samsung galaxy camera with the f1

My Ricoh GRD IV replacement: The Panasonic LF1

panasonic lf1

Occasionally, ex gear addicts have genuine reasons to buy new gear. Mine is that my Ricoh GRD IV is coughing blood. It has a large blob on the left of the frame (something on the sensor that is not dust) and it's starting to seriously lag like crazy. I mean shot missing kind of lag. Unlike my marriage, which is forever, my marriage with the Ricoh GRD IV is till death do us part. Gotta think about a replacement because it's on it's last leg, I can feel it. I believe I have found it in the Panasonic LF1 camera, here's why.

We all know that the smartphone market is eating up the P&S market, and I believe it's a good thing. It means no more generic point and shoots but thoughtfully designed and executed cameras like the Panasonic LF1.

The LF1's Bad PR

panasonic_lf1_model


First things first, I had no idea this camera ever existed, I don't even know how I got to know about it. In my opinion that's bad PR. Searching on-line, there is no reviews from the usual blogging suspects, only consumer-corporate type blogs like Trusted reviews and all. On youtube, the videos are mostly german and some other European languages. Nobody who's serious about their photography seems to have it yet. So I couldn't find shots that were not sample shots. That camera is pretty much a blip on the radar, it's out yet there is not much buzz about it. Bad PR I believe.

Why I'm considering an LF1

Here is why I am considering getting a Panasonic LF1 to replace my GRD…

It looks like a Mini NEX7

panasonic_lf1_nex7


My Photography kit is the Sony Nex7 and the Ricoh GRD IV. When I looked at this camera the first thing that came to mind was “Mini NEX 7”. It has a viewfinder just like the Nex7 and it has a control ring in the front of the camera. It reminds me of my manual focus on my Nex7 when I had some manual Voitlander lenses. It's incredible what can be done in such small package! To me it seems the perfect companion to the NEX7.

It has a zoom lens


The Lens is a 28mm-300mm f/2.0-5.9. I personally hear two things: 28mm and f/2. That's as fast as the Ricoh GRD IV's f/1.9 in my book. The camera will probably be stuck at 28mm for me, but the has an interesting feature that I like in the Ricoh GX series: The step zoom. So the camera can go to a specific focal length instead of just sliding between standard focal lengths. I do not feel limited in any way with the 28mm, but other focal lengths are sure nice to have. I've always wanted a Ricoh GRD II for the 40mm adapter, but the attaching lens makes the Ricoh GRD II non portable. I once considered the Ricoh GX as a Ricoh GRD alternative but they are most definitely not the same thing. In the end the Panasonic LF1's zoom lens is a nice touch, but for me the deal maker is 28mm f/2.

Good ISO Handling

I kinda always break a sweat when I go to ISO800 – 1600. But seeing these high ISO shots, I think I would be comfortable going to ISO 3200 on the Panasonic LF1. Maybe not 6400. Thanks, cedits and copyright to Darren Rowse @ DPS

From Digital Photo School. Click to go to original article
Panasonic_LF1_6400
From Digital Photo School. Click to go to original article

Consistency in the look


I like small sensor cameras! Most of my work is done on small sensors, and I always see the difference when I shoot APSC vs 1/1.7 inch sensor. The Panasonic LF1 is the same sensor size as the Ricoh GRD IV, so the image out put should not look that different.

Ricoh GRD III
Ricoh GRD III

Portability

Well that's the biggy for me. I can't get anything bigger than a Ricoh GRD IV. I have sort of tight jean pockets so I need something small. Look at the Panasonic LF1 compared to the tiny Canon S95. Amazing! Thanks, credits and copyright to Monox.jp [now defunct]

Side of a Panasonic LF1 camera compared to a Canon S95
Front of a Panasonic LF1 camera compared to a Canon S95
Click to go to original article (Japanese)

Viewfinder

I'm a viewfinder guy, even if I can shoot without looking. It puts me in the zone when I close my eyes. It's the same feeling when you put a large format cloth around your head and only see the frame. You zoom out to zone in. Love viewfinders!

BUT, one thing I absolutely hate, it's when I come with presuppositions on the table. The Panasonic LF1 has a viewfinder in it. My presupposition is that it's like a Ricoh GXR viewfinder or something, but it's not. It's 0.2inch, 200 dots. I really cannot tell you what it means besides that it's small. This I'll have to see for myself when I go to B&H in Manhattan. I think I will be so glad such a small camera has a viewfinder that I wouldn't care. I don't expect much but I do plan to use it often.

View inside the viewfinder of an LF1 camera


That versatile ring

There's a ring in the front of the camera that is like a lens focus ring. It can be used to change effects, aperture, shutter speed, etc. I care more about manual focusing, but no one seems to mention that in their review. I take it it's not the interest of popular photography websites to check if you can manually focus with the ring thingy, I am sure it can, or at the very least they will implement it into a firmware update. I can't see why you wouldn't be allowed to manual focus with the ring.

Distance Scale

According to reviews, the Panasonic LF1 contains a distance scale, yippee!!! Zone focusing and hyperfocal, here I come! Snap focus on the Ricoh GRD is a sort of shortcut to these things, but since there is a distance scale in the Panasonic LF1 I should be ok.

Panasonic_LF1_sample-0

Processing:

On the offcicial Panasonic LF1 website I hunted down an Image sample from the official , and processed it the way I would my images. It looks reeeeal good in my opinion! Processed with Inspired Eye Street Photography Presets.

Panasonic_LF1_sample-1

There's not much to go on as of posting sample image wise. I'll try to contact Panasonic for a sample. We'll see.

