My experience with a micro-4/3rds camera - (Panasonic GF1 Review)

My experience with a micro-4/3rds camera – (Panasonic GF1 Review)


If  you’ve been able to get your hands on one of these, consider yourself lucky.  After driving to most every electronic store I knew of and still not being able to get a hands-on feel for this new camera, I decided to take the plunge and make my order on Amazon.  Now, after using it on a recent excursion to Ireland, I wonder why I ever hesitated.  Hold on for a quick dive into the micro 4/3rds camera experience.  (Scattered around are some sample images–minor adjustments done in LR.)

20mm, f/1.7 -- Shallow dof, smooth blurring.  Minimum Focus Distance: 0.66' (0.2m)

20mm, f/1.7 -- Shallow dof, smooth blurring. Minimum Focus Distance: 0.66' (0.2m)

Since deciding to become a “pro” photographer specializing in weddings and portraits some years back, I have always been keenly aware of industry developments in the photographic field.  Primarily I kept my ear to the ground to what the big players like Canon and Nikon were doing.  I made the financial commitment to Nikon, but both were leading the pack in new developments.  Somehow, amidst all the hustle and bustle, I had been ignoring the 4/3rds movement that was starting by the likes of Olympus and Panasonic.  I had come across various announcements and brushed them off for another low-end product that couldn’t compete with my high-end gear. But, as a frequent traveler, who also likes packing light, my wife and I have been in the market for a more compact camera, but we’re also spoiled with our DSLRs.  I felt I was between a rock and a hard place.  I couldn’t bear the thought of pushing the shutter release button, then counting to 10 as my perfect composure fell apart before my eyes and then seeing my camera finally flash.  Then looking at the final image in all its grainy glory and wishing I had lugged my heavy D700 and lens assortment along just for that missed shot.

Enter the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1.  Before our recent excursion to Ireland, my brother was debating on whether to buy one of my older Nikon bodies (D200) or spring for one of the new micro 4/3rds mirror-less cameras.  I gave him my two cents but he went for the Panasonic and brought it along.  Fortunately for me, this meant I had less gear to lug around.  For those not familiar with this type of camera, a little explanation is in order.

60 Second Long Exposure - Low Noise - f/4.5 - ISO100

60 Second Long Exposure - Low Noise - f/4.5 - ISO100

What’s 4/3rds?

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is the third camera in Panasonic’s Lumix G-series, using the Micro Four Thirds System. This latest model in the Lumix range from Panasonic is said to be the world’s smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera with a built-in flash capability. Although the Panasonic Lumix GF1 is small, it still offers many advanced features such as its extensive advanced settings and high definition video recording capability.  They achieve its small size with one simple trick– remove the mirror used to bounce the image up into the viewfinder.  The sensor size for the Four Thirds bodies is stuck somewhere between the minuscule point and shoot sensors and the larger APS-C sensors.  It is, in fact, the same size sensor that Olympus uses in their larger 4/3 DSLR line. Since sensor size is often a major factor in image noise, this sensor should compare closer to a DSLR than your typical compact cameras, but with lenses much smaller than a beefy full frame camera.  Same goes for depth of field.  It will perform better than a compact (shallower depth of field possible) but not as well as a full frame DSLR.  So if the promises are to be believed, this new standard should equate to smaller and lighter cameras, along with smaller and cheaper lenses that perform nearly as well as your typical SLR.  I know.  I was skeptical too.

