Should I Buy The Panasonic Lumix GF1 or GF2?
After much anticipation, Panasonic have announced the successor to their beloved GF1, the GF2. As a Lumix fan, I was eagerly waiting to see what was new. I was hoping to get the GF1 but decided to wait to see what features the GF2 had to offer. Just a quick recap, the GF1 was Panasonic's flagship mirror-less Micro Four Thirds(MFT) camera. It was widely praised by every reviewer in the blogosphere for its portability and performance. With the announcement of the GF2, many GF1 owners and eager MFT fans waited for the big preview. What was new? A touchscreen and not much else. Panasonic unveiled the GF2 and it was more or less the same device. The fanfares ended and people got on with their daily lives. It was leaner, and more simplified compared to the GF1 but is it better? Being new to MFT cameras, why should I but the GF2 over the GF1?
Before we get into the crazy new features and advancements of the GF2, lets look at what made the GF1 such a great digital camera.
The Lumix DMC-GF1
The GF1 is arguably, the best MFT camera on the market today. It wasn't exactly a difficult contest. Panasonic and Olympus have a duopoly on the MFT standard so the GF1's only competitor is the Olympus PEN E-PL1. Yes, there's the Samsung NX100 and Sony has their NEX-3 and NEX-5 cameras but they're not MFT and that's subject for another hub. Back to the GF1. The GF1 is a 12MP camera with a MFT live MOS sensor. The “Four Thirds” refer to both the size of the image sensor(4/3”) and the aspect ratio(4:3). Besides having a sensor that is 9 times larger than a compact point ad shoot's, it also has a hot shoe available for an electronic viewfinder or flash. The larger sensor means it performs much better than a compact point and shoot but not quite as good as a full blown DSLR. Having an interchangeable lens system really makes this a versatile camera. There are some aftermarket mounts that allow you to use Leica M lenses as well as other brands on the MFT standard. The GF1 gave amateur photographers the controls of a DSLR with the size of a compact.
The GF1 isn't perfect. The MFT sensor isn't as large as a DSLR sensor but it is considered good enough for most people. The GF1 also did not come with the electronic viewfinder. Buying a viewfinder separately only adds to the cost of what is already an expensive camera. There is also a lack of image stabilization(IS) in the body. IS is dependent on the lens and not all lenses are equipped with IS. Overall, the GF1 is a solid camera. It takes great photos and it can record videos at 720p. It also offer the full control of a DSLR in a small body of relatively compact size.
Do you like touchscreens?
After winning over the hearts of many photography enthusiasts, Panasonic introduced the successor to the GF1, the GF2. The GF2 had some big shoes to fill and some people are wondering, “Can it live up to the GF1?” To answer that question, you have to ask yourself another one. Do you like touchscreens? The GF2 is not much different from the GF1. It has a slightly slimmer body. Along with the standard diet of MFT sensors and no mirrors, it has loss some fat with the removal of its manual control knobs. The result? A fancy new touch screen! They've also added a stereo microphone, 1080i video recording and a maximum light sensitivity of 6400 ISO(up from 3200).
Is the GF2 better than the GF1? That depends. Some would argue that the GF2 is a dumbed down version of the GF1. Personally, I'm turn off by the GF2. You would think that a sleeker and slimmer GF2 would be a good thing but instead of being a sexy MFT, it's more like an anorexic blond. Dumb and skinny. The manual controls made using the GF1 a joy. The touchscreen of the GF2 made changing the settings a choir. What's worse than a touchscreen? An unresponsive touchscreen. Think about ATM touch screens. I'm talking about you Bank Of America. Not only does it mean more time fumbling through the menus but it also more greasy fingerprints and smudges on that LCD. I don't care if you are as hygienic as Howie Mandel. That screen will get oil on it. Just ask my touchscreen Lumix FH22 and I'm no slob.
There is one benefit to using the touchscreen on the GF2. That's their touch to focus feature. You can use the touchscreen to focus on a specific subject and it will focus on the subject. It can even track the subject if it is moving. You can also touch to take a picture. This is a pretty cool feature for composition. This feature comes with a price. Now you have to worry about camera shake when you press the touchscreen. Reminds me of those cameras on smart phones. Another unnecessary thing to worry about.
GF2 Reviewed by DigitalRev.com
It's difficult to call the GF2 an “upgrade” to the GF1. Panasonic have tweaked a few things on the GF1 and marketed it as a new camera. Up the ISO sensitivity here, a stereo mic there. At the end of the day, it's pretty much the same camera with a cheesy touchscreen. That can be a big letdown for some of its fans. Refreshing a brand can work but only if consumers feel like they're getting what they paid for. The GF1 gave photographers control and the GF2 takes much of that ease of use out of this new camera. Maybe Panasonic should've taken notes from Sony when they refreshed their Playstation lines. Call this new camera the “GF1 Slim” and wait a real successor. As a standalone camera, the GF2 is not bad but as an upgrade to the GF1, it left a lot to be desired. How about a built in viewfinder? How about 1080p video recording? Faster performance? Swivel screen? In body image stabilization? Better JPEG processing? There's so much that Panasonic could've done to make the GF2 an awesome upgrade but instead they choose to put in an unresponsive touchscreen and a stereo mic. You should get the GF2 if you don't already own a GF1 and you MUST have the latest. It also helps if your IQ is the same as the temperature in your room. For everyone else, get the GF1.