Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Review

October 8, 2009 | Mark Goldstein | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star Half rating star


The new Panasonic DMC-GF1 is the latest Micro Four Thirds camera, following in the footsteps of the electronic giant's G1 and GH1 models. Unlike those two cameras, which have a distinct DSLR look and feel, the Panasonic GF1 is smaller and lighter, thanks largely to the absence of a built-in viewfinder and hand-grip. Weighing a mere 285g and 35% smaller than the G1, this is currently the world's smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera with a built-in flash, which is also one of the key differences to the GF1's most obvious rival, the Olympus Pen E-P1. The diminutive Panasonic GF1 also offers a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, high-resolution 3-inch LCD screen, Venus Engine HD image processor and in-built Dust Reduction system. If you don't want to use the LCD screen for composition, an optional electronic external viewfinder is also available (£165 / $200), 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 Panasonic 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 (£800 / $900), and the other with the existing 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. zoom lens (£720 / $900).

Ease of Use

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. I naturally gripped the camera with the thumb, middle and fourth finger of my right hand, whilst operating the shutter button with my fore-finger and supporting either the lens or camera body with my left hand.

The other weight- and space- saving measure is the absence of a viewfinder, with just the LCD screen on the rear providing an out-of-the-box solution for composing your images. There is an optional electronic viewfinder which slots into the external hotshoe on top of the camera and which cleverly tilts through 90 degrees, making it easy to use the Panasonic GF1 at waist-level. Less clever is the high price-tag, a rather eye-watering £165 / $200, and fitting the live view finder obviously means that you can't use an external flashgun at the same time.

As the EVF is reading the same signal from the image sensor as the rear LCD screen, it can also display similar information - for example, you can view and operate the GF1's Quick Menu, giving quick access to all the key camera settings while it's held up to your eye, and even play back your images. A small LVF/LCD button on the side of the live view finder is used for manually switching between the two viewing methods and there's also a dioptre control for glasses wearers.

In practice it does turn out to be a useful accessory, as holding the Panasonic GF1 at arm's length to to compose an image won't be to everyone's taste, especially when using the comparatively big and heavy 45-200mm zoom lens. Manual focus users need not apply though, as the resolution of the live view finder isn't high enough to allow for accurate focusing - thankfully the rear LCD screen is much better for this. Another downside of the GF1's EVF accessory occurs indoors in low light, as it has to "gain-up" to produce a usable picture, resulting in a noticeably grainier picture. Compared to the fantastic high-resolution electronic view finders of the G1 and GH1, this optional accessory trails in a rather distant last place.

If you've ever used a Panasonic compact camera, you will instantly be at home with the DMC-GF1. It's very much like the DMC-LX3 model on steroids! Whilst not as charismatic as the retro Olympus Pen, the GF1 is a handsome camera with more of an obviously electronic feel to it. Overall the DMC-GF1 is extremely well-built, with a high quality aluminum body, lens mount and tripod socket.

While the body of the GF1 is certainly small and light, the lenses are where Panasonic have really shrunk the overall system. The GF1 ships with either the 14-45mm lens, which is also one of the G1's kit lenses, or more interestingly the new 20mm pancake lens. Providing an equivalent focal length of 40mm, this prime lens is the perfect partner for the GF1, keeping the size of the overall system to a minimum and really looking the part. You can just about squeeze this combination into a coat pocket or handbag, impressive for a camera with DSLR aspirations. It also has a fast maximum aperture of f/1.7, making the GF1 perfect for use in low-light conditions and easy to effectively blur the background to help emphasise the main subject.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
Front Rear

Despite the system being so new, Panasonic have been quite busy on the lens front, with four other Micro Four Thirds lenses currently available in addition to the 20mm and 14-45mm - the new 45mm macro, 7-14mm wide-angle, 45-200mm and 14-150mm telephoto lenses which were released along with the G1 and GH1. You can also use regular Four Thirds lenses or even Leica D lenses via optional adapters from either Panasonic or third-parties, but lenses that are not compatible with the GF1's Contrast AF function can only be used with manual focusing and cannot use the Tracking AF, AFc (Auto Focus Continuous) or Continuous AF functions.