f/16, 1/60sec, ISO100

f/16, 1/60sec, ISO100

The 20mm Lens

I can say however, after using the viewfinder-less camera for over a week, shooting in all types of situations, I have a new friend in cameras.  The GF1 was released in September of 2009.  Panasonic gave two options for lenses, a standard 14-45mm kit lens or the now cult classic 20mm 1.7 “pancake” lens.  The latter is the lens I’d recommend.  It makes the camera small enough to slip into your pocket, but versatile enough to shoot in the most demanding light situations.  Having a normal range prime (a 40mm equivalent on a DSLR) will take you back to the days when photographers had to move their feet to get a great composition instead of just rotating a zoom ring.  It really makes photography fun.  I couldn’t agree more with the in-depth review given by DP Review, “The Lumix G 20mm F1.7 ASPH is a lens that we’ve been looking forward to seeing for real ever since Panasonic first showed a mock-up back at Photokina ’08. The good news is that it’s been well worth the wait – the 20mm is an excellent lens, especially considering its tiny size. It does well in all aspects of our studio tests, and produces fine images in a wide range of situations while also focusing quickly, silently and decisively. On compact Micro Four Thirds bodies such as the E-P1 and GF1, it offers impressive image quality and low-light capability in a package significantly smaller and more discreet than any DSLR system. The last few years have seen Panasonic rapidly improving its cameras; the 20mm F1.7 sees the company flexing its muscles in the field of lens design and showing it means business here too. We’re unashamed fans of fast primes, and it’s great to see Panasonic providing one relatively early in the development of Micro Four Thirds.”  The guys over at DP Review have also given an incredible review of the GF1 body here if you need some technical comparisons.

Another long exposure example.  This image was actually taken around 11pm with a 60 second expsure at f/4.  Full moon gave color to the scene.

Another long exposure example. This image was actually taken around 11pm with a 60 second expsure at f/4. Full moon gave color to the scene.

I was surprised to hear this reviewer from Wired say he’s also willing to leave his trusty DSLR behind.  This excellent review notes that you can also use your legacy lenses with an adapter if you’re willing to give up automatic focusing. Adapters are available for almost all lens mounts to be used on any micro 4/3 body, so that Canon “L” glass can still be useful, even if you aren’t lugging around your 5D Mark II.

So with that background, here are a few of my personal impressions.

Things I liked:

  • Size.  I like carrying this around and I don’t scare people off when I pull it out.
  • Historgram and Live info before you take the shot.  The f-stop and shutter settings are uniquely displayed live on the screen.  As one reviewer put it, “Some are bothered by the lack of a built in viewfinder, but I find the different perspective refreshing – and adds some unique capabilities you don’t get with an SLR like a live histogram, full brightness depth of field preview, live black and white and crop. For some reason it just feels like a creative tool instead of another piece of electronics.”
  • Dedicated movie button.  This is just a convenience god-send.  No more switching dials or digging into menus to capture a short clip on the spot, or forgetting you are in movie mode when you try and take a picture for that matter.
  • Did I mention size

Things I didn’t like:

  • No viewfinder. In bright sun this will be an issue.  The optional electronic viewfinder seems to be lacking in resolution.
  • So far, very limited lens choices.  The Pancake 20mm lens is gold though.  Large aperture lenses and primes are lacking.
  • Movie mode, although nice that it is HD quality, had focusing issues.  Better to focus the camera and then leave it in manual to avoid focus searching (unless your subject is moving around a lot).

I’ll be buying a micro 4/3 camera as soon as my budget allows it.  Perhaps by then there will be even more models to choose from.  In the mean time, if you’re in the market, take a look at what’s available.  Olympus just released the Olympus E-PL1 Pen Camera for $599.  It is the lowest cost Micro Four Thirds camera currently available and comes in many stylish colors!

To see other articles by Chas, click the author link below.

f/8, 1/250sec, ISO100

f/8, 1/250sec, ISO100

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Chas Elliott is a freelance photographer in the Northern Virginia and DC area. See more of his work at

Some Older Comments

  • Antonio Saverio February 22, 2012 04:04 pm

    I bought a Lumix G3 some weeks ago.
    It is absolutely fantastic.
    It overcomes the most part of Nikons and Canons, with a smaller and lighter body, and an incomparable price.
    Nikon and specially Canon are insisting with the big size sensors while Panasonic, Olympus and LEICA are now one step forward.
    Micro 4/3 is the future.
    And the Leica lenses have no similar in the (Canon or Nikon or...) world.

  • Goblin January 16, 2012 06:16 pm

    An even smaller camera with slightly better image quality has been build, the Olympus E-PM1. Now , I can hear you thinking 'this thing lacks buttons, I can't work with that'. But try one and you'll soon learn this camer is great and even without the extra buttons it's really easy to control, because you can customize so much button and menu functions. The images it produces are slightly better then those of the GF-1 too. Nicer contrast and maybe a little bit sharper too. Impressive. And it's smaller than anything else! Fit a 14mm f/2.5 on it and it looks like a compact.

