Lumix GF1, GF2, or GF3?
August 13, 2011 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Lumix GF1, GF2, or GF3?

I'm looking to buy a micro four thirds camera either now or in the next few months. I know that I want the Lumix and I know that I want the 20mm pancake lens. The question is - which body should I buy? Mint GF1 bodies are on ebay for about $350. You can then get the 20mm lens new for about $360. I'm leaning toward the GF1 body because I've read that Panasonic removed a lot of "pro" features on the GF2 and GF3. But - it seems kind of crazy that the price of the GF1 body has not fallen more since the introduction of two new bodies. Is it just stupid to spend $350 on a used GF1 body, even if it is nice shape?
posted by Mid to Technology (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With those kinds of cameras, one of the biggest things for me is how easy they are to hold stably, especially one-handed. If you can go to a shop and try them out, or borrow a friend's or something, one of the bodies might jump out at you as a better feel in your hand.
posted by colin_l at 12:54 PM on August 13, 2011

I paid $419 for a brand new GF2 plus 14-42mm kit lens early this year, and I've seen even better deals pop up occasionally at sub-$400 levels.

While I bought the GF2 for the reason anyone would even consider a micro four thirds -- lens versatility with a small body -- I've fallen in love with one of the GF2's "don't even pretend you're a pro" features: focus tracking. On the GF2 and the GF3, in iA mode, you simply touch the object you want to keep in focus on the touchscreen, and the camera can track the object and keep it in focus even as it (or the camera) moves.

The GF1, on the other hand, has quicker manual adjustments on the body - but doesn't have the touchscreen.

There's a "cult of GF1" out there in the micro four thirds community. I think much of this is due to the Panasonic 20mm prime that came packaged with it, which is a truly wonderful lens - but is a lens that also works brilliantly with the GF2. I think many also have a distaste for the integration of automatic controls on a camera body used with higher-end lenses, which folks view as the equivalent of getting an automatic transmission on a sports car.

While the GF3 takes the design to a kind of silly, expensive extreme, I think that if you can still find a GF2 kit in the $400 range, and touchscreen focus sounds appealing, it's well worth considering over the GF1.
posted by eschatfische at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2011

I wouldn't write off the Olympus cameras. I've had an E-PL1 for a year now, mounted with the Lumix 20mm lens. While this camera might look and feel cheap in the hand, it delivers amazing image quality (and can do all sorts of cool tricks).
Apparently there's a new version now - with better build quality - which might be worth looking at.
posted by Flashman at 5:12 PM on August 13, 2011

What do you want to do with the camera? If you are buying it primarily for video, then you cannot go wrong with GH2 - it's tops, better than even the Canon 5D Markiii, or 7D, because it doesn't exhibit nearly as much moire and aliasing, plus you don't have any danger of overheating.
posted by VikingSword at 5:22 PM on August 13, 2011

Response by poster: Buying it for still pictures with the 20mm lens, mainly. Had not thought about video very much. But eschatfische's comments are making me think that maybe I should start out with the GF2 kit, then pick up the 20mm down the road.
posted by Mid at 6:21 PM on August 13, 2011

I was currently deciding between the GF1 and the GF2, so I don't have an answer for you but I thought I'd link two reviews of note in the off chance they help you make your decision:

GF1 Field Test
GF2 Macworld review
posted by sharkfu at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2011

eschatfische mentioned the cult of the GF1, which is absolutely true. I was in a similar position as you recently and decided to get the GF1 over the newer GF2/GF3 - I picked up a mint used copy for around $300 on a photography forum.

The biggest sacrifice of getting the GF1 is the lack of touchscreen and the somewhat higher noise above ISO 800. The advantages are the superior physical design, handling and controls layout, plus that mysterious adoration that almost all GF1 owners have for it.

I would warn you not to get the GF2 kit at the expense of the 20mm lens. The lens is far more important, and the kits lens will leave you disappointed compared to the 20mm f/1.7. It's so much faster and can be used [cleanly] in much lower light, plus it has that dreamy out-of-focus look from the wide aperture that the kit lens can't quite get.

I would rather have the older camera and the 20mm lens than the newer camera with the kit. In fact, that's exactly what I did!

(Actually I got the kit lens as well as the 20mm but I never use it since the 20mm is so fantastic. I'll sell a 14-45mm kit to you if you like :))
posted by sprocket87 at 6:47 AM on August 16, 2011

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