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on 2 November 2009
A fantastic little camera. Have owned one for over a month now and have been delighted with the results. Having previously owned Canon Ixus / Powershot cameras I had decided to upgrade to an SLR but was intrigued by the Micro 4/3 system - I think that an SLR would have spent too much time unused in a box, I wanted something small enough to carry around in a pocket. Having checked out a lot of reviews for the Olympus EP1 and the GF1 I decided on the Panasonic.

Overall I think that the camera is excellent -
* very solid (& heavy!), good build quality - lots of metal not plastic, all marked "Made in Japan" NOT China, gold plated usb connection, lens fitting is excellent
* fantastic picture quality compared to my earlier cameras
* superb menu system & hugely customisable
* excellent colour modes
* ISO performance up to ISO800 (1600 & 3200 not great but you can still get an arty b&w to come out OK).
* 20mm lens performs brilliantly for something so small & light
* Interchangeable lenses are an obvious advantage over compacts & superzooms - as well as the 20mm I bought a 2nd hand 45-200mm zoom which has performed well
* HD video is an excellent bonus - compared with some reviews I have been very impressed. There is an option for HD `Lite' (for TV playback) or HD JPEG (for PC / YouTube etc.) and the image quality is fantastic. You need to play about a bit to get best results and don't expect camcorder quality obviously.

A few drawbacks - I would have preferred inbuilt IS on the camera body. The 20mm is excellent even in poor light but IS would have made it outstanding. As another reviewer has noted, Panasonic need a firmware update to stop the camera defaulting to f1.7. It has an annoying habit, aprticularly in Aperture Priority mode, of defaulting to f1.7 at 100ISO with 1/30sec exposure time. Without stabilisation I cannot take a sharp picture handheld at 1/30 & need to manually adjust the ISO to a higher setting which I think the camera should be doing automatically. It can also default to f1.7 at 1/1000 exposure on bright days in Auto mode - again easily adjusted manually but a bit annoying. Keep an eye out for firmware updates from Panasonic, I imagine there will be more to come

Overall though I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.

My recommendations for accessories:
Lowepro Rezo 60 Digital Camera Pouch - Black is an excellent case for the camera + 20mm. Lowepro Apex 120AW Shoulder Bag For Digital Cameras/Camcorders - Arctic Blue is a good case for the camera + additional lenses.
* You'll need at least a Class 6 SDHC card of at least 16gb (1 minute of HD recording can be 250mb). I use a Transcend 16GB SDHC Class 6 Memory Card works very well in the camera.
* This is very light compare to an SLR, even with a 45-200mm lens. I use a very lightweight Manfrotto tripod (either this one: Manfrotto Modo Tripod or something very similar).
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on 17 January 2010
I purchased my GF1 from Amazon in November 2009, I have been a working photographer for several years, and the purchase was to replace a Canon G10 which had served me exceptionally well.

The GF1 itself is simply a gem, its low light capability is at least 3 stops better than the G10, and while not as compact offers greater flexibility. It has been my in the bag take everywhere camera since purchase for the moments that a large SLR are just to cumbersome.

Now the bad news, in early january went to turn the unit on, and nothing on the LCD screen, nor the accessory viewfinder. Camera still powers up, focuses fine and captures images, but both viewing options are dead. I contacted Panasonic and shipped the unit to them under warranty to have it repaired. I have just received their response telling me the damage is the result of impact, and will not be covered. Having now trawled the interweb I have discovered Panasonic are renowned for their denial of responsibility dating back to the FX7 / 8 and 9 models. A lengthy tirade is readable on from the dozens of disgruntled customers.

This has left a very very bitter taste in my mouth, the quote of repair £312 plus VAT. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't baby my equipment, it is a tool to be used, but I can categorically state this camera has never suffered from impact outside of normal use, if its not capable of withstanding normal day to day use then their are issues to be addressed.

So while I endorse the product for its image quality, I'd give panasonic the biggest thumbs down for product support.

Buy at your own peril (and check your insurance paperwork for cover)

On the upside, camerasure insurance ... I cannot speak highly enough of, they paid the bill without question.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 October 2009
Best described as a camera for keen photographers who want to give their shoulder a rest and leave the heavy SLR at home.

The camera has a good solid feel about it.