  • Santorias December 30, 2011 04:55 am

    Almost 2012 and after trying the G3 (expensive, soft output, almost as much image noise) and Fuji X100 (very expensive and slow) I am back to using the trusted old GF1. It's such a user friendly high quality camera! I don't miss the viewfinder very often and once you get to know the sensor and optics the output of this little camera is great. Pair it with a nice prime like the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 or Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and you have a killer light weight compact camera system. You can buy a perfectly good secondhand GF1 for as little as 150 - 200 euro's now!

  • Marilyn Armstrong September 6, 2011 02:29 am

    Thank you. I think my next purchase will have to be a fast prime. Have the 14-42mm and the 40-150mm (both Zuiko). But they ARE slow. VERY slow for my purposes and I do love primes. I had my eye on the 25mm prime that Leica is putting out, but the price tag is pretty high and if I'll get good results from the Panny 20mm, perhaps that would be a more sensible price. Have you any experience with the 17mm primes from Olympus? Or know anyone who does? Seems a bit wider than I want for a walk-around lens, but as I guess we all learn, while these little cameras can give amazing results, they are not DSLRs and the dynamics can be surprisingly different than we expect. Or anyway, that's my experience so far ... admittedly not a LOT of experience and I am still awaiting the arrival of the VF I ordered. I think it is on a very slow boat that might currently be crossing the Pacific whilst stopping at every atoll in between continents. All I can do it wait. Thanks for another perspective and additional much needed information!!

  • Martin Stainsby June 26, 2011 05:36 pm

    Sorry I missed the link on the previous post. This article was October 2010. There are many photo's on the Blog with the GF1 since then, using various lenses.

    Blog Article on GF1 by Martin Stainsby

  • Martin Stainsby June 26, 2011 08:05 am

    This is a very useful article and helped me decide to buy the GF1 last September. I think the camera is absolutely brilliant. I use it for 90% of my personal photography with my Canon 5D relegated to the other 10%. I love the panasonic lenses but have had great fun with a couple of Olympus OM lenses as well (50mm f1.8 and 50mm Macro f3.5).
    Many thanks for the article.

    This is a link to a blog article I did about my GF1 after using it for a few weeks.

  • Igor January 16, 2011 05:41 pm

    I am torn between purchasing an Epl1 from olympus and the GF1 from panasonic.... i would choose the 20mm for either camera... can somebody help me choose from one of these, having a really hard time doing so. Thanks in advance!

  • Mike December 22, 2010 11:36 am

    I have been shooting canon for many years, 1ds, 40 and a 7d. It's really important that everyone understands that the GF1 is not going to replace these cameras but enhance your photo experience of real world view. When shooting up close, people look at you, not the end of a large lens stuck in their face. I purchased the GF1 and take it every place I go, something I cannot always do with my 1ds, I'm not comparing them at all and may get heat for even bringing that into this blog, but, I have to say, I really enjoy the GF1 very much. Another point, I have a 15 year old daughter that is very interested in photography, this camera is perfect for her hands and it trains her to work with the controls. The camera is made really good, seems better than the xti, and takes really nice photos, I'm really having fun with it. Everyone should realize what niche this camera is, better than any point and shoot, IMO, great size to take every day and still gives you the ability to control your shots.
    Also, try the 7-14 4.0, very neat!

  • Ed November 17, 2010 07:05 pm

    I would not want to mis this camera for the world. Small, cheap (compared to DSLR's of the same build quality), sturdy, versatile, light, fast, low key, transportable). Only CA control with Oly lenses and I use it with Oly, Pana and Nikon lenses (last bought dead cheap second hand old AI's and AIs's) and hey a 36 years old 1.4 50mm becomes a breathtaking 1.4 100mm and who cares about corner sharpness if you are not using the corners.

    Greetings, Ed

  • Mike May 23, 2010 10:59 am

    M43 cameras are going to take a hunk of meat out of the low-end DSLR market. Cameras like the GF1 are just infinitely more practical for a lot of people who don't want to lug around a big DSLR.

