Pre-Ordered: Panasonic GF1

I’ve mentioned the darned thing enough times that you might think my site is a link farm promoting the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1.

This is obviously not a link farm, but it’s certainly true that I’ve had this camera in my head since it was announced. I have a great SLR with great lenses, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s big. One of my main uses for a camera is that I want one to take mountain biking with me. To that end, I’ve owned most models in Canon’s G-series. They’re fine cameras, to be sure, and the recently announced G11 looks great. But the GF1 is only a little bigger (which I’m painfully aware can be a slippery slope), but has a significantly bigger sensor. That’ll undoubtedly lead to higher quality RAW images, which is of critical importance to me. Of lesser, but still significant importance, are the benefits of interchangeable lenses and the optional viewfinder, which I’ve also pre-ordered.

A good camera for photographing on a mountain bike ride requires, in addition to the obvious benefit of small size, speed when taking pictures. The small size enables me to wear it on my chest (in a case that I clip to my CamelBak), so I can access it easily. But the action is usually fast and often takes place in dark, covered places. So the f/1.7 lens that accompanies the kit that I’ve pre-ordered is exactly the kind of thing I want. An even wider-angle, fast prime would be great, too. That challenging lighting environment should also highlight the superior sensor, given the dynamic range frequently involved.

As secondary motivation, I intend to use the GF1 as my “go-everywhere camera”. I imagine I’ll typically leave the viewfinder attached when using it this way (as opposed to leaving it off to minimize the size when biking). I can further imagine that the GF1 will find itself taking many images of my daughter while we’re on the go and the SLR wasn’t on the packing list. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you, and I hope I’ll do better at taking this one with me than I have in the past. I’ll probably try and make a semi-formal project of taking the camera with me frequently, but that can be a post for another time.

As for the pre-ordering itself, it’s the first time I’ve ever ordered a camera before I’ve held it. One thing that was holding me back was the lack of support of its RAW format in my image organizer/editor of choice, Adobe’s Lightroom. Alas, they just announced support for it in Lightroom and Photoshop (via Camera RAW 5.5), handily removing that obstacle and further backing my choice to switch from Aperture to Lightroom (many revisions ago). Besides, I ordered it from Amazon, so I know that the return policy is good if the handling turns out to be abysmal. I’m hoping that the camera is everything it seems to be.