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on November 17, 2009
This viewfinder is not the same like an optical DSLR viewfinder, so do not be disappointed by what you see through it - you've been warned!
But it is an absolute must for a bright sunlight conditions and (you will be happy you have it just for that!) - for a low or ground level pictures (like flowers, little animals or anything else down below): this viewfinder can swivel 90 degrees up and let you take some pictures which could be physically impossible to take without it or with DSLR.
I am glad I bought it.
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on June 5, 2010
The LVF-1 view finder for the Panasonic Lumix GF-1 is getting a bum rap, in my opinion. Rather than thinking of the smallest DSLR view finder and imagining one even smaller, think of the most exquisite rangefinder camera you have ever held or owned, and think of a view finder many times more useful and more ingenious. In my case, I owned a Hassleblad Xpan rangefinder panoramic camera, and the view finder on that was smaller than the LVF-1, rather inaccurate, and provided no useful information whatsoever, other than the image and with the usual parallax problems and focal length limitations..

The LVF-1, on the other hand, is absolutely accurate, gives you 100% of the image (even my Nikon D-80 doesn't do that), provides all the information found on the LCD screen including a live histogram, is bright and clear, has a diopter adjustment, and is larger than the viewfinder on most rangefinders. Sure it is a tad grainy, but this is a precision instrument, not a video game viewer.

Now, consider all this, in an absolutely classy little package proportioned to fit precisely the GF-1, and capable of pivoting 90 degrees so you can comfortably take shots with the camera on the ground, and you have one of the cutest little accessories any gadget freak would be proud to show off to bored friends and family alike. It even allows the onboard flash of the GF-1 to pop up and fire with no obstruction at all. And, it gives the Lumix GF-1 and even classier look, which I didn't think was possible.

Now that the price is below $150, you should take another look at the LVF-1. If they are in fact planning an "upgrade", then judging from all the whining, it will probably be as large as the camera itself and I wouldn't want it - another reason to get the LVF-1 while supplies last. I ordered mine from Amazon and it was here in two days.
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on January 8, 2010
I bought the live viewfinder together with the GF1 14-45mm and pancake lens. I'm amazed by the camera and lenses however the LVF is disappointing to say the least.

Unfortunately the resolution is too low to make it usable and impossible to focus with. Only use would be to help you frame a shot in broad daylight but again not accurately. Definitely not worth such a high premium.

Finally, strangely enough, the aspect ratio of the LVF is different to that of the screen, so you get different black bars than you would get on the screen.

I find myself practically never attaching the viewfinder on the camera and would recommend anyone to stay away until a higher resolution version comes out or this falls under $100.
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on September 14, 2010
Fitted this small viewfinder to the LX-5 and it works great! Very clear and very easy to use. Just push a small button to switch back and forth from the LCD screen. Can easily view all the information that you would see on the LCD screen, 100% of the image, menus, manual focusing, etc. It's nice to get back to eye-level viewing(though you can angle it 90º) and there's nothing like isolating your view to concentrate on the subject. The diopter adjustment locks in focus for your vision and stays there.

The viewfinder comes in a nice secure case that snaps around a case strap, though I try to keep it on the camera at all times.

Finally: Now I can really view and compose with accuracy while I am in full sunlight. It is not 1:1 as on a large DSLR, but it's small and synchs beautifully on the LX-5. And when the camera is held against your face, you can really shoot some steady long exposures when you want. I recommend the EVF highly.
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on May 26, 2010
I come from a background of many cameras and lenses, mostly high end (Leica M8, Canon 5D Mk II and more). I say this to indicate that I am accustomed to very large high quality viewfinders on my cameras. I was dissatisfied with the Leica M8 for other reasons, and wanted something with high image quality and much less weight and bulk than the Canon 5D Mk II for those times when I just didn't want to lug all the weight around. This lead me to the micro four thirds world, starting with the G1. I love the G1, so I was attracted to the GF1 once it came out, reminding me so much of a little Leica. So now I have the G1 and GF1, as well as all my other cameras.

I loved using the GF1 also, especially with the Panasonic 20/1.7 and my Leica rangefinder lenses (yes, you can use them via an adapter), but -- and this is a big BUT -- it is useless when shooting outside in bright light. The rear LCD was hopelessly washed out, and I was shooting blind. After an outdoor shoot at Easter, I was so frustrated with the GF1 I decided to sell it. I had read the poor reviews of the LVF1 here and, unfortantely, heeded them. I had ruled out even trying one. But then the price came down, and I thought I would give it a go. Man, am I glad I did.

Thanks to the addition of this LVF1, I'll be keeping my GF1. It is good enough for framing and composing, which is what I need it for. I understand it is not the image quality of other EVFs. I'm well over that. It does what I need it to do. I now keep it on my GF1 almost all the time, as it is unobtrusive and sitting right there when I need it. Of course, I only use it when I have to. It adds a whole new arena of shooting opportunity for the GF1. I also like that the LVF1 tilts to be used at various angles.

