January 27th, 2009

Panasonic G1 Mini Review

Originally uploaded by swh
I got a Lumix G1 the other weekend, so I'll write a brief review of the novel things.

Viewfinder: the viewfinder is surprisingly good - in good light. In poor light it shimmers with noise, and it's very hard to check focus, and quite unpleasant to use. OTOH in daylight it's probably the easiest camera to manualy focus I've ever used, easier than a Leica. In poor light the screen is still OK for composition, for some reason. The screen is articulated, reasonably bright, and quite useful. One neat thing is that it can see a B&W image in the viewfinder, which is great if you want to shoot B&W with filters.

Auto focus: the auto focus is contrast based, and noticably slower than my D300, but very accurate, and fast enough for most things. It's never going to be a good action camera anyway, the frame rate is too low.

Meter: because it's using the main sensor to meter, in theory it should be good, but I find it tends to overexpeose and clip highlights. -1/3EV compensation pretty much sorts it out.

Noise/sensor issues: under ISO400 the noise is pretty good, over that it gets a bit questionable. High ISO images look good converted to B&W. Probably because the sensor is quite small, the dynamic range is not that great. High contrast scenes tend to clip and both ends.

Short sensor-mount distance: I don't know how much it's down to this, but the kit lens is really good, decent distortion, good contrast and sharpness. The short distance should make for decent wideangle lenses, at least in theory. The key thing about this is that it's about the only changeable lens system where you can adapt Leica M-Mount lenses, and because of the way the manual focus works, it should be easy to focus them.

Edit to add: maybe it's not obvious from this review, but I really like the camera! waiting to get an M adaptor so I can use my Leica lenses on it, but even with the kit lens it's nice to use.