  • Mike Minick April 16, 2010 10:45 pm

    There seems to be some confusion among some readers about 4/3 system. There are and have been many 4/3 cameras that have mirror systems. I use 2 of them,an Oly 510 &630. The mirrorless models are fairly new but they are not the only 4/3 cameras available. 4/3 doesn't refer only to the mirrorless models. If you want to explore the 4/3 cameras, there are lots of fine mirror models to choose from.

  • GeeJ McRAIG April 14, 2010 03:13 am

    For an amatuer, would you recommend the GF-1 or the more bulkier DSLRs?

    For the same price, the bulkier DSLRs seem to have more value for money in terms of getting better photos.

  • Meko April 9, 2010 12:19 pm

    I just bought GF1 in Hong Kong with 20 mm, less than AUD$1000. I am just a beginner. It is very easy to use, lite weight for girl, just love it. Very popular in Asia at the moment, should have a look if you travel to Hong Kong or Japan, may be you can find a good deal. Enjoy !

  • Philip P. March 31, 2010 09:40 am

    I got myself a DMC-G1 at Christmas, and yes I know - both the GF1 and the GH1 were out, but I made the descision that a) I wanted a viewfinder, and b) I didn't want video, so cutting that out cut the price down a lot as well!

    Since then, I've been nothing but happy with it. Yes, the low-light capabilities (i.e. high ISO) are lacking when you put it up against a DSLR with a larger sensor, but for a non-professional (or serious amature) photographer, it's a GREAT camera. Small, light, and with a growing collection of micro 4/3rds lenses (and then access to the larger 4/3rds collection through a simple adapter) it is perfect for every day photography.

    I personally have found that sports photography (indoors, volleyball) is VERY hard due to the need for a fast shutter speed and the low light of the gym. However, I have also seen that Olympus do an f2 sports zoom lens for the 4/3rds system - I haven't played with it, but WOW!

    So, in short - I've been thrilled with my camera since I got it. And if you are like me and want the viewfinder (and have found that Olympus' micro 4/3rds and the GF1's attachable viewfinders just aren't going to cut it) the G1 is a very good option (but doesn't come with the pancake lens kit.)

  • Pete March 19, 2010 09:50 am

    A friend of mine owns the Panasonic FZ35 and his pictures are amazing. And the size is fairly compact too.
    IMO i would prefer the FZ35 superzoom to these interchangeable compacts. The 28mm wide to 12-18x zoom is unbeatable if you want a good compact zoom camera.
    My 2 cents worth.
    But it is only an opinion, in the end it is the user that decides what works best.
    I went from a 12x zoom to a DSLR and sure took a long time to get used to especially when i was the zoo with my kids and the lion looked likem a postage stamp on my 18-55mm lens.

  • yusran March 14, 2010 11:50 am

    it's really interesting to see the development of this EVIL camera. Starting from olympus, panasonic and the samsung. now even sony also wants to launch a new ultracompact mirrorless camera which is expected to be in may according to trusted rumours. The theme is 'Anytime, anywhere dslr quality'. i hope the theme can be true. Teaser video:

    world is really getting smaller and smaller. I would expect that this new generation camera will replace the pns camera in the future. may be even challenging dslr market. i heard that nikon also is working on it but not really sure.

  • Han Cheng March 6, 2010 05:29 pm

    I like the GF1 and glad I owned one. Its incredibly compact and I can bring it along everywhere I go.

  • Adam March 6, 2010 01:42 am

    @Chris H - You can attach your Nikon glass to a MFT camera with a simple adapter, you loose the auto focus and some of the IPTC meta data about the lens/aperture etc but everything works great. Also if you have the Olympus you get built in IS in the camera body so your 18-200 becomes stabilized when used on the Olympus MFT cameras.

  • Chris H March 5, 2010 03:26 am

    The issue seems to be convenience over quality of image.

    Wouldn't that be resolved by Panasonic kicking the big boys where it hurts. Obtain a decent sensor - say D700 level and stick it in.

    Make a handful of quality lenses (prime and tele), models with live view and composite LV and optical view finder. The debate about 4/3 utility would be one moved forwards over how far it extends into top of the range rather than -sumer model replacement.. With the upper level camera market being over-priced - I doubt the 4/3 would do an equivalent say D700 sensor for less than 2.5K? Purely a guess. Yours?