Optical image stabilisation is supplied via the lens, rather than being built-in to the camera body, a key difference between the Panasonic and Olympus systems. Note that the 20mm pancake lens does not offer image stabilisation. If available, it can be turned on and off via the Mega O.I.S switch on the lens barrel, with three different modes accessible through the DMC-GF1's menu system. When enabled, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 automatically compensates for camera shake, which is a slight blurring of the image that typically occurs at slow shutter speeds when the camera is hand held.

There are three different modes, Mode 1 is on all the time including image composition, Mode 2 is only on when you press the shutter button, and Mode 3 compensates for up and down movements only (which in turn allows you to pan the camera). In practice I found that it does make a noticeable difference, especially with the 45-200mm telephoto lens. You don't notice that the camera is actually doing anything different when anti-shake is turned on, just that you can use slower shutter speeds than normal and still take sharp photos.

The rear of the Panasonic DMC-GF1 is dominated by the large 3 inch LCD screen. I found that the 460K pixel, high-resolution screen coped admirably with the majority of lighting conditions. This screen is a great improvement on cameras with the usual 230K dot resolution, even being nice to use in low-light. The LCD operates at 60fps, twice the usual speed, which helps make it relatively flicker-free. The Auto Power LCD function automatically detects the current lighting conditions and boosts the LCD backlighting by up to 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, helping to keep the screen visible.

In addition to the LCD monitor, the rear of the Panasonic GF1 has a dedicated button for opening the cleverly designed pop-up flash. Given the small size of the GF1, fitting a built-in flash was no mean feat, as proven by the double-hinged design which is quite a technical achievement. Although not particularly powerful with a guide number of just 6, the GF1's flash is perfectly adequate for fill-in effects at close-quarters. It's also positioned quite high above the lens, helping reduce the effects of red-eye.

To the right of the flash hotshoe is the Playback button, conveniently located AF/AE Lock button, AF/MF button, Q. Menu button, traditional 4-way navigation D-Pad system with Menu/Set button in the centre, Display button and Preview/Delete button. Pressing left, up, right and down on the D-Pad buttons selects AF Mode, ISO, White Balance and Function options respectively. The Function button can be configured to activate one of five key settings - I chose metering mode. The Q.Menu button is a very welcome addition which provides quick access to most of the principal controls, including ISO speed, image size, image quality and white balance. You can still access all of these options from the main menu system too.

In shooting mode, the Display button alternates between turning the display off, the main camera settings as icons, and no settings at all. The Delete button intriguingly has a second function - it doubles up as the new Preview button. This very cleverly shows a live preview of the effects of the current shutter speed, which will prove especially useful for beginners, providing a visible way of checking how different shutter speeds will affect the capture of different subjects - running water is a good example.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Pop-up Flash

One other control completes the rear of the Panasonic GF1 - a small control wheel is positioned top-right above the rear thumb-grip. This lets you set the aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation when using the more creative shooting modes, with a simple press switching between the various options. It's a little more recessed than I would have liked, and a second dial on the front would have made it easier for manual shooters.

Found on top of the Panasonic DMC-GF1 are the external flash hotshoe and built-in pop-up flash, burst mode/bracketing/self-timer switch, on/off switch, and large tactile shutter button. There's also a traditional dial that lets you choose the different exposure modes. The usual selection of Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, and Manual are available for the more experienced photographers. This dial is a typical feature of SLR cameras, and enables you to quickly change between the various modes. An optional exposure meter can be displayed in the P/A/S/M shooting modes which graphically shows the relationship between shutter speed and aperture, with a color-coded warning that alerts users when the settings are not in the proper range.

