Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

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Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Feb 24, 2010 6:16 am

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 :lol:.

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:

Pros:
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. :p
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?

Cons:
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.

Verdict:
Recommended.

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.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Feb 25, 2010 12:32 am

Did you not bother to check out the GH1, which by all respects other than size*, is superior on so many other levels? ;)

* these cameras are so god damn small as it is
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:32 am

phez wrote:Did you not bother to check out the GH1, which by all respects other than size*, is superior on so many other levels? ;)

* these cameras are so god damn small as it is



Yes, I considered the GH1, and am well aware that it has:

1. Multi-aspect sensor
2. Better noise characteristics (but banding in high ISOs - ewww, I'd rather deal with diffuse noise)
3. High res viewfinder
4. 1080P *and* full-manual video mode *and* 24p/25p/30p video
5. Stereo mic and microphone input
6. Dual control dials Correction: only single control dial on GH1

However, long zooms don't interest me (as good as the 14-140 f/4.0-5.8 is), so paying 60% more for the GH1 + kit zoom wasn't worth it when the 20mm f/1.7 is so awesome. And while the 14-140 is a great video lens, it is a lousy social, travel, landscape and portrait* lens because of its size and slow aperture. It's also soft at tele (unsurprising in a superzoom). The GH1 is also not as well built as the GF1 - the body is plastic vs metal, and then there's the lugs falling off the camera issue. Also size matters, especially since I am planning to go hiking in the national parks of Croatia later this year. The GF1 + 20mm pancake is a perfect travel camera because of its size, weight and unassuming nature. This guy trekked through Nepal for 16 days with a GF1+20mm, and his blog pushed me over the edge firmly into the GF1 camp.

I've recommended the GH1 over the GF1 to people on the dpr forums in the past when I felt it was appropriate. But it wasn't in my case. Thanks for the reminder, though!

* There really isn't a good portrait lens for m43 at the moment. The Leica 45mm f/2.8 is horribly overpriced for the quality delivered, which if I may say so, is not deserving of the Leica name (I started shooting with a Leica R4E and Leitz glass). I might pick up a Voigtländer 40mm f/1.4 when I go to Europe next and mount it on the GF1 with an adapter. Although saving up for the Panny 7-14mm f/4.0 is equally tempting.

EDIT: corrected some inaccurate information on the GH1.
Last edited by Voldenuit on Sat May 22, 2010 6:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Feb 25, 2010 2:02 am

More thoughts on shooting video on Micro Four Thirds.

One thing modern DSLRs shooting video are great at is bokeh (with an appropriately wide aperture lens). Coupled with much larger sensors than a HD camcorder, they can achieve a very 'filmlike' look that is only rivalled by professional camcorders costing an order of magnitude more. See this clip, where a GH1, 5dMkII and RED One are intercut reasonably seamlessly.

However, one area where the Micro Four Thirds heroes fail is in dynamic range. The GF1 (and GH1) has a tendency to blow out highlights if you're not careful. Coupled with its ~8 EV range (on RAW stills, probably more like 6 EV in video) it starts to lose out to modern HDcams with evolving sensor technology like backlit CMOS sensors that have a 10-11 usable EV range. So to shoot good video on m43, you have to play to its strengths. Shoot in controlled lighting where possible (this doesn't have to mean studio) and use the AE lock feature to make sure you're metering correctly. Use a fast lens and shoot at the widest aperture you can, otherwise, you might as well get a camcorder.

I guess my point is that as good as they are, ILCs and DSLRs haven't completely eclipsed camcorders at shooting video. Cameras shoot great stills, and camcorders shoot good videos. Any overlap in functionality is a bonus, don't expect to beat out a dedicated device in every area. That's another part of my rationale in not getting a GH1, which is more video orientated than the GF1. I like the filmic possibilities of shooting with a fast lens and a big(-ish) sensor, but the video functions are still less important to me than its utility as a photographic tool.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:20 pm

Ok, the gallery of test shots is up.

I decided to hijack the existing photography thread.

