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I have hear great things about the GF range as a whole, but am having troubles understanding the logic behind this branding divide.

What I am looking for is the best possible quality/form factor ratio. Price is not an issue, external flash is not an issue. Camera size/weight is an issue, so are camera features.

Thanks in advance

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Can you define what "quality" means to you and how you value it? I think, in doing that, you'll answer your own question. –  mattdm Dec 21 '11 at 11:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

By your title I can see you did not heard about the GX1, have a look.

From a general point of view the GF1 is more "loved" because it was the first, it was the news out on the world, it looked gorgeous and it had an amazing image quality for the first of it's kind. I own a GF1 and I would strip it of some functions, as they did in the GX1, still It's an amazing camera, portable and with a great performance.

In camera size/weigh between GF1, GF2 and GF3. The GF1 is the bigger and the heavier, GF2 significantly decreases sizes and GF3 even a bit more. Never had all the 3 in my hand to compare weight, but for the size of the camera (GF1) you would expect it to be lighter, but it isn't. I know that gf2 is lighter than the gf1.

The gf1 has no touch screen, gf2 and gf3 have, because of this panasonic stripped gf2 and the gf3 of some physical controls and for this reason the ones that loved gf1 didn't liked so much the gf2 and the gf3, finally as to external features the gf3 has not hot shoe, but since the external flash is not an issue to you, I guess you could discard this difference.

Relating to the gx1, is simply a fine evolution of the gf1, it has almost the same size as the gf1, the physical controls are back, although it also has the touch screen introduced in gf2 and the hot shoe back is back. The rubber grip that was introduced in it is very handy as well.

As to the features that this 4 panasonic hold, they are almost the same, the only things that I point out are:

  • gf1 does 720p video and the rest does 1080p
  • gf2 and gx1 can record stereo sound
  • gx1 has a better sensor and a better image quality. Also it generates better jpg's.

Of course that there are more differences to refer to, you can check them here.

In this site you can find extensive reviews about the gf's and the gx1 and also of it's cousins from panasonic.

If you are pointing a bit more pro with the pictures you take, gf1 or gx1 would be the best options, they are also the bigger cameras, if not, if you're looking for a more simple approach to your photography gf2 or gf3 would suite just fine for you and of course they're the smaller cameras.

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I think a camera without a built in viewfinder is close to useless.

That's why my vote goes to Panasonic Lumix G3, currently the smallest Interchangeable Lens camera with a built in viewfinder, and an articulated screen. Plus a great microphone for video.

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Why is the viewfinder so important to you? –  Júlio Santos Dec 21 '11 at 14:12
1  
Viewfinder allows you to get a better feel for the picture, compose and level the camera easier. Also, following a moving subject is much easier with a viewfinder, especially when using long focal lengths. In bright sunlight you might not be able to see the LCD. The list goes on and on ;-) Also, I'm a Canon 400D user too, and got hooked on looking through the camera :) –  Marcin B Dec 21 '11 at 14:22
    
I find many of my shots framed and focused using the LCD are looking like snapshots, with less care to the composition. –  Marcin B Dec 21 '11 at 14:24

When comparing the GF series to each other please keep in mind, that a camera can indeed be too small to comfortably hold in just the right hand.

This is important, as you normally would use the other hand to rotate the zoom barrel on a lens, and your left hand wouldn't provide a firm grip to the camera at all times.

I had this impression with GF3, it was far too small, and it was too easy to press the buttons at the back by just holding the camera.

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