    Frankly though the issue would become a lens driven one. How many lenses does it take a 4/3 to become no longer size friendly? Also the fact that the Nikor 18-200mm is a 7.5 to say 8.3 /10 quality glass - there really isn't a singular top quality workhorse lens around. For that reason and the conservative nature of Olympic / Panasonic to really challenge Nikon and Canon I think for a few more years yet 4/3 will stay in the niche it is, challenging lower end DSLR's.

  • Tim A. March 5, 2010 02:44 am

    I own a GF1 and the 20mm pancake as well as the 45mm f/2.8 macro. I also own a 50D along with a nice set of L lenses and primes. I have to tell you, the GF1 is a godsend. When I'm at home and I want to take a photo I will use the Canon but let's be honest...even with a 50D you're not going to lug it everywhere. You won't take it with you to work or going out to the farmer's market. But the GF1? Absolutely. And since I travel for work (pretty much in Japan an average of 2 weeks a month), the GF1 is a fantastic travel camera. It's always at hand, it's light and travels well, and takes wonderful images. Of course you have to adjust for its limitations but you also have to do that with the big DSLRs too. As they have said at The Online Photographer, this is pretty close to their "DMD" or the "Decisive Moment Digital".

    It's also great for street shooting too btw. Like a Leica it's unobtrusive and most people just think it's a slighly larger digicam so they don't really take notice. Especially if you don't have or use the electronic viewfinder. With the 45mm (and it has a neat hexagonal lens hood a la Leica) in Japan I was able to take great street shots without anyone really giving me a second glance, and that's even with a pretty big lens hanging off the front. Oh, it helps that I got the red color body too. Looks really like a cheap digicam.

    For anyone that travels for business that just wants to toss a high quality camera into their laptop bag or who finds themselves at places like bars, restaurants, or even at the mall, seeing something and wishing they had something better than a cell phone camera on them? Get the GF1 and the pancake. You'll find yourself taking photos every day (and not for work either) and rediscovering the FUN.

    ...oh...and yes it's pricey. Hopefully the prices will drop eventually but right now they still have problems keeping up with demand so...yeah...maybe not. But I am happy to say that I have gotten my money's worth these past few months since I got mine in Japan!!

  • Brian March 4, 2010 01:50 pm

    I enjoyed this post. I am looking at buying a 4/3rd camera because I have several leica lenses and would like to put them on a digital body. Right now I can't afford a leica m8 or m9. My lenses just sit in their cases right now and I really would love to use them. Anyway, thanks for the great post.

  • Adam March 4, 2010 01:43 pm

    I've really enjoyed my Olympus E-P2 as well, it's really a nice camera to be able to take around with you. It's also got the EVF that allows you shoot through a bright view finder. Overall it's a great system and I've even picked up adapters to mount my Canon and Nikon lenses on the Oly.

    I've written some articles on the E-P2 if anyone is interested -

  • David March 4, 2010 04:49 am

    I found this review thought provoking (yet again, as so many of your articles are) and it added to my upgrade dilemmas. However I upgraded from a perfectly good super zoom Canon S5IS to a Nikon D40 because I got fed up with focus issues on things like flowers heads, the EVF does not match an optical view and as I use glasses for reading using a screen only to focus would be an issue with this camera. All that said I don't know where I am going next but as I have stacks of Nikon lenses, some very good others a mistake I am open to anything that's not too much heavier than the D40, and if it takes my Nikon thread lenses especially the Tokina wide and macro then.....I'll have look at a 4/3rds but think Nikon can not be connected to Olympus because the lens reach of the Nikon touches the mirror of the Olympus so you might check this comment re the Panasonics.

    BTW the Canon S5 can out shoot the Nikon in good light, and got better pictures than the Canon EOS 400D when used side by side (digicIII processor vs digicII) in good light.

    Also btw the Panasonic equivalent to the S5 at the time was the salemans choice of the 2 but I went for the Canon because it had a greater zoom range but next time I'd go for the camera with the widest angle - one of the niggles with the S5, but solved with an after market fish eye which made it our only need for a fish eye and much cheaper than one for the Nikon.

    SO what? Well, Panasonic and 4/3rds are good cameras and I'd look at one again any day!

