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Thread: GH1, another user experience

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    GH1, another user experience

    My experience with the GH1, which I've used for a few months now, has turned out a bit differently from what I expected, so I thought I should share my views with other members of this forum.

    I will start on a positive note (nice, isn't it ) :

    - Colours are mostly deep and rich, straight out of the camera. A joy to use on cloudy days.

    - Video is excellent, and I've had some great fun with that.

    - For being such a compact camera, ergonomics are very good. Most of what I need is easy to find, and everything is visible in the viewfinder.

    - I can use whatever lens I want, which, together with video, is one of the most important reasons why I bought this camera.

    - High ISO is much better than expected.

    But there are things that don't work so well, at least for me:

    - The biggest ergonomic flaw is the enlargement of details for manual focusing with legacy lenses. To reach the buttons needed for that, I need to change the angle of my right hand, leaving most of the weight on the left hand that holds the focusing ring, before changing back to "shooting position". This is time-consuming and requires some awkward hand-gymnastics.

    Making it possible to re-configure the "AF/AE-Lock" button for this, using the last used framing, seems to me to be so obvious that I can't find any good reason whatsoever why it hasn't been done. Should be a very simple firmware update.

    - It's easy to push the video button by mistake, and if I don't look through the viewfinder or at the LCD, there's nothing telling me that there's a video being recorded. I've had a couple of not so interesting shoots of the ground below me because of this.

    - The DR isn't great, but what is worse is that there's often a distinct colour shift around the blown highlights, mostly towards cyan (but sometimes towards other colours, see examples below). For some reason, I have problems getting rid of the unwanted colour during pp, and although this is not a previously unheard of problem, the Nikon D80, which has similar DR. doesn't have this problem. An interesting aspect is that, on my computers, the colour shift is much more visible on a Mac than on a PC, and on the (low quality) Pc that I'm writing this, it's hardly visible at all.

    - Image quality with legacy lenses is much more variable than on the E-1 that I used to have. I assume this is due to the pixel pitch, which would be natural. Unfortunately, this problem doesn't necessarily disappear by reducing the image size in pp (unless reducing to web-size or smaller). Two bad pixels don't add up to one good. This doesn't seem to be a problem when shooting video though.

    - Although the EVF is kind of OK, it's nowhere near a good OVF. Precise manual focusing at large apertures without enlarging simply isn't possible, partly except for video.

    - Build quality is only so so, and not as good as a similarly priced Nikon (D80/90), at least not in my experience. I've had mine in for "re-assembly" once already. It must be admitted that I don't treat my cameras with silk gloves, but apart from the E-1 that died in a motorbike accident, this is the first one that has actually stopped working as a result of physical damage.

    - The battery door latch needs to be shut physically. Who on earth thought that was a good idea? I could understand it if it was some kind of water-proof closing mechanism that needed a tight fit, but it clearly isn't.

    Conclusion:
    It's a great video camera and an ok walk-around photographic tool. For legacy lenses, I will have to have a look at Canon 5D or 5DII, or even buy an E-1 again. It's simply a somewhat disappointing camera for photography, compared to a D90 or an EOS 550D.

    It will be interesting to see if Fuji launches an m4/3 camera. That will probably take care of the DR and colours, but my experience is that the Fuji sensors (at least the Super CCD) are even more demanding on the lenses. We'll see.

    Below are two samples of blown highlights that have made me question the cameras usability as an all-round travel-cam for me. The first one, the black Buddha, is over-exposed, but not by more than one stop. The cyan colour-shift, also in areas that are not totally blown, should be easy to see.

    The second one is more extreme. I don't expect to get a clean image with a 500mm straight into the sun, but the green colour shift (that for some reason I don't see on my PC but is extremely visible on the Mac) around the top half of the sun is difficult to deal with.

    GH1 with OM Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 Macro



    GH1 with OM Zuiko Reflex 500mm f/8.0


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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    I won't comment on the camera's shortcomings as they are already discussed. But I can see the color shift on my PC.
    The viewfinder, I can't question your experience but I have no problems focusing my G1 "good enough" without enlarging the image. Maybe we are thinking of different situations.

    So, I'm eagerly waiting for a FF LIVE camera, while you are dumping your?

    Cheers,

    Jonas

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    I love my GH1. It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I've learned to work around some of the shortcomings you mentioned and now I don't even think about them. I've been able to take some great shots that I really like with it.

