More GF1 Impressions

I’ve ridden with the camera twice now, and have also gotten to walk around with it a bit, so I’ve got some more impressions. Certainly, I’m still forming opinions and finding things as I work with the camera, so here are those thoughts that have occurred to me over the last few days using the GF1.

  • It seems to tend to underexpose. Not in all circumstances, so I’m still trying to figure it out. When it does, it’s noticeable—say 2/3-1 stop under. Exposure compensation is easy to use on this camera, so it’s easy enough to dial out when it happens. One theory is that the camera is trying to protect the highlights from blowing. I’m shooting in raw, so I’m less concerned about being fanatical about that since I can recover a slight overexposure in Lightroom.
  • It has fairly noisy shadows, starting at ISO 800. Combined with the first point, this means that if I don’t get more data on the right of the histogram and rely on post to fix an underexposure, I’m going to have to be more heavy-handed on the noise reduction.
  • The noise is uglier than the Canon G9’s that I’m accustomed to. Don’t get me wrong—the quality of the pics is generally higher than the G9’s, but the noise I tended to see had a structure that I found more pleasing. The GF1 seems to have at least 1 stop more headroom before the noise gets objectionable though.
  • It’s nice to have more choice in aperture. The G9 maxed out at f/8 while the GF1 with the 20mm f/1.7 goes to f/16 in 1/3-stop increments, so there is more flexibility. I was shooting in some landscapes bright sun and it helped tame the bright light as well as the DOF benefits.
  • The 20mm f/1.7 is a gem compared to the lens on the G9. Fast and sharp while shooting wide open.
  • The camera in Program and Aperture Priority modes tends to favor opening very wide with this lens, sometimes even to the point of taking the shutter speed uncomfortably low. It’s easy enough for me to shift the shutter speed up, but I expected a camera that’s ostensibly a P&S to play it safer on the shutter speeds.
  • The RAW files tend to need more work than I’m used to, but they have a lot of data, and really pop once you put that little bit into them.
  • So far, I love the handling. It really feels solid in the hand, and the controls are easy enough to use, even with bike gloves on.
  • AF performance is great. The G9 doesn’t even come close.
  • I got to shoot for a couple of minutes with a buddy’s G10 at the same time I was using the GF1. I’d say the G10 wins points for having exposure compensation as a nice dial on the top deck and the live histogram on the LCD is nicer on that camera. The G10’s controls were very intuitive, but coming from a G9, that makes sense. The GF1 felt as solid and more responsive in general. The LCD on the GF1 is way nicer.

That’s it for now. My Flickr photostream has some pics from the GF1. More to come.