Saturday, September 05, 2009

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1: Ultra-Compact DSLR - The Legacy Lives On!

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1
The Legacy of Lives On!

Introducing the second of the two recent/upcoming digital compact cameras that will put the "Legendary Point-&-Shoot" Panasonic Lumix LX-3 to contest. From the same Lumix family, but a new GF series. The Lumix DMC-GF1 is a Panasonic's answer to a compact point-&-shoot + DSLR camera. Earlier on, Olympus took the compact professional photography to a new level with the introduction of PEN E-P1. Like the PEN E-P1, the Lumix GF1 is built on the same collaborative Micro Four-Thirds mount. However, when it comes to creating that nostalgic vintage appearance of the Panasonic Lumix LX-3 or PEN E-P1, the GF1 have to take a back seat. While preserving much of the appearance of the LX-3, the GF1 looks more modern but its worth it for the beefed up specifications.

At a glance, the GF1 bears a 12.1 Megapixels Live MOS sensor that produces pictures at a high signal-to-noise ratio, meaning cleaner pictures at high ISO (max. 3200). The sensor also allows the GF1 to capture High-Definition (HD) videos at 1280 x 720 AVCHD Lite file format (MPEG-4/H.264) with Dolby Digital Sound, attributed to the new HD Venus Engine image processor. The image processor employs two CPUs to make operation smoother and last longer.

Unlike the PEN E-P1, the GF1 comes with a built-in flash (GN 6.0) in its small frame. Incredible! The flash pops up like some fancy Transformers robot! Flash output can also be adjusted over a range of 2 EV at 1/3 steps, giving users more control over flash photography.
If you love the functions and features (such as iA-Mode, Face Detection, etc) of Lumix cameras, Panasonic retains all of them and throws in My Color Mode and Live Exposure Graphic Meter. The controls are more sophisticated than the LX-3 and gives the user more control with the a rear control dial and dedicated buttons.
The GF1 utilizes interchangeable lenses just like a DSLR. Dust getting onto the sensor during lens changing is addressed by incorporating a Supersonic Wave Filter for dust reduction. GF1 comes with two options of kit lenses: Lumix G20 20mm (40mm at 35mm equivalent) f/1.7 aspherical "pancake" lens, 14-45mm zoom lens (to be announced). Unlike the PEN E-P1, the Mega O.I.S. is built into the lens instead of the body. Hence the f/1.7 "pancake" lens becomes an ultra-fast lens capable of capturing shots in extremely low-light without the use of a flash or tripod! With the good noise control, Panasonic has now got winner in the low light, flash-free, tripod-free photography!
While the PEN E-P1 seemed like the perfect stylish camera for the savvy photographer, the PEN E-P1 was plagued by the worst problem that can happen for any camera: slow-focusing. The Lumix GF1 clearly has the edge as it auto-focuses and tracks subjects faster than the E-P1, attributed to its contrast-detect AF system successfully deployed in the earlier Lumix G1 and GH1. This is advantage is good enough to blow smoke into PEN E-P1.

To spice up things for Panasonic supporters, users can now hook up the GF1 to their Panasonic VIERA HDTV via a mini-HDMI cable. The camera communicates with the VIERA TV via VIERA Link and be controlled using your TV remote! Alternatively, VIERA TV equipped with the VIERA Image Viewer SD card slot can accept the SDHC cards from the Lumix camera. You can now show-off your pictures and HD videos with family and friends over your big screen!

I definitely want to get my hands on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1!
If this brief description is not sufficient to convince you of a winner, hope on to:
DPreview Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF1 Hands-On Preview

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