so as not to stop the kids in their tracks, which ruins the spontaneous moments we are trying to capture.)
2. Able to take high quality video clips when a photo moment would be better captured with video and audio.
3. Small enough to carry in a pocket and keep handy on a small shelf in the kitchen so that we'll actually use it.
4. Easy to use automatic settings / good auto settings, since we do not use the manual (professional) settings.

We compared the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 to the Canon EOS Rebel T1i and the Nikon D90. We ruled out the Olympus EP1 (or EP2?) early because it does not have an integrated flash. Yes, I know I said we tend not to use it, but we do use it for "say cheese" portraits and a few other instances. Light usually seems to improve the quality of our photos, and having to carry and attach a big flash to the Olympus dropped it from our list early.

We looked at the sample photos and photo tests available for DMC-GF1, T1i, and D90 at [...]. We also held them, turned dials, and pushed buttons at a local camera store. We liked the color, tone, and clarity of the DMC-GF1 best as posted at dpreview. (I imagine this is subjective. We are not pros.) We favored the much smaller size and weight of the DMC-GF1, too. These were all great cameras by our standards, though. Any of them would have greatly improved the photos of our children. In the end, the GF1 was a clear winner for us.

Quality:
The DMC-GF1 has greatly increased the quality of our photos, especially the low light (but high action) ones inside the house. We use the automatic setting most of the time, but sometimes select a scene, such as portrait or (more likely) sports. It is ready to take pictures almost the instant it is turned on. It can take pictures quickly with very little lag from the the time we press the button to the time the actual photo is captured. For those of you using point and shoot cameras, this will be a huge improvement.

Video:
Videos look great on our 52" screen. There is a small button on top of this camera that is easy to locate. It lets us immediately take a video of the photo shot we were trying to take. Research showed that the GF1's micro-four-thirds system allows it to better focus while taking video compared to the canon and nikon because the 4/3's system does not have a mirror that has to be moved or dealt with while filming.

Size:
We bought the 20mm lens and tend to use it more than the larger 14mm-45mm lens. The GF1 is not small and portable (by our standards) with the 14-56 lens, but it fits into a large pocket with the 20mm lens attached. There is no zoom on the 20mm lens (except our feet), but the picture quality is so good that we can easily crop photos when necessary using iPhoto and still have great quality for blown up printout, such as in family calendars...

Easy Automatic Settings:
The camera's automatic settings are doing what they are supposed to do: allowing us to capture great moments by automatically selecting good settings. I don't want to mess with it. Light still matters, but photos that our phones and point-and-shoot cameras are incapable of catching or incapable of rendering without lots of blurry noise look good. Yes, our kids can still do things at high speed in the darkest corners, resulting in noisy, blurry pictures, but the while subjects (kids) and settings (house) have not changed, the number of throw away shots of otherwise great moments has plummeted. We leave the camera on automatic for most shots, but sometimes turn on the flash or select a scene from the easy to use menu. (Turning on the flash is very easy, just press the button on the back of the camera (right behind the flash) and it will pop up, ready to do its thing).

It's not perfect for us, but it's great. Ideally, it would be even smaller, cheaper, with a powerful zoom, and would never miss a shot. Still, we feel it was the best value for our money, and we have been delighted with the photos.

[UPDATE: After three months of shooting with this camera, I wish I had purchased it earlier. Our digital photos look so much better. The big sensor and high quality lenses are really making a difference. We are overfilling our relatives' mailboxes with good shots. Very, very happy with this purchase. The separately purchases 20mm lens doesn't have zoom but takes beautiful pictures that can be cropped (ie. "digital zoom") but still print to 8x10 (or larger) and look great )
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Digital Camera So far, October 2, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
B. Fuller's Review is quite extensive - so I can only add that after one day of producing test shots - still life and landscape, that this is my favorite digital camera so far. I have owned quite a few - ever since digicam's hit the 2 megapixel mark, including camera's with very different sensor technology, and even the leica M8. I look at lens and image quality first, build quality and features / usability and price, and for the money, the GF1 is a real winner. I also have a Sigma DP-1, and while I really love it - it suffers the same issues as the EP-1. Really nice cameras, but with shortcomings that are just a bit too much to justify (IMHO).