  • Daniel*1977 March 3, 2010 07:33 pm

    I will be nasty :P

    [eimg link='' title='Japan' url='']

    I'm the lucky owner of Samsung NX10. I did not use 4 / 3, but the NX seems to be a solid competitor.
    Already announced the list of adapters from other systems, so the choice will be very large.
    Personally, I am in love with my pancake 30mm f / 2: D
    Here is rewiev of 30:
    And here if You like some pictures taken by me with NX:

  • Michael A. Loscalzo March 3, 2010 05:21 pm

    For Christmas I received the G1, which was the 1st 4/3rds camera released at that time. As well as you just read above, now there are about five in total. For what the G1 is, though not true to a real DSLR, as I’ve learned the hard way, I think this is the perfect camera to switch to if you are starting photography and want something more than a point and shoot. It’s not going to get you the same images that let’s say the new Nikon D5000 can but I’ve come to learn (Not really but I’ve heard) that the best camera is the one that you carry with you. There are people out there who do some beautiful stuff with their iphones and that’s only 3 point megapixel camera right there. The G1 is light, it handles very well during the day though you’re going to run into problems in low light (it honestly can’t do much if there’s not enough light) and the lens depending what you’re looking for are pretty cheap. I’m only a beginner when it comes to photography and the results that I’ve had with this camera, though not a lot, has made me gone so much farther into the love for photography than perhaps if I was to get a Nikon or a Canon (not saying that they are bad or anything) It’s different, your not so typical DSLR. I would recommended for anyone to look into the 4/3rds movement since I hear there are future plans to make even more cameras with this format and hopefully we’ll see one that is neck to neck with a true DSLR.

  • jay March 3, 2010 12:08 pm

    I actually got the olympus for a good price of $650. It came with the camera bag, a 40-150 F 3.5 - 4-5 zoom lens and an ED 14- 42 mm zuiko lens.
    Thankyou all for the info on this site. Elias is the the 70 -300 f4.0 -5.6 just as good? the price is in my range. Iam not sure if the lens is good quality. Since I am new to this I can take all the help I can get. I have done some macros on this camera and am pleased with the result. attached is a picture[eimg link='' title='PC283661' url='']

  • Karen Stuebing March 3, 2010 07:42 am

    @Kate, I could be wrong about this but it is different than a traditional DSLR because it does not use a mirror and the 4/3 refers to the sensor size. Most DSLRs use APC-S sensors which are larger than the 4/3 and micro 4/3. So without the mirror and with the smaller sensor, you get a a smaller lighter weight camera. It is still a DSLR in the sense the lenses are interchangeable.

    The review of this camera is here. It seems that this camera along with the Olympus EP-1 are more for people with larger DSLRs who want a smaller pocket camera that is better than a fixed lens compact. At least according to the reviewer.

    Now, I REALLY want an Olympus EP-1 but it's a lot of bucks for a "fun" pocket camera.

  • kate March 3, 2010 04:11 am

    I want this camera. I cannot afford this camera. I like the review but I wish there'd be more explanation on why this camera is different from a dslr. I'm new to stuff like this. What does the "4/3rds" mean?

  • Karen Stuebing March 3, 2010 12:36 am

    I loved and still love my Olympus C505Z so when I was buying a DSLR, I really wanted to get another Olympus. But they had gone to the 4/3 sensor and then the micro 4/3. So I went with a Pentax which is a very large DSLR. Although the newer versions are smaller.

    No one can convince me you can increase MPs and make the sensor smaller and not have significant issues. So call me still skeptical. :)

    And then there's the price tag.

  • carlbraun March 3, 2010 12:04 am

    the GF1 is not the only 4/3 build by panny, there is also a great one with full HD video and a built-in viewfinder : GH1, or the G1 if you don't need video.
    My D300 is staying home more and more often. The panasonic LX3 in the pocket everyday and the GH1 to travel light.

  • hfng March 2, 2010 07:29 pm

    This is a great post. After reading it, now I am looking to get one of these cameras to complement my existing Canon DSLR set. Tell me, do these cameras have hot shoes? I would like the capability to do strobist-style photos.

  • Flores March 2, 2010 04:01 pm

    The weakest part of this camera is price. 900 dollars for this camera is simply too expensive.

