Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Panasonic GF1: A little competition can't hurt?

It's a good time to be a photography enthusiast.  Panasonic has just unleashed (I get tired of writing "announced") the LUMIX GF1, a new Micro 4/3rds compact camera with an optional electronic viewfinder.  In addition, they've unveiled a new 20mm f1.7 lens, and the GF1 will be sold with either that or the already available 14-45mm kit lens.  


The GF1 is a direct competitor to the Olympus E-P1 that I wrote about back in June.  The two cameras share the same lens mount, 12.3mp sensor, and are more or less the same size.  The E-P1 is perhaps the more stylish camera, with it's classic silver finish, but I find both cameras appealing in their own way.

To date, the E-P1 has been pretty thoroughly reviewed by everyone and their pet goldfish, and the consensus seems to be that it's an excellent little camera, with DSLR like image quality, marred by just a few shortcomings-- lack of a viewfinder and built in flash (if those matter to you), relatively slow autofocus, and a low resolution LCD screen.

Enter the Panasonic GF1, which would seem to answer those shortcomings.  Electronic viewfinder?  Check.  Built in flash?  Check.  Higher resolution LCD?  Check.  Improved autofocus?  Check.  Ability to talk in robot voice and read the photographer's mind.  Umm... just kidding.  The one feature lacking from the Pany that the Olympus has is sensor shift vibration reduction.  Panasonic has decided to go the lens route for image stabilization-- thus their 14-45mm kit lens is stabilized but not the 20mm.  I think this is a big advantage for Olympus.  (I'm personally waiting for Olympus to release an E-P2, which is rumored for the fall, before making any purchases).

More info on the GF1 can be found at DPReview (which has a nice photo gallery), the DC Resource Page, and The Online Photographer.  It should be available in October for $899 plus an additional $200 for the viewfinder.

(Note: Goldfish photo by -Fearless-)

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