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Old Nov 13, 2010, 11:38 AM   #1
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Default G1 vs. GH1

As most of you know, I've had the G1 for almost a year now (and really like it) and just recently bought the GH1 (body only) because the price was real good. For a year I've been wanting this camera not necessarily for its video capability (I don't do videos that much and for that I already have the FZ28, EPL1 and ZS7) but for its IQ, which should surpass the G1.

So, during these past couple of weeks, I've been playing with the GH1, shooting with both Lumix kit lenses (14-45 and 45-200) as well as with some of my best MF lenses. I can't say I'm disappointed with its performance but I can't say I'm thrilled with it either. Although the GH1 definitely produces cleaner images at high ISO (800 and up), it also produces softer images than the G1. The very first thing I did was to set the various film modes to match the G1 (contrast, sharpness, saturation and NR) since these two cameras are identical in just about every respect. Well, after the first batch of images, I had to reset those settings to more aggressive values (i.e. sharpness to +2, contrast +2, NR -2) because images were a bit too soft for my taste. The other area I was hoping for an improvement over the G1 was dynamic range. Unfortunately, I did not find that to be the case at all. I usually have my camera's "highlight" feature turned on (if the camera offers that). That shows me the areas were highlight was clipped allowing me to make any adjustments to the exposure right there and then. Comparing the two cameras side-by-side shooting the same subjects under the same lighting conditions and camera settings, not once the GH1 produced less highlight clipping than the G1. Maybe the results are more measurable in labs and the GH1 might indicate having a better DR than the G1 but in real life that does not seem to be the case (at least not on the 400+ shots I've taken). Other than that, the GH1 performs exactly like its little brother.

So, the question now is, is it worth for me to spend $500 on the GH1 body (well, I had a $200 Amazon gift card so it really cost me $300) to get better ISO performance + video or stick with my beloved G1 and the EPL1? I'm seriously leaning toward option 2 as the EPL1 produces very clean high ISO images and does video while the G1 has the awesome EVF, which is great for shooting with MF lenses. Another possibility is to bite the bullet and put those $300 toward the VF2 for the EPL1.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 12:19 PM   #2
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Well, I think you hit on a point in there that is kind of important in general these days. Most of the dslr and evil cameras are good, really good. And for practical real world shooting, they all do a great job. So I am not that surprised your G1 and GH1 both turn out almost equally good image is decent lighting. It is no doubt the GH1 is a better sensor than the G1 esp at higher ISO, and makes it a bit better still camera. But the GH1 really proves its money in video, and if you aren't going to use it for video that much, its only a small incremental increase over the G1 for stills. I think the value for you is all dependent on how much you will use the video.

Otherwise I really think you will fall in love with the VF2 on the EPL1. I know you hate the LCD on it, and the VF2 is amazingly good and will alleviate many of your problems with the cam. And it will become another awesome platform for the MF too.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 12:34 PM   #3
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You are right, Dustin. The greatest selling point of the GH1 is its video capabilities. However, I was hoping for a much improved DR and high ISO performance over the G1. Got one but not the other. I must say that the G1 DR is actually very good and I never really felt that highlight clipping was a problem. But, if the GH1 was much better, the two (high ISO + DR) with video on top would certainly make it a true winner.

As for the VF2, I'm faced with two issues: 1) as you mentioned, I do think that the EPL1 LCD is pathetic but; 2) I dislike the idea of having to spend so much money on an EVF. So, we'll see.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:18 PM   #4
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Here's a thought: If you spring for the VF-2 for the Oly E-PL1, might that combination be so successful together (at least for you personally) that you won't even need your G1 anymore (much less the GH1)? Of course, you'd probably keep the G1 as a backup since you might not get a whole lot of money for it on a trade-in after all this time.

How much time is left before you can no longer return the GH1 for a full refund? Is it possible to order a VF-2 (or buy or borrow one locally) and test it out for a few days in order to make an informed decision?

If video isn't that important to you, it sounds like having both the GH1 and G1 doesn't make sense for you. You already know - based on comments from me, Zig, Dustin and others - that the VF-2 offers fabulous performance. But you probably won't know if it's good enough for you to justify its price until you try it.

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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:22 PM   #5
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I think that is a good suggestion Biro. I have this feeling that if you try the epl1 with the VF2, it will make it a new camera for you. But i think you need to try it to understand that.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biro View Post
...
How much time is left before you can no longer return the GH1 for a full refund? Is it possible to order a VF-2 (or buy or borrow one locally) and test it out for a few days in order to make an informed decision?
I have to check but I believe I have about 1 1/2 week to return it. I can get the VF-2 in two days (Amazon Prime). So, that's certainly a possibility. I'd still keep the G1 because as you mentioned, I would not get much for it (and I'll certainly keep the lenses).

Quote:
If video isn't that important to you, it sounds like having both the GH1 and G1 doesn't make sense for you. You already know - based on comments from me, Zig, Dustin and others - that the VF-2 offers fabulous performance. But you probably won't know if it's good enough for you to justify its price until you try it.
Yes, if the GH1 was so much better, I'd get rid of the G1 body (even though I'd not get much for it, I certainly wouldn't need both). So, more and more I'm leaning toward giving the VF-2 a try.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hards80 View Post
I think that is a good suggestion Biro. I have this feeling that if you try the epl1 with the VF2, it will make it a new camera for you. But i think you need to try it to understand that.
The biggest limitation of the EPL1 for me is the poor LCD and the fact that I can not shoot with my MF lenses without wearing my reading glasses and even that does not work too well.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 1:56 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tullio View Post
The biggest limitation of the EPL1 for me is the poor LCD and the fact that I can not shoot with my MF lenses without wearing my reading glasses and even that does not work too well.
that will all change with the VF2, which is why i said it will be a new camera to you.
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Old Nov 13, 2010, 6:48 PM   #9
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OK...I'm convinced...I'll send the GH1 and buy the VF-2. I'll have to wait until Amazon receives the GH1 and refunds my money so I can reuse the $200 gift card. I just wish price would go down a bit, though!
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Old Nov 14, 2010, 1:11 AM   #10
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Believe it or not, it already has. The original list price was $279.99. Now it's usually $249.99. I know. It's not a big discount, but it's something. For quite a while, it was difficult to even find one.
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