Monday, 5 December 2016

my GF-1 (a rumination on why do I like it?)

I'd like to be clear on why I keep pulling out my GF-1 to use but for the life of me I can't.

I mean it lacks so many things in comparison to my GH-1 (or indeed almost any modern micro43 camera) but for one reason or another when I go out for a walk its the camera I take with me most of the time.

paired with the humble 20mm f1.7 (which it was originally released with and who's release coincided with little GF-1) it makes for a fantastic walk around camera who's simplicity somehow is its strength.

As a photographer who goes into "harsh" climates I am pissed off when tech fails because of temperature. Touch screens shit me to death so much for a number of reasons, as too cameras which I have to take my gloves off to use (like the phone I shot this above picture with).

A look at the specs will not leave you gasping, nor a look at the "feature list" of what modes or whizbang wanking it has. Its just a plain simple camera which you can operate with glove on and take pictures.

Perhaps its because I'm an old guy I grew up with cameras before there were electronic cameras. I prefer being able to set things with a dial rather than dig through a menu or worse try to use a fucking touch screen which 1) can't be used with gloves on 2) can't be relied upon when its cold.

I like being able to pick Av or P (my two main modes of operation) without needing to power up the camera or squint to see what the menu is displaying when its bright.

Yet these are features that my GH-1 also has ... so this does not actually answer my question.

On my walk today at -15°C I just carried it along with me and took a couple of shots I liked:


the quality and sharpness of these images is exemplary, for instance lets look at a 100% crop of the above image and you can see the ice crystal shape of the snow flakes sitting on the cap of the grass

you just can't ask for more hand held ... so if you're thinking the images you get with your 20mm f1.7 are poor then go to the bathroom and look in the mirror to see your problem. (and no, I didn't take a bajillion shots and picked the keepers, I took one of each and they both worked)

When the GF-1 was first mooted (before they were more than a substantial rumour) I was interested in this camera, this was back in 2009 and at that time I already had a G1 (it being released first, then the GF-1 then the GH-1). From the day I picked one up in a shop I was somehow even more attracted to it, but somehow I just couldn't really justify it. I mean
  • it wasn't much smaller than my G1
  • it wasn't cheap
  • I already had the G1
  • it had no OIS in the 20mm nor sensor shift
One day however I stumbled across one on eBay that was priced at under $100 and ... well I just had to buy it. Naturally I immediately started looking for a 20mm f1.7 as the logical lens to have with this camera.

Soon I bought the 14mm f2.5 and then soon after that the GWC-1 adapter (to make the 14mm a 11mm) and then soon after that the small Olympus 45mm f1.8

Somehow this outfit despite all my ability to rationalise otherwise has become one of my favourite walk about outfits. I've taken it everywhere from parties to trecking and just love it.

Because its somehow an unassuming camera, with a simple interface I can take it to a party and comfortably hand it to people (who often forget to zoom cameras now being used to phones) and get reliable well focused shots. In party situations OIS makes less significance than does simply shutter. Sure the high ISO performance isn't great, but with face detect selected I know I'll get keepers even if I'm in front of the camera.

Given that my GH-1 produces "better RAW files" and has numerous benefits (the pivoting and tilting rear screen, an excellent EVF, works well with telephoto lenses, feels better to use with the 14-45 lens...) but that I still reach for the GF-1 makes it clear to me that I don't actually crave that. Thus I believe that none of the newer cameras will offer much more for me (oh, and having tested against other cameras and having access to the GH-4 at work too).

Of course when I do tripod work or know I'll be in a situation where I really need OIS (such as on a 2009 trip to Rome where I was amazed with the ability of OIS) which is only in my "larger" lenses, then suddenly the GH-1 is my go to. As well, having either the EVF or the articulated screen really helps when the camera is held by a tripod (not my hands). This image was hand held at 1/5th of a second ... and is just as sharp as could be expected.

So I'll reach for the GH-1 where the more "SLR" feature set comes in handy. That the GF-1 and GH-1 share the same battery is of course a great bonus (and another reason why I've not upgraded). I need only shove the GF in the pack too, take a battery in each body and a single spare and I'm usually good for a few weeks on a trip.

If I was the sort of photographer that spend more time measurbating about specs I'd probably have ditched it by now, but somehow I'm more into taking photographs. Somehow its not about having a camera with better specs ... its about having a camera I like to work with. 

For reasons I don't fully understand even myself ... its clear to me that that's the GF-1

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