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Just a fevered musing...and I take back any other words spoken, eating them along with my hat Rolleyes ...
Have really had my interest sharpened around this type of camera. Never thought I'd use the "O" word in company, but the idea of Olympus' E-PL1 with image stabilisation and a wee onboard flash, sporting a dinky wide pancake, has got me all aflame; ...or am I coveting the E-P2 whilst juggling the idea of a GF1? Man, I love that "half-frame" vibe....
...any thoughts/experience, along with slapping me on the head with a haddock and saying "told you so Zig", welcome.

..I'll get me knife and fork then...:|
Hmm. No time now - but I'll be getting back to this thread.

Very quickly. I like the GF1 over the Olympus Pens for one main reason. Panasonic auto focus is hugely faster. I liked the size and weight of my old point and shoot - but I ain't going back to slow focus/shutter times. Never.
I've been exposed to this kind of camera for a while now, first with the excitement-then-reality cycle with the E-P1 launch, followed by a period of playing with the GF1, which I didn't really take to in the beginning. To some extent I'm still not a huge fan of the Pen/GF cameras, but I've talked to people who had shelved their D700's in favour of these little things.

I finally "got" these cameras, first figuratively and then literally, a little over a month ago. Their performance is as good or better than my Olympus E-3, which was always good enough for me, at least until I got my hands on a D700. Ironically, having the D700 meant that I moved to smaller prime lenses for most of my photography, and found that I liked it better that way. But the D700 with the 85/1.8 still isn't a small camera, and is too valuable to carry with me for no reason. A compact like the Canon Sx20 is great, except for the image quality, and isn't ultimately a satisfying solution.

And while I appreciate the GF1, I still don't particularly like it. I knew I'd want to change lenses, and with anything other than the 20/1.7, there's too much given up for very little advantage. I bought the GH1 instead.

The GH1 is a better camera than the GF1 in almost every way, but the camera itself is the same size as an entry-level SLR. While it's not that much bigger than the GF1 and Pen bodies when they have the same lenses attached - and is actually smaller when an accessory viewfinder is included - it lacks the sexiness and ability to spark the imagination. Let's face it, the m4/3 bodies have about the same image quality, performance, and quietness of a D3000/XSi, but it's the experience that's different. It's a big difference, both for the photographer and the subject, but the photos look very much the same.

A person whose opinion I trust has just written a lengthy review of the Olympus E-P2, which can be found here. In his conclusion, he writes "I purchased this camera in part to participate in the next step of camera evolution." I feel the same way about my GH1 - some day I want to be able to say 'I was there way back when it all changed; I saw it, I was part of it.'
I hear what you say about larger lenses on the GF1. One idea that I have been kicking around is buying a Nikon 50mm F1.8 and an adapter. This is still a VERY small, fast lens even with the adapter and is equivalent to 100mm (in 35mm terms). Manual focus only but c'est la vie. It would be a pretty tasty little F1.8 100mm prime and still be very pocketable on the GF1. I saw a review online of a guy using this combination and he was raving about it.

