Field Testing the G1

The photographs in the two previous posts, Lava Beds and Mt. Shasta Ride were captured with the Panasonic Lumix G1 on a five-day, 1,900 mile ride and “field test” through California, a slice of Nevada, and a few miles of Oregon. The photos in this post were taken in Lava Beds National Monument in Northern California. The plant was one I hadn’t seen before in other deserts.

Because so many reviews of the G1 are available on the Web, and it is now an “old” camera of three years, I won’t cover the technical side of the camera. I’ll only give my observations on the camera after working with it for a little over three weeks.

Like everything else, there are limitations to the G1. It isn’t a sports camera. My Nikon DSLR will beat it hands down (or up, for that matter) when shooting sports. But for motorcycling any distance at all, the G1 is the overall and obvious winner due to its small size. I carried it in the smallest camera bag I have and found it considerably easier to handle than the DSLR, particularly getting it in and out of the saddlebag, even though it rode in the padded safety of the small camera bag.

I like the look of the images I’m getting from the 12MP Four Thirds sensor, and the controls are easy to assimilate. But the important thing about this camera and the category it spawned is the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF).

The EVF changes everything. I’m no longer seeing what the eye sees through an optical viewfinder. I’m seeing what the sensor sees, which is equivalent to being able to see the results of film before it is exposed. Setting up for a photo is now a matter of making any needed adjustments and seeing their effects immediately. The EVF/sensor system allows me to “tune” the photo to suit my taste before pressing the shutter. It is a revolution, a largely different approach to photography.

For my taste the camera seems to consistently overexpose by 1/3 of a stop, so I keep the exposure compensation set at -1/3, and adjust as needed.

I still find myself picking up the camera, removing the lens cap, lifting the viewfinder to my eye to see…nothing! All you see is black until you actually turn the camera on. I still subconsciously think I’m using an optical viewfinder. No telling how long that habit will endure…