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GF1 and lack of viewfinder

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by benjie, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. benjie

    benjie Mu-43 Regular

    May 17, 2010
    I've got a GF1 which is an excellent model, and nice and compact, especially with the 20mm 1.7, but I have to admit I don't use it nearly as much as my GH1. I just find the lack of a built-in viewfinder to be a major shortcoming. I do have the LVF 1, but it's a bit of a nuisance to use, and the image viewing quality is nothing to write home about. It may be my ancient eyes, but I find it difficult to compose the picture on the LCD screen, and the LVF 1 is nowhere as clear as the excellent viewfinder on the GH1.

    To employ a cliche, is it just me?
  2. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    It's design to be more of a compact-style camera, as opposed to the GH1, which is a larger SLR-style form factor. The viewfinder is meant as a secondary, add-on option to keep it much smaller. So, basically, it's not just you; it's by design. Some people don't like using LCDs, while others love it. The GF1 is probably not a good choice for the former (though, a few here live with the LVF1 on it all the time.)

    If you need a second body, then consider adding a G3. It's bigger than the GF1 due to the EVF, but still noticeably smaller than the GH1. I want a real EVF, too, so that's what I'm switching to.
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Bizzarrini

    Bizzarrini Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 26, 2011
    The Netherlands
    If you only use the 20mm, and just need the viewfinder for composing, have you thought of using an optical finder like the olympus vf1? I hear that works like a charm with the 20mm!
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Howi

    Howi Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 23, 2011
    Probably expecting too much (we always do don't we?)
    I also have the GF1 with 20mm, 14mm and some 4/3 and legacy lenses.
    Now, I moved from the E-3 which has a superb viewfinder (optical).
    The first accessory I aquired was the LVF1, I new full well not to expect much in the way of image quality etc.
    I have not been particularly dissapointed with it, in fact it is on 99% of the time. the only time I remove it is when I am trying to fit it in a pocket.
    I find the main LCD to be very usable, even in strong sunlight, although there are always some situations where that is not always the case.
    The LVF1 is low res, but then we all new that didn't we?
    If you have the diopter adjustment set correct, on mine there is ONLY one setting of this that is spot on, this makes MF very easy (for me) as it is almost like the microprism ring in my old Konica FS1 focus screen. The pixels seem to pop when focus is spot on... (I wear vari focal glasses by the way)
    It laso has the advantage of making the camera/lens setup more stable, especially with the 4/3 lenses I have which are quite big and heavy, and is really essential with the ZD 70-300 as there is no IS at all, not that that has been a problem.
    I think the main problem is what you may be expecting, and to some extent, the GH1 WILL spoil you in this respect.
    Try holding the GF1 with ZD12-60 and manual focus (MF only) at arms length and you will soon appreciate the LVF1.
    If you can stop thinking about the negatives, the LVF1 IS quite usable, it is for me anyway...:tongue: :2thumbs:
    • Like Like x 1
  5. RoyB

    RoyB New to Mu-43

    Jul 25, 2011
    Hi Benjie,
    I usd the GF1 and the LV1 all last year. I found it a great combination though the view finder did stick out a bit at the top. I did know the limitations before I bought the LV1 so I was not surprised that it was a little dificult to use. However, most of my shots were taken by composing through th view finder, I rarely used the screen only for replay did I use the screen.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Maeda

    Maeda Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    it's not just you.

    I sold my GF1 a few months ago because of it's lack of viewfinder.

    I found the LCD screen to be worthless on sunny days. I use mostly legacy lenses so I NEED the LCD to focus properly. If I predominantly used auto-focus, it wouldn't matter so much.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    I use the GF1's EVF a fair amount: probably about a third of my shots. It works well, but of course it is low res and does not compare to the GH2 or G3 EVF, or the Olympus VF2.

