Why I love my Lumix GF1
First a little background. I was completely sold on the Lumix GF1 when Matt Sephton pointed me in the direction of this field test review on Craigmod, which I highly recommend you have a look at first as I’m probably repeating that review in parts.
At the time I was looking for a camera to replace my ailing Konica Minolta Dimage A200 which had served me well for a good few years but was starting to look a bit long in the tooth. Neither it wasn’t the most convenient think to cart about and its shape meant that it couldn’t be shoved into a jacket pocked easily.
The GF1 came along at just the right time. Being one of the first Micro Four Thirds cameras (a system which removes the mirror and viewer to reduce size), this let it be a lot more compact than some of the nearest equivalent DSLRs, but with the option of easily swapping the lenses out for others. I could then bung the camera somewhere more convenient and whip it out when I like. Most of the time it hides in my work bag but I’ve shoved it in a jacket pocket on nights out, bunged it in a bike backpack or saddle bag and generally kept itself conveniently away.
It’s still not the most convenient camera: it’s a little chunky compared to the more recent models but this adds to the weight of it and makes it feel more robust. In fact the robustness that gives it most of its appeal. I’ve dropped it plenty of times, got it covered in mud, used it in freezing cold fields at events, drenched it in rain, dropped it in a loch before quickly whipping it out and even rolled on top of it in a mountain bike crash when it was sat in my backpack as I flipped off a slippy bit at Whinlatter. In nearly four years the worst damage I’ve done to it is a slight dent underneath and scraped some of the silver bits of the Lumix logo on the lens cap.
The best bit about the GF1 is the 20mm pancake lens. This compacts the size of the GF1 down and makes it twice as handy. Although I’ve bought other lenses for it including a lovely Nikon 50mm 1.4 I stuck on with a wonky adapter from Hong Kong, this is the one that stays glued to it for 90% of the time as its just so convenient. The size and depth of field gives you a feeling of spontaneity that my larger DSLR doesn’t and this makes it handy as a lead or backup camera for a shoot. I’ve used to quickly take a picture of a product that needs to be online asap or get into a tighter spot that my 550 won’t let me like clambering through some scaffold to shoot some event bits. Combine this with the easy one press video button and everything is geared to be done now now now.
My girlfriend’s dad and another friend have newer models which tend to be a lot lighter, smaller and come with fancy touch screens (the GF6’s even tilts) but these tend to come across as more polished versions of the GF1. However they still have similar problems as well: the screen is bollocks in bright light, ISO can be grotty after a certain level and the mic isn’t much cop.
I still hope I’m shooting with this camera in another four years. It’s been one of the best pieces of creative kit I’ve ever bought and has helped me out on numerous occasions. I’ll be absolutely gutted if it conks out or gets lost. Thanks little camera, you are great.