Digital Cameras Guide

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 review

Living Up to the Micro Four Thirds Promise - Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

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Design & Handling Part 1

Design & Handling Part 1

Design

The GF1's product design doesn't leave too much of an impression in black, although the white and red versions look much more fashionable. Otherwise, everything feels utilitarian, with form following function.

Handling

The GF1 and the E-P1 both occupy a new middle-ground between DSLR and prosumer camera models; they are smaller than a DSLR but larger than prosumer cameras like the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon G10. If you've been a keen compact user, you'll feel the GF1's 285 grams weight and its larger-than-compact size, but if you're a DSLR user, you'll appreciate the smaller size it occupies in your bag.

The camera body feels dense and compact, but its weight is evenly distributed throughout the body. Even though it's heavier than a compact, you can easily shoot one-handed with the GF1.

With one exception, the controls on the GF1 are all well placed and make using the GF1 an intuitive experience.

The Mode Dial on top toggles between different shooting modes. An Off/On switch, easily differentiated by touch from the shutter release button, is in the right place, as is a handy video recording button just beside the shutter release. Without switching to video mode, you can simply depress this button to start shooting video immediately.

All the controls on the back are easily accessible and buttons are just the right size. The double-function shutter dial - which we loved in the Panasonic G1 and the GH1 - is back. Scrolling it normally controls either the shutter or aperture settings depending on which priority mode you're in. But go into manual, and pressing the dial down like a button switches between shutter and aperture control.

The one little annoyance we have with the GF1's controls is that the shooting mode switch is right below the mode dial. While that may be convenient, its closeness to the mode dial means that it sometimes gets brushed and changed accidentally.