Panasonic Lumix G1

Panasonic G1 & Friends (by StarbuckGuy)

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.

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About Gene Wilburn

Gene Wilburn is a writer ~ photographer ~ humanist
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14 Responses to Panasonic Lumix G1

  1. Marc says:

    This one has been tempting me for some time as well, and still does;) I didn’t give in yet, but after some time when prices come down, I may still get one to play around with my CV lenses…

    For now, I’m happily exploring another lightweight option which I find I quite like: an Olympus E-420 with the 25mm pancake lens. A delightfully compact little combo which even fits in my coat pocket. I tend to buy coats with large pockets though ;)

  2. Gene says:

    Marc, the E-420 with 25mm sounds like a winner!

  3. adam says:

    Sounds so good! One thing I just cannot do with my digicam is focus manually – I was trying to capture some dandelion heads a few days ago – total failure! I do not even understand the manual on this …

    I’ll try with my film SLR next time. Maybe the dandelion heads are too insubstantial for electronic focusing with a modest digicam.

    Have fun with it!

    Adam

  4. Bob G says:

    The cental magnified focus assist of the G1 reminds me of those flip-down loupes on many TLRs that in effect magnify the central portion of the viewfinder to assist with their focus.

    Enjoy, Gene!

  5. Gordon Coale says:

    I’ve been very happy with my G1. I have Leica thread mount and Pentax M42 adapters. They make for some very interesting lenses such as a 100/2 Summitar.

  6. Gene says:

    @Adam, I’ve had that problem with digicams too. The G1 is the first one that really works for me on manual focus.

    @Bob, I hadn’t thought of that but you’re right. It’s how I used to focus my Rolleiflex. Good analogy!

    @Gordon, nice to hear from you! I have one Pentax M42 lens left — the 50mm Super Macro Takumar. A wonderful lens — sounds like I’d better get an adapter :-) I’m looking forward to trying a 100/2 Hexanon.

  7. Gordon Coale says:

    Here is a Flickr set of my first couple of days with the adapters and trying out different lenses including a 50/4 Super-Multi-Coated Macro-Takumar.

    Whidbey Coffee Cafe with Leitz Summitar 50/2 (100mm eq)
  8. Gene says:

    Thanks Gordon. Quite a nice series of shots! I’m looking forward to the arrival of the M adapter!

  9. Jarrett says:

    I don’t own this, but my “deciding” on it came down to wanting more of the same with dslr quality, cleaner base ISOs, smaller size and more accurate colour rendition.

    When I’m looking at cameras I don’t necessarily look for the best in any category, but one with the fewest or most minor weaknesses. Some I’m already used to.

    What do reviewers say about the downsides of the G1…

    – Lens selection (already remedied)
    – No video (so?)
    – EVF hard to see in low light
    – Shutter noise
    – EVF blanks in continuous shooting (?)
    – Battery life not so great

    Oh and Gene there’s been a few firmware updates for it fyi.

  10. Gene says:

    Thanks Jarrett. It’s always good to see what reviewers say. No camera is perfect.

  11. WeeDram says:

    As usual I’m a bit late to this party ;) … but I told ya so! (4/3s, that is)

    If you do not keep this forever, I’ll understand. The major drawback for me would be that stabilization is in lens, not in body. It seems kind of silly for me to say that, since none of my cameras have ANY stabilization, but hey, no one ever accused me of being totally rational.

    The images you’ve been producing are very good, which is not surprising given the camera/lens combination and your skill. I plan on getting my mitts on your G1 when I’m in the GTA next month. See you soon!

  12. Jarrett says:

    Agreed. Now that I think of it, having IS in the lens was a rather stupid idea. When Oly release their m4/3 cameras you already KNOW they’re putting IS in the body – their dSLRs do this. The kit lens is good, the 50-200mm not so great, 14-140mm (this is the kit lens for the GH1) costs over $1,000 CAD; and they’re all slow lenses. So IMO Panny has basically made this camera without stabilization. Of course you get the adapter option which seems to me to be the only option to get decent lenses. It’s been out for over 6 months now.

  13. Monica says:

    Hi, I have a G1 that my husband bought for me in Feb. My popup flash has stopped working and we’re going to Hawaii in a week. No time to send it to get fixed. Wondering if you use an external flash and if so, what kind.

    Thanks!

  14. Gene says:

    Monica,

    I don’t use flash myself, but I’ve read that the Olympus FL36, FL36R, and FL500 flash units, and the Metz 48 AF-1, work perfectly on the G1 and are less expensive than the Panasonic external flash.

    Hope that helps, and have a great trip!

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