I have been a huge fan of the Leica designed lenses on just about all of the Panasonic Lumix cameras, and their OIS is quite amazing.

If my Sigma DP-1 had the fast focus and responsiveness of the GF1, and if it has a zoom lens with _some_ range, it would have held the top shelf position. I have replaced my Panasonic Lumix FZ-50 with the GF1 with the 14-45mm lens, and it is the first digicam that meets or exceeds every requirement I have - including DSLR image quality in a small but very rugged / built like a tank package. I must admit - the lens on the FZ-50 was a real work of art - its range and quality for what it did at that price point was simply a killer deal.

But the GF1 is the latest in a great set of Panasonic products.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very very nice product, October 3, 2009
By 
Frederick Lee "Freddy" (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
First of all,
for those of you who are hesitating, I would say you're safe to go.

I bought Olympus EP1 on the very first day of appearance.
But it didn't take more than week to return it. EP1 is small / packed camera however AF performance and lack of viewfinder was good enough reason to return it.

GF1 from Panasonic really satisfied my expectation and truly unveiled the new possibility of micro four third.
Not to mention, the lens from Panasonic are just in a different league.

Especially 7-14mm, 14-140mm, 20mm are the must have, and I would say please try
any of those lens before you say something about picture quality.
7-14mm lens just made me astonished and couldn't really understand how could this
small lens can produce this level of picture.

Downside?
Do not expect ISO over 800, it just too noisy and not acceptable except small web posting.

Bonus?
I can reuse my SB400/800 Flash on GF1 without any problem.

Conclusion?
Enjoy your GF1
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So close to perfect it hurts, November 6, 2009
By 
pooh (New York, New York United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
If movie mode had fully manual controls over exposure and it shot at 24 FPS I'd be beside myself. The combination of the lens and sensor give this camera a really nice DOF in an incredibly compact package. It's really a shame Panasonic didn't deliver on manual controls and a 24P frame rate, because this camera would a viable choice for high end ultra portable film-making. I can live with 720P, but the inability to set ISO and shutter speed makes me crazy. It can take pretty stunning video, but you have to be very careful with changing light values. You are able to focus manually however (again, why not go the whole way?!)

Panasonic?
Are you listening?
Could you please upgrade the firmware?
I thought you guys made the 4/3rds system specifically for still and moving acquisition?

The other thing I hate is the wheel used for shutter/aperture. I used a G9/10 for the last three years and I MUCH prefer it's exposure wheel.

Otherwise I'm very happy. The noise is low, the shutter delay is very fast, as is auto focus, and it has a 7 exposure auto bracket mode. The drive modes also have their own hardware selector by the function mode knob. The noise is acceptable to about 1600 ISO, which amazes me as it's body is only a little larger than my G10. I try to never shoot above 400 on the G10. That's a huge swath of light that was never available to me before.

If you're moving up from a compact you will love this camera's performance. If you want the GF1 to complement your SLR you'll be very happy with it's portability.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great portable camera, buy with the 20mm kit lens instead, November 2, 2009
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
I've only owned point-and-shoots or super-zoom cameras so far, but I wanted something better and was researching D-SLRs. However I realized I wouldn't carry a big camera with me all the time, so I turned to the micro-4/3 cameras.

I've compared the Olympus EP1 with the Lumix GF1, and I found the GF1 better due the faster auto-focus and the built-in flash.

I bought it with 14-45mm kit lens, however I recommend purchasing the model with the 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens instead, which turns the GF1 into a really portable camera. Later I bought the 20mm f/1.7 Pancake Lens separately and I found I keep the pancake lens on the camera most of the time, as it's much more compact and convenient to carry with me. I also recommend the Lowepro Apex 60 AW (Black) bag that fits perfectly the camera with the pancake lens (no space for the 14-45mm lens however).

