The DMC-LF1 is a tiny camera, even thinner than my DMC- ZS20. To make matters even worse. the LF1 doesn’t have a handgrip like the ZS20, so you basically support the weight of the camera by squeezing from either side, which tires your hand and makes it more likely that you'll drop the camera.
Luckily, there's an answer. Flipbac (flipbac.com) makes a series of stick-on grips designed to fix this problem. There are four different grips and I chose the G1 as the best for this situation.
These grips have a special 3M adhesive that allows them to be removed and repositioned until you find the best fit. After some trial and error, I chose the position you see in the picture above. This was most comfortable for my hand, but you may have to experiment to find the best for yours.
The grip itself does not have a rounded edge, but comes to rather a sharp one that I found uncomfortable. So I took my trusty Swiss Army knife and carved away at the grip until it felt better.
So what's the payoff from all this effort?
The first thing is that now, when I go to pull the LF1 from its belt pouch, there's something to hold on to and I can tell which way the camera is oriented.
The grip makes the camera more stable and secure in my hand, less likely to slip from my grip. In many ways, this does the work of a wrist strap, but without the annoyance and inconvenience. This is probably why most cameras have some sort of hand grip.
Another benefit of the grip is that when I hold the camera, my index finger rests naturally on the shutter button. It's stopped me from accidentally pressing the On/Off button by mistake.
Since adding the grip, I find it's easier to hold the camera steady at longer exposures.
The Flipbac grips cost about $10 each and they're available from Flipbac, Amazon.com, or Adorama.com.
Something interesting happened when I tried to take a picture of the LF1 with its handgrip using my ZS20. The problem is that the LF1 is solid black and the ZS20 kept overexposing the picture. You could point the ZS20 slightly away until the exposure looks right, but the ZS20 does not have an exposure lock, which would greatly simplify matters.
In the end, I took the picture with my DMC-FZ150, which does have an exposure lock. As I've mentioned before, the lack of an exposure lock on the ZS20 made it difficult to get the right exposure at times, and it's one of the advantages that the LF1 has over the older model.
Now let's talk philosophy. I've read a number of reviews of the DMC-LF1 and they all spend a lot time comparing this camera to other models and other makers. I guess it's a natural thing for reviewers to do.
The problem is that the DMC-LF1 is a whole new breed of camera -- a pocket-size camera with an electronic viewfinder. And since no one else makes anything that's even close, there really is nothing to compare it to.
The DMC-LF1 takes some getting used to. Its viewfinder is not the greatest, and the lens and image quality are not Panasonic's finest works. But, in the end, these are just quibbles. The LF1 opens a whole new era in digital photography and, like it or not, that's what people should be discussing.
Even though I've had a similar camera (ZS20), it's still taken a while to get acclimated to the LF1's viewfinder and its different controls. In many ways, it's like picking up your first 35mm rangefinder camera.
Over the weeks that I've been using the LF1, I've seen the quality of my pictures improving from when I first began using it. I'd like to think of it as "breaking in" the camera, like a new car or a new pair of shoes. But, in the end, I'm afraid that the camera is breaking me in and, in many ways, forcing me to see differently.
With the LF1, I've already taken pictures that would have been difficult with the ZS20 and I'm looking forward to where this new adventure will lead.