After a week of shooting with the GF1 and 20mm, my impression is that the lens is bright and great, and a joy to shoot with. I don't think I got anywhere near the potential or limits of the camera, although I think it's safe to say that APS-C and full-frame DSLRs are "safe" from MicroFourThirds - they're that extra bit better to justify their cost/size. However, the GF1 is a great camera to take pictures with. You do have to watch out for clipping highlights, though (I never got more than a stop or so in recovery via L/R). I'm still really only using the basic functions, shooting in A and using EV adjustments, so I have a ways to go with this camera yet - I haven't tried the tracking AF or figured out how to get the orientation sensor working yet. I do find that the default colour profile could use a little more oomph - the lotus candle shot is the only "out of the box" result that truly satisfied me from the get-go.

Things to remind myself:
1. Highlights highlights highlights!
2. Framing - hard to get truly vertical and horizontal lines, or maybe I'm not used to arms' length shooting
3. Get closer - the 20mm is more dramatic up close than I expected.
4. Flare - gotta use that 3rd hand to shade the lens, since my other two are busy operating the camera.
5. Get a hat. It's really hot shooting in the sun here :p

In conclusion, I don't think that the GF1 (or micro four thirds in general) will render DSLRs obsolete, but they are a great (and fun) photographic tool for someone who enjoys taking pictures without obsessing on their gear. A good APS-C DSLR will still produce better pictures in extreme circumstances (and if you pixel hunt daily pics), so don't be deluded into thinking that they are the ultimate photographic tool. But they are a joy to use and take great pictures, so if you're sitting on the fence, take the plunge!
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:45 pm

Just thought I'd update this thread after 3 weeks with the camera. Since the original purchase, I've added an Asahi-Pentax SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens (on a M42 adapter) and the Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f/4 lenses to my lineup.

In the past few weeks, I've been out shooting at night, done lots of street, and taken the camera on a trek through a nearby National Park. I've become a lot more used to the controls, though I still think my learning curve was a lot faster with Canon and Ricoh. Some thoughts:

1. Love shooting manual focus lenses on this. The SMC-Tak has become my favourite lens on the camera, due to its bokeh and generally pleasing pictures. The 20/1.7 is more technically accomplished but a bit clinical in comparison.
2. Got hit by glare. The LCD holds up well in direct sunlight, but low sun in the late afternoon coupled with reflected light can wash it out. Ordered a collapsible hood from ebay custom-made for the GF1 - will let you know how well it works.
3. Continuous shooting mode is da bomb. The shutter and review lag in single shot mode can get annoying, continuous mode lets you override review with the shutter button and take a shot when the moment strikes. Highly recommended. There is enough buffer for a 5 shot spread at 3 fps, after which it drops to ~1 fps.
4. The 7-14 is one of the best Ultra Wide Angle Zooms around. Period. Damn it was pricey, but it's worth the money. At 300g, it's also only the weight of my Canon 50/1.4 USM lens! Pity it can't accept filters, as an adjustable ND filter might allow for some interesting shots with it.
5. AF Lock is a neat way to manual focus without having to keep the shutter half-cocked.
6. Due to the low weight, I've been able to take my whole kit places where I'd have left a DSLR behind (or had to compromise on lens choice).
7. ISO 200 is better than ISO 100. There seems to be an extra stop of usable information in the RAW.
8. Battery life is great. I've taken 200 shots at a time and still had full bars on the battery. I estimate at least 400+ shots on a full charge.

Now for some negatives:

1. Stupid auto-bracketing. You can only get +/- 2/3 EV with a 3-shot bracket. If you want +/- 1 EV, you have to use a 5 shot spread. And you have to hold the shutter down the whole time. Wtf Panny.
2. You can't combine timer and bracketing. Double wtf.

These are problems that can (and should) be easily fixed in firmware. Hopefully Panasonic will get on the ball.

I'm quite surprised at the amount of interest the E-PL1 has generated. I didn't like the plasticky feel, and the lack of dials put me off, but I can understand the appeal of the feature set, performance and price (and the great - optional - EVF). There are rumours that the GF1 is getting an upgraded EVF. If true, I better start saving up, cause there are definitely times that an EVF is useful.

There are still some issues with MFT as a format. There is no good portrait prime (or zoom, for that matter). The closest thing is the Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro, which is $900 and not fast enough for good bokeh. It's also not a spectacular enough performer to justify its high price. Oly's Four Thirds Zuiko 50/2 is a fantastic lens, but will not AF on Panny bodies. If Oly re-releases that lens in MFT and fixes the AF compatibility, it will be an instant hit (hint hint).

