Posts Tagged ‘Panasonic 20mm f1.7’

Review of the Panasonic GF1’s Viewfinder LVF1

What a disappointment. There is no point beating around the bush on this one. Overpriced and underspecced. Let’s review:


  • The screen is tiny. Imagine the smallest DSLR viewfinder you have ever used. Now reduce that.
  • Resolution is too low to check for focusing.
  • Major tunnel vision.
  • Colours seem less accurate than the LCD.
  • Awkward button positioning for switching from LVF to LCD.
  • Takes up the hotshoe.
  • Expensive.


  • Tiltable. A really, really great feature. Useful for photographing from lower angles.
  • Has diopter adjustment.
  • Impervious to sunlight.
  • It’s a viewfinder.

Uff. A sad day indeed. The first thing that strikes you is just how small the screen is. Then, how far away the screen is (strong tunnel effect). I feel like I’m watching a movie in a Smurf cinema. If you are a glasses wearer, like I am, then it is especially awkward to use since you have to press your eye up quite close to the VF to be able to see the whole frame. The resolution is too low to do any sort of precise focus work. The colours seem a bit off, slightly bluish with a narrower gamut. Switching from LVF to LCD is a pain because the button for switching is up against the side of the VF and a bit hard to push. I think there is a bit of flickering, though I’m not sure because of the eyestrain I’m getting from looking through the damn thing.

There are positives though. I really like how it can be tilted. In bright sunlight, it may be more comfortable to use than the LCD. That’s about it I guess.

Smurf cinema. The end.

[all photos with Olympus E-P1 / 21mm f2.8]

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ISO 800 to 3200

I’m always skeptical of claims of good ISO performance. I find it difficult to buy into the reasoning of sensors being more efficient thus lowering noise and increasing megapixel resolution. Seems to me, something’s got to give. That been said, my recent photographs at ISO 800 and above have turned out well so I guess I should try and find something new to complain about.

This photo below is not some random photo of a bush, it is actually a photo of fireflies in near pitch darkness in bushes along the a river in Malaysia. The light of the fireflies was quite bright though very fine, a mere speck. There was nearly no ambient light around me. I switched into manual focus and set it slightly out of focus to exaggerate their light. There’s a bit of motion blur as well since I was gliding along in a raft as I was taking the photo. I was pretty thankful I had the f1.7 lens on me instead of the f2.8. At ISO 3200 f1.7, 1/4s, you can still get a little bit of the feeling of the scene though perhaps not a razor sharp capture of reality.

[all photos with Panasonic GF1 / 40mm f1.7]


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Autofocus (Part 2) & Image Stabilization

While I previously whined extensively about the disadvantages of “square AF” (particularly on the E-P1), there is also a bright side to this new style of autofocus, which is that you can place your AF square anywhere you like on the frame. Of course, this is also possible on DSLRs with multiple focus points but it tends to be a higher end feature.

The E-P1 and GF1 were also designed with video recording in mind and both cameras continuous AF modes are quite capable. You can “set” a subject and have the camera automatically track it around the frame, it’s quite neat. I have yet to make much use of it though.

Anyway, moving on. There is a feature that I had underestimated on the E-P1 that keeps it in the running against its GF1 competitor and that is image stabilization. I have been using mostly the GF1 body with the 17mm and the 20mm these last few days and for about 30% of the lower shutter speed photos (i.e. 1/30 and less), there has been noticeable camera shake in the photos. On the E-P1, I only notice it about 5% of the time. Even at short focal lengths such as 17mm and 20mm, image stabilization can help. Apparently the mechanism adds a bit of weight to the camera but I think it’s a feature worth having.

[all photos with Panasonic GF1 / 20mm f1.7 / 17mm f2.8]

subject: Kent Wang, Purveyor of Fine Pocket Squares

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Good Lookin’ Flash

It’s got quite a Johnny Five sort of appeal to it, no?

[all photos with Olympus E-P1 / 17mm f2.8]

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The New Standard Length Panasonic 20mm f/1.7

Having f/1.7 at your disposal does let you do some interesting things for portraiture and be a little bit abstract. The Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 does a nice job of rendering out-of-focus areas and is generally quiet and quick.

[all photos with Panasonic GF1 / 20mm f1.7]

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