The more beginner-friendly Scene modes and Intelligent Auto are also accessed via this dial. One scene mode particularly worthy of mention is the new Peripheral Defocus option, which makes it easy for beginners to achieve a blurred bacground / sharp subject effect without having to understand what apertures are. Additionally there are two custom modes, marked C1 and C2, which allow you to configure your favourite settings and quickly access them, and a My Color mode which sets the brightness, saturation and color of the image before you take it.

Intelligent Auto mode tries to make things as easy as possible for the complete beginner. It allows you to point and shoot the camera without having to worry about choosing the right scene mode or settings. Intelligent Auto Mode automatically determines a number of key criteria when taking a picture, including selecting the most appropriate scene mode (from 5 commonly used presets) and ISO speed, and turning face detection (up to 15 faces), image stabilization and quick auto-focus on.

The Intelligent Auto Mode includes Intelligent Exposure, which increases exposure only in the under-exposed areas of the image, Digital Red-eye, which automatically detects and removes red-eye, and AF Tracking, which continually tracks a moving subject and keeps it in focus, without you having to hold the shutter button halfway down as on most other cameras. Intelligent Exposure and Digital Red-eye can also be turned on in the other shooting modes via the main menu.

Face Recognition is a fun and genuinely useful new feature, which "remembers" up to 6 registered faces and then always prioritizes the focus and exposure for that person in future pictures. Very useful for group shots where you want your loved ones to be the centre of attention. You can specify the age of the registered subject, stamp the age of the subject onto your photos, change the focus icon for a particular person, and playback only the photos that contain a certain face. The camera will even automatically switch to Baby mode if someone registered as less than 3 years old appears in the frame!

In practice the Intelligent Auto Mode system works very well, with the Panasonic GF1 seamlessly choosing the most appropriate combination of settings for the current situation. The 5 available scene modes are Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Portrait and Night Scenery, so obviously not all situations are covered by Intelligent Auto Mode, but it does work for the majority of the time. It makes it possible for the less experienced photographer to easily take well-exposed, sharp pictures of people, scenery and close-ups by simply pointing and shooting the camera. Also catering for the beginner are a total of 10 different scene modes.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
Live View Finder G1 v GF1

The Panasonic DMC-GF1 has a small dedicated Motion Picture button to the right of the shutter button. As you'd expect, it allows you to start recording a movie with a single push of a button, and then stop recording by pressing the same button, regardless of which shooting mode is currently selected. This is a lot more intuitive than having to select the movie mode then press the shutter button, as on most cameras.

The DMC-GF1 can record 720p HD 1280 x 720 movies at 50 fps (interpolated from 25 fps) in the AVCHD Lite (MPEG-4/H.264) format or at 30fps in the Motion JPEG format. In addition it can also record Motion JPEG movies at 320 x 240 at 30fps, 640 x 480 at 30fps, and 848 x 480 at 30fps, useful as this format can currently be shared more easily. AVCHD features almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with Motion JPEG, but software support is currently a bit thin on the ground. Panasonic describe it as the best mode for playing back on a HD TV direct from the camera, and Motion JPEG best for email and playing on a computer. Disappointingly only mono sound is recorded during video capture, bit it is at least helped by the wind cut function which blocks out most of the noise from background wind. You can't fit an optional external stereo microphone either. The HDMI port allows you to connect the GF1 to a high-def TV set, but only if you purchase the optional HDMI mini-cable.

The GF1 has a simplified version of the Creative Movie shooting mode found on the GH1 camera. It allows you to manually set the aperture before recording begins via a graphical slider. Whilst not as versatile as the GH1's system, the ability to control the aperture is convenient when there are several subjects at different distances, and in practice this system works well, allowing some creative effects.

The Panasonic GF1's Intelligent Auto mode also works in movies as well as for still photos. Simply select iA on the mode dial and press the Motion Picture button. The Intelligent Scene Selector automatically determines the most suitable Scene mode from five options - Portrait, Scenery, Low Light and Close-up or Normal modes. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts the focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. The Optical Image Stabilizer helps prevent blurring from hand-shake when using a compatible lens.

