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World's smallest digital single-lens reflex camera

41 Comments

Panasonic Corp will launch in Japan the world's smallest, lightest digital single-lens reflex camera on Sept 18, targeting young female buyers. The Lumix GF1 measures about 7 centimeters in height, about 12 centimeters in width and about 3.6 centimeters in thickness.

The camera, with 12.1 megapixels, weighs 285 grams, some 100 grams less than a conventional digital single-lens reflex camera. The camera is expected to retail for about 90,000 yen, or 70,000 yen without the lens.

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And no English menus on the version sold in Japan, only Japanese. Panasonic's PR always forgets to mention that.

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Gaijin - do you actually know the cost of the English menu in Japan? I guess it's much better not to care about the 100 or so potential customers who can't read Japanese....

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small is definitely not the go with digital SLRs in my opinion.I can7t imagine strapping some of the lenses I have on this petite little toy.

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wo will buy a camera thats worse than a normal reflex camera and costs way more? If you want as small camera get a small camera, if you want professional fotos get a normal reflex, and if you need both your still better of (cheaper) buying both than this one...

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Nipponjin -do you actually know there are thousands of potential customers, foreigns who cant read japanese...

Hey Panasonic, what about an english menu ?

Thanks !

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bdaniel08 - even if there are thousands of potential customers (which I strongly doubt) it was obviously not feasible to support them in Japan. Besides the software cost you'll need an English manual and local English support - impossible to do in this low cost economics... Let me put it the other way - would you and your thousands of friends pay 25% more for this camera if it had all the above-mentioned items? BTW - I'm a gaijin myself, just that I can read and write Japanese... :)

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Nipponjin -do you actually know there are thousands of potential customers, foreigns who cant read japanese...

I don't think there are thousands of potential English-only customers in Japan. More like a few hundred at the most.

Besides, how difficult is it to negotiate a camera menu in a foreign language? I suspect more than half of users just shoot in Program/Auto mode anyway.

wo will buy a camera thats worse than a normal reflex camera and costs way more? If you want as small camera get a small camera, if you want professional fotos get a normal reflex, and if you need both your still better of (cheaper) buying both than this one...

What do you mean by 'normal' reflex? It's either an SLR or it isn't. The only difference could be the sensor size, but being a Panasonic I suspect it's a 4/3 format, same as all the other Panasonic/Olympus models. Those are 'real' cameras...

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Panasonic sells the only Japanese Only cameras in Japan. Everyone else offers a choice of languages. If you buy a Panasonic abroad you don't get an international warranty. It is no problem to put a choice of languages into a menu. This is a good company to avoid for political as well as practical reasons by non-Japanese and Japanese who hate xenophobic nationalism.

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jean - you wrote:

It is no problem to put a choice of languages into a menu

If you read and understood my mail you would have seen the problem.. Would you pay 25% for it if it had English language menu and manuals in Japan? Amazingly how customers suddenly loose all traces of intelligence when it comes to ask for something for free and say "it is no problem to give me that for free"...

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Check out the prices of comparable cameras. It doesn't cost anything to have a choice of languages in a menu. The choice wouldn't boost the price of a camera by 25% Where do you get that figure, ebisen?

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A 3 mega pixel regular slr digital will give you much better pictures than a 12 mega with such a tiny lens

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...and it will cost less !

jeancolmar, i was going to ask the same question to ebisen : for comparable camera, Panasonic-with no english menu- never offer camera 25% cheaper than the other-with english menu-Japanese maker.

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Amazingly how customers suddenly loose all traces of intelligence when it comes to ask for something for free and say "it is no problem to give me that for free"...

free? these cameras are hardly free. including the english menus would in fact be virtually free. panasonic already have english menus in their software for the export cameras. it probably costs them more release different versions. probably to protect markets.

let's face it, there are a lot of non-reading residents in japan. even the non-english speaking residents would buy a camera if it had an english menu (a lot easier than japanese). but if panasonic wants to shut out those thousands of residents that is their choice. just buy an olympus e-p1. they include english menus. and it looks a lot nicer too.

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I just cannot fathom even trying to balance this with a 70-300 mm lens on it..I cannot imagine the camera mount being very good at supporting heavy lenses either..no doubt it will please those who want an SLR and are amazed at the control they can have over their photography..but then when they catch the shutterbug and start looking at lenses,decent flash units etc they will likely regret buying this camera.

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About English menus: Sony and Panasonic are the only 2 manufacturers that don't do English menus on any of their cameras. They are not cutting costs because they have to write 2 types of firmware: one for the Japanese and one for export markets. Export models cost a lot more in Japan and are limited in options (for example Sony DSLR don't come with body only option). They are sold only in selected duty free shops and are generally a lot cheaper if you buy abroad. They don't have Japanese option, so people like me are screwed because I am not planning to export it but want to use it in Japan with English option, and at the same time my Japanese girlfriend would fancy a Japanese menu. So instead of satisfying such customers with single solution of multilingual menu Sony and Panasonic chose to sacrifice potential customers to their competitors such as Canon or Olympus. I am not sure why they are doing it. Maybe they make extra buck from stupid gaijins on short term trip to Japan, but they are definitely loosing on long term residents.