The 45-200/4-5.6 zoom is well-priced, but soft at the long end. I might wait for the upcoming 100-300/4-5.6 to see how that shapes up, although I'm not a big tele shooter (I did get to see some awesome sea eagles on the weekend, but the 50 wasn't long enough to do them justice, and without AF, they're pretty hard to track).

Upcoming lenses from Panasonic include a 14/2.5, an 8mm fisheye (f/4 I think) and the aforementioned 100-300/4-5.6. Olympus has an upcoming 9-18/4-5.6 and a 14-150/4-5.6, with more options 'coming in 2011'. In the meantime, they're going to face competition from Samsung's NX10, which is very competitively priced, and further off, Sony's and Nikon's mirrorless ILC formats (in whatever form they will take). Hopefully, more competition will drive prices down and result in further development and advancement.

Hopefully this thread will be useful for anyone looking for a compact solution with better performance than a point-and-shoot and something smaller and lighter than a DSLR (although Pentax's K7 and K-x are pretty darned small - and good!).
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:01 pm

The 20/1.7 is 40mm equivalent in 35mm, so that's your portrait lens right there? And the 55-200 is 110-400mm ... so I think m4/3 more or less has all bases covered. Invest in some mount adapters and you have quite literally an unending amount of lenses to choose from.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:56 pm

If the $400 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens has too wide a field of veiw (40mm equivalent on full frame), maybe the $900 Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 OIS (90mm equivalent on a full frame) would be satisfactory? Micro-4/3 is not going to give you the very shallow depth of field that's possible with a camera with a larger sensor.

Is the $900 Panasonic Leica D 25mm f/1.4 (50mm equivalent) with the $115 Panasonic DMW-MA1 4/3 to micro-4/3 adapter a possibility?
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:32 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:If the $400 Panasonic Lumix G 20mm f/1.7 lens has too wide a field of veiw (40mm equivalent on full frame), maybe the $900 Panasonic Leica DG Macro-Elmarit 45mm F2.8 OIS (90mm equivalent on a full frame) would be satisfactory? Micro-4/3 is not going to give you the very shallow depth of field that's possible with a camera with a larger sensor.

Is the $900 Panasonic Leica D 25mm f/1.4 (50mm equivalent) with the $115 Panasonic DMW-MA1 4/3 to micro-4/3 adapter a possibility?


I've been able to get very shallow depth of field with a SMC-Takumar 50/1.4 lens, even at f/2 (to sharpen up the lens), so it is possible to get shallow DOF with a MFT sensor.

Image
SMC-Takumar 50/1.4 @ f/2 ISO200 1/2500s
Notice how blurred the grass behind the head is. In fact, the snout is out of focus - that's how shallow the DOF is, even at f/2.

The 20/1.7 is too wide for flattering portraits. You can get some very interesting closeup and fullbody portraits with it, but it's definitely not a dedicated portrait lens, nor will it replace one. Also, I find the bokeh to be rather clinical and not very pleasing (this is a subjective thing).

The Panasonic Leica 45/2.8 is not a great lens, certainly not in the class of the classic Leitz M and R lenses. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 limits its versatility as a portrait lens, its sharpness is a bit disappointing for a Macro lens (which ironically makes it slightly more usable as a portrait-shooter) and it is a wholly-undeserved $900 (I paid $1,000 for the Panny 7-14, but that is a godly lens in the UWAZ class). The bokeh is also not exceptional, although it's very adequate.

The Four Thirds Panny 25/1.4 will work on MFT (both Oly and Panny bodies). For some reason, I haven't seen a single person on the MFT forums using it - it's probable the focal length is too close to the already excellent 20/1.7 for most people to bother (that, and it's $900 and a lot bigger).

The Olympus Zuiko 50/2 for Four Thirds is a fantastic lens. However, it will only autofocus on Olympus bodies.

There are quite a few people going the adapter route (myself included). However, this means a loss of AF. Not a big deal for portrait lenses, but can be quite a challenge for long-medium telephotos. Olympus bodies have the advantage of IBIS in these cases - even with the 50, the view can be very jerky when I'm zoomed in for focus confirmation.