You can obviously use any zoom lens during recording with focusing set as for still images. On the negative side, you'll find that if you choose continuous auto-focus, areas of the video will be blurred before becoming sharp again as the camera tries to refocus. On a more positive note, the the GF1 is quite fast at re-focusing, and having this system is much better than not being able to auto-focus at all, as with all current DSLR cameras that offer video recording. Hand-holding the GF1 during movie recording inevitably leads to obvious shake, despite the optical image stabilizer on compatible lenses, so for best results you'll need a dedicated video tripod.

Unlike a conventional DSLR camera which uses a phase detection auto-focus system, the DMC-GF1 employs the same Contrast AF that is commonly used by compact cameras. As with the Live View Finder, experienced photographers will now be tutting loudly at the thought of having to use a traditionally slower system. I'm happy to be able to report that this decision hasn't resulted in a slow and unpredictable AF - quite the contrary in fact. There were very few occasions when the GF1 failed to lock onto the subject, especially when using the centre AF point. There are a wide range of AF modes on offer, including multiple-area AF with up to 23 focus areas, 1-area AF with a selectable focus area, Face Detection, and AF Tracking. The GF1 also has a useful Quick AF function that begins focusing as soon as you point the camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

In a throwback to the days before digital took over the world, the GF1 offers a range of Film Modes via a main menu option, with 6 colour types and 3 types of monochrome to choose from. This applies to both JPEG and RAW files, so you can effectively shoot a black and white RAW file, for example, out of the camera if you wish (although I'm not sure why you'd want to...). As you select a different Film Mode, the effects can clearly be seen on the LCD screen. In addition, you can change the contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and saturation levels for each one, and even create 2 custom modes of your own. The Multi Film option takes up to three consecutive images using different Film Mode settings (this doesn't work in RAW mode though).

On the front of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is the small focus-assist and self-timer indicator lamp, lens release button, lens mount, and the tiny hand-grip. On the bottom is a metal tripod socket, importantly in-line with the middle of the lens barrel, and the combined battery compartment and SD/SDHC memory card slot. On the left side is the Remote /Mic socket for use with the optional remote shutter release or external microphone, and two connection ports, including a HDMI port for connecting the GF1 to a HD television or monitor. Unfortunately, Panasonic have decided to cut costs and not include a HDMI cable as standard in the box, which means that you'll have to purchase one separately to take advantage of this camera's HD connectivity.

The main menu system on the DMC-GF1 is straight-forward to use and is accessed by pressing the Menu/Set button in the middle of the navigation D-Pad. There are six main menus, Record, Motion Picture, Custom, Setup, My Menu and Playback. Most of the camera's main options, such as white balance, image quality, auto-focus mode and ISO speed, are accessed here, so the Record menu has 22 options spread over 5 screens, the Motion Picture menu has 7 options over 2 screens, and the Setup menu has 22 options over 5 screens. As an indication of how configurable the GF1 is, the Custom menu has 23 different options, allowing you fine-tune this camera to suit your way of working.

As mentioned previously, the addition of the Q.Menu button on the rear of the camera speeds up access to some of the more commonly used options. Due to the large LCD screen and restricting the number of on-screen choices to five, the various options and icons are clear and legible. If you have never used a digital camera before, or you're upgrading from a more basic model, reading the easy-to-follow manual before you start is a good idea. Thankfully Panasonic have chosen to supply it in printed format, rather than as a PDF on a CD, so you can also carry it with you for easy reference.