About size: I think this is a great product because a lot of photographers here tend to take public transport and big size cameras are not a good option. However a small size 4:3 sensor restricts image quality (especially in the dark) and correct aspect ratio.

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About English menus: Sony and Panasonic are the only 2 manufacturers that don't do English menus on any of their cameras.

nisegaijin...please dont say that Sony dont do...my camera is a Sony (DSC-T33) and i have of course english menu !

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Though my Panasonic Lumix Dmc-lx2 has an English menu option.... I doubt the menu system will be Japanese only.

This will spawn competition in the market for an slr like compact (oly ep-1 )- exactly what I`ve been looking for

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People whining about the size need to kind of read through the article again. The target is people with tiny hands. As the owner of some really tiny hands, I would welcome any camera that I can hold easily without dropping. Lenses, flashes, they don't matter at all if I can't hold the camera to begin with.

As for English menus, my video camera has Japanese menus only and it's fine and easy to use. Most of the options are in katakana anyway.

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nisegaijin...please dont say that Sony dont do...my camera is a Sony (DSC-T33) and i have of course english menu !

Perhaps you should read my post again. I was very clear when I said that English menus are available for Export market that are available at limited duty free shops where they are more expensive or outside Japan. I have a Sony DSLR A300 that I bought in Australia. Japanese market model does not have English menu and the one I have doesn't have Japanese.

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Thanks for your imput nisegaijin. Curious if your Sony has an international guarantee. Panasonic offers no such thing. If you buy abroad and your panasonic breaks down you have to send it back to the dealer you bought it from. Now Olympus gives you an international guarantee and a choice of languages. It's E-P1 is as good or better than the Lumix GF1 and similarly priced. Who is smarter in the long run?

One more thing. The Lumix GF1 is NOT a single lens reflect camera (SLR). It does not have a reflect pentaprism. It has only electronic viewing.

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A 3 mega pixel regular slr digital will give you much better pictures than a 12 mega with such a tiny lens

It's the size of the sensor, not the lens.

But I agree with jeancolmar - this should NOT be called an SLR. It's an interchangeable lens camera, not an SLR. There was a similar mistake a few weeks ago when discussing the new Olympus Pen. These are both mirror-less cameras so have more in common with a rangefinder than an SLR.

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Argh, I forgot to finish my editing before submitting.

Anyway, both this camera and the Olympus Pen a micro 4/3 format, which uses a sensor of similar dimensions as an Olympus/Panasonic 4/3 camera (which is all of the current Olympus/Panasonic SLRs, IIRC). The image quality should be on par with what's capable with those cameras (depending on lens, of course).

But the micro 4/3 cameras can fit all 4/3 lenses with an adpater, and there's even an adapter available (or soon to be available) for Leica M lenses. These are the same ultra-high end lenses used on the M7-M8 cameras. Quite frankly, it doesn't get any better in image quality (or, incidentally, higher in price) than a Leica M lens, at least for non-medium format photography.

In short - this camera could produce stunning images in the right hands. Quite exciting to me!

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I am not sure what point of a "reflex" camera is when then gadget show the picture on an LCD in the back anyway? And what is this about targetting female buyers? Why would female buyers need a reflex camera more than male ones? Weird.

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My Ricoh Caplio GX8 I bought a few years ago has 9 Languages to choose from, and I bought it at a normal Electronics shop in Japan. Its a compact camera but got lots of things to fiddle with, manual ISO, aperture and exposure time up to 30 secs, but because its a compact camera pics can be grainy and using the flash results often in overexposure. On the other hand, I don't like to carry a fully-sized SLR around with me, so these new, slimmed down models might just be the right thing for people who have caught the shutter bug, but like to take pictures of their every-day-world around them.

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English language tech support is no problem. Just out-source it to cheaper Asia like everybody else does. ;-)

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someone is spreading falsies. My lumix cameras 1 P&S, 1 sub compact SLR and 1 full feature SLR all have english menus. All were bought new in Japan and all were domestic models. Sony has both models so ask your sales assistant to check it has other language options.

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An interesting read about cameras with English menus. There are hundreds of international websites offering better deals on English menu cameras than you could ever possibly get here. They may be last years stock or even last year's releases, but they are 20-50% cheaper than in Japan. Just cos they make them here doesn't mean you have ton pay their overly inflated prices for the newest thing, nor do you have to deal with the mullets at the denki.