MFT still has some holes in its lens lineup. Sometimes this can be a strength, as a whole generation of photographers are rediscovering the beauty of old manual focus designs (and in the case of Leica and Voigtlaender, current ones). You just have to be prepared to do the extra work to get that shot (something I personally find enjoyable, although I've had to throw out some shots that would have been keepers if only I'd managed to focus right at the time :p ).
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 10:55 pm

http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html?for ... its=0.3048
Micro-4/3 provides a depth of field that is equivalent to 1 stop higher than a lens mounted on APS-C that has the same field of view. APS-C has the depth of field of one stop higher than a lens of equivalent field of view mounted on a full-frame (35mm sensor) camera. Medium and large format cameras can produce extremely thin depth of field.

Of course, even micro-4/3 can produce a much shallower depth of field than the tiny sensors in most point and shoot cameras.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:01 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Of course, even micro-4/3 can produce a much shallower depth of field than the tiny sensors in most point and shoot cameras.


That's right, and for most users, even enthusiasts, it's good enough. Otherwise we'd all be carrying Leica S2s around.

Of course, the hard part is convincing Panasonic and Oly to stop churning out cheap zooms and start giving us more fast primes. :P
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:06 pm

Some folks just can't stand the lack of zooming. :lol:

Sigma's 30mm f/1.4 and 50mm f/1.4 lose auto-focus with the adapter, too.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:23 pm

There's a lens compatibility list for Panasonic Bodies:

http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/connect/g1.html

The Panasonic bodies are a lot less compatible with legacy Four Thirds lenses than the Olympus bodies. AFAIK, The Oly bodies will AF with any FT lens that supports live view focusing (not all do). The downside being that Olympus' CDAF is a lot slower than Panasonic's, so it's a question of tradeoffs.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:49 am

Don't forget the macro lens by Panasonic, apparently it has great optical qualities at 50mm.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:08 am

liquidsquid wrote:Don't forget the macro lens by Panasonic, apparently it has great optical qualities at 50mm.


Hm... not aware of that lens. Got a link?
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 6:13 pm

Sorry, 45mm, still... good for isolating the face
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/control ... 20macro&Q=
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:30 pm

liquidsquid wrote:Sorry, 45mm, still... good for isolating the face
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/control ... 20macro&Q=



Um, that's the lens that I've been bitching about for like 3 consecutive posts... :P

It's not as sharp as the kit zoom. I mean, wtf. This is a prime. A Macro Prime. With fricking 'Leica' written on the side. And it loses out to the kit zoom.

Here's the test. Compare both lenses at 45mm and f/5.6.

Its 1:1 magnification is impressive, but Panasonic stubbornly kept the drive by wire focusing ring (which, for some ungodly reason, focuses backwards to every other SLR lens ever made, More wtf.), making focus control (crucial in a macro) more difficult than it needs to, and ofttimes frustrating.

As a portrait lens, its f/2.8 aperture is not enough for good subject isolation. Aperture size aside, I've seen a few photos posted on the forums from this lens, and they don't have the 'wow' factor of some classic portrait lenses.

Here's what dpreview had to say about the lens:

the lens is not quite as sharp across the entire frame as the Lumix Vario G 14-45mm F3.5-5.6 kit zoom, which is outstanding at 45mm (but obviously doesn't open up to F2.8 ).


Central sharpness is high even at F2.8, but the corners don't come close


One area in which the 45mm F2.8 is slightly lacking, though, is when used as a portrait lens (a classic second purpose of short telephoto macros), due to its relatively small entrance pupil. It's just not quite capable of the selective focus and background blurring that many photographers prefer


In ergonomic terms, we weren't overly impressed by the implementation of manual focus. The combination of the 'focus-by-wire' system (which gives no tactile feedback), the lack of a distance scale and the internal focus design makes manual focus surprisingly difficult


And in conclusion,

Unfortunately though, we can't summon up quite the same enthusiasm for the 45mm F2.8 macro. It's not a bad lens in any way (in fact it's a very good macro), just one which doesn't seem (to us at least) to offer a sufficiently compelling blend of features to fully justify the significant price tag.