I would heartily advise you to check out the other accessory that makes the GF1 a joy, rather than a nightmare, to use in bright lighting conditions -- the Hoodman HoodLoupe 3.0. With the LVF1 and the HoodLoupe I can shoot on the brightest days and in the brightest places without concern. The HoodLoupe comes with a neckstrap you can wear around your neck. Use the LVF1 to compose, fire the shutter, and if you had doubts, check the image with the HoodLoupe. Life is good.
review image review image
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on January 28, 2011
A few days ago I attached the DMW-LVF1 viewfinder to my Panasonic LX5. Since that day I have become convinced that those people who wrote negative reviews of this product simply get their thrills out of being troublemakers. In my opinion, and I have been using cameras since 1965 (and own an area of film and digital cameras), the DMW-LVF1 viewfinder is an excellent addition to the LX5. It enables the photographer hold a camera to the eye (and steady the camera), shows exactly what the lens sees, and lets the photographer see what is to be photographed easily, even in the bright sunshine. The image that appears in the viewfinder may not appear equal to what one might see on a high definition LCD TV attached to a Blu Ray disc player, but it is way beyond adequate and damn good for general use. I say buy it! You won't go wrong.
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on February 24, 2010
I really like the Lumix DMC-GF1 except for the lack of a viewfinder. The DMW-LVF1 fills this omission. The camera LCD can be difficult to see in bright sun making the DMW-LVF1 a great accessory.

The information displayed on the LCD is displayed in the DMW-LVF1. Also, if you have a compatible zoom lens attached to the camera, the lens zoom settings are tracked by the DMW-LVF1 (logical, since the image on the device comes from the imaging sensor in the camera). Switching between the camera LCD or the DMW-LVF1 is as simple as pressing the button on the external viewfinder. The diopter can be changed by rotating the wheel behind the LCD/LVF1 switch; this is handy for us eyeglass wearers who sometimes like to use a viewfinder without glasses.

The DMW-LVF1 can be tilted up but don't consider this a real "waist-level" viewfinder. You have to have your eye right at the viewfinder eyepiece to see anything. It does allow use of the camera below eye level, however.

The only real "con" for this device is it sits on top of the camera and therefore becomes prone to being hit and you cannot use this device at the same time as a hot-shoe flash. Not much of a problem for me because I rarely us a flash. It does not make the camera top heavy like an external flash because it is not that large.
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on August 25, 2010
I agree with most of the reviews so far. It's incredibly nice to have when the LCD washes out in the sun, the tilt feature is handy for low shots, and yes the screen resolution is low but the settings and meters are easy to read and it's completely adequate for framing.

There is one extra benefit however that nobody else has mentioned that I discovered on my own. I need reading glasses, and it's extra irritating when I'm outside carrying other stuff besides my camera and have to don/doff my glasses every time I re-frame or change a setting (at least I can blindly trust my autofocus). But thanks to the diopter wheel on the LVF1, I can skip my annoying glasses ... and that has been g-r-e-a-t!!!

I withhold one star only because I wish display resolution was better. But not a major problem. This viewfinder is still well worth the price.
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I've been a photographer, sometimes commercial, sometimes hobbyist, for more than 50 years. I've always been attracted to street photography, that is just shooting life around you as it occurs. Unfortunately, I've gone through periods where I've lost interest in photography and have sold off my equipment, including some of the finest street photography cameras ever made, the Leica M3.

Bad move because the price of Leicas shot up far beyond my willingness to pay the price, so for the past decade or two I've done without a proper street camera. That is, a small camera capable of squeezing off a shot practically instantly.

The Panasonic Lumix LX5 was on sale recently and I bought one. Great buy and it comes close to being a decent camera for street photography.

But it needed an eye-level viewfinder to get close enough for daily use, so I thought I'd give the LVF1 a try.

It works wonderfully well. The screen has enough resolution to make it useful for grab shots. Back in the day, the photographer was an active participant in composing the shot, that is, you would change your position to get the composition you wanted or simply accept what you had. Remember as well that zoom lenses didn't exist back then: you had a 35 or 50mm on your camera nearly all the time.

Would I use the LVF1 for composing scenic? Sure, but I would bear in mind that the screen resolution is low and the apparent size of the viewfinder screen is low, so it would not be my first choice. But for grab shots, whether on the street or just snapshots of the grandkids, the LVF1 is a hoot. The LX5 is responsive enough to make it possible to spontaneously grab a shot and the LVF1 makes it a snap to quickly compose and push the shutter release.

Overall, this is a very nice piece of gear and a great addition to the LX5 kit for anyone willing and able to accept its inherent limitations.

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on July 7, 2011
Deciding to buy the LVF-1 was very difficult - the reviews varied wildly, with some very passionate dislikes for this viewfinder. I was between the LVF-1 and a few optical viewfinders. However, in preparation for a trip where i would be taking a lot of outdoor photography, i decided to give this a try.

After one day with LVF-1 I was certain that this was the right purchase to make. While i agree that the price is prohibitive (it should probably be at least $50 cheaper), i do not regret the expense i made. With the LVF-1 i immediately enjoyed using my camera more, and the slight limitations of this viewfinder have not hindered my shooting in anyway.

It slides right on with ease, comes with a neato carrying case, and the camera recognizes it instantly. There is a nice little button that lets you quickly switch between the viewfinder and the display screen. It looks good on the camera and it's swiveling neck is useful in more situations than i thought possible.

This is not an optical or built-in DSLR viewfinder, so do not expect it to perform like one. While the image is *a bit* small and not 'optical viewfinder' crisp, the size and resolution are far from obstructive and i have had zero problems framing and focusing a variety of different shots. When using different lenses (including vintage lenses and many modern kinds that cannot autofocus) i had no issues focusing shots quickly and accurately. And when teamed with the Lumix F/1.7 20mm pancake, this viewfinder is a natural extension of the camera.

It seems a lot of people think imperfect is synonymous with "bad", but if you apply that thinking to your purchase of the LVF-1, you will be missing out. Its not perfect, but only by a little. I bought it to increase the functionality of my camera, and it has undoubtedly done that. Like most camera-related things, if you know how to use your equipment, the LVF-1 will be a welcome addition to your kit.
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