    Only you can decide just how important this is. if it's a killer, try a G3, which is basically GF1 size but with a first rate EVF and swivel screen, or an Olympus which accepts their very high res VF2. They have a new VF3 too, but I don't know how good it is.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. benjie

    benjie Mu-43 Regular

    May 17, 2010
    Thanks for the responses.

    The VF2 sounds good but is rather pricey (bit early for Santa!). I'll give the GF1 another go and maybe buy a new, larger, case to accommodate the camera with the LVF 1 permanently attached.

    What a helpful forum :smile:
  9. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    The GF1 is a wonderful camera in many ways and was a magnificent beginning to m4/3 for Panasonic. Mine gets no use these days. The GH2 and LX5 are my small cameras of choice these days. And surprisingly enough my LX5 has become a MUST camera for me (with the WA lens). I use the LX5 instead of the GF1. When I want more camera features in a small camera, I go to my GH2.

    I'd trade my GF1 for a G3 in a heartbeat, in fact, I'd prefer the G3 over ANY m4/3 body that doesn't have a built in EFV. Add-on EVFs can help cameras without built in EVF... but the result is a clunky form factor. The small G3 design with built in EVF and the articulating screen make this little camera a real game changer. My GF1 is going to get gone in favor of a G3.
  10. benjie

    benjie Mu-43 Regular

    May 17, 2010
    I was thinking about the LX5, but surely you have the same problem: no EVF, and if you use the add-on EVF you have the same result, to quote you, " a clunky form factor"
  11. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Yes, however, the occasions that I use the LX5, I don't feel the need for an EVF nor for an articulating screen. I use it more for casual grab shots, utility images, etc. And I often have need for a very small but good quality camera for that... and the LX5 does it magnificently.

    When I set out to create "more crafted" images with a relatively small camera is when I prefer to have the EVF and articulating screen. GH2 or G3 fits the bill for that superbly. Different cameras for different applications.

    I absolutely LOVE the LX5.... it's a home run, take everywhere/always, versatile little camera. My "small" camera kit will soon be comprised of GH2, G3, and LX5. My GF1 is languishing on the shelf.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. GaryAyala

    GaryAyala Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have old ... really old and tired eyes. Initially, The LVF1 was completely disappointing. But I learned, (apparently this old dog can learn a few new tricks), to adjust to the LVF1. It gives me focus confirmation and just enough shapes and detail for composition.

    After a bit I realized that this was enough for 80-90 percent of my shots. The remaining stuff, more often than not, I was able to use the LCD.

    I found the LVF1, while not even close to perfect, still workable to use in bright sunlight, faster to use than the LCD and enabled me to smash the camera against my nose thereby creating a more stable shooting platform than the LCD and the Zombie stance.

    In summary, give it another try or two ... for moi, the GF1 with the LVF1 is better than a GF1 without a LVF1.

  13. JudyM

    JudyM Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 5, 2010
    Westminster, MD
    I'm not going to say how old my eyes are, but they saw poodle skirts and saddle shoes. The LVF1 is nothing to write home about for sure, but it is what it is. It's all they offer and it's how I end up using the camera 99% of the time. Mine hasn't been off the camera since the day I got it.

    I shoot mainly manual focus lenses. I can get acceptably sharp photos using the LVF1 most of the time, but it takes patience, practice and some luck. Some lenses are also just easier to focus on the camera than others. I find that lenses with more contrast seem to almost snap into focus, while a lens with a loose focusing ring is frustratingly touchy on the tiny electronic screen.
  14. Bill

    Bill Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2009
    Brisbane, Australia
    Bill (really)
    I was disappointed by the LVF1, but continued to love my GF1. I moved, however, to the G3 (with the 20mm) as my all-the-time, everywhere camera -- and I love it. I use the G3's EVF 90% of the time.
  15. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Pretty much my experience.

    Today I completed a shoot for a client at mid day in blazing sun on the roof of a skyscraper in downtown Toronto. No LVF1 would have meant no shoot.