I've not had the camera long but for a compact camera it has good image quality. Very sharp and noise free at ISO 100 and 200 and equal to my Nikon D60 SLR. ISO 400 - 800 sees noise but perfectly acceptable levels and I'm more than happy to shoot from ISO 100 - 800. At ISO 1600 things go downhill a bit and noise becomes distracting but just about usable at a push. Noisewise the Panasonic can't compete with my Nikon D60 but does much better than my old compact camera ( Fuji F11 ).

This camera is very good at avoiding purple fringing in images - my compact and even D60 have some issues with it - its when you have a white window against a bright sky and see a bit of weird purple or perhaps blue colour on the edges.

The movie mode doesn't work as well as I'd like with the 20mm lense. Panasonic recommend their HD lense - which costs around £750 on its own! The problem is the camera struggles to auto focus in movies and the autofocusing is noisy and can be heard. Panasonic admit this is a problem and one only solved with their expensive HD lense.

The camera is very customisable - buttons in all the right places making it easy to change essential settings like ISO, shutter and aperture. The manual focus mode is excellent - the best I've seen on a camera. The centre of the image is zoomed in so you can see clearly if things are in focus.

One big bonus is the manual is a printed manual!!!! I hate the usual manual on a CD which just are not as good to flick through as a paper version. Does take a bit of reading of the manual to fully utilise the camera.

The more I use the camera the more I like it!
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on 1 December 2009
The GF-1 is as small as you could reasonably expect and pleasing to use. The 20mm lens is as sharp as they say, though personally I find it noisy in use after Canon's USM lenses and the lack of an image stabiliser mode in a lens this costly is a shame - it seems the programme mode is overly biased towards wide open apertures to cope, too. However, the minute (though not that light) GF-1 passes its first key test, because it has easily travelled everywhere with me. Response is everything you cannot expect from a compact. Image quality is right up there, at least with the kit lenses, with impressive resolution. The new software update should fix some slight auto white balance issues, but otherwise my images have been excellent. Not so good is the accessory electronic viewfinder, which lacks resolution and is only really useful for general aiming on a bright day. Judging by the large apparent size of the Olympus Pen 2 optional EVF, Panasonic wanted to keep the size of theirs down, and took the quality penalty as a trade off. The screen on the camera, though, is up to most lighting conditions and is easy to see at an angle, so should be enough for most people. General handling is very good, especially if you're used to Pansonic or Leica compacts, but even if you migrate from other makes the menu system won't take long to pick up. I really like the choice of image sizes - there's a 1:1 mode which I'm using, and also 16:9 which works beautifully with Apple TV/widescreen HDTV combinations to enable you to look at images full screen. HD movies with the 20mm lens haven't been a success so far but there's a new update for the lens and I haven't tested that yet. Overall, expensive, good, best in class at the moment and surely, the start of something big (or should that be, small?) in camera design.
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on 8 December 2009
This is a truly marvellous camera from Panasonic. It has most of the functions of a SLR but none of the bulk or weight. With the 20mm lens fitted it is ideal as a "take it anywhere" camera but it has a larger sensor than most compacts and, therefore, handles low-light scenes much better. Most of the common functions are available without delving into menus and Panasonic's "intelligent" setting is useful if you're not too experienced. The zoom lenses that fit it are not large and a whole outfit could be easily carried in a small photo bag. Highly recommended if you want high quality images without the hassle of a large SLR.
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on 8 January 2010
How do I rate this camera? Well, once I had it for a few weeks I sold ALL of my DSLR gear as it was redundant for my needs. I regard myself as a serious hobbyist and for my interests - street photography, urban, landscape and capturing a growing family - this is ideal. Excellent build, a joy to use and portable along with excellent image quality.

