What’s Old is New


A New Favorite

This is a bit longer post than usual, but I needed to get my thoughts down on paper (so to speak).

I’ve really been enjoying my Panasonic GF1 since it arrived just before Christmas last year. Looking at my Lightroom library for 2010, I find that almost 70% of my pictures were made with the GF1 and the 20mm lens, the other 30% being made with my Nikon D300.

I first attributed the difference to novelty or perhaps to the fact that the GF1 was so much easier to carry with me. I think the size and weight are part of it, but the D300 clearly takes a better picture, on average, and has a viewfinder you can’t help but love. But I find I actually prefer using the GF1.

I’m now pretty sure that I’m favoring the GF1 because it’s so familiar! Shooting with the GF1 just feels “right” to me, and I think this is so because the GF1 is so like the camera I started with, the Canonet QL17 GIII. When using the GF1, my camera memory takes over, laid down by many years of repetition with the Canonet. I know exactly where to stand to get a shot, without looking at the LCD. I know which shots to avoid, because they can’t be framed with the fixed lens. I can see more photographs quickly.

The Canonet was my first camera and it accompanied me everywhere from the early 70’s until the early 80’s, when it broke and I couldn’t afford to have it fixed. Years later, when I had the money, instead of fixing the GIII I invested in what I saw as a better camera, a Nikon FM2n. This was followed by a series of newer (and larger) Nikon cameras, eventually arriving at the D300. I’m embarrassed to say how many Nikon lenses I’ve bought over the years.

So I pulled out the Canonet manual and did a quick comparison with the GF1:

Canonet QL17 GIII Panasonic GF1 20mm
Dimensions 120 x 75 x 60 mm 119 x 71 x 36.3 mm
Weight 620 g 448 g
Field of View 40 mm 40 mm
Maximum Aperture f/1.7 f/1.7
Minimum Aperture f/16 f/16
Shutter Speeds 1/4 – 1/500 60 – 1/4000
Aspect Ratio 3:2 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, 1:1

The Canonet is a bit larger, but not noticeably so, but weighs a good bit more. I actually prefer the additional weight in my hand, but not in my pocket or around my neck. Where the rubber meets the road, they are exactly the same: 40mm field of view and max aperture of f/1.7. I tend to use the GF1 as I did the Canonet – shooting aperture priority in the 3:2 aspect. The digital advantages of the GF1 are obvious. The advantages of the Canonet are a good viewfinder and a very quiet shutter. I didn’t realize how loud the GF1 is until I did the comparison. There may be a LVF1 viewfinder in my future.

There’s a lot to be said for using one camera and one lens for a number of years. You learn the capabilities of the combination and exploiting these capabilities becomes second nature. I sometimes also think that my numerous lens choices hinder rather than help my photography – it’s hard to remember which lens worked well in which situation. In the end, if I can avoid buying additional lenses, I think the GF1 will improve my photographic eye and skills.

More about the classic QL17 GIII can be found here.  Details of the GF1 can be found just about everywher.

This entry was posted in D300, GF1, Objects and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What’s Old is New

  1. nihaojapan says:

    Very Nice blog, I love your pics and writing. BTW, I have a GF1 around 2 months too, and I only carry this cam everyday and night now!

  2. Reese says:

    Thanks for the compliment! I just took some time to look through your site, and liked a lot of what I saw. I particularly like your black and whites. Ni hao means “hello”, does it not?

  3. Brian Soo says:

    I also started my photography activity with a Canonet 1.7. Your post brings back all those beautiful memories. I can’t remember where my Canonet had gone to. What I can do now is to collect pictures of this model of camera.

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