  • Elias Martenson March 2, 2010 12:43 pm


    Most of the tops that you see that refer to Nikon and Canon still applies to 4/3's. The differences usually lie with the different field of view at various focal lengths. Other than that, pretty much everything should be similar.

    As for lenses for safaris, you probably want a long lens. I have been considering the Olympus 50-200 mm f/2.8 lens. It's quite small but still have good range. It's quite easy to shoot hand-held using it, something I don't think you can do with a similar 400 mm lens on the other brands. It's also not very expensive compared to similar lenses from Nikon and Canon. Here's a review of the lens:

  • jay March 2, 2010 12:23 pm

    I am so glad others like the olympus camera. I am new to photography and have a olympus E410 camera. I ahve been reading tips to see how I can do different shots. But every article is only with cannon and nikon and I am curious to see how I can get tips for the olympus camera. I am also travelling to africa in july and want ideas for lens for my olympus and ideas for safaris. If you can help I would be grateful

  • sillyxone March 2, 2010 08:04 am

    these cameras are smaller in size due to the removal of the mirror in front of the sensor, so, for those who expect an optical viewfinder, it won't be truly through-the-lens optical though.

  • Alastair March 2, 2010 07:09 am

    I bought a Panasonic GF1 just before Christmas. I've recently sold it. I really liked the idea of this camera, it's tiny, it's a very flexible camera and it looks great. However, when I wanted to use it, which was mostly more towards the end of the day/at night, I just found the low light/high ISO capability lacking massively. I have been spoiled though, as I used to shoot with a Nikon D700. I was also frustrated with the lack of serious depth of field capabilities. I found myself not really using this camera and for how much it cost, it's not something I wanted relegating to taking photos for ebay. So I got rid. Actually the biggest problem I had with it was a lack of decent viewfinder.

    So am without a digital camera of any kind (excepting perhaps the camera in my iphone.. but meh). I'm back to shooting large and medium format film. I'm pretty content with that but will keep an eye on the micro four thirds and when they have a sensor that has less noisy high-ISO capabilities and (in the case of the Panasonic GF1) a better viewfinder, I'll certainly consider it again.

  • Jason Collin Photography March 2, 2010 06:51 am

    @OsmosisStudios -- even I can see the distortion as well. Not really seeing as sharp of images as I'd like in the long exposure shots, or any of them for that matter. The pancake lens is interesting though from a design aspect. I can see this camera being fun to play with, but kind of niche product, not something I could invest in and justify its cost via paid work.

  • Sang March 2, 2010 05:08 am

    is this a large enough aperture for you?

  • OsmosisStudios March 2, 2010 05:06 am

    I wont comment on the viability of the M4/3s system, but looking at those samples: HOLY DISTORTION BATMAN. The lake sunset example bows HEAVILY in the middle, as do the church and shoreline.

  • Albert Berdon March 2, 2010 03:52 am

    Could not agree with you more Richard. A built in view finder would definitely push me to buy a micro 4/3 camera. I am not a fan of an electric viewfinder at all, and the optical choices only work with certain lenses. Hopefully they will listen and put in a decent built in view finder in theses cameras in the near future.

  • Jeff March 2, 2010 03:50 am

    I have an Olympus E-410 which is a 4/3 camera with an optical viewfinder and a mirror and the rest. It's pretty good, but I'm still planning to upgrade to something with a larger lens selection, larger sensor and better ISO range and higher pixel count.

    That said, if I had the same camera, minus the mirror, minus the lens length (even the kit 24-42 is too big) and got the same/better image quality it would be a very happy second camera. Especially for my wife who prefers to shoot with live view.

    These would make an ideal second camera, or even beginning DSLR for lots of people. Also, the 35mm magnification of the 4/3 sensor is about 2x instead of 1.6x - so the effective lens length of anything is about doubled. Good for some things, not as good for others I guess.

  • Richard March 2, 2010 01:20 am

    I think the micro 4/3's manufactures are missing a massive market by not offering a built in view finder.
    With a view finder these cameras would be perfect for people who want a digital rangefinder style camera, but cant afford to shell out for a Leica. Even if they didnt have a rangefinder focusing system, and just had a built in electronic view finder it would make them ideal for photojournalist and street photography.
    I know that if Olympus did a Pen with a built in viewfinder I would be very tempted to buy one.