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You might remember when I asked if the Olympus E-P1 was the most hyped camera in history? Some Olympus fanboys (as well as some who write about cameras for a living) didn’t like my post. Sorry but I call em’ like I see em.’

Well Panasonic recently announced the GF1. It’s a direct shot at Olympus’ new E-P1. While I’ve not used either camera, I can read a spec sheet as well as the next person and I note some interesting features in the GF1.

The GF1 has a built-in flash where the EP-1 does not. It also offers faster auto-focusing, and an optional electronic view finder. The E-P1 received a fair amount of criticism for not offering a 1080p HD movie movie mode and it looks like Panasonic decided not to pay attention to that. They answered with 720p, HD video of their own.

While there’s no denying the fact that the E-P1 is cooler looking to many – I don’t know or hang out with any photographers who buy a camera because it is pretty. The folks I hang with buy a camera because it works well for them.

The E-P1 may be a better choice for some. But assuming the street price for the two cameras is similar, and assuming the Panasonic performs up to par, I see the Panasonic as coming out the winner.

My only hesitation is that I am concerned about Panasonic’s RAW file format. As a frustrated LX-3 owner, I am distrustful about how Panasonic handles RAW. So we have to wait and see on that front.

But on paper at least, I think the GF1 has a chance to de-throne the Olympus. There is one other variable, and forgive the inside baseball. Panasonic’s PR department is in my opinion, terrible. Olympus on the other hand has great PR and has succeeded in creating lots of hype for their camera. If it comes down to who has the better PR department, I say Olympus will win. If it comes down to the better camera – well the jury is still out.
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