I dropped Panasonic when they dropped their English menus. It's a shame because they are good cameras.
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No one is spreading falsies. Go to the local camera store, pick up a Panasonic four-thirds camera and try and find an English menu. I've talked to Panasonic reps and have had camera shops contact Panasonic with the same result. Japanese Only. No exceptions. As I said, there is no point in buying this camera abroad because there is no international guarantee. So I have decided to boycott Panasonic completely because of this. No more Panasonic products in our home.

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When you buy the same Panasonic cameras outside of Japan, they come with menus in English, Japanese and a zillion of other languages. Obviously they do the translation anyway. Selling a Japanese-only version in Japan actually increases the cost, as they have to handle different kinds of firmware.

The most probable reasons why they do it this way is warranty handling and/or market protection. Or some of that unique Japanese thinking like "if one of our customers accidentally changes the language and doesn't understand how to switch back to Japanese we'll have to support him and he might be pissed off"...

Coming back to the camera itself, I think there is a market for light cameras with interchangeable lenses - not only for women. This camera is definitely a step into the right direction. What is still missing is a set of high-quality, fast, but comparably compact, (prime) lenses with image stabilizer.

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Way to go Panasonic and 300 thousand over panasonic staff.

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Spudman, nobody is spreading false rumours. Lumix cameras sold in Japan did have English menus until a little more than a year ago when some idiots in Panasonic deemed that as this is Japan, everyone who buys a non-duty-free camera here must read Japanese.

I bought a Lumix for my son early last year and it had English menus. I bought another as a present for a friend in another country last summer. As it was a present, I did not open the box and unwrap everything. The salesman was unaware that English menus had been removed. English language reviews and Panasonic's English language homepage said it had English menus. When I complained to the Panasonic service centre, they basically told me to get lost as I could not have English menus.

Fortunately, the shop I bought the camera from had a better idea of service than Panasonic and gave me a refund.

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nisegaijin

I was very clear when I said that English menus are available for Export market that are available at limited duty free shops where they are more expensive or outside Japan... Japanese market model does not have English menu and the one I have doesn't have Japanese.

You are always very clear and very wrong...always.

I have been in Tokyo for 35 years and my camera was not bought in a duty free shop because as a permanent resident i cant buy things in Japan in that kind of shop...(thats for tourist if i have to explain everything)

Secondly and thats your second mistake, my japanese model has english menu AND japanese one, too.

Understood ?

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Okay nisegaijin, what model do you have? I thought we were talking about Panasonic's micro four-thirds cameras. All of those babies have Japanese Only menus in Japan. I know. I have tried vainly to get a G-1 with an English menu. Nothing doing. Japanese Only in Japan. Abroad I can have a lot of languages but I cannot getting an international warranty.

Panasonic looks like it is following a script written by Monty Python.

Thanks, I'll get an Olympus four-thirds camera when they make one with a proper viewfinder.

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Thanks, I'll get an Olympus four-thirds camera when they make one with a proper viewfinder.

I assume you mean micro 4/3 camera? All the Olympus standard 4/3 cameras are normal SLRs with proper viewfinders.

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Boy, people really get their panties in a bunch over trivial things like English menus. How difficult is it to figure out the Japanese language menus?- they are all function based, and camera operation is basically a repetitive exercise. It's not like you're reading the Kojiki. Anyway, like people have suggested, just buy a different camera- preferably from a "real" camera maker like Canon or Nikon;-)

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Right. Micro four-thirds. Olympus will have what I want before long I am sure.

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How difficult is it to figure out the Japanese language menus?

LOL! even with an english menu there is a pretty steep learning curve on these new cameras. if you want to just point and shoot fine. but if you often dig into the system forget about it.

has anyone tried loading an english version firmware into a japanese camera?

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upnorth71 You are right, it was a little too much "emphased" for so much trivial things.

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Will they make their delivery date, a third of the assembly line staff were thrown out of the country.

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English language menu is not trivial. When you really want to use an electronic gadget to it's full potential, you really need to understand the menus. The more advanced the gadget, the more you need to understand. I just bought a Canon Kiss X3 (as it's called in Japan) last month. It has so many buttons and settings, I would be completely lost without the English menus. To strip a gadget of a particular feature for no apparent reason is just stupid. This was a blunder for Panasonic. Obviously they have the ability to provide English (or whatever language) menus, why exclude it? In a tough and competitive economic climate, you don't want to give any prospect pause when considering your product versus the competition.

Thank god for real camera makers like Canon and Nikon. You shouldn't just buy a camera anyway. When you buy a DSLR you have to think of the ecosystem i.e. lens and attachments. If you really think that far, you would never buy a Panasonic DSLR in the first place. They make cool video cameras though.

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When you buy a DSLR you have to think of the ecosystem i.e. lens and attachments. If you really think that far, you would never buy a Panasonic DSLR in the first place.

The ecosystem? Like the plants and trees?

Anyway, Panasonic & Olympus are interchangeable in their lenses and accessories. And as I mentioned in an earlier post the Panasonic micro 4/3 cameras can use high-quality Leica M & R glass. Olympus glass is very nice as well....

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