The 14-45mm kit is very practical, but gives only a short 3x zoom. Better range you can find on the Panasonic 14-140mm f/4.0-5.8 lens, however that's much more expensive.

Overall, highly recommended camera if you're looking for something with much better image quality than point-and-shoot or super-zooms, but don't want to carry the bulk of a D-SLR camera.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for an Old Guy !, August 23, 2010
By 
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
I am an 'old fart' and come from the now very old world of film cameras.

I grew up in 4x5 sheet film and still think 35mm format is a 'toy' .. But since I can no longer effectively use my old 120 roll film cameras like the Zeiss Super Ikonta and Hasses' what to do?

I am an amateur with my only requirement being to document my RV trips and the back-country 4WD adventures and the 'less than 5 mile' day hikes, so I may as well use one of these new fangled digital cameras.

I always thought my old Nikon F bodies were too heavy for the result they gave and now the new breed of 10 pound DSLRs are even worse yet. It's the same bad trade off today as it was in 1965, nothing has really changed. A ten pound mirror slapping monster with a one ounce result.

The GF1 is very much like my old M2 Leica rangefinder. It has all the benefits of the rangefinders, none of the SLR drawbacks. Faster than lightening to bring into play, very responsive, excellent fit and feel in the hand, and very well thought out in design and manufacture. A one pound camera with a ten pound result ! Rangefinder 35mm of this style and design are the ultimate 'candid' and street cameras, and they can not be beat on the trail unless you are hiking with a pack burro to help you along.

If you are looking for a modern camera that will do the job the old Leicas' did then this is the one for you. The lens and the sensor and the resultant image quality is excellent. You will have no problem up to 11x14 prints and perhaps beyond. I noticed in the excellent dpreview review of this camera that they have some minor moans and complaints about the JPEG engine in the camera. I do not agree with them on this point. If you set the 'my film' settings in the GF1 correctly you can get an almost indistinguishable color result against the RAW. Admittedly you loose some image information in the JPEG, and have to experiment a little with it, but once you develop a 'my film' profile for various standard shooting situations then you are good to go and save yourself the later workload of the RAW development.

The Japanese software that is supplied as a freebie with the camera is excellent, and very sophisticated. You will not have to buy $300 worth of junk from Adobe unless you want to. Once you get over the 'translation chuckles' of the various menu items in the software you will have a powerful tool in your hands. Admittedly there is a learning curve with any software of this complexity, but it is doable and is a significant value added bonus to the price of the camera.

When even the GF1 is too heavy for me to take on the trail, I pocket my Cannon S90. There is no comparison between the image quality of the Micro 4/3s and the little chip in the Cannon. It is the difference between night and day, apples and oranges. If you are one of those that are tired of the 'almost' image quality of your little pocket digital camera but do not want all the same old - same old SLR negatives, then I don't think you could do better than the GF1. Of course this Micro 4/3 world is just in it infancy and and you will probably watch the world pass you by a little as new cameras of this class are released over the next few years, but you will be taking great shots with it now, and having great fun as well.

If you are one that used to use, appreciated, and understood rangefinders like the old Leicas, and now watch, with disbelief, the endless profusion of so-called "pro grade DSLRs " pour out of Japan then you need to have a close look at the GF1. Only thing it is missing is the wind-lever under your thumb, but hey, you can't have everything.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love This Camera!, October 7, 2009
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
Camera arrived last week and as I was playing around with it, I was on the fence about whether it was worth the money (2x a superzoom, more than some dslrs), and picture quality was ok but not stunning. Indoor shots needed tweaking, and not so fast as I was expecting. Without the viewfinder, which hasn't been released yet, I was leaning toward returning it for a dslr.