The start-up time from turning the Lumix DMC-GF1 on to being ready to take a photo is very impressive at less than 0.5 seconds, especially given that it automatically activates the camera's dust-reduction system. The supersonic wave filter in front of the Live MOS sensor vibrates 50,000 times per second to remove the dust from the sensor. The Contrast Auto-Focusing system is quick in good light and the camera achieves focus most of the time indoors or in low-light situations, helped by the AF assist lamp - the GF1 doesn't have any notable problems locking onto the subject in low-light situations. The visibility and refresh rate of the 3 inch LCD screen are very good, and the pixel count of 460,000 is excellent, with virtually no visible grain.

It takes about 1 second to store a JPEG image, allowing you to keep shooting as they are being recorded onto the memory card - there is a barely perceptible LCD blackout between each image. Storing a single RAW image takes around 3 seconds, but thankfully it doesn't lock up the camera in any way - you can use the menu system or shoot another image while the first file is being written to memory. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 has a pretty standard Burst mode which enables you to take 3 frames per second for an unlimited number of JPEG images at the highest image quality, or 7 RAW images. Overall the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 is about average in terms of operational speed compared to a DSLR, and certainly much faster than most compacts.

Once you have captured a photo, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 has an average range of options when it comes to playing, reviewing and managing your images. You can instantly scroll through the images that you have taken, view thumbnails (up to 30 onscreen at the same time and in a Calendar view), zoom in and out up to 16x magnification, view slideshows, delete, protect, trim, resize, copy and rotate an image. You can also select favourite images, change an image's aspect ratio, add a sound clip to an image, delete Face Recognition data, and set the print order. The Display button toggles detailed settings information about each picture on and off, such as the ISO rating and aperture / shutter speed, and there is a small brightness histogram available during shooting and RGBY histogram during playback.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12M Fine JPEG image size option, which gives an average image size of around 5Mb.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 produced images of excellent quality during the review period. It produces noise-free images at ISO 100 to 400, with limited noise starting to appear at ISO 800. ISO 1600 exhibits quite visible noise and loss of fine detail, and the fastest setting of ISO 3200 is even noisier but still usable. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening level and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results. The various Film Modes allow you to quickly and easily customise the look of the camera's JPEG images. The pop-up flash worked well indoors, with no red-eye and good overall exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 60 seconds allowing you to capture plenty of light.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 which you can select at any time if the camera is in one of the creative shooting modes. There is no discernible noise at the slowest settings of ISO 100 and 200, and ISO 400 also looks excellent. There's a little noise and slight loss of detail at ISO 800, particularly in the shadow areas, but you have to look hard to find it. Image quality does start to deteriate at the fastest settings of ISO 1600 and particularly ISO 3200, but both settings are still perfectly useable. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:



ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)


ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)


ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

Fine (6.77b) (100% Crop)

Normal (3.15Mb) (100% Crop)


RAW (14.0Mb) (100% Crop)



Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting, and benefit from further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can also change the in-camera sharpening level by tweaking the Film Mode, with five different settings available.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)



The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced Flash On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced Flash Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off (40mm)

Flash On (40mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On setting or the Red-Eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)

Red-eye Reduction

Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds and there's also a Bulb option for exposures up to 4 minutes long, which is excellent news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at f/8 at ISO 100. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Film Modes

Panasonic's Film Modes, similarly to Nikon's Picture Styles, Canon's Picture Controls and Olympus' Picture Modes, are preset combinations of different sharpness, contrast, saturation and noise reduction settings. The nine available Film Modes are shown below in the following series, which demonstrates the differences. There are also two My Film options so that you can create your own look.










Standard B&W

Dynamic B&W


Smooth B&W


Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Panasonic RAW (RW2) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movie & Video

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 can record 720p HD video at 1280x720 pixels and 25fps in the AVCHD Lite and QuickTime Motion JPEG formats. This is a sample movie at the highest quality setting of 1280x720 pixels at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 12 second movie is 32.8Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera / Lens Removed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera / Live View Finder

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera / Turned On


Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera / Q.Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Rear of the Camera / Pop-up Flash

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Bottom of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Battery Compartment

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

G1 v GF1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

GF1 + 14-45mm Lens

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

GF1 + 45-200mm Lens


The Panasonic DMC-GF1 is a natural evolution of the Micro Four Thirds format, offering similar functionality to the G1 and GH1 models in a smaller and lighter body. The GF1 isn't perfect, but it is one of my favourite cameras of 2009.

