Here are some images taken on a camera and lenses that I bought in 2010 and kept until I sold the body and lenses in favour of the Fuji XE1 which is my current favourite.
The Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 pancake lens (40mm equiv. on 35mm) and/or the 14mm f2.5 pancake lens (28mm equiv. on 35mm) is small enough for a photographer to take anywhere. However, the micro four thirds format does show noise in areas of flat colour such as a plain blue sky and hence it does not compare favourably with the full frame quality of my 5D mk2 for classic landscapes. That of course, is not surprising, considering the price difference between the two cameras. However used for colour or monochrome shots containing texture, such as the ones I have shown on this page, it does a remarkable job.
I shoot RAW files on manual or aperture priority exposure modes with the highlight warning and the autofocus on. I have tried the Panasonic electronic viewfinder several times but the quality of the image is very poor and the price made me decide not to buy it.
Voightlander make a series of direct optical viewfinders, I have the 40mm for the 20mm Lumix and the 28mm for use with the 14mm Lumix. These are not really suitable for close-up shots because of parallax error, but are great for distance and medium distance shots. Trust the camera’s auto-focus and frame pictures with the direct vision viewfinder. It will save quite a bit of battery power with the “live view” screen switched off and used for reviewing shots when the occasion arises.
Voightlander also make a 90mm optical VF that should be great for distance shots with the 45mm Macro Elmarit, except of course the issue of parralax where the distance between the finder and the lens would cause inaccuracy in medium and close subject distances.
Maybe Voightlander will produce a quality optical zoom finder covering 14mm (28mm) to 45mm (90mm). I am sure they would have a ready market with GF1/2 users. They could take a leaf out of Leica’s book and incorporate some sort of distance scale that tilts the finder to compensate for parallax. However in the light of recent improvements in ELVs such as the one on the XE1, the optical finders are not as important as they were a year ago.
I am quite happy using the GF1 in this cut down manner as many of the bells and whistles that are part of the package just don’t interest me. However the live-view method of composing a picture takes a bit of getting used to for someone like me, who is used to an SLR or a rangefinder, it feels rather like it did eons ago peering into a Rollieflex. The direct finders speed things up no end.
A folding hood for the rear screen makes it easier to review shots in full daylight but I found them badly made and prone to fall to bits.
The 14mm pancake lens (28mm on 35mm), is sharp into the corners at f5.6, but is noticeably softer at wider apertures. (See the Falaise Chateau shot above – 500 sec at f5.6 and its ok into the corners!) The 20mm is the better optic; perhaps considering the high price of the 14mm, Panasonic should have concentrated more on the quality of the image at full aperture rather than minimizing the size and weight of the lens, which very small indeed!
The overpriced 45mm macro lens (90mm on 35mm) is a good quality optic as the Cactus Flower, Treefern, hydrandea and Ma Saraswati shots above testify. I miss it! And am waiting to afford a second hand 60mm macro for the XE1.
I bought a Leica M adaptor and a 35mm f1.4 Voightlander Nokton (70mm f1.4). I used this combination for the pictures on my “A sudden melancoly” page. I have since sold it because the 45mm Lumix/Elmarit is a better optic and and focuses itself.
The GF1 is not a cheap camera; especially if, like me you keep buying lenses but the build quality is very good and interchangeable lens options, especially the 8mm fisheye and the tiny 14mm pancake, makes it a useful tool when a full SLR kit is too heavy or otherwise not an option.
I have found that the size of mirrorless outfits encourages me to carry some kit everywhere and so capturing images that would have been “lost” when the 5D resides in its case.
To see other GF1 images on this blog – have a look at the page/s below –
It seems that Panasonic have designed out some of the features that make the GF cameras of interest to experienced photographers in their haste to capture a more general market with the GF2 and GF3. However the newly introduced GX7 looks set to carry the flag.
If you are still interested in mirrorless cameras, look at my pages about the extraordinary Fuji X100 and my XE1.