|Upon arrival of a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 test sample, it is tested in our DIWA Lab. The technical data of the rigorous tests are processed and translated into understandable data. Inside the lab, testing takes place in standardized circumstances. An environment in which cameras, both compact and system concepts can be compared without a problem. Besides that, the Panasonic Lumix GF1 camera is extensively used in practice and evaluated as for operation and shooting in practice. This combination of lab tests and the testing in practice, results in a final conclusion that is carefully reviewed.|
|Technical DIWA Labs test
If we compare the color reproduction of the Panasonic DMC-GF1 in the default setting to the calibrated colors of the Gretag Macbeth Color Checker, we hardly find any differences. Red seems to be a tad exaggerated by Panasonic, which other manufacturers tend to do too. The color reproduction is fairly neutral, although this can easily be adjusted by making use of the built-in Film mode that calls up various creative reproductions. Obviously, comparison with the Gretag Color chart is then no longer possible. The Panasonic Lumix GF1 performs consistently over the entire ISO range.
White balance settings
It remains difficult for a camera to effectively filter color cast when shooting under artificial light. The default auto white balance setting actually does a good job in virtual all light circumstances, with the exception of fluorescent light. The best solution is to manually set the white balance to the appropriate circumstances, even if you shoot in fluorescent light. The Panasonic Lumix GF1 is able to fine-tune the white balance, although you do need some patience and practice shots before you reach an acceptable result. In general, the quality of the white balance is fine and fairly consistent.
Signal / noise ratio
The specifications of the Panasonic DMC-GF1 show an ISO sensitivity range from ISO 100-3200. The actual sensitivity as we measured in the DIWA Lab, is 33% higher than average. In practice, this measurement for shooting with the Panasonic GF1 means nothing, except that the exposure setting may differ slightly from that of similar cameras. The signal noise ratio of the Panasonic image sensor is clearly better than on any other digital compact camera. It really makes a difference. When it comes to noise values, it means that you can shoot at ISO 800 without a problem and you only have to start worrying about noise at ISO 1600. I would use ISO 3200 only in case of an emergency. The internal noise reduction ensures less noise, but also takes away a certain degree of detail. Still, you can adjust this effect inside the camera.
Dynamic range of the Panasonic Lumix GF1
The dynamic range of the Panasonic Lumix GF1 is quite average. It can actually be compared to a standard DSLR camera featuring an APS-C size sensor, and certainly with the PEN E-P1 of its rival Olympus.
|In high light areas, Panasonic encounters more difficulties to create an optimal range. We have seen better results from its competitors. In practice, you will not notice it that much. The exposure method that is used by Panasonic differs from other cameras that in turn also differ among themselves. This means that the Panasonic GF1 is able to stretch the exposure compensation a little, for example for the light areas, without it directly influencing the quality.
Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 was tested in combination with the 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens, a beautifully compact set. The tests to make out the quality of the sharpness, instantly show the kind of beautiful lens design Panasonic had in mind. The sharpness is excellent in the center as well as towards the edges of the lens. At full aperture of f/1.7, we find less sharpness at the edges, but it is minimal, and with a few more aperture stops, sharpness becomes optimal instantly. An excellent result.
Distortion of the Panasonic lens
When testing possible distortion caused by the construction of the lens, we find a more than acceptable result. Over the entire focal range, the Panasonic 20mm pancake lens shows an absolute high and consistent quality. This excellent result is mainly achieved by the correction software which is applied inside the camera by Panasonic. This correction depends on the manufacturer and is not used, for example, in combination with an Olympus E-P1 body. We strongly support these types of software corrections, provided that it does not come at the expense of the overall image quality.
Chromatic aberration & Vignetting
The same actually applies to the measurements of chromatic aberration, or in other words; the effect of purple fringing around the edges of high contrast subjects. And again, the software correction depends on the manufacturer. In combination with the Panasonic DMC-GF1, the 20mm pancake is able to obtain a very good result. When it comes to vignetting, we found falloff at full aperture. In practice, this will not always show, but occasionally you will see this effect when photographing a blue sky. Towards the edges, the sky will be rendered slightly darker than in the center of the image. If the 20mm f/1.7 lens is set to f/2.8 or smaller, there is no longer any visible vignetting.