|12.1 Megapixel sensor, 4:3 (DSLR Sized) Sensor, Dual Function Control Dial, Compact, Lightweight, 3” LCD, Built-in Flash.|
|Limited Lenses, ISO Only up to 3200, 720p Video, Mono Sound Only, Dual Function Control Dial.|
|Yay or Nay|
|This camera fits perfectly in the niche market of people who want a good all-around camera for hobby level use. It makes a great camera for a student, beginner or family photographer.|
With the Olympus E-P1 bringing a whole new level to compact digital cameras, Panasonic had to respond in the only way they could think of; making an even better compact camera. In many ways, the E-P1 was a great way for the hobbyist to break into quality digital camera, as it is affordable, offers great options and a reliable platform from a reputable company. However, the Panasonic DMC-GF1 has improved in many areas over the E-P1, and has for the most part taken its place at the top of the totem pole.
Instead of using a CMOS system like most other digital cameras, the DMC-GF1 uses a “Live MOS” system. The platform of this camera is solid, and produces relatively high quality pictures for a small and compact camera. Using the 4:3 aspect ratio, this new Panasonic offers options to improve the quality of photos that would impress even a professional. Because of the ability to take higher quality photos, the GF1 can also keep up with its direct competitor at a solid three frames per second.
This may not seem like much, but with the addition of several autofocus features, those three frames per second are just as high on the quality scale and offer the shooter more versatility. However, because it is a slower speed, it may not be possible to catch fast-action shots in sporting events and nature. Nevertheless, the video mode is a great way to ensure that you get what you want, because with the proper techniques and tools, you can edit out single frames (of the 30FPS HD video) for use in other media.
The video on this camera isn’t much compare to similarly priced cameras that sit on larger frames. However, it is more than adequate for the average user. The GF1 produces 720p video at the turn of a dial, and will continue to capture that level of quality at thirty frames per second for several minutes.
Unfortunately, the quality is the only upside to the video abilities of this camera. The downfalls are numerous, not the least of which is the lack of a stereo microphone. With the mono sound setup, the need for an external microphone is almost a necessity. Another issue is the limited memory space. At 720p resolution, a thirty minute video is nearly impossible to record. Fortunately, the issue was solved prior to its release by making lower quality options available.
Photo Quality and Extras
Even though the GF1 suffers from low (when compared to most new cameras) ISO speeds, it is still possible to take high quality hobby photos with this camera. This is thanks to all of the camera’s abilities combined as a whole, including its autofocus features, image stabilization,usage of flash and the other options that are at your finger tips when using this camera. For many beginners, the myriad of options available on such a simple looking camera can be overwhelming. Nevertheless, with the Dual Function Control Dial and quick menu selectors it’s easy to become adept at taking pictures with this camera.
Two of the biggest downsides to this camera are the initial cost (between $350 and $750 depending on the lens package), and the cost of the specialty lenses. Because of the autofocus style and image stabilization system used in this camera, you can only use autofocus lenses. The majority of these lenses are specifically made for this line, which means you probably can’t use them with other digital cameras that you own or may purchase in the future.
Overall, if you’re a student, beginner, family photographer or just on a budget, this compact camera is definitely worth a look. There are numerous features available for you to use that can help you to not only create great looking pictures, but also advance your skills as a photographer. Although you may be tempted to upgrade to a more expensive camera after your skills improve, many people who have tried this camera have been unable to sacrifice it for another after they have used it for a while.