Conclusion: Panasonic Lumix GF1 digital system camera At the time of writing, there are only two truly compact Micro Four Thirds System cameras available. Both are similar when it comes to functions and dimensions. Olympus and Panasonic are the promoters and developers of the Micro Four Thirds system, and are thus faced with the difficult task to convince the traditionally established camera market that such a system is the answer to the consumer's demand.
Conclusion: To say that the Panasonic Lumix GF1 was a pleasure to use is something of an understatement. Fitted with the 20mm pancake lens, it is not only pocketable but delivers image quality of the highest order and the lens is fast enough to not require a major ISO boost even in dim lighting.
Excerpt: As a member of an entirely new category of cameras, the 12.1-megapixel Panasonic GF1 delivers the image quality and flexibility of a dSLR in a device that will slip easily into your coat pocket. Based on the Micro Four Thirds standard, and jointly developed with Olympus, the GF1 takes the traditional dSLR design and shrinks it down by removing the mirror, pentaprism and optical viewfinder. But, crucially, it retains the high-quality large-format image sensor.
Summary: It's been a close call throughout the test and in their individual tests, they both scored very highly. It's great to see some of the old issues from the Olympus have been sorted out with firmware updates but the Panasonic still has the edge. I think this is down to the fact that it's newer so they had time to see the Pen and elaborate on the features and performance.
Pros: Great build, Retro design, Lovely retro design, Cool arty modes, Good colour rendition, Good noise performance, Excellent continuous shooting mode, Nice auto white-balance system, Nice Art modes, Sharp images
Cons: Optional optical viewfinder, No High ISO NR, Some Art modes can be slow, Electronic viewfinder is optional
Excerpt: Panasonic have released a number of cameras in their G Series over the past couple of years. Each iteration added minor improvements that, many would say, should have been implemented in its predecessor. But this should, really, be forgiven for Panasonic ironing out the kinks in a previously untested technology. Where many were slightly underwhelmed, however...
Excerpt: Panasonic answer the Olympus E-P1 by releasing a retro look Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera in the shape of the Lumix DMC-GF1. Based on the same technology as the G1 and GH1, the GF1 is totally different in it's conception as it gives the user all the convenience of a compact with the robustness of a DSLR. Micro Four Thirds doesn't use a smaller sensor, but removes the prism and mirror chamber found in a DSLR which closes the distance between the lens mount and sensor.
Conclusion: So does the GF1 beat the Pen as the best, most affordable DSLR/compact hybrid to date? Of course the answer depends on your personal requirements, but used as a tool for general purpose photography, the clearer, smoother LCD for shot composition and review, plus built-in flash inevitably take the Panasonic up a notch. It therefore gets our vote as the current most successful marriage of DSLR functionality with compact portability and usability.
Pros: DSLR-like features and picture quality, but with the convenience and portability of a compact, albeit one with a solid feel aluminium construction
Cons: Pricey either with or without lens combination. Requires investment in a new camera system from scratch. EVF costs extra