Leo Laksi’s Bangkok And Back

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Panasonic Lumix DMC G1

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Photo taken with M8, Summicron 50mm f/2 lens

Photo taken with Leica M8, Summicron 50mm f/2 lens

I’ve had the G1 for a little over a week and I am impressed with this camera.  There are some things that I don’t like about the camera but will note this later.

This is not a comprehensive review of the camera.  If you looking for that, check out DPReview for their recent full-blown review.

The first thing you notice about the camera is it’s size.  It’s absolutely tiny for a camera of this type, that is, a camera comparing at the lowest rung of the DSLR tribe.  It’s not that much smaller than a Canon 1000D however when you attach the 14-45mm zoom lens to the camera, it is one size smaller.  And if you attach the 45-200mm zoom, well, it’s a very compact combination.

G1 in all it's glory (above photo crop of this photo)

G1 in all it's glory (above photo crop of this photo)

Right now there are only two available lenses for this camera in its micro 4/3 mount, the kit 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and the 45-200mm f/4-5.6 zoom.  As the sensor is cropped 2x, these lenses have a 35mm focal length of 28-90mm and 90-400mm.  That’s enough reach for anyone.  With the optional Panasonic adaptor, you can mount the standard 4/3 lenses on the micro 4/3 body.

Panasonic is currently developing additional lenses in the micro 4/3 family.

Taken with 45-200 zoom, 158mm at f/4.8

Taken with 45-200 zoom, 158mm at f/4.8

Third party manufacturers are rushing out to fabricate other adaptors for the G1.  Right now there are several who are offering an adaptor to attach Leica M-mount lens to the G1.  And soon there will be an adaptor to attach Canon FD lenses to the G1.  Of course using Leica or Canon glass should render some beautiful images with good resolution.  But remember that there is no AF coupling between these camera systems so you have to manually focus the lenses.  In addition, image stabilization will also be lacking so any camera shake, especially under less than perfect lighting, may cause the image to be blurred.    But fret not, with a little practice, you should be able to manual focus.  And don’t worry about image stabilization.  You can survive without it.

In fact, you don’t have to buy any other lenses other than the two currently available.  They are both capable of good resolution with the standard 14-45mm just a little bit sharper.  But I don’t think the 45-200mm is a slacker in most situations.  But of course, it’s up to you.

Shot with 45-200mm zoom lens, 45mm at f/4

Taken with 45-200mm zoom lens, 45mm at f/4

Another plus is the auto-focus.  It is very accurate and quick to lock on the intended subject.  I had no problems even under less than ideal lighting in getting the proper focus.  I also played with the manual focus and this worked very well.  As you turn the focus ring, the EVF shows a magnified view of the subject so that is it very easy to perfectly focus the camera.

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 200mm at f/5, no post-processing

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 200mm at f/5, no post-processing

The above photo is uncropped and has had no post-processing with software.  And the color is very accurate.  Note the shadows.  The sensor is very good at picking up the details in the darker areas of the scene.

Taken with 45-200mm, 97mm f/4.45

Taken with 45-200mm, 97mm at f/4.45

Again the above photo is a full-frame shot with good shadow detail with accurate color.  This photo is also without post-processing.

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 51mm at 5/4

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 51mm at 5/4

This shot, with the boat partially in the shadow, can be difficult for some sensors to collect details in the shadow areas.  Again good detail.

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 200mm at f/5

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 200mm at f/5

Excellent color rendition of the dragon.  No post-processing.

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 51mm at f/4

Taken with 45-200mm lens, 51mm at f/4

If there are any downsides to the G1, it’s the compactness of the camera.  Although the size makes this camera a breeze to carry, at times, you find yourself hitting switches (and changing settings) by accident.  Usually this occurs with the switches that changes from single to multiple shots, timer etc. and the tiny switch that controls the lens aperture when shooting in “A”.  This switch is built in the the top of the “grip” and it’s very easy to change your setting without realizing it.

The other weakness is that the m4/3 has very few lenses available.  Panasonic is expected to offer several other lenses in the not too distant future .   And there is always the various adaptors that allow you to use other system lenses.

If you buy into the Canon DSLR line you have access to a full range of lenses.  If you want to carry a 1000D with a 70-200mm f/2.8 L lens,  it’s up to you and your wallet.  With the G1, you don’t have that option.

However, don’t let that limitation keep you from considering this camera.  It does many things very well and I’m convinced that this camera is a keeper.

Even though I have two systems built around the Leica M8 and the Canon 5D, I will use this camera regularly.  It’s compactness and ease in use combined with good results will prompt me to carry this camera at times.

Check it out!

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Written by leolaksi

January 27, 2009 at 7:20 am

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