Honestly though, these cameras are not really about changing lenses a lot - they are about portability without sacrificing images quality. The smaller the better as far as I am concerned. If I could get a m43 sensor in a LX3 size camera without interchangeable lenses, I am sure that I would have gone that way.
Very grateful for this: Matthew, I'd hoped that you would see this and chip in...that's a very interesting comment on the "experience" and I know you have been treading this ground for a while now. Thanks Toad for your invaluable pms. My own need is for something sharp, light and fixed around the human-eye focal length, that can be quickly deployed in town/city, so both of your comments are spot on, thank you.
I reckon I've had to come to a decision about this, or else I'll froth myself into a feeding frenzy from which there may be no return.
I "happened" to come across a mint, used(unwanted gift, etcWink example of a GF1+20mm in my local LCE. Even then, the price over here is quite laughable: £600(GBP) ..and this only £50 less than a new one(which has a £50 cashback!) As an aside, how London Camera Exchange can justify this as-new price, whilst having the brazen cheek to actually tell me the camera was an unwanted gift, is quite beyond me. No matter, as I cannot justify the expense.
If I'd have gone for anything, it most certainly would have been the GF1+20mm.
I have a vague sense that a few folks' registering of exposure inconsistencies with it, may be just down to unfamiliarity with the focal length. Perhaps. I do so like this 40mm equivalent, though: no "tricks", just a need for a good compositional eye and awareness of depth of field...just seems to "work" more richly than 50mm to my eye.
My decision was really a twofold personal one: with this focal length I'd have liked my compostion to be immediate, spot-on and viewable at all times: I'd have a tiny concern that the LCD might annoy me in full-on light. Chiefly though, as ever, my equation is cash versus embuggerance: if I restrict myself around townscapes to just my 50mm 1.4, tell myself to keep it on and stop faffing about from one lens to the other, this would be less "cost" than £600. I'd also convince myself that, actually, this is the lightest combo in my bag and can immediately see what's in the viewfinder, bagging most of the 16 MP-worth I see.
Still want one, mind you...but I guess I'll have to put needs before wants. Just thought I'd let yous know where I'm at.
Zig: the m43 thing is just getting momentum. It is one of the most exciting new developments in photo gear and it is just starting. There will be several new m43 cameras over the next year or so and prices will drop. If you can wait - I advise doing it right now. This is a market that is just starting to heat up.
Toad Wrote:One idea that I have been kicking around is buying a Nikon 50mm F1.8 and an adapter. This is still a VERY small, fast lens even with the adapter and is equivalent to 100mm (in 35mm terms). Manual focus only but c'est la vie.
[Image: 795638664_cYS6u-M.jpg]
panasonic 20/1.7 @ f/2 & iso800

[Image: 795638606_VTYrP-M.jpg]
nikon 50/1.8 @ f/2.8ish iso640

I bought the Voigtlander F-mount adapter almost immediately. Of my small Nikon primes (35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8) the 50 is my favourite to use with the GH1. I usually alternate between it and the 14-140 - one day I'll be tired of having everything in focus, then the next I'll be frustrated by having everything out of focus. Manual focus with short DOF is a challenge, even with the magnified assist, as there's nothing to indicate when something is actually sharp. On my D700, I can trust the AF confirmation; on the GH1, I look for the changing colours of the chromatic aberrations. Also, as the camera doesn't know what the lens is doing, the MF-assist magnification is a two-button-press feature. Don't be fooled: I gave up 'street' photography, if I ever really practiced it, years ago. For the photo above I was focusing on the No Parking sign when the chap happened to walk up the stairs. It's a slow, considered act, not an HC-B style decisive moment reflex. I'm not sure the 20/1.7 could AF fast enough to snap it 'from the hip', either.

I'm still not sure I'd call the GF1+50/1.8 'pocketable' - the adapter itself is bigger than the 20/1.7, and then you need to put a lens on it.
I'm amused that the adapter is actually more expensive than the 50/1.8 lens.

But for a real blast, I'll use the GH1 on the back of my Sigma 180/3.5 Macro lens. A smaller sensor means more (effective) magnification, and good macro work needs manual focus anyway. With the flip-out screen and no mirror slap, it's hard to imagine a better camera for macro photography - the only real competitor would be a Canon 7D + MP-E 65. But after an evening macro photography workshop at my camera club, I think I was the only one who didn't have sore knees, back, or neck. You can't do that with an OVF, and even a fixed LCD isn't a treat. Flippy screens rule.

By now I've tried the GH1 with every available Panasonic G lens - 7-14, 14-45, 14-140, 20/1.7, 45/2.8, 45-200 - as well as almost every Nikon lens that has an aperture ring. (And some that don't, like the new 16-35/4VR that just came in.) Putting some of the cheap long glass on, like the old AF-D 70-300 (pre-VR version) and Tokina's 80-400 can be a lot of fun, but between manual focus and camera shake, I don't think I've gotten a single crisp shot.

I use the live histogram, and find that I almost always have 1/3 or 2/3 positive EV dialed in. I often still find that my shots look underexposed, even when I've had the histogram stacked to the right. I do miss the matrix meter on the D700, which is able to read my mind. On the other hand, I can push an extra stop of exposure into a GH1 photo in Lightroom with no serious consequences, which is more than I can say for my E-3.

