I really like these little guys if you couldn't tell. Handling on the GF1 and LX5 are very very similar. I do wish they were exactly the same but they are close enough. I wanted to provide a couple of images so you could all see how big they are and how similar they are. I also wanted to provide a little additional commentary on the GF1 since I got the new one the other day.
First off I would declare the focusing speed between the E-P1 and GF1 a tie. One will do better on some scenes and the other will do better on others. Both of them are fast enough for most things. I guess growing up with rangefinders and manual focus I am not that picky. Neither of these micro 4/3 cameras are so bad that I wouldn't use them for just about anything I shoot. You may have to use your head in certain situations but as I said - if you can't nail just about anything you want and are prepared to shoot there is a good chance it's not the camera's fault.
There are some things that I really like on the GF1 - when you are in single area auto focus you can move the area around easily and change the size from really broad to microscopic. The E-P1 in the same mode allows you to quickly change around a bunch of fixed size/fixed position focus areas. Personally I like the GF1's operation better. Put the focus point anywhere and make it as broad or as precise as you like. In my reality I will know compositionally how I want my shot to turn out and what focus point I care about. The down side is moving the focus spot around is slower than the method of the E-P1. I can see where some would care about that more. My understanding is that the E-P2 operates somewhere in between what the GF1 does and the E-P1 does. In other words fix points and choice of two sizes. That might be best of all. (uh oh, no, no, there is no E-P2 needed here).
Here is the big surprise - the LX5 focuses as fast or faster than both of them. I don;t think it is a software/method thing. I really think that the two micro 4/3 lenses that I own right now, the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 and the Olympus 14-42 have really slow motors compared to say a Nikon AFS 24-70 f/2.8. Maybe we'll see some faster ultrasonic motors down the road. I hear that the Panasonic 14-42 is much faster (no - not enough in the "saved money" account for that, see that's why I got the LX5). The only situation where the LX5 is slower is extreme macro (none of them are super fast in that scenario) and when the light is very low. The E-P1 and the GF1 kill the LX5 in low light.
As you can see the design of the GF1 and LX5 are almost identical. I really like what they did with the grip on the LX5 - hope to see that down the road in the GF2 or something. You can't tell but it's rubberized and not only looks good but really helps hold this little guy. What you can't see in the images is how classy both these cameras look in person. They are really good looking devices. The Olympus Pen's have the overall style and looks award but… To tell you the truth I really like the GF1 and LX5 better in real life. Not nearly as heavy as the E-P1 but very very solid and sturdy. They feel good and I feel a little less like I am wearing some piece of jewelry. Not a big thing but the Olympus might be too pretty.
In terms of controls I like the actual physical buttons and wheels on the E-P1 better. They feel better and are slightly better placed for my hands but it's a close contest. I would say they are all workable. No real complaints but my biggest complaint is that the Panasonic jog wheel on both the GF1 and LX5 are too too tight and the button action built into the jog wheel is too hard to press. There is no way to "accidentally" move that wheel or cause it to depress. I guess that's good but you can go too far. They have way more resistance than a Nikon jog wheel and they are smaller. I hope I can loosen them up over time. This is funny because the Olympus thumbwheel gets complained about being too easy to turn, I would say not.