    I can't comment on the color shifts you're seeing because I don't see them in your photos. Is there a chance your Mac monitor needs calibration? To me seeing something on one monitor that you don't see on another would point to a monitor problem, not a camera problem. I've printed some of my photos, and they look exactly like they do on my PC monitor (Apple 23").
    -Dragos
    Panasonic GH1/G1, Canon FTb(n)/F-1, Mamiya C330F/RB67 Pro SD, Chamonix 45N-2, Nikon F5 + Assorted Lenses

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Joergen,

    I do not have a GH1 so I am not aware of the shortcomings you mention, I will address a few things based on my experience with the G1s I use.

    - The DR isn't great, but what is worse is that there's often a distinct colour shift around the blown highlights, mostly towards cyan (but sometimes towards other colours, see examples below). For some reason, I have problems getting rid of the unwanted colour during pp, and although this is not a previously unheard of problem, the Nikon D80, which has similar DR. doesn't have this problem. An interesting aspect is that, on my computers, the colour shift is much more visible on a Mac than on a PC, and on the (low quality) Pc that I'm writing this, it's hardly visible at all.
    The Nikon D80 was the worst DSLR I ever owned. It was significantly worse than than the D40xs in terms of every aspect of image quality.

    My G1s are, IIRC, far better than the D80.



    - Image quality with legacy lenses is much more variable than on the E-1 that I used to have. I assume this is due to the pixel pitch, which would be natural. Unfortunately, this problem doesn't necessarily disappear by reducing the image size in pp (unless reducing to web-size or smaller). Two bad pixels don't add up to one good. This doesn't seem to be a problem when shooting video though.
    It (manual focus lenses and not the orphaned system ones) is the main reason why I own/use m4/3rds. C-mount and other mount lenses are a joy to use.

    - Although the EVF is kind of OK, it's nowhere near a good OVF. Precise manual focusing at large apertures without enlarging simply isn't possible, partly except for video.
    EVF and the swivel TFT, take them away from a G then you are left with an EP. The EVF on a G1/GH! alone is worth the price.

    - Build quality is only so so, and not as good as a similarly priced Nikon (D80/90), at least not in my experience. I've had mine in for "re-assembly" once already. It must be admitted that I don't treat my cameras with silk gloves, but apart from the E-1 that died in a motorbike accident, this is the first one that has actually stopped working as a result of physical damage.
    I would love to break my G1s after thorough use instead of them collecting dust like my Nikon DSLRs. If they work as long as I want them- I reckon that will be 2 years top with each model (can't miss out on the touch screen, can I? ), it will be great.

    I would, in fact, prefer it if Pana would add a self destruct button (could be in the touch screen itself).

    - The battery door latch needs to be shut physically. Who on earth thought that was a good idea? I could understand it if it was some kind of water-proof closing mechanism that needed a tight fit, but it clearly isn't.
    Weather sealing? Good one!

    (Neither does the D80 have any weather sealing. I have opened up one, so I know. But, I do agree that the "build quality" of the Gs are worse than some P&S cams, certainly no where near even any of Nikon's lowest priced DSLRs. Pana does not even know how to make the paint stick to the plastic covering- except the LUMIX logo.).

    Just to be clear- I would love to see Pana come up with a decent sensor with a decent DR and lower noise.
    I can live without touch screens and such and even do not mind the non erasable LUMIX logo.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Thank you for the feedback all of you. It's interesting to see how the color shift "shifts" on different computers

    Vivek, two questions:

    - Do you have the problem with colour shifts around blown highlights?

    - Do all your lenses work well on the G1 resolutionwise?

    Let it also be said what my dilemma is, or at least part of it:
    I find the whole idea with m4/3 excellent, and the body size of the G/GH1 is just right (although it would be nice to have the option to fit a vertical grip, making it sturdier when using heavy lenses, like the Zeiss CY 85mm f/1.4). The question for me is how much I should invest in it and how fast. If the sensor had a bit more DR, and it was built more solidly, I could use the system for a lot of purposes. Now, it's more like a fun-cam with video. A nice gadget to carry along, but not for the ultimate image quality, whatever that is.

    A complete setup would mean the 7-14 and a few non-existing f/2.8 or f/2.0 zooms, so this may all be a bit premature, but it's much cheaper to plan buying cameras and lenses than actually buying the, so from an economical point of view, this discussion makes sense, doesn't it?
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 13th June 2010 at 02:50.

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    Senior Member Tim's Avatar
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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    The Nikon D80 was the worst DSLR I ever owned. It was significantly worse than than the D40xs in terms of every aspect of image quality.