On to this week and the real life testing - fabulous performance. I used the scene mode, the intelligent auto and the custom program where you can choose the settings like a fully manual camera at each event so I could get more of a feel for the camera. School field trip - great pictures. Volleyball tournament - great pictures. Tried out the video at the playground, great picture quality, great sound quality and you can zoom without any external sound. The autofocus kept the picture in focus when zooming in video perfectly. The autofocus tracking and face recognition worked wonders when trying to get candids of little girls running around on a school field trip. The auto bracketing feature worked great when dealing with a gusty, cloudy day with changing light conditions. The one stop switch to black and white from color allowed for some interesting shots with an easy on/off adjustment. The high speed burst mode caught all the shots I could want or need. The size was great, easy to carry in hand, not too heavy on my neck when I had to use my hands for other things.

Is it perfect? No, the manual focus is really hard to handle, especially indoors (very grainy, hard to get a clear picture) but this may be different when the viewfinder arrives. After the burst mode, there is a recovery which could cause a problem in a fast moving situation but I did not find it a problem with my situation. I don't find the intelligent auto very good at indoor shots unless you are using the flash, but that may be a learning curve issue.

Overall, it is a very expensive camera, but it appears to work as well as many of the dslrs on the market (with the exception of the shooting speed). It works well at the easy point and shoot mode and also works well with fully manual settings. It fits really well in a purse with the 14-45 lense and I can't wait for the pancake to arrive.

*************Update 10/13/09********
Camera is still working great and is more rugged than I had hoped. It still works after a approx. 3 foot fall from shelf to carpeted floor.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Special Camera, November 14, 2009
By 
Honest Abe (San Diego, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
I have been into amateur photography most of my life (getting too old to carry all the heavy stuff) and wanted a light, easy to use, go everywhere camera that takes quality pictures comparable to a mid-level DSLR. The Panasonic Lumix GF1 delivers.
This camera is very light and handles well. The image quality is excellent with both the 14-45mm and neat little 20mm f1.7 lenses. I have made 16x20 enlargements with raw images in photoshop with great results. These are close to my Canon D50 shots using an L series lense. The focus is fast and true, great live view with sharp auto and enlarged screen manual focusing. The viewing screen is sharp and clear; however I did get the optional viewfinder which works well especially with bright scenics. I will not review the video or the numerous features other then to say there are many, easy to use options, some quite sophisticated.
OK so any major drawbacks? Not for me. However I'm not sure I would strongly recommend this for the casual consumer who just wants some nice 4X6 images of the family with an occasional enlargement. While the GF1 is superior to point and shoots, it is also more expensive and complicated. The instructions need to be read over carefully several times if you want to successfully use many of the neat options. It can be used for auto everything, but if that is what you want, there are much cheaper and easier to use cameras.
If you want one of the most functional, unique, quality cameras around, the GF1 could be for you.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great camera, but no image stabilization is a HUGE problem, February 1, 2010
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 12.1MP Micro Four-Thirds Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with 14-45mm Lens (Electronics)
I spent a lot of time trying to make up my mind, and now I have. Looked at both GF1 and Olympus E-P1 and going with Olympus. Panasonic is a better camera, no doubt, but they completely missed the boat with image stabilization. And I mean completely. Seems that they forgot why the 4/3m was created in the first place, and it was to make compact SLR for enthusiasts, not just professionals. That means a compact all-in-one camera for pics and video. Compact is the key word here, and without in-body image stabilization the only option for video is the Panasonic zoom lens with the MEGA O.I.S., which is huge. The 20mm pancake lens is fantastic for pics, but it does not have IS and you will not be able to shoot free hand video with it. Would you buy a camcorder without IS? I would not.

With zoom lens GF1 is nearly as large as a regular SLR, so what's the point? Olympus E-P1 has in-body IS, you can carry it around with just the pancake lens and get all the shots and video you want. Without optical IS built into the lens Olympus produced a collapsible zoom lens that is much smaller, even with it attached E-P1 is still pretty compact. For those who don't care as much about the size of the camera it will seem that I'm obsessed. True, but if not for size, why even consider GF1? Full size SLR will be cheaper and better.

Olympus has shortcomings too, slower auto-focus, no af assist light to make it even worse, no built-in flash. But I'd rather carry the small flash than the huge lens. In-lens image stabilization of Panasonic completely defeats the purpose and is the deal breaker for me.
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