A few weeks ago, on my drive to work, I heard the three DJs on Class 95’s Morning Express going through their spiel about the Panasonic Lumix GF1 micro four thirds camera. Despite the fact that I work in advertising now, I’m not as immune to commercial persuasion as I’d like to think.  The three DJs actually sold me on the camera! They presented just enough technical info to get a gadget geek like me excited.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

On the second day of hearing the same pitch, I researched the camera and made my decision. What features appealed to me?

  1. Size – With the 20 mm pancake lens, the GF1 is a Micro Four Thirds camera that is only about half the size of a standard DSLR.
  2. Interchangeable lenses  – I don’t intend to change my lenses frequently because I’m deathly afraid of getting dust and other dirt on the camera sensor but it’s nice to have the option.
  3. Speed – The new 20 mm (F1.7) pancake lens is faster than my point-and-shoot.
  4. Movie capture – There is a dedicated button on the GF1 that starts shooting in movie mode immediately and in exceptional quality.
  5. Built-in flash – There’s a pop-up flash on the GF1 with adjustable brightness.
  6. Manual controls – I wanted to be able to adjust aperture, ISO, white balance, etc. to produce a wider variety of photos.

Yes, I know that in the end it’s the photographer’s skill that matters more than the camera but having a better camera can’t hurt.

I mulled the idea over for a couple days because I wasn’t sure if I should spend more than a thousand dollars on a camera. In the end, I justified the purchase by telling myself that designer handbags cost even more than the camera and since my handbags never cost more than $100 SGD, I could darn well afford to buy myself a camera. So I emailed John 3:16, the camera shop where I’ve bought two of my three past digital cameras, to reserve it. Several days later, on 4 December, I was told the camera was ready for pick-up.

I had no idea what was waiting for me. I mean, I knew it was a camera and a step up from my Canon IXUS 90 (Powershot SD790 IS) point-and-shoot but other than that, I did not know how to operate such a fancy thing. At the exact moment when Samuel, the store owner, brought the camera out of the box, another guy came in the shop looking to buy the GF1. Sorry, no luck. Gotta reserve it first and stock should arrive the following week. This baby’s mine mine mine!

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Before I had any time to learn about the GF1’s settings, I took some ok photos. Good enough for people to notice that they were not garden variety point-and-shoot shots but I didn’t know how to change any of the settings! I took it with me to a Ben 10 live show with the kids and had no idea how to take a picture of Stephen with the stage behind him without the background being completely fuzzy. As I studied the camera and all the different settings and with the help of DSLR owners Cindy and Lilian, I learned that I had to increase the F-stop to get the background as clear as the foreground. And I had to figure other important things out like what the letters stand for on the dial. Duh. By the way, “A” doesn’t mean automatic, it means aperture priority (and it also stands for addlehead).

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For anyone interested, here are some great resources about the Panasonic Lumix GF-1 and photography in general:

I haven’t abandoned my iPhone and Canon Ixus. They’re just too handy to give up. I do think, however, that it is very apparent which camera was used to take which photo. Can you tell which camera I used for each of the following three shots? These photos were minimally edited.

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Pho

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What camera do you use? And what camera do you lust after?

If you’re in the market for a new digital camera, check out this list of best digital cameras of 2009 from neutralday.

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