Panasonic Lumix GF1: micro four third gear, great photographic power!

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is the lastest member of the Micro Four Thirds family. But before Micro Four Thirds, there was Four Thirds. With Olympus having produced relatively small film SLRs since at least the early 1970s, it was probably no surprise that they would partner with Kodak to introduce the Four Thirds System standard (with its sub APS-C sized sensor) as they prepared to move into the digital age. The smaller sensor helped the company produce diminutive DSLRs that carried on the Olympus tradition.

Sensor resolution is 12.1 megapixels and there are full manual and auto controls, plus a palette of user-established settings that rival DSLRs in number and scope. You can shoot in RAW if you choose, or RAW/JPEG combinations, and there’s 1280×720 HD video in AVCHD Lite (which is more memory efficient than Motion JPEG) or Motion JPEG formats.

The GF1 is undoubtedly smaller than its big brothers, the G1 and GH1, but it’s not quite as tiny as Panasonic might lead you to believe. Measuring 119 x 71 x 36.3mm and weighing 285g without a lens attached, it’s just a little smaller and 50g lighter than the very similar Olympus E-P1 camera. Instead of a traditional DSLR hand-grip, the DMC-GF1 has a slightly raised vertical area on the front-right which isn’t big or pronounced enough to be of much assistance. The rubberized thumb-rest on the rear is a lot more useful.

Because of space considerations inherent in the Micro Four Thirds System, a 3.0 inch LCD monitor operating in Live View is the only means of image composition and framing for capture.

If you don’t want to use the LCD screen for composition, an optional electronic external viewfinder is also available, the Panasonic DMW-LVF1 (priced at $199.95), which slots into the external flash hotshoe on top of the camera. The GF1 can record 1280 x 720 high-definition video in the AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG formats, and it can focus in just 0.3 seconds via its contrast auto-focusing system.

The camera uses SD/SDHC memory media, and Panasonic includes a battery charger/AC adapter, battery pack, body cap, AV cable, USB connection cable, AC cable, DC cable, shoulder strap and CD-ROM software with each camera.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is available in four colours, black, red, silver and white, either body only (£570) or in two different kits, one with the new LUMIX G 20mm/F1.7 ASPH pancake lens, and the other with the existing 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. zoom lens: starting from US $ 866,95!


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