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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
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Old October 26th, 2010, 02:17 PM   #1
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GH1 still opinion

I've had my GH1 for not too long, and I'm by no means an expert in photography, but I had the chance to take some "real" photos on a recent excursion and I was underwhelmed when comparing with my wife's D40. I thought my focus was soft or something, so this morning I compared the D40 against the GH1 shooting a test pattern chart I printed out on regular paper using an inkjet printer and, well, I don't know. It does look a bit soft to me, but I'm not sure.

I'd like to get an opinion on the two pics. They are huge (14MB and 5.3MB), stock lenses used on tripod.

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Old October 29th, 2010, 06:27 AM   #2
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I had a focus problem with the first Canon 20D I bought. Canon was known for having focus QA problems back then. Basically, the lens was focussing at a point other than where the AF was "telling" it to focus. I used a rig as shown the screenshot to prove to B&H the camera was flawed. They replaced it and the second one was much better.

So in the rig, the basketball is the subject and has depth. There is a white string hung over the top that shows where the front of the ball is. The yard stick is at a 45 degree angle. When viewed using the camera software, one can see what AF points were used by the camera. Zooming into the yard stick, you will see where the depth of field actually is versus what the AF system was "focussing on". It's a helpful test is all. In my case, the faulty D20 was consistently, but not always, focussing behind and, to a lesser degree, in front of where it should have been. Basically is was randomly focussing correctly one in 10 pictures.

One thing when you do the test (if you haven't already), make sure you use mirror lockup on the D40 to take any camera shake out of the equation.
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Old November 21st, 2010, 10:53 AM   #3
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GH1 soft output-suggestions

Not sure if this reply is too late. Yes the GH1 output is a little softer and grainer than the D40 in your photos. I've not found the kit lens to be all that sharp. But some perspective is needed.

First, I thought the GH1 was pretty soft focus to the point I called Panasonic. I didn't really get a lot of satisfaction, so I borrowed a friend's canon XS with 18-70 & 70-210 (give or take) lenses. They were the "consumer grade" lenses, not particularly large aperture. I shot a lot of side by side and found above f16 or over 120mm on Panny got a softer image than the canon. However, it was not as great a difference as one would expect. You'd notice it, if side-by-side, but individually, both were soft. (This was raw, no sharpening viewed in Adobe Bridge). At lower zoom levels, it was hard to discern the Panny from the Canon. That surprised me since I was sure something was wrong with the Panny.

I later got hold of a Nikkor 18-280 (give or take) and shot a stucco wall with both. Nikkor was sharper, esp at longer zoom. I was not able to be as thorough as with the Canon, but my impression was it was not a quantum difference, but was a bigger gap than the Canon.

Next, I updated the camera and lens firmware and noticed it improved perceived sharpness over time. There was a huge difference in the July'10 update, as I recall.

I also bought a Nikkor-O 35mm f2 on ebay and wow, it was like I had JPG sharpening in my raw. So I knew it must be the lens, not the body.

Next I looked at my workflow and started using the new Lightroom 3. I add 40 sharpening on import and dynamically sharpen on export, 50-120 depending on destination. Lightroom's sharpening improvements are not to be underestimated.

My assessment is the 14-140mm is a jack of all trades, but master of none, so if you have something particular you shoot a lot, may want to consider a prime. That said, if you ensure your firmware is current and try out lightroom, I think you may go from disappointment to being reasonably happy.

For me, I am comfortable the trade of size/performance/weight and flexibility was worth it. Afterall, my whole camera weighs less than the Nikkor 18-280 lens alone. I am considering the GH2 w/ 20mm f1.7 actually.
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Old November 22nd, 2010, 03:16 PM   #4
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I shot some stills with my GH1 yesterday for the first time ever. I think it's pretty good compared to the Canon options. The banding is a big problem in high ISO situations though and it will ruin a fine picture immediately.

I took this pic with my Sigma APO 70-210 2.8 handheld at 2.8 1/60th near 210mm. Considering all of that, I consider it a great shot with a fully manual non-stabilized lens. The gentleman's right eye and cheek are pretty tack sharp IMO. (this is straight off the cam - 4:3 image)
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 09:40 PM   #5
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For me the 14-140mm lens is remarkable especially for video and I've read a lot of reports that it's sharper than many lenses that are at least a 10x but it's true that if you really want pure sharpness a prime such as the 20mm is the lens to get although the auto focusing is slower. I got both since they complement each other. For low light, the 14-140 is total crap since it starts at f/4.

Compared to traditional new DSLRs the GH1 auto focusing is a little slower but from all the reports I've read, the GH2 is at least twice as fast as the GH1's.
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Old November 26th, 2010, 09:53 AM   #6
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I use my GH1 for a lot of scenics with the kit 14-140, and it's as good as my 7D + 18-50/2.8 or 1Ds with assorted lenses.

The problem with the shots here is that exposure is way off, the GH1 is underexposed by at least 1 to 2 stops, so you're losing a lot of contrast which is where a lot of apparent sharpness will come from.
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Old December 16th, 2010, 03:03 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies. I'll check into the contrast aspect and maybe do some reshoots.
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