The DMC-GF1 isn't as small as all those glossy marketing shots may have suggested, but it subsequently handles really well, even for someone with large hands. It delivers all the convenience of a compact camera shooting experience with the benefit of a DSLR-sized sensor in a body that is smaller and more portable than any DSLR. Users looking to move-up from a point-and-shoot compact should definitely consider the GF1. It delivers a near-seamless Live View experience which doesn't feel as though it has been literally forced into the overall design, as with the Live View function on the majority of DSLRs.

In addition the GF1's auto-focus system is lightning fast and very accurate, outpacing its main competitor, the Olympus E-P1, and even rivalling most DSLRs. Some compromises have been made to physically reduce the size of the GF1, most notably the almost pointless handgrip and the removal of an integrated eye-level viewfinder. While the optional Live View Finder is just about worth buying because of the ability to compose an image with the camera held up your eye, it does fill the external flashgun slot, spoils the aesthetic look of the camera, isn't as clear and bright as the G1 and GH1's fantastic EVF, and is very expensive. The pop-up flash is a more inspired addition, with a unique double-hinged design that scores another important point over the flash-less E-P1.

The new 20mm pancake lens is the most natural partner for the GF1, creating a small and light system that can be easily stowed away. The fast maximum aperture of f/1.7 makes it easy to create out-of-focus backgrounds, and the 40mm equivalent focal length provides an appealing angle of view that's slightly wider than human vision. We also tried the GF1 with the 14-45mm and 45-200mm lenses - you definitely need to use the Live View Finder with the longer telephoto lens in order to achieve consistently sharp results. With a new 45mm macro lens due out before the end of October and at least three more lenses scheduled for 2010, Panasonic are clearly committed to the Micro Four Thirds format, an important consideration.

In terms of still image quality, the Panasonic GF1 gets almost everything right. Colours are accurate when using the default Standard setting, with lots of scope to adjust the JPEG output to suit your own tastes, and the auto white balance is spot-on in most lighting conditions. The diminutive pop-up flash is OK for use as fill-in, the ability to make bulb exposures up to 4 minutes long will please night photographers, and anti-shake via compatible lenses helps to keep things sharp in low-light. Noise performance has also been improved compared to the G1 and GH1 cameras, with a very usable range of ISO 100-800 and good results even at 1600. The GF1 still can't quite rival a decent DSLR camera with an APS-C sized sensor in low-light, but the gap has certainly narrowed.

In summary, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 takes most of the good points of its bigger brothers, the G1 and GH1, and literally squeezes them inside a smaller, more compact-camera-like body. The fantastically well-implemented Live View, lightning fast auto-focus, excellent image quality and added bonus of 720p video make the GF1 a great camera for beginners and more serious photographers alike.

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 4.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 from around the web. »

Panasonic's new DMC-GF1 takes everything that made the DMC-G1 (and the GH1, for that matter) so appealing, and puts it into a more compact body. It's not quite as stylish as the Olympus E-P1, but it offers faster autofocus, a pop-up flash, and support for an optional electronic viewfinder which that camera lacks. Other features include a high resolution 3-inch LCD, full manual controls, an Intelligent Auto mode, and an HD movie mode.
Read the full review » »

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1is rather interesting to try and review. It is not every day that one gets to try a new type of digital camera. At first glance, the GF1 seems odd. There are familiar elements, like the exposure-mode dial and mechanical rings around the lens barre, l that remind of a DSLR and there are others, like the square rectangular shape, that remind of a compact digital camera. The are also a good number of reviews and most of them say that the GF1 handles well, and it does. What is difficult for someone familiar with more common cameras it to adapt to this new type of camera. After a few days of use, the camera does not seem so strange, although it has quirks.
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Camera Type Digital interchangeable lens system camera
Recording media SD memory card, SDHC memory card
Image sensor size 17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
Mount Micro Four Thirds mount