    My G1s are, IIRC, far better than the D80.
    I only managed a few gems from my D80. I've sold it and moved on to a GF1

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    You can disable the one touch video button.

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Joergen,

    Here are two shots from yesterday:



    G1, Fujinon-TV 35/1.7 (wide open), ISO125, 1/600s.

    (Background on the left was blown, outlines (lower left, left shoulder do show colors creeping in from the background)

    Same gear as above, direct Sunlight, 1/2500s, ISO100 (no blown highlights).



    One more. This one is from 20/1.7 (f/3.2) on G1. Different light from the others.



    Your statue shot is tricky. If it has oxidized layers (even nanometer thick), light will play tricks. They may be real!

    The Sunset shot, I can not see anything objectionable.
    Last edited by Vivek; 13th June 2010 at 05:28.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Vivek View Post
    Joergen,
    Your statue shot is tricky. If it has oxidized layers (even nanometer thick), light will play tricks. They may be real!

    The Sunset shot, I can not see anything objectionable.
    I do lots of tricky shots, that's one of my challenges. Midday lighting in tropical areas is distinctly different from the northern (or southern) hemisphere. The colour shifts I see reminds me of samples I saw during the early days of digital photography, and which led me to buy a Fuji (S3) to start with. The E-1 showed almost the same rock solid performance as the Fuji, and with the same lenses that I now use on the GH1. That's my worry. Why did the seven year old E-1 look better than the brand new GH1?

    I see your photos, and they look good, better than mine. What I would like to find out is if it's the camera, the lenses, the lighting or the photographer or any combination of these.

    As for the D80, I've taken 500-1,000 photos per week for two years with that camera. Just changed shutter a month or so ago. At base ISO and up to 400, it's a great performer. Not as good as the E-1, but that was sensational, like the Fujis. Unfortunately, I often need more than 5-6MP. I might still buy another E-1. But this is all OT. I'm trying to find out if I can use the GH1 for other things than video (and if I should include a GH2 in my budget, but that will probably be another, or at least a seriously tweaked, sensor).

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Is it possible that the green cast in the sun shot is out of gamut for some monitors? That would be interesting. I'll try to print it tomorrow and see what happens.

    Edit: I can probably answer my own question. I tried "Gamut Warning" in Photoshop, and most of the photo, including the green cast, was highlighted. So the photo will probably look different on different monitors, depending on gamut and calibration.

    More edit: I tried the same with the sculpture, and around 50% of the cyan cast was highlighted as well. This probably also explains why it's so difficult to correct it. Photoshop simply doesn't "see' the colours, and thus can't correct or remove them. Does this make sense?
    Last edited by Jorgen Udvang; 13th June 2010 at 07:07.

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Jorgen

    I'm literally just down the road from you with a GF1, Contax G 45 and 90mm, Nikon 50 F1.4 Ais, Kern Switar 75 F1.9 and of course a Panasonic 20mm pancake. I never experience the problems you outline irrespective of our unusual and erratic light. If it helps I'll happily loan you my stuff for test.

    Might help

    PM if you wish

    p.s. Hua Hin

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Quote Originally Posted by ReeRay View Post
    Jorgen

    I'm literally just down the road from you with a GF1, Contax G 45 and 90mm, Nikon 50 F1.4 Ais, Kern Switar 75 F1.9 and of course a Panasonic 20mm pancake. I never experience the problems you outline irrespective of our unusual and erratic light. If it helps I'll happily loan you my stuff for test.

    Might help

    PM if you wish

    p.s. Hua Hin
    Thanks for the offer. I will be in the Hua Hin/Cha Am area the coming weekend. Would be interesting to meet. I'm probably rather busy on Saturday and Sunday, but will arrive on Friday around noon, or at least that's the plan.

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    PM sent with my phone number - feel free to contact me. I guess you're talking about the jazz festival which I'm also covering?

    p.s. I'm aware of a few outdoor events that are not advertised if it's of interest

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    Re: GH1, another user experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Jorgen Udvang View Post

    What I would like to find out is if it's the camera, the lenses, the lighting or the photographer or any combination of these.

    This, I can not answer. I believe the AA/UV/IR cut filter stack in a GH1 is different than the one in a G1, in addition to the sensor itself.

    Your point on the differences in light between where I am and where you are is a good one.

    AFAIC, I did not buy the GH1 because I have no interest in 16:9 or videos.

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