Panasonic has today announced the launch of the latest model in its innovative Lumix G-series of interchangeable-lens system cameras, following the launch last year of the Lumix DMC-G1 and the follow-up model launched earlier this year, the HD video equipped Lumix DMC-GH1.
The new Lumix DMC-GF1 differs somewhat from the SLR-like design of the previous two models. Instead, it more closely resembles a classic 35mm rangefinder or compact camera. It bears some design similarities to Panasonic's award-winning Lumix LX3. It also bears many similarities to, and indeed it shares its fundamental concept with, Olympus's recent Pen E-P1. The concept of a interchangeable lens compact, bridging the divide between conventional compact cameras and digital SLRs, seems to be an idea whose time has come. Olympus was the first off the mark, using technology co-developed with Panasonic. The GF1 is a different take on the concept, taking a more traditional approach in contrast to the retro-chic styling of the Olympus model.
The new camera's features and specifications are suitably impressive. The GF1 has a 17.3 x 13.0 mm 12.1 megapixel Four Thirds format Live MOS sensor, the same Venus Engine HD processor as the GH1 giving it a 3fps continuous shooting speed, and is capable of recording 1280 x 720 30fps video in AVCHD Lite format with mono audio. It has the same high speed 23-zone autofocus system as the other two G-series cameras, with face detection/recognition and AF tracking, and an improved version of the My Colour mode with seven pre-set effects. It has a 3.0-inch monitor with 460k resolution, 100 percent frame coverage and adjustable brightness and colour. It has no viewfinder, but unlike the Olympus E-P1 it does have a pop-up flash with a guide number of 6.0 at 100 ISO and a sync speed of 1/160th of a second.
It has a 144-zone multi-pattern lightmeter, shutter speeds of 60 seconds to 1/4000th of a second, and ISO settings from 100 to 3200. It has fewer scene mode programs than the previous G-series models, but does include two user-defined custom settings as well as Panasonic's Intelligent Auto system. Also included is a "Peripheral Defocus" option and an on-screen lightmeter display that helps users to understand the relationship between aperture and depth of field.
The GF1 also incorporates Panasonic's excellent Mega OIS optical image stabilisation system, although presumably the actual mechanical parts of the system are built into the Micro Four Thirds lenses that the camera uses. The GF1 is being launched with two new Micro Four Thirds lenses, the details of which you'll find below.
The GF1 measures 119 x 71 x 36.9mm and weighs 285g body only, compared to 124 x 83.6 x 45.2mm and 385g for the Lumix G1, and 120.5 x 70 x 35mm and 335g for the Olympus E-P1. It will be available in black, silver or red, and goes on sale next month. An optional 1.5-inch tilting electronic viewfinder will be launched at the same time. No official launch price has yet been announced.
Also announced are two new Micro Four Thirds lenses, and unusually neither of them are zoom lenses. One is an ultra-slim 20mm f/1.7 "pancake" lens measuring 25.5mm with a diameter of 63mm. It has a 46mm filter thread and weighs approximately 100g. It has seven elements in five groups including two aspherical lenses, and a seven-blade circular aperture diaphragm. It is equivalent to approximately 40mm on a 35mm camera.
The other new lens is a 45mm f/2.8 short telephoto equivalent to 90mm, a favourite focal length for portrait photography. It measures 62.5mm with a diameter of 63mm, with a 46mm filter thread, and weighs approximately 225g. (Please note, the image above does not show this new lens, but rather the existing Micro Four Thirds 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, although it is roughly the same size.)
Link: Panasonic UK