Living Up to the Micro Four Thirds Promise - Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1



Photo Performance

Photos shot with the GF1 are gorgeous, details are rich and the colors are vibrant. If you decide to go with the fast 20mm f1.7 pancake lens kit (the fastest Micro Four Thirds lens available today and the lens we used to do this review), you'll be able to capture lots of shots in low-light with low ISO and acceptable shutter speeds that don't need a tripod. Or, just pop the built-in flash and fire away.

The fast f1.7 pancake lens let us capture shots like this, hand-held in low-light, at 1/30sec and ISO400. Click for full resolution image (large).

There's a lot of fine detail in the GF1's photos. Click for full resolution image (large).

While ISO settings go up to ISO3200, the GF1's images are really usable only up to ISO1600 - where chromatic noise is visible. ISO800 is still quite clean, while ISO3200 is noisy, and we advise avoiding it.

Images remain clear until ISO800, at ISO1600 chromatic noise is visible but acceptable, while ISO3200 is too noisy. Click for full resolution image (large).

The GF1 offers nine different color modes, Standard, Dynamic, Nature, Smooth, Nostalgic, Vibrant, Black & White Standard, Black & White Dynamic, Black & White Smooth, and two custom settings. The GF1 also has a dedicated My Color mode you can switch to using the mode dial, with seven different modes:- Expressive, Retro, Pure, Elegant, Monochrome, Dynamic Art, Silhouette and one Custom mode. My Color mode is a dedicated auto only mode where all shutter and aperture controls are locked out when shooting in this mode.

The effects the different My Color modes have on color. Click for a higher resolution image (very large).

While these modes might be useful for photographs who don't do post-processing, we'd prefer to capture as clean an image as possible and do the post-processing on a computer afterward.

We noticed that there seemed to be vignetting in our shots while shooting with the pancake lens. By comparing a shot with and without the lens, it seems that the vignette is mostly caused by the lens.

Taken with the 20mm f1.7 pancake kit lens (left) and without a lens (right). Click for full resolution image (very large).

Video Performance

Video capture from the GF1 is sharp and clear as well. Auto-focus performs well in most situations, although there are times when you'll need to encourage it along by half-depressing the shutter manually.

There is a slight auto-focusing sound that can be heard, but we only caught it while filming in a silent room. If you're shooting somewhere with outdoor noise, it's usually drowned out.

Here are some screen captures from our video shoots (click for the full resolution 720p screen captures).