posted on Sep 2, 2009 at 7:23PM
Panasonic Announces 1.4-inch-thick DSLRBy Emily Raymond
Panasonic unveiled its tiniest interchangeable lens camera yet, the Lumix DMC-GF1, calling it the “world’s smallest and lightest system camera with a built-in flash,” according to today’s press release. The 12.1-megapixel Micro Four Thirds camera nixes a viewfinder and squeezes into compact measurements, but combines DSLR functions and an HD movie mode. It will retail for $899 when it goes on sale in early October.
The Panasonic GF1 measures 4.7 x 2.8 x 1.4 inches (119 x 71 x 36mm), just a few millimeters smaller than the Olympus E-P1. The GF1 and E-P1 share a similar viewfinder-less design that makes them more flat and compact than their typical DSLR counterparts. Indeed, the Panasonic G1 and GH1 cameras measure 4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 inches – still compact compared to some DSLRs but certainly larger than the diminutive GF1.
Despite its more convenient size, the GF1 shares very similar specs with its Lumix G-series siblings. The G1, GH1, and GF1 all have 12.1 megapixels of resolution, manual modes and controls, 23-area auto focus, 3 fps burst shooting, dust reduction systems, and optical image stabilization built into the camera bodies. All three cameras have 3-inch, 460,000-pixel LCD screens, although the G1 and GH1 have their screens mounted on folding free-angle panels while the GF1 is mounted flat against the back of the camera.
Besides the size, the Panasonic Lumix GF1 has a few other unique characteristics. It adds color modes such as expressive, retro, pure, elegant, monochrome, dynamic art, and silhouette. It also adds a “peripheral defocus” scene mode that shows a vignette-like effect on images by purposefully blurring the edges and keeping the center in sharp focus. The GF1 is also more efficient with its battery power: it can shoot 380 shots per charge while the G1 shoots 330 and the GH1 shoots 300.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 includes HD videos, just like the GH1, but comes at a much cheaper price than the $1,499 GH1. Despite the big price difference, the GF1 has the same 1280 x 720-pixel AVCHD Lite-format video recording capability and features such as a wind cut and manually adjustable exposure.
The GF1 does not have a traditional viewfinder and relies on the LCD screen’s live view, much like a compact digital camera, but has a hot shoe for an optional electronic live viewfinder. Panasonic sells the DMW-LVF1 accessory that has 202,000 pixels and offers a tilting and shifting view that carries 100 percent coverage and 1.04x magnification. The Panasonic GF1, as part of the Micro Four Thirds system, is also compatible with any Micro Four Thirds lens and any Four Thirds lens with an optional adapter.
The small size and live view LCD are likely to attract consumers to the budding category of micro DSLR functionality. Panasonic is fully aware of this and kept beginner-friendly features on the GF1. It has an Intelligent Auto mode, 16 scene modes, an Intelligent Scene Selector, face detection, and even face recognition that can register up to six faces and keep them in memory to prioritize focus and exposure on them. The faces can be attached to names and then easily recalled in the playback mode. To top off the attractive features for compact-oriented consumers, the GF1 is offered in red, black, and silver colors. Panasonic is quite proud of their new offering, as stated in their Sept. 2 company press release.
Panasonic changed the digital camera industry with the world’s first Micro Four Thirds digital camera, the Lumix G1 – a compact DSLR-like digital camera that produces exceptional image quality,” said David Briganti, senior product manager of imaging at Panasonic’s Consumer Electronics Company. “As we continued to raise the innovation bar, Panasonic launched the Lumix GH1, adding full high definition 1080p video recording with continuous auto focus. The new Lumix GF1 continues the evolution and is the perfect addition to our Lumix G series, as its sophisticated, small body makes it easier and more convenient to carry. The GF1 is ideal for point-and-shoot consumers looking to step-up to DSLR quality or for current DSLR users who want greater convenience without compromising performance quality or creative flexibility.