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Panasonic DMC-GF1

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

The Panasonic DMC-GF1 is the compact camera for those who want SLR quality images without the bulk. It weighs 10.1 ounces, has a width of 4.7 inches, and a height of 2.8 inches. It’s a mirrorless system based on the Micro Four Thirds system. This model has 12.1 megapixel resolution with a Live MOS sensor. You can also record HD movies in 720p with Panasonic’s AVCHD Lite format (MPEG-4/H4.26) and the Dolby stereo microphone. It does feature a built-in flash that some compact cameras eliminate to conserve weight. It comes with Live View to see your adjustments on a 3 inch LCD screen. It supports SD/SDHC cards and does feature a HDMI port that can be hooked up to Panasonic VIERA HDTVs to view images and movies on the big screen.

Features List:

– Weight: 10.1 oz, Width: 4.7 inches, Height: 2.8 inches

– Micro Four Thirds system

– 12.1 megapixel, Live MOS sensor

– 720p HD video recording

– AVCHD Lite formate

– Dolby stereo microphone

– Built-in flash

– Live View on 3 Inch LCD screen

– SD/SDHC cards, HDMI port

– Max Aperture: F/3.5 – 5.6

– ISO 100 – 3200, Auto

– Image Types: RAW, JPEG

– Optical zoom 3.2x

Digital Trends’ digital camera buying tips:

What’s the difference between optical and digital zoom?

Like megapixels, manufacturers frequently throw around big numbers relating to digital zoom. Like megapixels, you should ignore them. Optical zoom uses real optics to get you closer to your subject, while digital zoom merely takes the same amount of pixels you would have in a standard shot and blows them up to fill the frame. The camera captures no more detail. It’s the same zooming or cropping trick you could pull in Photoshop, done in the camera on the fly. While that can sometimes be handy, image quality suffers severely as a result, and most photographers would never use digital zoom.

What are my options?

There are two basic types of digital cameras-point-and-shoot and D-SLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Point and shoot digicams-or as we like to call them “aim and forget”-make up the vast majority of models sold (over 90 percent). The reason is simple: in a single gadget you have everything you need to take good photos. Just aim, zoom in on your subject, press the shutter and the camera does all the work. More sophisticated D-SLRs have interchangeable lenses that let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz-they offer higher quality, faster response time and more flexibility. They also are a lot heavier and cost much more. Your decision between the two is purely personal and totally dependent on your level of commitment to photography. No matter which way you go there are basics that hold true for all cameras. Learning them will help you make the right decision.

Key differences between SLR and Point-n-shoot

Price: According to industry analysts, the vast majority of cameras sold go for less than $200. Making the leap to a DSLR will definitely set you back, but many shoppers obviously believe that the investment is well worth it.

Speed: Speed is the one of the most critical factors. If you’ve ever used a compact digicam, you know that these devices take time to focus and save images to memory cards. During these delays, you can easily miss a smiling face or a running child. To put things in perspective: Point-and-shoot digital cameras generally capture 1 frame per second, while most DSLRs take 3 frames per second or more, making them better suited for fast action shots or sporting events. The difference between snagging the perfect picture and missing it entirely is one of the biggest factors weighing heavily in DSLR cameras’ favor.

Image quality: Compact cameras use much smaller imaging devices. By cramming so many megapixels on a small chip, digital noise is a constant problem. In our reviews, we always recommend keeping the ISO (sensitivity) of a digicam at 400 or less. DSLRs have much larger APS-C sized imagers, meaning you’ll encounter less noise in low light situations and better picture quality overall. Using one, you can shoot in more dimly lit conditions without a flash with little image degradation. In addition, if huge prints are in your future-or extensive cropping-DSLRs should be in your sights.

What are some basics I should look for?

Your new digital camera should have these key features:

  • At least a 6MP imaging device for a D-SLR
  • At least a 7MP imager for a point-and-shoot
  • Optical zoom of 3x, not just a digital zoom
  • The highest quality optics
  • A large LCD screen; the more pixels, the better the quality
  • The widest range for aperture (f/stops), shutter speed and ISO
  • An AF Illuminator or AF Assist mode for best flash shots in dim light
  • A variety of Scene Modes for more convenient shooting in a variety of situations
  • Make sure you do your own ergonomic hands-on test

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