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| p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · No love for the Panasonic GX1? And some thoughts vs. RX100 |
Like many here, I have had a number of the mirrorless cameras: Ricoh GXR with M module, many of the Panasonic G series (H and F), the Oly OM-D, and thought about the RX100 for shirt carry.
I owned the OM-D for about two months, and shot around a thousand images with it. One aspect I disliked was something as basic as the on-off switch; after many years of photography, I found it difficult to get used to that position and action, and because of the occasional lockup problem with the Panny 20/1.7 lens, I needed to do that quickly.
There are many undocumented features of the OM-D, one of which I found and will pass on here: any change to focus rectangle size (magnification) and position will stick and be available after a power-down, if you have the magnifying glass icon selected for Fn2's action: one press after turning on, and your previous setting will return.
I found I needed a grip of some kind to feel good about walking around with the camera in hand. I ended up with the Milich grip, which allows battery access (necessary if the camera locks up) and the Mk II version has excellent texture for the vertical part.
Anyhow, some thoughts about the other contenders: I liked the GXR's interface, but disliked its detachable EVF (low rez., too) and the fact that, mounted, it protrudes a long way, and even if you plan on tilting the finder up (to reduce camera–lens thickness) a flat plate the same depth remains—so that tilting has no effect on the thickness.
As well, although I tried many CV lenses on the M module and the focussing aids are excellent, I did not find the combination fast enough for shooting three-years olds reliably. The 50mm macro module is very sharp, but it too suffers in the focussing speed department.
Now to the GH and GF cameras: all are good, and I always remember that Panny got a lot right with the G1. Some of the Panny lenses are great (and are what I use now): the 20/1.7 is my most-used of them. More on this later. The GF series I owned, but they did not grab me (no EVF, and the clip-on one looked/felt like a add-on and it too is not high enough resolution to add pleasure to the image-making process, for me). As well, I did not feel the grip protrusion was adequate, though the rubber felt excellent.
I have owned two of the GH series, and (again) the overall thickness of the body and lens, even with the 20/1.7 fitted) is simply too deep to make any small (P&S-size) over-the-shoulder case workable, let alone put one in a cargo pant pocket.
I had high hopes for the NEX 5n/7 cameras (owned both of these, too...) but again the kit and Sony branded lenses make the overall form factor just too large for me (again, it's overall thickness that seems to make the most difference for me, carry-wise). Sony's best lens, the Zeiss 24 dwarfs the body. Excellent IQ, but the Perar 35/3.5 stopped to ƒ8 was the lens that I found on the camera most of the time—that one worked from the carry perspective, but not for the rapid three-year-old.
Then came the OM-D, along with two sensational lenses: the 12/2 and the 45/1.7. These are tiny and focus quickly on the OM-D. I shot a whole gymnastics seminar in appalling light (ƒ2, 1/30", ISO 2500) and all were usable, apart from when I missed the timing and motion blur was visible. Nonetheless, a successful job for the client, and I felt µ4/rds had really come of age. The built-in finder is excellent, the eye-switching works perfectly, it focusses fast, and the higher ISO are useable.
I bought the GX1 from Adorama, slightly used, for a tiny amount, just to play with it. When it arrived, I found it liked the feel of it in my hands immensely, and took a chance on the new EVF (also a reasonable price). I waited until that arrived, and (anxiously) clipped it on, and did a side-by-side comparison with the OM-D. So far, to me, the new LVF-2 is better than the NEX-7's (which I disliked so much I sent the camera back for a replacement assuming it had a problem; it didn't) and seems the same as the OM-D's. So far, good.
But... still not small or light enough for me for carrying everywhere. I started considering the RX-100; everyone seems to be very happy with theirs. Then went to Camera comparison's site, and found this:
I was amazed: if I removed the LVF-2, I had a 4/3rds camera that was very close to the same size, though ~1/3rd heavier, and with some great primes. This alone has convinced me to not buy the RX-100.
The GX1 sans finder and fitted with the 20/1.7 is a true carry-everywhere camera. The on-off switch is in the right place (for me): under the fingers on the top of the camera, where a thumb can just—well, turn it on!
With the LV-F2, and any of the lenses mentioned, the GX1 has excellent IQ. I know that there is no IBIS, and that the OM-D has a stop or two better DR, but I am making lovely images from the GX1. I can use it with the 7–14 for the occasional interior (where, like the GXR, the tilting EVF allows positioning the camera right into a corner possible); portraits are lovely with the 45/1.8; the on-camera flash can trigger strobes; and removing the EVF and fitting the 20/1.7 turns it into a carry everywhere, slight wide normal fast lens camera—perfect for me.
Anyway, a very long post, but I am happy with the GX1 as it ticks many boxes, and is a Jekyll and Hyde because the body without the LVF-2 is about the same size as the RX-100—to which a finder can't be fitted for those times when it's necessary. I have been surprised that the GX1 has hardly attracted attention here, so though I would offer this perspective.
I forgot to add that I fitted the RRS modular L-plate to the GX1: it improved the handling out of site, because this clever design continues the vertical grip a critical amount downwards, so all fingers (medium hand) are now able to hold the camera. As well, the bracket stays on all the time, because it has a cutout for the battery door. it is one of the nicest designs I have seen, and makes a genuine significant improvement to the camera's handling.
To sum up, even though I know the OM-D has slightly better IQ, the images out of the GX1 with the excellent lenses we can use on it, are just lovely, and good enough. This is for me personally such an important point—said as an endless IQ chaser for these years of digital. I remember using a pair of Nikon Photomic head bodies for ten years professionally, and most of my colleagues did the same. I imagine most reading here can't imagine that these days. Anyhow, I am hanging on to the GX1 (I tell myself!).
Cheers to all, KL
Edited on Aug 16, 2012 at 01:18 AM · View previous versions