Revisiting The Panasonic GF1

Following on from me thinking about image quality, I have been going through old photos.

I have a folder of shots using the Panasonic GF1. I never liked the camera, or rather, I never liked the colours that the camera produced.

You can find many people complaining similarly if you google for Panasonic image quality.

That said, it was OK when the sun was not shining – pretty much guaranteed in Edinburgh.

The camera has a micro four thirds sensor. Image quality, as in the capability of the sensor to resolve detail is said to be proportionate to the linear length of the sensor; the longer the better.

So when looking at this little graph – it’s the linear length and not the increase in area that matters. As you can see, the micro four thirds sensor is about half the length of the full frame sensor.

What you might not notice is that the shape of the micro four thirds sensor is not the same as the full frame sensor. Full frame is 3:2, whereas micro four thirds is deeper: It’s 4:3.

That was a break with tradition that stretched back to the first Leica cameras a century ago.

The Panasonic GF1 is an ‘old’ camera in sensor terms. So, though, is the D700 from the previous post.

Here’s a photograph I took of a street performer in Edinburgh, and a closeup. I can see a lot more crackles, for want of a better word, that break up the image when viewed in detail.

Compare it to the Nikon D700 image in the previous post.

Does It Matter

Does it matter that the image looks worse (or looks worse to my eye) than the full frame image when viewed close up? After all, do we normally look that closely when viewing an image. 

My answer is twofold. Yes it matters because sometimes I look to look at images in detail and it’s a more pleasurable experience when the detail is cleaner. And secondly, there is a sparkle with full frame images that is noticeable even when the photograph is not viewed up close.

Shot at ISO400, 1/800th second, f3.5

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