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What Camera Am I Using for My Video Posts? The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

A couple of weeks ago I posted a video post on family blogging balance (see the full sized video here). While my son stole the show in the video a little one of the main questions I was asked after posting the video was ‘what camera did you shoot it with?’

This prompted me to shoot this video – one that answer the question. The camera I’m now using (and I switch to it halfway through the video) is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. It is a still camera but the video it shoots is lovely.

The main thing people seemed to like about my original video was the depth of field (or the out of focus background) – something that is made possible with the GF1′s 20mm lens large aperture (f1.7). It also is a HD camera and the glass on that particular lens is a high quality. I’ll let you check out the comparison of the video for yourself.

Watch this video at its full size at Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1.

PS: for a review of this camera see it at Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 Review on my photography blog.

Video Transcription

I’ve had this video transcribed below for those who prefer to get it that way. The transcription provided by The Transcription People.

Darren: Hi there. It’s Darren from ProBlogger here. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been experimenting with a new camera for these video posts. You’re actually not viewing video taken with that camera right now because I want to show it to you in person. The camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMCGF1, the Lumix GF1. The reason I’m talking about is … is the amount of people that emailed me after I put up my first post with it, asking me what the camera was. Obviously the video that it was producing was a little bit clearer, and thing that people were commenting about, particularly with the video and I’ll link to it, was the depth of field. What you will notice with this camera on the video and perhaps I’ll insert a little bit of it into this clip, is that the background was really out of focus in comparison to this video released on … assuming this video will be.

The reason for that is that this camera comes with this lens. It’s a prime lens in that it doesn’t have a zoom. It’s a 20 mm lens so it’s a reasonably wide-open lens so you get quite a wide angle on it, but its aperture is 1.7. The aperture is how big the lens opens up and really this lens is a very fast lens, what they call a fast lens because it allows a lot of light in at once, and when you open up the lens that big, it actually makes the depth of field a lot shallower, so what I am here, I’m in focus but what’s back there will be out of focus when you’re shooting with this lens.

The lens I’m shooting with now, this camera that you’re viewing me on now, is a Canon S90 and it’s aperture I think is, let me have a look here, I think it ranges from 2 to 4.9 depending on the focal length. So it’s not as fast and as a result you’ll find that the depth of field is less shallow and so you get more in focus back there, which is fine if you want to keep everything in focus, but to get everything out of focus back there actually makes you as the subject stand out a little bit.

I am now shooting on the Panasonic GF1. This, the camera that I was shooting with before, much smaller camera – a Canon – and really does take a reasonable quality video. But the other thing that I like about the Panasonic is because you’ve got this really wide aperture it lets a lot of light in. You can actually shoot video in a darker room, without quite as much light. At the moment I’m shooting and it is sunny outside so I’ve got a fair bit of light coming in, but the video that I first shot this on, it was on quite a gloomy day and I wasn’t sitting in really open light situation, and yet because of that nice wide open lens it let a lot of light in. So hopefully you can see a bit of difference between this video and the one that I shot before on this. Both, personally I could go with either one. This one to me is just a little bit nicer and like I said before it’s a little bit sharper and that depth of field gives it a nice effect as well. So I hope you can see a bit of the difference now so I might just go back to the other video.

So anyway, it’s a Panasonic Lumix DMCGF1. It’s not the cheapest camera out there. It’s what they call a “micro four thirds” camera so it’s a new type of camera sort of in between the point and shoot and the digital SLR. It takes a really nice still shot as well. It’s a little bit smaller than a full sized digital SLR but it has a little bit more power than something like the Canon that I’m shooting this on at the moment.

I personally prefer to have a still camera that takes good quality video over having a good still camera and a good video camera separate, I like to have them in the one thing so I can just carry the one thing around. The good thing about this camera is that it’s got detachable lenses so you can add other ones.

The reason I’ve got this one is … is because it is so fast and really all the reviews that I’ve read of all of the other lenses that fit on this, this one leaves them for dead. It’s the 20 mm 1.7. So you can get this as a kit together. It’s not the cheapest camera in the world but the quality of it is really great.

