Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Review

 
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Panasonic DMC-GF1 Operation

Like that of the G1 and GH1, the Panasonic GF1's user interface can at first seem a little befuddling, because some common functions don't have external buttons visibly labeled. Exposure compensation is a prime example; there's no button labeled with a +/- symbol on the camera's body. To adjust the exposure, you can either push on the control dial and then turn it, or press the Q.Menu button and scroll among the options there. Unless you've previously been in the Q.Menu and scrolled to another option, the exposure compensation control is the first one you'll see after pressing the Q.Menu button.

Once we became accustomed to the Panasonic GF1's controls, we found that the user interface worked well. Indeed, the new Quick menu is quite intuitive because each of the status icons around the screen become fly-out menu items, so navigating to them is as easy as turning the dial or using the left and right arrows. Because it leaves the Q.Menu cursor (option selection) on the function you last used, it tended to drop us back to where we wanted to go more times than not. Pushing the rear dial to access the exposure compensation control was also very fast and quickly became second nature. The My Menu's keeping of our last five menu selections close at hand saved our delving into the extensive menu system for most choices while we were shooting. At the end of the day, we found the Panasonic GH1 a very pleasant and responsive camera to shoot with.

The four navigation buttons access oft-used commands, including ISO, white balance, AF mode, and a special function button can be assigned to any of several options. Pressing the Preview button gives you a Depth-of-field preview by stopping down the lens to the current aperture, and pressing the Display button immediately after puts the GF1 into Shutter speed preview mode.

Panasonic DMC-GF1 Record Mode Display

The Panasonic GF1's rear-panel 3-inch TFT color LCD monitor is used for image review, status display, menu display, and as a viewfinder for image framing. An optional electronic viewfinder that is mounted on the flash hot-shoe is also available.

The illustrations below (courtesy of Panasonic) show what information is displayed on the GF1's LCD monitor (or optional electronic viewfinder) in Record Mode. In most cases, the displays are identical, though there are some items that are only displayed on the LCD monitor, as noted in the table footnotes below.

.


Initial Display


Recording Display

 

The following table documents the information for all display illustrations above:

1
Flash Mode
25
Exposure Meter
2
Film Mode
26
Flash Output Adjustment
3
Optical Image Stabilizer 1
27
2nd Curtain Synchro
Jitter Alert
28
Audio Recording
4
Drive Mode (Single, Burst, Auto Bracket, Self-timer)
29
Extra Optical Zoom
5
Record Mode
30
Histogram
Recording Quality
31
Travel Date
6
Picture Size
AF Tracking Operation
7
Quality
32
Available Recording Time 3
8
LCD Mode 2
33
White Balance Fine Adjustment
9
Intelligent Exposure
34
White Balance Bracket
10
Battery Indication
35
My Color Mode
11
Card Access
36
Current Date and Time 2, 4
12
Recording State (flashes red)
Travel Destination Setting 2, 4
Focus (green)
37
Custom Settings
13
AF Area
38
Program Shift
14
Dial Operation Guide
39
AE Lock
Elapsed Recording Time
40
Face Recognition
15
Number of Recordable Pictures 3
41
AF Lock
16
White Balance
42
Age 2, 5
17
ISO Sensitivity
Location 2, 4
18
Exposure Compensation Value
43
Name 2, 5
Manual Exposure Assistance
Number Of Days Passed Since Departure 2, 4
19
Shutter Speed
44
Self-timer 6
20
Aperture Value
45
Spot Metering Target
21
Recording Mode
46
Optional External Viewfinder 7
22
Metering Mode
47
Digital Zoom
23
AF Mode
48
Wind Cut
24
Focus Mode
Notes:
  1. Only available when a lens that supports the stabilizer function is attached.
  2. Only displayed on LCD monitor.
  3. It is possible to switch the display between the number of recordable pictures and available recording time with the [REMAINING DISP.] setting in the [CUSTOM MENU] menu. In displays other than the LCD recording information display, it will display [9999+] when the number of recordable pictures exceeds 10,000.
  4. This is displayed for about 5 seconds when the camera is turned on, after setting the clock and after switching from Playback mode to Record mode.
  5. This is displayed for about 5 seconds when this unit is turned on in [BABY1]/[BABY2] or [PET] in Scene Mode.
  6. This is displayed during countdown.
  7. Only available with an optional external viewfinder.

 

 

Panasonic GF1 Playback Mode Displays

The Playback button on the rear panel accesses Playback mode, where you can review captured images. Pressing the Display button cycles through displays showing basic information about the captured image (aperture, shutter speed, size, JPEG quality, flash use, ISO, and sequence number); a screen showing a small thumbnail and more detailed exposure information (adding exposure compensation, white balance, focus and exposure modes, image stabilization setting, color space, and full file number to the above); a screen with a small thumbnail and RGB + luminance histogram displays; and finally an image with no information overlay at all. There is an optional Highlight display that can be enabled in the Setup menu. It blinks saturated areas in black and white. Similar displays are available for movie files (as shown at right).

In Playback mode, rotating the command dial located on the back of the camera to the right zooms in on the image being viewed. You can zoom in up to 16x (in steps of 2x), and pan around the full image via the arrow keys.

When you zoom out beyond the full-image display by rotating the Rear dial left, you can see displays of 12 or 30 thumbnails, or a calendar-based display that organizes images in groups by the date captured.


 

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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