The Panasonic Lumix G1 has tempted me for some time. I like cameras that are lightweight and compact and after an assignment that involved carrying around a Canon 50D body, I was more than ever convinced that “lighter is better.”
Obviously what works for me doesn’t apply to others but I recently sold my beautiful Nikon D300 solely because of the weight. With some cash lying around, I thought about another prime lens for my lightweight D60 body but decided to experiment with a G1.
Part of the attraction of the G1 is that there are a number of adapters available for other lenses, and one that has been popular among rangefinder users is the Leica M-mount adapter that allows the G1 to use any lens with a Leica bayonet mount.
I have four such lenses — Voigtlander 15mm, 21mm, and 40mm, not to mention a Hexanon 50mm. The idea of a 40mm f/1.4 becoming an 80mm f/1.4 prime on the G1 is delicious. I’ll see how it works out. I have an adapter on its way.
Besides a tilt&swivel large LCD panel, the G1 has the best EVF (electronic view finder) I’ve yet seen. Very bright with high resolution. Ever since owning a Canon S3 IS I’ve like EVF’s. What makes the G1 particularly usable, especially for manual-focus lenses, is an MF Assist feature. The G1 magnifies the centre of the image while manually focusing. I’ve found this an excellent way to get sharp focus, trying the technique with the kit lens.
The optically stabilized kit lens is a sweetheart. Its 14-45mm zoom range delivers the 35mm equivalent of 28-90mm — a good walkabout range. Reviews of the lens have been laudatory. Like my Nikon 18-55mm VR lens, it gets high marks for sharpness. I’ve not yet decided about the 45-200mm kit lens, which with the 2x crop factor gives a 90-400mm equivalent in a compact, lightweight lens. For now I may keep the G1 as a more experimental camera. If I were going on a vacation trip, I’d snap up the 45-200mm in a jiff.
Another useful feature of the kit lens is that it takes 52mm filters, the same as most of my Nikon lenses. Because of this I already have a set of +1, +2, +4 diopters, ND, and polarizing filters. It’s nice to be able to use them directly on the kit lens.
I’ve not had enough time with the G1 to log extensive shooting experience but what I’ve seen of it so far, it’s what I’d hoped it would be: lightweight, compact, sharp, easy to use, and above all, fun.