Zig, I know you're not likely to be bothered by this rambling, but one thing I can say decisively - wait. Even if the GF1 really is the camera of your dreams, the 20/1.7 is almost impossible to get, and that's demolished the supply of the GF1 kits. But they eventually will be plentiful again, the frenzy will be over, and you'll get a better deal. And in the mean time, who knows what else will come up, and you do still have a camera to use. Things are only getting better, both specifically and in general.
No, au contraire Matthew; am interested and in no way is this a ramble. Quite the opposite in fact, as I get the feeling that there's a strong drive to get it all to "work": (your enthusiasm and efforts are infectious too!)...ergo, I'm convinced that there must be something in the very experience that generates such a desire to get the whole "m43" thing gelled together.
I'm aware that over here GF1 kits with the 20mm are around and that there does not seem quite the buzz as I'd expected: the pricing I'm sure reflects just our government's and companies' approach of substituting a dollar for a pound sterling sign. There's also our equation that comes from saying, "now, what best combo of ease, functionalism and quality can I get for £6-700?" and there's something in the air that goes like this:
1. Want a camera that takes nice pics: one lens that does all or interchangeable ones?
2. If interchangeable, then what megapixellage and sensor size gives best bang/buck?
I can see here that the present equation is DSLR for latter, Canon/Panasonic for former. That seems to be the present perception over here, right or wrong(not that there's ever this polarity extant)
Of those who'd "get" micro 4 thirds( and I register in the UK a certain mistrust of this format, almost like putting up a third superfluous political party to make a three), many are sorted already for ease of portability and quality(and pixellage) by getting newer Canons/Nikons. The notion of then getting a standalone P+S is still a good idea but I'd guess the lack of viewfinder plus price would nullify the anticipated gains.They'd perhaps say: "well, I've got a 50mm f1.8 that's cheap as chips: slap it on my 7D, job done; why on earth would I change to m43 and make cloudy waters that are perfectly clear?"
And to extend this thought, I'm sure there's logic that would see the experience of yet another interchangeable lens system as being the same old cycle being replayed and refined again, right in front of the eyes of those who already have something that works perfectly well.
Mind you, the pull of something new, plus marketing, plus it getting talked about...is always a pervasive combo that can easily slip the bodkin of doubt that "one's grass might just be that bit greener IF..." it works for software, hardware, cars, kitchens so is always worked on to manipulate by camera manufacturers too. And fine, in some respects, as out of this can come a "better" product"...or at least this used to be the case until it became the norm that inbuilt obsolescence is the mother of invention.
And here is my own jump from the frame I think, as if I do not, I will end up spending money to pursue the same shapeshifting chimera. I'm so delighted that my camera was considered a dinosaur when I bought it: folks only see these beasts as extinct, whereas their might and longevity outlasted a multiplicity of human lifetimes and is ever a source of awe. I'm unlikely to complain about image quality or build(or even portability for that matter, as I like chunky stuff, it feels real) with the 50mmf1.4 on. I'd also guess that, for the canny, any bigging up that leads to ascendancy of m43(I loathe that moniker but it's short) will allow some neat deals on full-frame.
One setback in perception over here might have been Kevin Spacey. Didn't like him, didn't like his smarmy swanning about promoting luxury travel in airlines in a time of economic meltdown for the rest of us..and certainly resented an American actor who'd bought one of our theatres telling us that proper cameras are the thick end of quaint and to be sneered at. "Camera chow"? what on earth is that supposed to mean? Doesn't make sense, and you can't pull surreality off because you will never be Johnny Depp mate: you've used up all the Usual Supects karma, so go home. It just about eclipsed any point of Olympus too for many of us( we always felt Bailey to be an embarrassment too).
So, perhaps all this, coupled with time-honoured British xenophobia, might have slowed up the m43 intake as well..which doesn't negate perceptive snappers going for good kit of course, and the native eye for a good deal really likes the "Panasonic does Leica" equation. I guess it also likes the buzz of access to a whole panoply of marque lenses too, despite this being just about do-able with DSLRs already.
I guess much m43 excitement is genuinely that of the adventurer, exploring new possibilities and keeping the fun alive(always a good thing): matching and testing a variety of lenses, their sweet spots and difficulties with any change in dstance from focal plane.
I'd also guess that m43 also ultimately puts the onus on full-frame too, to either raise its game in by developing new lenses that get better resolution in the outer zones or become increasingly an alternative "niche", just about at the full stretch of what is physically and optically possible with 35mm.
I do agree with Matthew that "things are getting better"; I'm not so sure about the "only" though: as ever, there will be the need for discernment: to what extent are manufacturers meeting a need as opposed to creating the illusion of one, and then generating the same consumer-fed cycle, will always ncessitate the personal need for sorting out wheat from chaff as it always has. My own highly personal take is that we're all a whole lot wetter and namby-pamby about how much weight we think we can't carry: the more metal, concrete and bloat-factor a camera body has, the more I can kick it around with impunity, knowing perfectly well that it will, like most children, ape this behaviour and take pleasure in looking like a Big Bad Mutha next to the tiny plastic jobs.
And again, I have to say: if a GF1 with its 20mm were to fall in my lap right now, I'd be one happy bunny...instant "street", instant 1940s half-frame feel, instant chic, instant Cartier-Bresson with a Leica(arf!). The Yashica T*4 was about £140 if I remember: I'd go up to £250 for the GF1 easily.
Nice post, Zig. Keep watching the skies - prices will drop.