Type Live MOS Sensor
Total pixels 13.1 Megapixels
Camera effective pixels 12.1 Megapixels
Colour filter Primary colour filter
Dust reduction system Supersonic wave filter


Recording file format Still Image: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21), RAW, DPOF compatible / Still Image with Audio: JPEG(DCF, Exif 2.21) + QuickTime / Motion Image: AVCHD Lite / QuickTime Motion JPEG
Aspect ratio 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
File size (Pixels)
Still Image [4:3] 4000 x 3000(L), 2816 x 2112(M), 2048 x 1536(S) / [3:2] 4000 x 2672(L), 2816 x 1880(M), 2048 x 1360(S) / [16:9] 4000 x 2248(L), 2816 x 1584(M), 1920 x 1080(S) / [1:1] 2992 x 2992(L), 2112 x 2112(M), 1504 x 1504(S)
Motion Image Motion JPEG / [4:3] QVGA : 320 x 240, 30fps / VGA : 640 x 480, 30fps / [16:9] WVGA : 848 x 480, 30fps / [HD] 1280 x 720, 30fps / AVCHD Lite / NTSC:[HD] 1280 x 720, 60p (sensor output is 30fps)(SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps) / PAL:[HD] 1280 x 720, 50p (sensor output is 25fps)(SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps)
Continuous recordable time (Motion images) AVCHD Lite with picture quality set to [SH]: Approx. 210 min with H-H020 / Approx. 170 min with H-FS014045 / Motion JPEG with picture quality set to [HD]: Approx. 210 min with H-H020 / Approx. 170 min with H-FS014045
Actual recordable time (Motion images) AVCHD Lite with picture quality set to [SH]: Approx. 110 min with H-H020 / Approx. 100 min with H-FS014045 / Motion JPEG with picture quality set to [HD]: Approx. 110 min with H-H020 / Approx. 100 min with H-FS014045
Image quality RAW, RAW+Fine, RAW+Standard, Fine, Standard
Colour space sRGB, Adobe RGB


Type Contrast AF system
Focusing mode AFS/AFC/MF
AF mode Face detection / AF Tracking / 23-area-focusing / 1-area-focusing
AF detective range EV 0-18 (F3.5 lens, ISO 100)
AF assist lamp yes
AF lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed in AFs mode
Others Pre AF(Quick AF/Continuous AF),AF+MF, MF Assist(5x, 10x)


Light metering system 144-zone multi-pattern sensing system
Light metering mode Intelligent Multiple/Center Weighted/Spot
Metering range EV 0-18 (F2.0 lens, ISO 100)
Exposure mode Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual
ISO sensitivity Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / Intelligent ISO
Exposure compensation 1/3EV Step ±3EV
AE lock AF/AE LOCK button or Shutter button halfway pressed
AE bracket 3,5,7 frame, in 1/3 or 2/3 EV Step, ±2 EV


White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Flash / White Set 1,2 / Color temperature setting
White balance adjustment Blue/amber bias, Magenta/green bias
Color temperature setting 2500-10000K in 100K
White balance bracket 3 exposures in blue/amber axis or in magenta/green axis


Type Focal-plane shutter
Shutter speed Still Images: 1/4000 ~ 60 and Bulb (up to approx. 4minutes)
Self timer 2sec / 10sec / 10sec, 3 images
Remote control Remote control with bulb function by DMW-RSL1 (Optional)