A MFT user wanting a Macro *and* a portrait lens would be better off getting a separate legacy macro (like a Canon FD 100/3.5 or Sigma 50/2 Macro) and a separate legacy portrait lens (endless options abound here). You lose autofocus, but both applications benefit more from good manual focus anyway, and you'll have enough coin left in your pocket to spend on something truly worthwhile.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:41 pm

There just don't seem to be many lenses that auto-focus with the Panasonic camera. There are literally half a dozen auto-focus lenses available for the Canon EOS system for every one lens that auto-focuses with the Panasonic GF1.

How about this one?
$115 Panasonic DMW-MA1 4/3 to micro-4/3 adapter
plus $479 Olympus Zuiko 14–54mm F2.8–3.5 II

Honestly, it appears that you're right. Find a good 50mm f/1.4 (or f/1.2) or 35mm f/2 (or faster) in an obsolete manual format, and adapt it.
http://www.keh.com/Product-Details/1/PS ... 06/FE.aspx
http://www.keh.com/Product-Details/1/MI ... 06/FE.aspx
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Thu Mar 25, 2010 10:07 pm

Heh, well some people are calling MFT cameras 'the poor man's leica' because of its compatibility with Leica M mount lenses, which have a flange distance too short for use with DSLRs.

Seeing as a Leica M9 is nearly $7,000, MFT is a much cheaper way to get into good rangefinder glass (although obviously the IQ is not as good as the 35mm full frame sensor on the M9).

I am reminded of Epson's R-D1, a digital rangefinder for M mount that sadly was discontinued, and had a very limited run mainly in Japan and the Pacific.

Rangefinder lenses are a good complement to MFT because their short flange distances means that the adapters are small. For instance, my Pentax SMC-Takumar 50/1.4 is a very compact lens, but the M42-to-MFT adapter nearly doubles the length of the lens.

Some people have also taken to C-mount lenses on MFT, even though the image circle of most C-mount lenses is smaller than the MFT sensor. The Noktor 50/0.95 is an interesting lens for MFT that was adapted from a C-mount lens, although I'd personally be more inclined to a Voigtlaender Nokton 50/1.1, 50/1.5 or 40/1.4 instead.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 12:49 am

Lens Compatibility Update: It seems that the new G2 and G10 are now AF-compatible with a much larger range of Four Thirds lenses, even ones that do not support CDAF.

Source: http://fourthirds-user.com/forum/showthread.php?p=52929
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 4:58 am

Voldenuit wrote:Lens Compatibility Update: It seems that the new G2 and G10 are now AF-compatible with a much larger range of Four Thirds lenses, even ones that do not support CDAF.

Source: http://fourthirds-user.com/forum/showthread.php?p=52929


Oh, that is nice to know. Always have been salivating over the Oly 12-60 4/3 as a GP lens, and it has a focal distance scale to boot.

Since these CDAF u4/3 lenses are not absolute for focus, but differential, we may never see a focal distance indicator in-camera. At least not an accurate one. Addition of support for more glass that does have external indicators is huge in my book.

Sorry about the confusion on the 45mm, I could have sworn it was 50mm thus the disconnect. Since I use a 50mm f1.4 Rokkor-X manual focus which kicks butt, I don't really care to spend much for AF. I only wish that lens had better coatings so at F1.4 it retained contrast. However at f2, it is wonderful.

http://picasaweb.google.com/wymanfamily ... directlink

I was hoping the G2 used an updated sensor, but it looks like at best it will only get perhaps a bit cleaner signal path, and separate NR on chroma, which solves very little for me. I will instead anxiously await the GH2 in hopes that will contain much of the rumored improvements. Panasonic/Olympus must do something significant to keep Samsung/Sony off of their heels.

If Sony comes up with a system at least as good as the G1 before Panasonic can get out the GH2 (and has a larger sensor) I will sell the G1 system and opt for Sony. Sony's colors and processing always did it for me on the DSC-R1, I almost never could PP the images more appealing than they came straight from the camera, whereas the G1 output can use a lot of work, especially chroma noise.
-Mark
liquidsquid
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:12 am

Yeah, I like having distance indicators on my lenses too. And I hate the "focus by wire" system as implemented by Panny and Oly. I recently discovered that the focusing ring on my SMC-Takumar 50/1.4 works in the opposite way to Panny's lenses, so I have to do a mental gearchange whenever I want to MF with my Panny lenses.