Anyway, that’s the camera I’m using at the moment. I’d love to hear what sort of camera you use in the comments below.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Darren,

    This is so cool! I use a video camera. My question is how are you setting up a regular camera to shoot video?

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  2. Stephen says:

    I bought a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 recently and the quality of the video is amazing considering the camera is basically a point and shoot. Got it quite cheap from Amazon as the model is being revamped.

  3. I also have Canon s90 and I like it very much. Well it seems Panasonic Lumix Dfcg1 is great but Till now I havnt used it. Thanks btw, Ankush, http://ankushwood.blogspot.com

  4. Darren, if I were as good-looking as you I’d videotape myself on the Panasonic JF1 too, … thus I’ll probably stick with something like the Lumix for me. :)

    This post of yours comes at an ideal time, as I’m “between cameras.” I’m relying my iPhone 3GS in the interim — which does an o.k. job for some stills if I play the light just right.

    Appreciate your advice about carrying around just one camera that emphasizes good still quality, with video not as important — sounds right up my alley. Awesome tip, thanks!

  5. Hey Darren,
     
    I have to agree in the fact your son stole the show.  I found it funny with him playing in the background (if this is the video your speaking about).  It’s amazing how the little ones take the show.
     
    I must admit that I have always thought of using a video camera for any video that I want to upload, and have never thought of using a camera to take such a clear and elegant video.  
     

  6. Yes, your son stole the show. But, as I re-watched that video again, I have to say, I love listening to you speak. Maybe it’s the accent, or the down-to-earth personality, but you have a way of drawing me into your world. Good going!

    The video does look impressive. What’s cool about it is the fact that it’s different. The perspective and out of focus background is something rarely seen in other videos. It adds some professionalism and makes it stand out in a crowd. The next time I’m looking at a new video camera, I think I’ll pick this up. Nice work.

  7. Roshan says:

    Hi Darren,
    Never knew that there are these much details to talk about the camera. Anyway, your video quality is awesome even after you’ve uploaded it to YouTube. It’s so sharp and clear. As you’ve said, I don;t have a separate camera for taking still images and recording videos. For me still is of high priority.

    Roshan Ahmed ;)

  8. Lelkoun says:

    I have Olympus SP-800UZ. Funny thing – it has 30x zoom lenses… :)

  9. I started off using a cheap, $300 Sony camera. However, the picture wasn’t good at all, so I had to switch. At this point, I’m using the web-cam provided with the MacBook Pro. It’s nothing like the camera you’re using, but the video quality is pretty good
    (better than the Sony I got).

    In the next month or two, I’m planning on upgrading to the camera you use. It really looks great.

  10. I’m glad you just shared that with us Darren. I was wondering what kind of camera you shot your video with, but I never would have thought you chose a still camera.

    The quality is excellent. I’m going to take your advice. Thanks.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  11. Robby G says:

    I am planning on shooting a short film this summer and I am dying to get the Canon XL2 but it’s around $5000, so it’s a big debate between this camera and a Suzuki Boulevard M50 cruiser motorcycle. Bah, decisions, decisions. I guess I’ll just buy the Suzuki and rent the Canon. Wish I had both though, anyone know of any contests?

  12. I definitley think a good quality camera makes all the difference. The Transcription People have done an awesome relay your video to text. Was it a costly venture?

  13. Hi Darren!

    Thanks for this info. It’s always great to hear from the best of the best. I love your video blogs.

    Whilst I can’t buy this camera right this minute, I will soon enough; on your recommendation.

    Thanks again.

  14. Ray says:

    Hi Darren, do you use the internal mic in the camera or some other mic

  15. I prefer using the flip nano and then taking video still shots

  16. Alexander says:

    I’m glad to hear a good review on the Panasonic because I’ve been looking for a new one for a while now. I think I may have to seriously consider this one since mine died some time ago. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive, but I guess it’s worth it for a good camera! :)

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  18. I am not sure about Panasonic, but after I used Sony, I switch to Canon.

