So I took the plunge and bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 today.
Naturally, the only choice for me is the 20mm f/1.7 kit, which I got in black. 8 GB SD card, case and spare battery for USD$899. I also got a 16 GB Sandisk Ultra for some Lord of the Rings epic movie shooting
I'd been wanting it for a while, but came away ambivalent from my first few hands-on tests, especially with the rubbery feel of the main control dial. However, comments on the web suggested that the dial
a. grows on you and
b. is easier to use 2-handed
So far, my initial impressions are:
1. Amazing lens. It's sharp, clear and bright. The 20mm (40-mm eq. on film) field of view is great as an all-purpose lens, wide enough for landscape/architecture and tight enough for people. 20mm is the new 50mm.
2. Fast AF. It's as fast as an SLR for most purposes (barring sports). You'll rarely ever care that it's a contrast detect AF vs phase AF. It was even able to lock on to soft, low contrast material like fur (my pet Shih-Tzu) without seeking.
3. Compact. Compared to my dad's 40D, this thing is tiny. I wouldn't call it pocketable (not even for jacket pockets), but it's definitely effortless to carry around your neck.
4. "Easy to use" (caveat: in 'A' mode). Most enthusiasts seem to say the same thing. Stick the camera in A mode, and twiddle with the Aperture and EV compensation to get your shot. Shooting in 'M' (full manual) gets messy, as you have to control everything with a single dial.
5. Real time DOF and shutter speed simulation in viewscreen. Really, this is a big thing. WYSIWYG comes to cameras after what, 20 years?
6. Bright and clear screen. I shot outdoors in the sun with no worries. Viewing angles are also great. Who needs articulated screens and their accompanying bulk?
1. The lens rattles. People assure me that's normal. It still unsettles me.
2. Focus ring is a b!tch. It's focus-by-wire (ouch) and is not speed-sensitive (double ouch). So cranking focus in MF is a pain. And with no distance scale, shooting hyperfocal is harder than it ought to be.
3. Write speeds could use some work, especially in RAW. Still, there's enough buffer for 4-5 continuous RAW shots, and like I mentioned before, this is not the camera for sports photographers.
4. I wish it had a higher res. screen. I also wish viewfinder manufacturers would stop lying to customers by advertising dots instead of pixels (and causing journalists to misquote their statistics). It's 480x320, which works out to be 153,600 pixels. Not 460,000. And you don't even get to use them all because for some reason, the screen is 3:2 while the sensor is 4:3, so you get black bars. Still, it's good enough for normal use and focus confirmation (with the automatic zoom).
5. JPEG engine is not as good as RAW. Ideally, you'll want to shoot RAW then PP, which may be too much work for some people. But for web work, the JPEG output is acceptable.
6. The lens cap is thick. Really thick. If the camera were Mick Jagger, the lenscap would be his lips. It's that thick.
7. No 24p. Video is 30p or 25p. Really, Panasonic? REALLY?
After walking around with it all day, I can say that the main dial is a lot easier to use when you hold the camera in 2 hands. Although I initially didn't like that the dial was recessed, it does mean that it is harder to jog accidentally. Don't try to shoot one handed with this or you'll give yourself a hand cramp.
I also tried out the 7-14mm f/4 lens, and that is a sweet baby. It's smaller than it looks (in the parlance of things she said, "it's a good size") and feels very nice in the hand. 7mm focal length is very dramatic, and still very little barrel distortion (this is probably due to in-camera correction in μ4/3). I'm saving up for this puppy.
I'll try to post some pics after I've gotten familiarized with the camera, and after I (re)learn how to use Lightroom.
PS: From all reports, the 14-45 f/3.5-5.6 kit is also razor sharp (and cheaper than the 20mm prime), so if you can't live with a prime, consider the kit zoom.
Wind, Sand and Stars.