I believe that size does matter. If I could have got the same quality in an even smaller camera, I would have bought that - I still have a DSLR and lenses which I have no intention of getting rid of. The GF1 and 20mm fit nicely in a little Kata pouch that I carry over my shoulder. If I don't take a photo when I am out - who cares? No harm done. I find that most days I do take a photo or 5 though - all photos that I would miss with my larger rig in the drawer at home.
Have had a few further musings( and as ever, indebted to Our Toad for invaluable responses to my feverish pms).
1.Yes indeed, prices seem to be dropping, or set to do so. Some UK outlets are shaving another £30 or so off GF1 kits, and there is the added sweetener of cashback offers too. To be expected perhaps, given that within 24 hrs there'll presumably be bits and bobs ratified price-wise on the G2.
2. On that point, of course, it's worth a look at the APS-C deals in the UK: A Canon 450D + 18-55mm IS + 2GB card for £539 GBP. This is bang on the same price as a Panasonic GF1 with the 14-45mm. This would suggest that m4/3 really has to drop prices like a stone or pull something special out of the bag, once the emotional feelgood has dissipated?
3. Toad made the excellent point to me earlier that some of what I'd term the "magic-arcane" factor(my interpretation), that of the seemingly infinite helpfulness of m4/3 by allowing the use of a range of adapters, may be in fact a phenomenon ascribable to the simple fact that there just ain't that many m43 lenses to go around just yet. Necessity being the mother of invention, and all that.
4. This aura of mystical transference, thrapped into a frenzy by our chums at dpreview, adds to the mystique: a retro-looking Voigtlander lens here, a Cosina there...and all with those Teutonically-inspiring, "Leica-like" names like ,er, Copal, Noktor, Fubar(er, did I get that right...? :/), and of course with magickal, steam-driven chunky bits sticking out as they crank you down to f 0.7 for 30 dollars...well, it's the ring of the Golden Age, isn't it? And Renowned Pro Shooters who stumble on the Lodestone of, hey, popping their Leica Summicrons or even their old Mamiya 67 lenses on their m4/3s because a guy on EBay in Singapore has a mate that does adapters.
5. Forgive my pendulum-swings from captivation to cynicism..maybe my only way of trying to regulate my own emotional response.
6. I see also that the m4/3 mystique has joined to the IR-conversion one as people rush head over heels to knacker up their perfectly-good and too-expensive Olympi and, er, "Pannys"(ugh: like the vulgar oik who came to the only camera-club I ever attended before I walked out amidst an urge to vomit, calling his Rolleiflex his "Rolly"...like the ones who have "Hassies", I guess...) Well, a couple of their "Panny" GF1s are looking a little Lamey-Wamey now they got their November-priced Pannies IR-converted with a 715nm jobby that didn't take too well. That said, I'm well aware that the ones who thought and waited, did in fact get some creditable conversions done on some less recent cameras.
7. Part of my angst is, honestly, down to a Springtime burst of Kit Acquisition Syndrome, with no money and too many imagined options. Toad pointed out to me with marvelous acuity the "limiting yet liberating" experience of having one light, sharp natty performer...and I think this is the same spirit that got me to go out with just a prime on the other day.
8. And I confess, I am still absolutely fascinated....
It is hard to equate anybody else's requirements in a camera with my own - and I think that each person needs to consider what they truly need and will use.

