Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

Panasonic's compact, interchangeable lens camera is the best in its class.

Feb 2, 2010
By Dan Havlik

PRod Reviews Lumix

Kudos go to Panasonic for the speedy autofocus in its 12.1-megapixel GF1. Competing models in the big sensor/small body camera category have suffered from slow autofocus issues.
Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds-based Lumix GF1 was the hottest camera in town last year. In fact, this coat-pocket-friendly 12.1-megapixel compact with interchangeable lenses was so popular, finding a retailer to sell one was a challenge. Sold out everywhere!

The situation was similar for GF1 test cameras. I put in my request to review a GF1 in September when the camera launched but didn't receive a unit from Panasonic until the very end of the year. The loan time was exceedingly short—just two weeks. There were apparently other people who couldn't wait to get their hands on this camera.

What was the big deal? I'm still not really sure. Though I think the GF1 is a fine little camera and by far the best of the lot in this small camera/big sensor/interchangeable lens category, I haven't found a compelling photographic reason yet to choose one of these models over a digital SLR.

But lest you take this as a rant against Micro Four Thirds cameras such as the GF1 and Olympus EP-1 and EP-2, I'd like to put extra emphasis on the word "yet" in the last sentence. Testing both this camera and the Leica X1 (reviewed on page 84) has proven to me it's only a matter of time before manufacturers create the ultimate compact camera (or at least the first version of it).

So here's the good news about the GF1. It can autofocus quickly. That's no mean feat, considering that the competing cameras I've tested so far—Olympus EP-1, Sigma DP-1 and DP-1, and Leica X1—are exceedingly slow to focus. Given that the GF1 also uses Contrast Detection-based autofocus—an inherently slower image-sensor-based focusing system— Panasonic has clearly found a way to prime the pump. And that's impressive. Bravo!

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