Love it. My best camera purchase ever.
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on 28 March 2010
I love this camera! I read numerous positive reviews before buying it and even then, it surpassed my high expectations. I usually use my Nikon D80 when picture quality is imperative but found it too big to carry with me all the time, particularly on holiday. The GF1 gives me the picture quality I want but is eminently portable. The GF1, particularly with the 20mm pancake lens, is a joy to use. I now take it out everywhere with me and have consequently taken many more pictures.
The one minor disappointment is the cost and the quality of the optional Electronic Viewfinder (DMC-LVF1) which is adequate but overpriced. I think I'll wait for the price to drop (between £100-£120 seems reasonable to me) before I buy or hopefully Panasonic will listen to it's customers and upgrade the resolution.
If image quality, portability and low-light capability are high on your list of priorities, I would recommend GF1 unreservedly.
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on 11 July 2010
I spent weeks trawling all of the reviews and comparison sites reading everything I could about the GF1. I needed to get DSLR quality in a compact package and despite my high expectations, I haven't been disappointed. The camera is small, light and easy to use, and the image quality - certainly shooting in RAW - is excellent. The optical quality of the 20mm prime lens is superb. If like me, you've spent years doing photography, gradually working with bigger cameras, bigger lenses and bigger camera bags filled with stuff - you'll find this a very refreshing reminder of what photography used to be. The GF1 is a delight to use.

A few criticisms: The menu system and interface is unfortunately a bit nasty. Don't know what Panasonic where thinking of when they designed that! It's easy enough to use and navigate though and I can overlook this minor deficiency. Aesthetically it's not as pleasing as the retro styled Olympus Pen. But the Olympus is a full £200 more, and apparently isn't quite as good.

So all in all, I'd say this is the best in it's class. If you want DSLR quality in a compact package, look no further.
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on 23 January 2012
I bought this a few years ago now and despite being satisfied overall, there are some things I wish were better:
1) the low light performance has disappointed me; anything over 400asa is annoyingly grainy and forget getting anything decent at 800 or higher
2) the camera grip could be larger although this has been improved in updated models. For anyone considering buying a 2nd hand gf1 it's worth noting that the camera is a bit slippy with its shiny body coating and small grip bar, plus the weight- it's quite weighty. A half-case can be found online which would help but I didn't buy one.
3) the 20mm (superb) lense retracts when you turn the camera off. this means that screwing on a skylight is problematic since the edge may get caught, snagging the retraction motor. It might be worth researching this on forums.

On the positive side,
1) the camera, with the 20mm lense has produced some excellent quality images in Raw
2) I have made good use of the focus magnifier which magnifies the frame to help with focus as soon as you turn the focus ring.
3) camera and lense produces crisp well-coloured images in good light but somewhat noisy in low light at 400iso or above. Shadows are unrecoverable at 800 or higher and I have experienced some light banding at long exposures.
4) the 20mm lense is excellent and compensates for the poor high iso setting in low-light situations by offering a wide aperture of 1.7. This camera lense combination makes the kit very portable - easily fits in my small should bag and -at a push -my coat pocket.
5) I make use of the vivid colour setting. The black and white (dynamic) setting is good too, even though you can do this in software afterwards.
6) the continuous shooting rate is not bad for a camera this size.
7) rugged build. I have certainly not been careful with the gf1 and dropped it a few times from a small height (onto carpet) and it only has small scratches in the paint and performs perfectly well. I carry it round with me almost every day
8) the battery last very well, even after a few years, and keeps its charge whilst idle.
9) the controls are easy to master and well positioned in the camera body. the timer is on the top plate wheel (very useful) and the thumb-wheel offers easy access to exposure compensation +/- The video button is a bit fiddly to reach without looking though.

So I recommend this camera but I reckon it was probably overpriced when it first came out. I still get a lot out of it, despite that low-light issue. A second hand one in good nick would be worth looking for.

UPDATE: OCtober 2012 and the camera is still working as it did when i first bought it. This camera is really well built and has survived me carrying it around almost every day. Battery life is amazing considering how long I have had it and I still have not had to get a back-up battery.
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on 14 April 2010
This camera is a DSLR that you will actually take with you. It's still a fairly big piece of kit - it reminds me of the 35mm range finder that I had when I was a kid (an Olympus TRIP 35).

Put it on intelligent-auto mode and it's a camera anyone can use, and the interface to open up all the manual options is well designed and fairly easy to learn. Pass it to your point and shoot friend and they'll be able to use it, and if you're a DSLR user you'll feel at home.

The 20mm f1.7 lens is excellent and effortlessly takes rather nice bokeh effect shots. The body struggles a bit at ISOs above 400, but the wide aperture means that I rarely need them. Natural light and indoor shots come out great. It'll struggle in a darker environment like a nightclub, but it's also still to big to take on that sort of night out.

It fits in the pocket of my long overcoat, but is too heavy and bulky to carry there comfortably.

It's an excellent travel camera.
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