Movie SCN mode Portrait/Soft Skin/Scenery/Architecture/Sports/Flower/Food/Objects/Low Light/Party/Sunset / (Activated by selecting Still Image SCN mode then pressing Movie Button. Still Image SCN modes without corresponding Movie SCN mode is recorded in Normal mode or other related mode.)
Still Image SCN mode Portrait/Soft Skin/Scenery/Architecture/Sports/Peripheral Defocus/Flower/Food/Objects/Night Portrait/Night Scenery/Illuminations/Baby 1,2/Pet/Party/Sunset


Burst speed 3 frames/sec (High speed) or 2 frames/sec (Low speed)
Number of recordable images 7 images (when there are RAW files with the particular speed) / Unlimited consecutive shooting (when there are no RAW files) / (depending on memory card size, battery power, picture size, and compression)


Type TTL Built-in-Flash, GN6.0 equivalent (ISO 100 ?m), Built-in Pop-up
Built-in flash(Mode) Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
X-Sync(Synchronization) speed Less than 1/160 second
Flash output adjustment 1/3EV Step ±2EV
Flash synchronization 1st. Curtain Sync, 2nd Curtain Sync.
Hot shoe TTL Auto with FL220/FL360/FL500(Optional)


Type Low temperature Polycrystalline TFT LCD
Monitor size 3.0inch / 3:2 Aspect / Wide viewing angle
Pixels 460K dots
Filed of view Approx. 100%
Monitor adjustment Brightness (7 levels), Color (7levels)
LCD mode Off / Auto Power LCD / Power LCD
OSD language Japanese, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish


Digital zoom 2x, 4x
Extra optical zoom Max.2x (Not effective with L size recording. Magnification ratio depends on the recording pixels and aspect ratio.)
Other functions Guide Lines (3 patterns) / Real-time Histogram


Colour Standard / Dynamic / Nature / Smooth / Nostalgic / Vibrant
Black and white Standard / Dynamic / Smooth
Others My Film1 / My Film2 / Multi Film


Playback mode Normal playback, 30-thumbnail display, 12-thumbnail display, Calendar display, Zoomed playback (16x Max.), Slideshow, Playback Mode (Normal/Picture/AVCHD Lite/Motion JPEG/Category/Favorite), / Title Edit, Text Stamp, Resize, Trimming, Aspect Conversion, Rotate, Rotate Display, Print Set, Protect, Audio Dubbing


Protection Single / Multi or Cancel
Erase Single / Multi / All / Except Favorite


Print PictBridge compatible?Print size, Layout, Date setting is selectable ?


HDMI miniHDMI TypeC Video: Auto / 1080i / 720p / 480p (576p in PAL system) Audio: Dolby® Digital Creator
USB USB 2.0 High Speed
Speaker YES
Audio video output Monaural Type, NTSC/PAL, NTSC only for North America *Check the website of the Panasonic sales company in your country or region for details on the products that are available in your market.
External microphone terminal NO
Built-in microphone Monaural, Wind-cut: Off / Low / Standard / High
Remote φ2.5mm.


Battery ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 1250mAh) (Included) / Battery Charger/AC Adapter (Input: 110-240V AC, DC Cable is required)
Battery life Still Images CIPA Standard : Approx. 380 images(LCD) with LUMIX G 20mm/F1.7 ASPH. Motion Images Approx. 210 minutes (LCD) Recording time capacity in AVCHD SH mode
Dimensions [mm]
Width 119.0
Height 71.0
depth 36.3
Weight Approx. 285g / 10.05 oz ?Body only?
Operating Condition
Operating temperature 0? to 40? (32°F to 104°F)
Operating humidity 10% to 80?
Standard Accessories
Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 4.0 HD Edition / SILKYPIX® Developer Studio 3.0 SE / USB Driver
Standard accessories Battery Charger/AC Adapter, Battery Pack, Body Cap, AV Cable, USB Connection Cable, AC Cable, Shoulder Strap, CD-ROM

Further Specifications

MY COLOR MODE Expressive/Retro/Pure/Elegant/Monochrome/Dynamic Art/Silhouette/Custom(Color/Brightness/Saturation/ adjustable)

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