I'm looking for a high-quality compact camera, since my canon G10 died on me. I've been impressed by reviews of the Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm lens, some of which rate it above the G10/G11. It sounds like it would be a great camera to use when carrying my DSLR is impractical, for example on long hikes where weight is an issue.
Has anyone successfully used the GF1 for microstock? How do you find it performs regarding resolution, colour profile, noise and auto focus performance?
I know someone using that camera, and yes she has been successful in getting images approved.
I also had a go with it myself, my thoughts (based on shooting RAW with it):
Surprisingly good image results when there is plenty of light, lots of detail and sharp enough across the frame even with the kit zoom lens (not used the 20mm). Deep depth of field due to smaller sensor size. Nice colour rendition with plenty of tonality.
Not so good in poor light, copious noise in the shadows, some iso 100 shots look more like iso 800 shots on my d90 (in poor light). Seems to have less dynamic range than my nikons, exposure metering seems easily confused (tends to underexpose)
Autofocus slower than I was used to (but accurate), hated the evf viewfinder. Very small and light (too small for me but I have big hands). Well built, light enough to take anywhere. Certainly better than any compact I have used (I haven't used the canon G series).
Best advice to to try one out at your local photo store - take an sd card so you can take the shots back with you to look at.
I'm a big fan of the GF1 - and have over 100 sales from it in less than a year... I used to own the G10 and found that my workflow from the GF1 is trivial compared to the G10. I've written a few blogs on this topic:
My advice these days would be to consider the Olympus EP2 or ELP1 with the Panny 20mm... Oly has sensor based stabilization and if you don't shoot RAW the jpgs are supposed to be better. As far as quality goes, I think you'll notice an improvement over any compact - more dynamic range, better optics, fast lenses, etc. I agree with Celwell, though, that you do lose something compared to an SLR. I'm not super impressed with ISO 800 on the GF1, but way better than my old G10 ever was.
Finally - here is a comparison to a Canon S90. In good light there is still an advantage, but pretty amazing how well a compact does...
In parting, here are two shots from the GF1 that I love, and I wouldn't have if I had to carry an SLR:
Thank you, Celwell - your comments about noise in poor light confirm some of the reviews I've read.
Brad - thanks, your blogs and comparison shots are really useful. I've looked at the Olympus options you suggested and for me it's now down to a choice between the GF1 with 20mm lens and the E-PL 1 with the 17mm. Hard to choose at this stage, so I'll do a bit more research.
Meanwhile, comments from anyone who has used the E-PL1 would be much appreciated.
Don't neglet the option of getting the Olympus body and the Panny lens - it is over a stop faster and sharp wide open... Not saying one can't get good results with the Olympus, but the Panasonic is amazing! Plus with a micro 4/3 sized sensor and an f/1.7 aperture you can get some nice out of focus backgrounds...
Thanks, Brad. The Olympus body with the Panny lens sounds like a great option. Am I right in assuming no lens adaptor is required? You mention the EP2 and ELP1. I'll check out comparative reviews on these two again before I decide, but also wondered whether you have any direct experience of them.
No adapter is required. I have no experience with the Olympus cameras other than at stores. When I got the GF1 the EP1 was the competition with no flash, direct movie button, or viewfinder option. Plus the 20mm lens was hard to find outside a kit.
Now you have both the ELP1 and the EP2 - and having used some older primes from other brands I would appreciate the built in stabilizer. Even a 50mm prime is a 100mm equivalent and without face contact it is harder to hand hold. Plus, Olympus bodies seem to work with all brands, while the Panasonics seem not to focus with some Olympus lenses (not sure, but I've read that somewhere).
My choice today might be the G2 if I wasn't looking to go as small as possible. So many choices!
Thanks again, Brad. Good point about the built in IS of the Olympus making it easier to use other lenses. Having checked out the reviews since my last message, I'm edging towards the E-PL1, as it has a built-in flash and dedicated REC button, both absent from the EP2. And it's lighter, too.
Quoted Message: Thanks again, Brad. Good point about the built in IS of the Olympus making it easier to use other lenses. Having checked out the reviews since my last message, I`m edging towards the E-PL1, as it has a built-in flash and dedicated REC button, both absent from the EP2. And it`s lighter, too.
Built in flash is only a useful thing if you have R-series remote flashes from Olympus (ie, the FL-50R or FL-36R), as the pop-up flash works as a Remote Commander. Otherwise, you should just stick a flash or trigger in the hotshoe.
I would never get an E-PL1 over an E-P2, personally. The E-PL1 has no dials to choose your settings, only buttons. The E-P2 on the other hand has two dials, making it much more efficient to use than most entry-level DSLRs. Function-wise it should be just as home in your hands as your SLR. The E-PL1 on the other hand, goes more the way of a point-and-shoot with its button-driven menu system. As a photographer seeking a smaller camera, I would definitely go for the E-P2 instead. It also has a tough magnesium alloy body, and is now available in the same stylish brushed steel finish as the E-P1 was. Yes, that does make it a little heavier than the E-PL1, but I think you'll find that extra weight and solid build to be an asset in such a small body, not a detriment.
I totally agree with Brad though, that the best combination is an Olympus body (like the E-P2) with IS built in, along with a Panasonic/Leica lens (like the 20mm f/1.7, or maybe the Leica 45mm f/2.8). Personally, I use Four-Thirds Zuiko glass on my PEN. But that's because I use Four-Thirds SLRs, and as such have good glass for them.
Thanks, Ned. Your point about the pop-up flash is well made, and the one about the lack of dials on the E-PL1 even more so. I mostly use a Canon EOD 40D, so I'm used to using the dials to change settings without taking my eye from the viewfinder. I'd find it very tedious indeed to have to fiddle about with menus!
Yeah, and the E-P2 even has two dials. You can set one for Aperture and one for Shutter speed for instance, or one for Aperture/Shutter and the other for Exposure Compensation (for Priority mode). You may even find this setup more convenient than your much larger 40D, which I believe only has one dial, right?
Of course, the two dials are both on the back and nowhere near as easy to access as the dual thumb/finger dials (front and back) like my pro DSLR, but what do you expect from a compact-sized camera, lol!