Panasonic GF1 Field Test by Craig Mod


Let’s get straight to it: The GF1 with its 720p HD video recording capability is a fantastic digital camera that you can take with you almost everywhere. And that’s what Craig Mod did when he went to the Himalayas. He first showed us how good the GF1 is with still images and the pictures were very good indeed. Now he shows us how good it is with video using the AVCHD Lite codec in 720p HD. Overall the video quality is superb but with a few misgivings. Details below:

  • THE GRANDMOTHER: The details are stunning but when he starts to pan left and refocus there is a mechanized focusing sound that nearly ruins the experience.
  • TIBETAN PRAYER WHEEL: The colors are vibrant and the video capture seems to be doing its job fast enough to update the rotating prayer wheel. The audio sounded very good for a built-in mono microphone.
  • HOW TO: DAL BHAT: The depth of field is really shallow here and as you can see the rice was in focus but not the hand. Later in the video the sauce and the hand is in focus but not really the white rice. I would like to see the depth of field slightly less shallow in this video. Still, there were lots of detail in this video.
  • ANNAPURNA PANORAMA: The mechanized refocusing sound is there again. But this might not be too much of a problem if you intend to use external audio. The details from the snow-capped mountains are wonderful to behold.
  • TOOTHLESS: So cute. The refocus sound. I didn’t feel the refocusing speed was an issue with the previous videos but on this one it felt a bit slow.
  • SCHOOL KIDS: The refocusing slowness is very apparent in this video. I think the GF1 mated to the 20mm is best at taking videos when the subject is slow moving, not moving at all, or moving sideways not requiring a refocus.
  • TEASHOP OWNER: Perfect example of the type of video the GF1 with 20mm is geared for. No refocusing needed, great detail and the depth of field is just right with most of the teashop owner’s face in focus and the beautiful background blurred, but not so much that you don’t realize the beauty.

The video quality from the GF1 has a lot of detail and overall looks very nice. The only gripes I have is with the 20mm f/1.7 lens when used in video mode. First, focusing is slow. You can really see that a faster focusing system would have resulted in a much better video in SCHOOL KIDS. Second, and this is a deal breaker for me, there is a mechanized focusing sound that almost ruins the experience, unless you intend to add in audio from an external source. For most photographers the GF1 mated with the 20mm f/1.7 lens seems to have a near-perfect mix of portability and performance. For those who also want to take video, keep in mind that the 20mm f/1.7 has a slow focus response and adds some mechanized sound when refocusing.