A few years ago one of my favorite small cameras was released by Panasonic, the GF1, aka: the “Girlfriend”. This was a fantastic little camera, great files, a fast auto focus system, sharp lenses, light, for the price, $899 with the 40mm lens, you couldn’t go wrong. One can even spot these little babies over the shoulders of National Geographic photographers. I saw Peter Lindberg with one strapped around his neck at a Vogue shoot. In the end, I loved mine, but really disliked the bastard focal length 40mm lens. I guess I am showing my age, but what about a 50mm lens? Or a 35mm lens, these lenses are interchangeable, unlike the new Fuji X100, it would be easy to make a 50 and a 35. With a fast 50 and 35mm lens, this would be an unstoppable camera.
So I, like many of my colleagues waited for new glass, and for Panasonic to fine tune the camera a bit. Perhaps just a little more low light capability, and a little cleaner file at 800 iso. But man they were so close. So then the GF2 comes out, and basically is a little smaller, has a touch screen, that nobody I know wants, the same chip, same files, nothing. We wait.
Then Panasonic releases another stunner, the 25mm F/1.4 (50mm in 35mm term) Now we are talking. A great prime lens, excited to see one. A huge step in the right direction for the company, stuff like this will get the pros and a lot more amateurs using their gear.
But then the killer comes out, the new GF3. Well it’s sure to win one award, the “Ugly” award surely has to go to this camera. It looks ugly, it feels ugly, trust me not even it’s mother could love this. I guess they are going after….I don’t know. I don’t think they know what type of photographer they are going after. There is no more hot shoe (hey Panasonic, we actually put viewfinders on the bodies, and that made them better) everything is touch screen, the camera is horrible. If I look into the future I would guess that this camera dies a slow and horrible death, just can’t see who is going to buy this.
It’s too bad really, Panasonic was sitting on top of the World, one they could have really conquered if they wanted to. The door is wide open to make a great little street camera that has interchangeable lenses on it and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Panasonic was racing along the right track, but somewhere they’ve had a fiery crash.