  19. Gina says:

    I thought the sound from the Canon was better, but anyway, how do you get sound from those cameras? Is it a built-in microphone or do you have to add a separate one?

  20. Fred Kapoor says:

    @Alexander, the same happened to me and after getting a lot of positive feedback on Panasonic, and after reading this article I will start looking for a proper Panasonic camera for the type of videos I need. I will also advice this to the entrepreneurs I interact with, looking for further options when it comes to the gadgets used to create their videos for their business blogs. I will tell them to read the article.
    Thanks for sharing this useful info.

  21. My site is about playing harmonica so I have to have great audio. I often shoot in clubs and bars so I need good low light. I chose the Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera. It has better low light than cameras twice the price. I do give up a lot of manual settings that I would like to have but it has good automatic settings to make up for it.

    The reason I got it was because of the stereo Mic input. I can hook it up to a sound board at a live event or use high quality mics for interviews. I am thinking about mating it with the Zoom H4N 4 channel portable digital recorder. It would allow me to mic room noise and my subjects to give an interview a natural live venue sound and do high quality recordings of live events if I can’t hook up to the sound board.

  22. Daniel says:

    I love the GF1. The build quality is solid—it feels like a sturdy truck in your hands. To squeeze this level of image quality into a camera of this size was unheard of until just recently.

    Also, the Micro Four Thirds standard delivers results that approximate the results achieved with entry-level DSLRs. Ultimately, the GF1 does not measure up as a substitute for DSLR, but serves as a great complement to one—especially for those wanting to carry a small light body.

  23. Darren, cool video and great info. I just bought a Lumix ZS3 a few months ago and for a $300 camera, it is just amazing. I’ve started taking all my videos with it. They’re clear and crisp and I don’t have to lug around a large camera or a flip or my original Cannon video. Just love it! I’ll have to check this model out as well.

    Enjoying your posts. :)

  24. Darren, I never lay my hands on canon/panasonic, but looks to be quite good. As for the background, I like the way you choose your video backgrounds, even though it’s indoor video. Nice to these videocasts!

    @Gina, I have the same opinion about canon’s sound quality being better.

  25. Vince says:

    I use a flipHD that I super glued a step up ring to so I can run a wide angle lens – http://twitpic.com/1fjom8

  26. alwaysLovely says:

    Darren,
    Thanks for sharing.
    It’s interesting to hear you talk about the equipment that you use.
    Those technical terms are too much for me to understand haha! But I still enjoy this video post.
    I personally switch to a simple flip video recently but was using a Nikon digital camera but have too much noise and I don’t know how to edit my video.
    Is there a free simple video editor you or anyone here recommends?
    I’m using Windows btw (Realized many bloggers use Mac)

  27. Kimi says:

    Hey Darren,

    I have been wondering with what camera you shoot your videos, the quality is so clear and nice, love your videos, especially with your cute “pirate” boy

  28. Glenn says:

    Hi Darren, I think you forgot to mention that it’s mostly the larger sensor that provides the shallow depth of field, although a fast lens like that f1.7 pancake definitely helps also :)

    I use a really cheap pocket sized Canon Ixy 510 IS (Ixus 110) myself that I’ve shot a few music videos with including this one – http://vimeo.com/9560441 I’ve been looking at the GF1 with the 20mm though, quite a nice combination!

  29. Darren, do you use an external microphone for your web videos, or just the built in one?

  30. Huh? This is all new to me. I never knew you could get sound out of a camera. Technology has progressed so much since the last time I checked. Anyway, that’s useful information. I wish you the greatest success Darren. Keep it up!

    Miky

  31. gokhan says:

    I am not sure about Panasonic, but after I used Sony, I switch to Canon.

  32. Dave says:

    This is an interesting discussion – using a video camera & extracting stills versus a digital camera that can shoot video.

