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Panasonic DMC-GF1 preview
Dennis Hissink : September 2nd 2009 - 17:44 CET
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PanasonicPanasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 preview : Besides Olympus, it is also Panasonic that focuses on the development of the Micro Four Thirds System. The Lumix G-generation consists of the world's first Micro Four Thirds camera, the G1, followed by the GH1, which incorporates a video function. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is a new addition to the Lumix G Micro System, and aims mainly at the advanced photographer. The entirely new design, far more compact and as well as more lightweight than before, ensures the GF1 really distinguishes itself from the masses. Weighing in at a mere 285 grams (body only), makes the Panasonic Lumix GF1 the world's lightest Micro Four Thirds camera so far. With this concept, Panasonic serves a large group of photographers primarily looking for a compact and light equivalent of their heavy (semi-) pro DSLR camera.

Panasonic DMC-GF1

Panasonic DMC-GF1 a compact digital system camera
Many colleagues I have met have been working with the same equipment for years, often voicing the desire for a compact system camera that is able to provide the same quality and functionality as a DSLR. On many occasions, a sturdy DSLR camera simply isn't needed for the job. In particular photo journalists consider a bulky camera more of a burden than a joy. They need to be able to travel light, and mingle with the public unobtrusively. After all, that is the daily life of a street photographer. It may be clear that a large DSLR with a total weight of several kilos is not always comfortable!

Panasonic GF1

Panasonic Lumix GF1 for the advanced photographer
In addition, it is also the enhanced amateur photographer who is very well aware of the convenience of a compact camera. Often, it is the wish for a better quality and exchangeable lenses that makes a photographer decide to switch to a DSLR. The arrival of compact system cameras, such as the Olympus PEN E-P1 and, of course the Panasonic DMC-GF1, offers a good alternative.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 camera design
The Panasonic GF1's design is quite similar to that of the LX3, one of Panasonic's advanced Lumix cameras. Even the weight isn’t all that different; something that gives Panasonic a real scoop. The Panasonic Lumix GF1 features a handgrip similar to that of the LX3; it is only the release key to unlock the lens that makes the difference obvious. The top has undergone some minor changes and has also been reinforced. We find a red video function button at an angle behind the shutter release button, and we find an extra ring below the mode dial to set functions like continuous shooting, self-timer and exposure compensation. In the centre, we find the hot shoe support for external flash units such as the DMW-FL220, DMW-FL360 and DMW-FL500.

Panasonic GF1

Panasonic GF1 equipped with Live View LCD
The back of the Panasonic DMC-GF1 features a 3-inch, 460,000 dots TFT LCD display. Several buttons have been replaced compared to the LX3. Since the housing of the GF1 is slightly higher, some room has become available above the display. This is used for a connection of an optional Live View finder (DMW-LVF1). This is an advanced viewfinder offering 100% coverage and full-time Live View functionality! The Panasonic DMW-LVF1 also allows for tilting, in order to get a so-called angle-viewfinder. This way, the Panasonic GF1 offers more enhanced external viewfinder functionality, compared to the Olympus E-P1.

Image sensor

Image sensor and image processor of the Panasonic DMC-GF1
The Panasonic DMC-GF1 features a 4/3-type Live MOS sensor with 12.1 Megapixels. By using an advanced method of processing data through 4 channels simultaneously, it is possible to reproduce a Full-time Live View image with a refreshing rate of 60 fps. In order to process the image quickly, the camera incorporates the Venus Engine HD processor, which is in fact the heart of the GF1. The Panasonic Lumix GF1 is also equipped with an effective dust removal system to enable changing lenses without encountering any problems. By placing a so-called supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor and make it vibrate at a speed of approximately 50,000 per second, dust and other unwanted particles are removed effectively.

Panasonic image processor

Panasonic Lumix GF1 offers a pallet of creative filters
The enhanced photographer will soon reach for the aperture and shutter priority modes found on the mode dial on top of the camera. However; the DMC-GF1 has a lot more to offer. A pallet of creative filters and image editing is included in the menu of the camera. The My Color mode provides seven different pre-set settings like Retro, Dynamic Art, and others. In addition, the Custom mode is available with options to adjust contrast, sharpness and color saturation. The Live View mode provides you with a preview of the result of the picture with the applied effect. And for those who want to capture certain objects in a more simple way, there are 16 preset scenes available for this purpose.

Panasonic GF1 system camera

Panasonic GF1 system camera with HD video function
At this time, Panasonic knows exactly how to make the most of video in combination with a system camera. Although the competition is not exactly resting either, we find Panasonic living up to its reputation as a camcorder specialist. The video function on the GF1 is enhanced and offers better support thanks to 1280x720 HD Motion JPEG in combination with a pc. The HD Movie function provides many settings, including 11 different scene modes for film. Motion Picture Program mode enables to change the aperture, while Face Detection helps to capture portraits in the best possible way during filming. The optical image stabilizer can also be applied when in Movie mode, so jitter is effectively reduced. In addition, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 also offers the possibility to film in AVCHD Lite. There are three quality levels to choose from in this mode: SH (17 Mbps), H (13 Mbps) and L (9 Mbps). Moreover, a wind noise reduction can be activated to filter a large part of background noise.

Lumix DMC-GF1

Focussing with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
The Panasonic Lumix GF1 features an advanced focus with various settings. Contrast AF is integrated in the GF1, which does not only result in great accuracy, but also provides impressive speed. That is why this type of AF is optimal for the versatility of the Panasonic DMC-GF1. The user is able to select from various AF modes, including AF Tracking, Face Detection and 1-area AF with selective focus area. The latter also allows adjusting the size of the AF frame. New is the so-called 'Quick-AF' which is activated as soon as the user points the camera to the subject.

Panasonic GF1 accessories

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 accessories
The versatility of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is not only evident from the extensive features and settings, but also from the optional accessories and lenses to expand the camera with. At the same time of introducing the Lumix DMC-GF1; the LUMIX LEICA D 20mm f/1.7 ASPH and DG MACRO-ELMARIT 45mm / f/2.8 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. lenses are also introduced. Both lenses are a welcome addition to the existing range of Micro Four Thirds System lenses. It is also possible to use Leica M / R lenses via the optional DMW-MA2M or MA3R adapters.


Panasonic DMC-GF1 system camera with an ultra compact format
At the time of the first Lumix G Micro Four Thirds System cameras, it soon became clear that Panasonic’s priority was not in the first place to design the ultimate compact size. Yet, it was clear that Panasonic would soon come with something extraordinary. Personally, my expectations were focused on a similar camera like the LX3, and I'm more than curious what my first experience with the new Panasonic DMC-GF1 will bring in the upcoming days. Once a full production test sample of the DMC-GF1 becomes available, we will publish an extensive Panasonic Lumix GF1 review including high resolution test photos.

Panasonic GF1 test photos

System camera

Digital system camera

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