My own case is a bit unusual. I post process everything I shoot before showing it to anyone. In many cases, I use just a small portion of an original or combine multiple originals into a new idea. I am not fixated on getting the perfectly lit, composed, etc photo right out of my camera without processing. My usual style is to see something that appeals to me and then to shoot multiple views of it - always as wide as possible to allow me to crop later to a view that I like. For me, the image really begins once it gets into my computer and I consider the camera to be just a raw input device to the process.

That philosophy flanges up well with carrying a small camera with a good lens on it and a sensor big enough to allow some cropping. I realize that a bigger sensor will typically yield a better image but that the size of the sensor is directly related to the size of the camera body and lens. Therein lies the trade-off.

I haven't pulled my D200 out of the drawer once since I got the GF1. Part of that is just new toy syndrome - but part of it is a desire to simplify the ways that I work in the field. I truly hate carrying camera bags full of gear and changing lenses. Its nothing new with me. Before the GF1, my 18-200 zoom was on my camera 95% of the time even though I have other *better* lenses. I guess I just value the convenience of simple gear rigs too much and aren't into carrying a lot of gear anymore. That may swing back over time, but at the moment, I am really enjoying the "limiting yet liberating" thrill of a compact camera and single prime lens. Sorry for voicing such a heretical viewpoint in the Camera Talk forum...
For what it's worth, I've put a few thoughts down on photons over at my review site - http://www.thewsreviews.com/2010/03/pana...-lens.html - I don't know if it will help.

#1+2 - Panasonic is the third-place ILC manufacturer in the world for 2009, and took 10% of the market in the UK for December 2009.

#3 - there's definitely an element of making do with what's available, but I think it's a bit of chicken/egg here. The early adopters who have set the tone of much of the original discourse are the ones who already had orphaned lenses and/or bought the camera specifically the build their eccentric collections. (For the record, the egg came first: fish and amphibians were hatching from eggs long before dinosaurs evolved into chickens.) I know my Micro Four Thirds experience would be very different without my adapter to use my Nikon lenses - for one thing, there's no reasonable/great macro lens for the system.
Just to save people some time, here's the condensed version of my review:

[Image: 804001161_2h5cv-M.jpg]

It probably makes just as much sense in this format.
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Thank you for this Matthew; informative and challenging thoughts in your review; much work and the culling of much experience really helps me get a feel for someone else's hands-on. I look forward to your future thoughts on your 7-14mm(et al) experience.

I understand that GFK(market research bods) worded their own findings along the lines of: "..in Dec 2009, 10% of interchangeable lens cameras sold in the UK were...micro four thirds...", yet this figure as a percentage of sales for the quarter(ie, Oct-Dec inclusive) amounted to 3.2%. I'm not sure that signifies a "UK embrace" as vaunted by dpreview, as much as the UK's embrace of something new and little for a posh Crimbo stocking.
I've cast around the more reasonable UK pushers and notice that if one were to buy a GF1 with an ideal omnipurpose combo of a 7-14mm and 14-140mm, then without postage("shipping"...good job they don't come on a ship), one's cheapest splash would be £1960. No wonder the flurry to make adapters for lenses already in one's collection.
I am desperately trying to avoid carrying a gear bag with my GF1. However, I do see some logical additions to my GF1 rig at some point.

1. I would like a fast prime in the 100-135mm equiv range. It must be small and no slower than F2.8. I have a passing interest in the Panasonic F2.8 45mm (90 equiv) 1:1 macro lens designed by Leica - but it is far too much money right now for my tastes. A Nikon 50mm F1.8 and adapter might be a very low cost alternative in the short term. Matthew is undoubtedly right that the manual focus in this combo is not optimum, but it would likely be just fine for my hiking trips where the focus point is almost always at infinity and I just need a bit more reach. If it turns out that this combo is a winner with limitations, I *might* be able to rationalize the Panasonic 90mm in the future. Maybe something else will come along in the meantime to fill this niche.