Ricoh GRD IV: What will be missed

I know from the bottom of my heart that nothing beats Ricoh in terms of interface and ergonomics. I will sorely miss those. But above all what I will miss is the Snap focus feature, more specifically the full press snap. What a beautiful system. I know the Ricoh GRD IV like the back of my hand, so I know the Panasonic LF1 will take some time to get used to.

Ex Gear addict tip:

Here's a tip from an ex gear addict: If you really want a camera, make yourself work for it. I don't mean money wise, but do things you don't want to do or things you want to put off and make the new camera a reward. Put the carrot in front of the donkey in other words. I need to work on certain pages of my website for example, and I won't buy the Panasonic LF1 until I do….I'll have to debate if my hard drive gets fixed first (I'm cool about it now) or do I get the camera….. That will take months but it's highly beneficial when you defer buying a camera after some work: Buying does not become an impulse, the camera will by then drop a few dollars, you will enjoy it more ๐Ÿ™‚

So this is the next camera I will get. But not now. There's a bit of juice left in the Ricoh GRD IV. But I must admit that the Panasonic LF1 is pretty darn unique, long life these kinds of cameras!!! Be yourself, stay focused and keep on shooting.

Click here to get it at Amazon

14 thoughts on “My Ricoh GRD IV replacement: The Panasonic LF1”

    1. I know it’s a steal right now. But if you want to know the truth, I’m getting a bit too comfortable to the point of being complacent with the Ricoh GRD IV ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I know what you mean, sometimes we just feel like a change. I personally did something weird, I sold my NEX 7 (just to stash money aside for it’s replacement, I can never live long without a high end NEX) and bought the entry level 3N. Now THAT’s a mini 7 !! Tak the EVF, shrink it down a bit, and voilร  ! You have a 3N. IQ is VERY, very close, too.

  1. What a swing! From prime to 7x zoom. Might look good on the blog page, but wait until you actually handle it. “Being complacent with the Ricoh”? Hmm, how can one be complacent with something that has become a virtual extension of one’s hand? ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yes I always wanted a secret admirer!!!
      Just because it has a zoom, doesn’t mean I am going to use it. It will probably be stuck at 28mm for me…maybe occasionally 35mm.
      Nothing beats handling the camera on your own, when I go to B&H I’ll give it a spin. Indeed things that look good on screen might not look too good in real life.
      If I don’t take the opportunity of my GRDIV dying and jumping ship, I would get another GRDIV and stick with it for years. I know it too well, it’s so good, so responsive…..I just want to try something else, I want to be challenged again cuz like my hands I don’t think about it much.
      The Ricoh GR is out of the question for me because I want small sensors for my personal work.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Sorry to hear your camera is dying. And they just released a firmware update for it, too.

    As for this little Panasonic cam, looks nice. Would be a good replacement for my Lumix LX-5. However, if I were you, I would not count on Panny to release feature enhancing firmware updates.

    The control ring can’t be used for manual focus. You can check out the pdf manual on their website to see the complete list of settings that can be assigned to it. Didn’t see focusing on that list.

    And thank you for creating this blog. I enjoy reading it, as well as watching your photos. Made me realize I was on a straight path to G.A.S. I was thinking a lot more about the camera I’ll buy, than about taking photos with what I had or learning anything new. Now I enjoy taking photos a lot more. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. i’ve had a look through the EVF and although impressive in it’s engineering it’s sorely lacking in resolution. this is coming from a Panasonic G6 and OM-D owner though. it’s still better than none at all. it terms of image quality i much prefer the LX7’s ability to resolve stuff from edge to edge. i think the LF2 will probably be a killer camera but this one’s not going to make it into my pocket. http://www.cameralabs.com/reviews/Panasonic_Lumix_DMC_LF1/outdoor_resolution.shtml

  4. You know what’s funny? Seeing LF1 mention on dpreview got me to Ricoh GR that I have now. LF1 made me accept the idea of a compact. And just like you I was going for the viewfinder (coming from Panasonic GH2). So I bought Fuji X20 (LF1 was not out yet). X20 was great, sensor output is fine with some tweaks to default RAW sharpening. However the viewfinder was useless. Crazy parallax. So I sold it. And then I gave the Ricoh GR a second look, since I have now scrapped viewfinder necessity and I accepted LCD shooting. Loving the Ricoh ๐Ÿ˜‰

    So perhaps I know how you feel about the LF1.. however it seems to me like a sudden comeback of GAS to your life. You haven’t handled it or even read any comprehensive reviews, but you already know that it’s your next camera. That’s GAS sticking out it’s ugly head. Forget the crappy viewfinder, you have been using LCD anyway. Be happy with the Ricoh IV, just like you have been this past years. Get a new one on the cheap and make your shooting with it even more skillful. The less of a camera is in your way/hand/mind, the more you can just shoot.

    That is your own philosophy – which is a great philosophy by the way. You helped me strengthen my resolve to kill my GAS. And you inspired me to finally focus on creating images. For which I thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. That’s question number 1 for me: Is it G.A.S?
      Well the answer is no ๐Ÿ™‚ My GRD IV is acting up and ready to give up the ghost. I haven’t handled it yet but will soon, and that will be the deciding factor ๐Ÿ™‚ I know too well not to buy anything without having seen it and handled it. The reviews are positive on the points that I want ๐Ÿ™‚

      My old Ricoh GRD IV is a legitimate excuse to change cameras I guess, but still, there’s a 50-50 percent chance that I just go back to a new GRD IV. I think it’s going to boil down to preference.

      Glad I helped ๐Ÿ™‚ I know it’s not G.A.S because while I think it’s the replacement camera, I’m still using my crippled GRD IV to the max ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I love my V1, and my D600, both excellent as they are quiet, and use the same battery!

    Used to be a APS-C camera guy, and still have a couple, but hardly ever use them.

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