Haven't had much issue with noise with my shooting style, but then, I rarely go above ISO400 on my GF1 and tend to shy away from slow zooms. ISO800 is noisy, but in a "grainy film" way that's not unpleasant to look at. I also carry a tripod with me everywhere I go, so I can always set up shop and fire off a long exposure - in theory. In practice, there are plenty of places where it is inconvenient, inconsiderate or inappropriate to set up a tripod (like in a church or a mosque), so it's not a panacea.

I do agree that MFT needs to keep moving not to get overtaken by the big boys. I don't think Samsung's a real threat, because their lens roadmap is even more F'ed than MFT. But Sony and Nikon are crouching tigers, so Panny and Oly will need to keep their wits up. So I am dismayed to hear the rumours that Oly's upcoming April launch will be for another "entry-level" MFT camera. They need to keep advancing, not try to pad their bottom line with crippled products. And taking a hit on margins (it feels as if prices on MFT gear are higher than they ought to be) in order to grow the market may be necessary, if not pleasant, for them.
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Voldenuit
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:45 am

Well, I suppose the strategy is OK of offering more entry-level cameras as if you expand the user base, and leave them wanting more. It is the easiest way to get them to be comfortable with the system (and buy into a few lenses) an then upgrade to a later high-end camera release. It would be a lot harder to convince someone to adopt a new format AND a high-end camera. It allows the consumer to risk much less while testing the waters to see if they like it. Good decision IMHO, but not what i would like for me.
liquidsquid
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:01 am

It depends if you're trying to entice P&S users to move up or DSLR users to move down. Olympus seems to be doing more of the former (E-PL1, upcoming camera, cheaper lenses) whereas Panasonic seems to be doing more of the latter (GH1, GF1, G2, expensive lenses).

I suppose Oly has their Four Thirds, cough, ecosystem to protect (does anyone actually *use* these things? I don't think I've seen a single FT DSLR in the wild - EVER), whereas Panny has abandoned FT and is putting everything into MFT.

I wanted a MFT instead of a DSLR, so I'm uninterested in a 'P&S replacement'. I want more serious enthusiasts in MFT so there will be a market for good lenses and not cheap consumer crap - after all, what are the odds that someone who bought a P&S replacement is going to buy a whole stable of lenses from you?

Of course, there is some overlap in their strategies. The E-PL1 has some of the best IQ in MFT at the moment, at the cost of a dinky little plastic body (then again the entire digital PEN series has plastic bodies), and Panasonic has the G1, G10 at the low price point and the GF1 for the compact crowd.

When the GH1 came out, it was untouchable in HD digital video recording. Since it's come out, Canon has updated the firmware on the 5DMkII to match it in most areas, released the 7D, and Nikon has the D3S. However, Panasonic seems to be standing still - they still only have a single video-optimised lens, and they don't have video framerate controls in any of their bodies.

The MFT Lens roadmap is schizophrenic - the 14mm range is covered by no less than SEVEN lenses (14-42 Olyx2, 14-42 Panny, 14-45, 7-14, 14-140, 14-150) yet there is still no decent portrait lens. I've ranted before that not everyone will want to shoot macro, or wideangle landscapes, or HD video, or long tele, but I'm pretty sure that everyone who owns a camera will want to shoot a portrait at some stage, unless they're a sociophobe with a creepy photo collage in their attic.

Bleh.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:41 am

I have been a member of the 4/3 Photo forums for a while, and 4/3 is definitely an "elite" exclusive (rare) crowd. Mostly guys that squeeze incredible pictures out of an obscure little-seen format. I think the passion mostly stems from the amazing Olympus glass, not so much the sensor performance. Take a look at those forums, not too crowded, not full of a bunch of hot-heads, and a great deal of talent that makes me realize I am really good at taking snapshots, but very far from being a good photographer.

A great bunch.

http://forum.fourthirdsphoto.com/
liquidsquid
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:21 pm

after all, what are the odds that someone who bought a P&S replacement is going to buy a whole stable of lenses from you?