    It's more than workable and I use it a lot.


    I am sorely tempted by the G3.
  16. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    The LVF-1 makes the GF-1 a much more useable camera, for sure! And for the GF-1 shooter who plans to use the GF-1 for some time to come is, in my view, a required add-on accessory.

    I bought my GF-1 during the winter season and didn't really have the opportunity to use it in bright full sun situations until two or three months after I bought it. One attempt to shoot with it on a full sun day led to my purchase of the LVF1. It certainly made the camera quite useable for the basic functions of composition and focus while in full sun. Job done, basically. The image viewed in the LVF1, as we all know, is fairly crude, but in reality... it does what one needs it to do - allow for good composition and focus functions, albeit in a fairly rudimentary way. What I liked least about it was:

    1) that the svelt form factor of the GF1 (something that really appeals to me) goes out the window when the LVF1 is attached, and

    2) when the LVF1 isn't attached, there is that additional camera accessory/case to have to bring along in addition to the camera - sometimes that's just a little bit of a PITA. Repeated attaching and detaching gets old. And leaving it on all the time pretty much ruins the wonderful form factor of the GF-1... for me anyway.

    While neither of these issues are necessarily major problems... they go away immediately with cameras which have integrated EVFs. And the G3 is such a camera that addresses these issues while still maintaining a sleek form factor, as well as ups the ante considerably in a number of other aspects.

    I am dumb founded as to why Olympus has missed the boat on offering a camera like the G3. Part of why I won't buy Olympus m4/3 cameras is because they suffer from the same complaints which I have with the GF-1 (using an EVF requires a clunky add-on accessory which destroys the sleek form factor of the body and requires bringing along a separate add-on accessory for times when you might want to use it.) I think Olympus would find some very strong sales if they offered a G3-like body to their line up.

    As many other photographers who have used eye level viewfinders for many years, I appreciate the added camera stability which one can achieve while pressing the camera against the face and holding it with both hands. I do many times shoot with some of my cameras held at arms length for a variety of reasons, with good results, but there are many times when I much prefer to use the camera held against the face with an eye level viewfinder. Having both viewing/compositional options... along with an articulating LCD screen makes for an extremely flexible-to use and versatile-to-use camera.

    The sleek form factor of the G3 (which includes a very high quality EVF, a fully articulating LCD, improved image quality, and much lower noise levels at higher ISOs) basically ups the utility and value of the G3 far above the venerable GF1.

    For these reasons, for my use, the G3 will move my GF-1 into unused/dispensible mode in a hot hurry. Not that I dislike the GF-1, it's a magnificent machine indeed and it still can provide great utility, useability, and wonderful images - with the LVF1... it's just that the G3 goes so far beyond that in the finer points of maximum utility, convenience, and versatility... all while maintaining a very sleek, svelt, and great looking form factor.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Lauzers

    Lauzers Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 6, 2011
    Dhart, u should be the ambassador for panasonic :p 

    I agree, I also ordered the G3 for the very same reason. I use the lvf on gf1 when it is mounted with 45-200, it was surprising such a big difference the stability adds when held close.
  18. Alanroseman

    Alanroseman Super Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2010
    New England
    Hi Don,

    I've missed you while you've been galavanting about in your "off time". I was happy to see another of your well penned posts!

    Cheers, Alan
  19. DHart

    DHart Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 7, 2010
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    Lauzers... I don't know... sometimes I'm a bit too sharp in criticism of negative aspects when I should keep my trap shut! :-/ Let us know how you like the G3!

    Alan... hey buddy, thanks for the kind words. I've been hanging out mostly in Jeep Wrangler and diesel pusher motorhome forums! As a new owner of those items, I've got a lot to get "schooled up" on in those areas. With the Jeep especially and all the customization options... sheesh!

    I've missed my fellow photo buddies here. I'll not ever be gone for long, though, and love this forum!
    • Like Like x 1
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