Given how different the GF1 looks compared with Panasonic's earlier Micro Four Thirds models, it's tempting to wonder how much the design was influenced by the more svelte Olympus E-P1-and how much the new E-P2 was influenced in turn by the GF1. (The answer to both is probably "Not much," since all of these models have come out in such rapid succession.)
But while the GF1 has less flair, it does have a built-in flash-score one for practicality over beauty. You shouldn't expect a whole lot of light from this small pop-up, though.
The guide number is 20 (ISO 100, feet). Using the 14-45mm lens at 14mm (at f/3.5 and with ISO on auto), you can expect the GF1's flash to provide about the same range as a good compact- a little more than 11 feet. Compare that with the GN 36 flash in Panasonic's earlier GH1 ($1,500, street, with 14-140mm f/4-5.8 lens), which gives you a range of about 20 feet.
The GF1 records video, but it gives you more options than compacts generally do, and its Four Thirds-sized 12.1MP Live MOS sensor delivers higherquality clips. This sensor, while still much smaller than the type on a full-frame DSLR, is large enough to let you limit depth of field while shooting video- impossible even with a reasonably priced HD camcorder.
The GF1 doesn't let you record at 1920x1080-pixel resolution the way the GH1 does, but the high-def 1280x720 footage we shot was quite good, with accurate-looking colors and no major image flaws to speak of.
File formats? You have a choice of Motion JPEG (better for extracting still frames) and AVCHD Lite, which compresses more heavily for smaller fl les and can be played back through the SD-card slot in Panasonic HDTVs and other devices that play the AVCHD format.