That's a good point, and it's how a consumer would think, but shift the question around to see the manufacturer's perspective: What are the odds that someone who bought one (or more) of your lenses are going to go buy competitor's camera? The bodies themselves are essentially disposable. They want you buying lenses - even if it's just one, even if it's just the kit lens - because once that glass is in your grubby little mitts, you'll always be thinking about that lens mount, and it'll serve as an incentive to keep you in that camera line.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Tue Mar 30, 2010 1:30 am

Voldenuit wrote:I suppose Oly has their Four Thirds, cough, ecosystem to protect (does anyone actually *use* these things? I don't think I've seen a single FT DSLR in the wild - EVER)

Umm...I recently purchased the Olympus E-620 Four Thirds DSLR(2 lens kit). This is my first DSLR coming from P&S cameras.

liquidsquid wrote:I have been a member of the 4/3 Photo forums for a while, and 4/3 is definitely an "elite" exclusive (rare) crowd. Mostly guys that squeeze incredible pictures out of an obscure little-seen format. I think the passion mostly stems from the amazing Olympus glass, not so much the sensor performance. Take a look at those forums, not too crowded, not full of a bunch of hot-heads, and a great deal of talent that makes me realize I am really good at taking snapshots, but very far from being a good photographer.

A great bunch.

http://forum.fourthirdsphoto.com/

I didn't know four-thirds was so rare...obviously, nothing close to the Canikon crowd but I still see a lot of new E-620 owners on the dpreview Olympus SLR forums. I've heard about the fourthirds photo website but haven't checked out the forums yet - will do that soon. Even at dpreview, the Olympus SLR forum regulars are a great bunch, rarely see any hostility there - though recently there have been quite a few panic threads about Olympus abandoning FT and focussing only on MFT.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Tue Mar 30, 2010 10:10 pm

b_naresh wrote:I didn't know four-thirds was so rare...obviously, nothing close to the Canikon crowd but I still see a lot of new E-620 owners on the dpreview Olympus SLR forums. I've heard about the fourthirds photo website but haven't checked out the forums yet - will do that soon. Even at dpreview, the Olympus SLR forum regulars are a great bunch, rarely see any hostility there - though recently there have been quite a few panic threads about Olympus abandoning FT and focussing only on MFT.


Nice to hear the Four Thirds forum is civilised. There are a lot of fanboys in the MFT forums, so it can get rather tedious. Kinda like how there are a lot of ATI/NV fanboys in our GPU forum, I guess -_-. It's still useful for the small percentage that actually like to discuss photography and post pictures and/or C+C, and to keep up on news, rumours, updates etc. But I could definitely do with less fanboys. Like that thread about build quality that descended into lots of chest bashing until liquidsquid actually posted something of substance...
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:52 am

Well, I dropped by my camera store to pick up my spare battery today (btw, ran the battery till red last weekend. It started flashing red at 350 shots and I took an extra 20 more before charging it, so it seems good for at least 370+ shots. I also do a lot of tripod work, so the camera is on while I adjust the frame and focus).

While I was there, I tested out a few Four Thirds lenses using an adapter. I wanted to try out the Oly 14-54/2.8-3.5 II, because that lens is supposed to AF with G bodies, but they didn't have it in stock. Just out of curiosity, I tested out several other lenses - the Oly 12-60/2.8-4 SWD, the Oly 11-22/2.8-3.5 and the Oly 14-45/3.5-5.6. All 3 did not work with AF, giving me a 'Switch to MF' warning message on the body. Pity.
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Re: Taking the micro Four Thirds plunge - GF1 first impressions

Postposted on Wed Mar 31, 2010 6:53 am

Also, BTW, came across some very worrying posts on the build quality of micro four thirds equipment:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1041&thread=34940668

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1041&thread=34932663

From what I've gathered over the past several weeks, potential problems have included:

Panasonic:
Loose lug on GH1
Wear on rubber grip of G1, GH1 (fixed?)
Wear/Loosening zoom/focus rings on 14-45, 14-140 lenses
Wear on dial/button decals (fixed?)

Olympus:
Paint flaking off E-P1, E-P2 (fixed?)
Deformation around tripod mount (on E-P1 so far...)
Broken collapsing mechanism on kit zoom

It's sad that the build quality doesn't seem to coincide with the price premium associated with MFT. Hopefully, Panny and Oly are paying attention. Failure to address these issues could be disastrous to the format.
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