    I’m mostly on this site for blogging info but will use video at times. In speaking to an excellent videographer with whom I collaborated in the past, he suggested that a good HD video camera is a nice way to go and then pull stills from it if needed. I have to admit that it’s been a lot of fun experimenting with a little Flip Ultra HD lately. Examining the 30 frames per second & finding the right instant to steal an image seems to afford a great opportunity at locating that perfect image versus trying to time everything just right in shooting stills. Apologies if that’s heresy to the true photographers out there…I’m just an amateur speculating here.

    Also it seems some resolution is lost in going from the video to the “snapshot” that the Flip software provides. I’m guessing there might be a means of bumping up the quality of the stills? And of course a better camera, zoom lens or working with an external light source versus a flash for low light shooting all present a variety of challenges.

    But all in all, just a lot of fun tools emerging that weren’t available a short time ago.

    Thanks for the informative exchanges here.

  33. Daniel says:

    Well i use a Panasonic DMC-LZ7

    its not the best but gets the job done =]

    greetinz from Brazil!

  34. Whew.. I think Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1 is a little too expensive. It’s about $700. I really prefer using FlipHD, the video quality is good and it’s not that expensive, about 300 bucks.
    Btw, nice post Darren :)

    -Nick

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  36. I’ve just had a look at this and was surprised to see it wasn’t a dedicated ‘video camera’. I’ve got a Cannon 5D. However, with the imminent arrival of my first son. I have been thinking of getting a video. I think this post has made me realise I’ve got good equipment, why substitute it with not so good stuff. Plus, it’s more gear to cart about!

  37. panorama says:

    I am not sure about Panasonic, but after I used Sony, I switch to Canon.

  38. Vince says:

    Hey Darren what format do u film in and what’s the easiest way to format the files have u found for YouTube? got a lot of footage on my gf1 that I want to put on my travel blog but too lazy to edit and upload…

  39. bakugan says:

    But all in all, just a lot of fun tools emerging that weren’t available a short time ago.

  40. Samo Zain says:

    Hi Darren!
    prefer using the flip nano !!! smile

  41. Michelle says:

    I’ve been using a trusty Canon HV30 for years for video. . For a consumer camera, it’s been really good to me, and I admit I’m finding it hard to transition from MiniDV’s. I have however, been looking for a good still camera, and I suppose it might be nice to be able to shoot video with it. I might become a convert.

  42. Great Camera choice, people tend to over think what cameras to use for a you-tube video. When it really doesn’t matter all that much.

  43. dimok says:

    Hi, Darren. Great video, quality is near perfect.

    One question is still have no answer: what microphone do you use? And how do you process audio after recording?

  44. hi, after watching ur video, i’m thinking to switch my camera :)

  45. DGB says:

    Hello Darren,

    Thanks for your tutorial. I would say that for the video the first camera is better maybe just because of the sound quality it provides. And the Lumix one is of course better for pictures. To be honest I do not think panasonic is the best choice for taking both: video and pictures.

    Myself I am using Nikon D5000 and it is completely exciting camera for me as a beginner in DSLR photography.

  46. Thanks for sharing, I’m not much of a tech guy, but I have always thought your video are quality. Glad you happened to share this info while I am in the market.

  47. Ingrid says:

    I tested this camera and liked a lot, optimal image quality, I recommend!

  48. Cliff Truss says:

    Hi Darren,

    I really liked the quality of the video from the Panasonic camera. It just seemed a lot more clearer and deeper. Thanks for letting us know about it.

    I haven’t actually started using live video in my marketing efforts just yet, although I plan to do so in the very near future. I will probably use my Casio Exlim or my iPhone.

    Great site BTW (but you already knew that eh?) :-)

    Best wishes,

    Cliff

  49. Nadia says:

    I’ve been looking for a camera to use for future video posts. Yours is excellent and the quality superb! Thanks for sharing!

    I have used Flip and Vado and have been disappointed with both the sound and quality.

  50. I am planning on shooting a short film this summer and I am dying to get the Canon XL2 but it’s around $5000, so it’s a big debate between this camera and a Suzuki Boulevard M50 cruiser motorcycle. Bah, decisions, decisions. I guess I’ll just buy the Suzuki and rent the Canon.

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