2. I will probably buy an EVF eventually. The GF1 screen is bright enough for most light conditions, but sometimes you just need a viewfinder (i.e. low angle macros, bright sunlight). The integral viewfinder is the most compelling reason for considering one of the larger Pansonic m43 cameras IMO. I will likely wait and see if Panasonic releases a higher res version (smaller too if I get really lucky). One thing that I have noticed is that *not* using a viewfinder is FAR superior for taking shots of people in public. First of all - they write you off as an amateur - particularly with a camera the size of the GF1. More important however, is that you can maintain eye contact throughout the process. It really makes people so much more receptive to the photo then when you are hidden behind a viewfinder. I had forgotten that fact from my old point and shoot days.
Hiking with the GF1.

I am really happy to report that this is everything I hoped that it would be. I am hiking some fairly rough mountain terrain, and the GF1 is pretty much zero encumbrance. I store it in a pouch with a shoulder strap which is highly accessible and does not interfere with my day pack. It is pretty much instantaneous to aim, focus and shoot with great RAW images as the result. The 40mm equiv lens is ideal in wooded terrain - although it would be nice to have a bit more reach for distant viewpoints.

Image quality without encumbrance on these hikes was one of the gating criteria in my GF1 selection. It is actually better than I hoped and I am so happy that this worked out.
Zig, skip the 14-140 unless you really plan on doing a lot of video recording. Much of its considerable price goes to features that have limited to no use for stills photography - silent focus and a continuously-variable stepless aperture, respectively - but are very important for capturing motion footage. Olympus has a 14-150 coming out, and there's really no other option than for it to be cheaper. It may not be better, but no superzoom is going to be overachieving in the Sharpness olympics. (And the kit that you describe is the perfect set that I'm aiming for with the GH1.)

Toad, I've been unimpressed by the 45/2.8. What sort of a 'macro' lens doesn't have any sort of distance indicator or magnification scale? It's a nice lens, but really - it's not that much of a leica for the price.
matthew Wrote:Toad, I've been unimpressed by the 45/2.8. What sort of a 'macro' lens doesn't have any sort of distance indicator or magnification scale? It's a nice lens, but really - it's not that much of a leica for the price.
Yes - I would agree that it is far too pricy. Frankly I wish it *wasn't* a macro because I don't do much macro and I would be far more likely to use my Nikon and Tamron 90 macro for that anyway.
I didn't mention this in the review, but one of the things that I bought the Gh1 for is trips to other cities. I'm planning a day in Chicago in May, which will involve a lot of time in transit broken up by twelve hours of walking, and I'm looking at two weeks playing tourist in New York. I was really tempted by the GF1, but how can I go to either of those cities without the 7-14? And so I had to give in to the inevitable accessory creep, and just bought the bigger body from the beginning.

Even once I have my three lenses, I'd still be tempted by a fast prime with exceptional image quality. I'd love a lens that can do close-focus, even if it's not a true macro. If the Nikon 60mm AF-D was as good as the 60mm AF-S, I'd probably buy it - it worries me when I start looking for Nikon lenses to use on my Panasonic. Big Grin
Matthew, do any of the Voigtlanders fit the bill for you?
Thanks for the insights Toad, Zig, Matthew - good to see you guys doing some real world testing and seeing how they fare...
Zig, I've looked at some of the Voigtländer options, and there's certainly a benefit to using real manual-focus lenses instead of an AF lens with a manual drive option. I know a couple of people who are really excited about the possibility - with neither of them actually owning one of these cameras.

My getting the F-mount adapter was more to expand the options for my existing lenses. The macro and wide-aperture options are particularly lacking in m4/3 right now, and I already have Nikon lenses to fill those gaps. (Although to be fair, the macro isn't gap-filling: the GH1 is an awesome macro camera, and manual focus is hardly a limitation.) I have to confess, though, that when I saw a 35mm f/2.8 pc-nikkor for sale (cheap!) my first thought was how it would work with my GH1, not my D700. I should have it by the middle of next week. Big Grin
According to market research, the MFT cameras aren't doing too shabby sales-wise, making up 10% of sales of interchangable lens camera sales in the UK, and a similar figure in Japan.

The sale price for the EVF for the Panasonic GF1 has just dropped. This is exceptional news - as that *usually* means that an improved product is on the horizon. I have been patiently biding my time to see if a higher res EVF would come out - so who knows?