Panasoinc Lumix DMC-GX1 review: Panasoinc Lumix DMC-GX1

The camera includes a flash similar to the GF3's, which you can hold tilted back to bounce the light, a nice touch, and the hot shoe doubles as a mount for an optional electronic viewfinder. Aside from that, the controls have a fairly typical layout. The mode dial includes the usual set of PASM modes, plus two slots for four custom settings groups, scene modes, and Panasonic's rather uninspiring Creative Control special-effects modes. There's also an iA intelligent auto override button for quickly jumping in and out of auto mode, a Panasonic-specific implementation I like, and a video record button.

The back contains the usual array of controls as well, including two programmable function buttons, a button for toggling between manual and autofocus, and a jog dial for mode-specific adjustments. As with its sibling cameras, the GX1 has a great hybrid interface, which can operate either via the extremely customizable touch screen or completely via the hard controls; for instance, you can select which options appear on the Quick Menu, place the histogram anywhere on the screen, and perform almost any operation with either the buttons or touch. With the new PZ lenses, you can also zoom via the touch screen, at two different fixed and one variable speed, and it provides a readout of the focal length, a level of precision I like.

  Nikon 1 V1 Olympus E-P3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Samsung NX200 Sony Alpha NEX-5N
Sensor (effective resolution) 10-megapixel CMOS 12.3-megapixel Live MOS 16-megapixel Live MOS 20.3-megapixel CMOS 16.1-megapixel Exmor HD CMOS
13.2 x 8.8 mm 17.3mm x 13mm 17.3 x 13.0mm 23.5mm x 15.7mm 23.5mm x 15.6mm
Focal-length multiplier 2.7x 2.0x 2.0x 1.5x 1.5x
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/6,400 (expanded) ISO 200 - ISO 12,800 ISO 160 - ISO 12,80 ISO 100 - ISO 12,800 ISO 100 - ISO 25,600
Continuous shooting 5fps
n/a
(60fps with fixed AF and electronic shutter)
3.0 fps
unlimited (LN) JPEG/17 raw
4.2fps
unlimited JPEG/9 raw
7fps
11 JPEG/9 raw
3 fps
unlimited JPEG/6 raw
(10fps with fixed exposure)
Viewfinder
mag/ effective magnification
0.47-inch
1.44 million dots
100% coverage
n/a
Optional Optional None Optional
Autofocus 73-point
phase detection, 135-area contrast AF
35-area contrast AF 23-area contrast AF 15-point contrast AF 25-area contrast AF
Shutter speed 30 - 1/16,000; bulb; 1/250 sec x-sync 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/4,000 FP sync 60-1/4,000 sec; bulb to 2 minutes; 1/160 sec x-sync 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb to 4 minutes 30-1/4,000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 sec x-sync
Metering n/a 324 area 144 zone 221 segment 1200 zone
Flash Included optional Yes Yes Included optional Included optional
Image stabilization Optical Sensor shift Optical Optical Optical
Video 1080/60/30p; 720/60p H.264 MPEG-4 QuickTime MOV AVCHD: 1080/60i @ 20, 17Mbps; 720/60p @ 13Mbps AVCHD: 1080/60i/50i @ 17, 13 Mbps
720/60p/50p @17,13 Mbps: MPEG-4: 1080/30p/25p @ 20Mbps
720/30p H.264 MPEG-4 AVCHD: 1080/60p @ 28, 24Mbps, 1080/24p @ 24, 17Mbps, 1080/60i @ 17Mbps; H.264 MPEG-4
Manual shutter speed and aperture in video Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Audio Stereo; mic input Stereo; mic input Stereo Stereo Stereo; mic input
LCD size 3-inch fixed
921,600 dots
3-inch fixed OLED
614,000 dots
3-inch fixed touch screen
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
614,000 dots
3-inch tilting
921,600 dots
Battery life (CIPA rating) 350 shots 330 shots 310 shots 330 shots 430 shots
Dimensions (inches, WHD) 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.7 4.8 x 2.7 x 1.4 4.6 x 2.7 x 1.6 4.6 x 2.5 x 1.4 4.4 x 2.4 x 1.6
Body operating weight (ounces) 12 (est) 13.0 11.3 9 (est) 9.3 (without flash)
Mfr. price n/a n/a $699.99 (body only) n/a $599.99 (body only)
$899.95 (with 10-30mm lens) $899.99 (with 14-42mm lens) $949.99 (with X PZ 14-42mm lens) $899.99 (with 18-55mm i-Function lens) $699.99 (with 18-55mm lens)
$1,149.95 (dual lens kit) $899.99 (with 17mm f2.8 lens) $799.99 (with standard 14-42mm lens) n/a n/a
Ship date October 2011 August 2011 December 2011 September 2011 September 2011

The LCD is fine: it's bright, if somewhat low resolution--good enough for manual focus, though--and usable in direct sunlight.

My sole complaint about the interface is that some of the buttons are flush with the body and hard not only to feel, but to press. This includes the movie record button, which provides little tactile feedback and the Q Menu button, which is simply too important to be so hard to feel. The silver buttons are also etched, rather than labeled, and it's nearly impossible to see the etching in dim light without tilting the camera toward a light source.

My biggest design reservations have nothing to do with the camera and more to do with the X series lens, and the lens in kit with the camera. I really like the concept behind the powered lens, and that it automatically retracts when you power off and becomes quite compact. It's quick and quiet, with good stabilization, and optically seems about the same as its traditional 14-42mm counterpart.

But the placement of the zoom and manual focus switches is really awkward, especially if you're shooting without the optional EVF; I always feel like I'm contorting my hand to operate the zoom when holding the LCD at eye level. My thumb naturally falls on the manual focus switch, which left me frustratingly trying to zoom while accidentally operating the wrong control. Furthermore, using a switch for manual focus feels annoyingly imprecise compared with a manual focus ring. The lens is really optimized for shooting video, and the location of the switches seems like it would be most comfortable either with an EVF or articulated LCD, neither of which the GX1 has. Given how much extra the lens costs over the older kit lens, I highly suggest trying the camera with both before buying.

The feature set is solid, but there's nothing particularly exceptional beyond what competitors offer, and a tilting or articulated LCD would be really nice. It does offer a seven-shot exposure bracket, with a six-stop range, which should appeal to HDR shooters. Panasonic introduced a new AF mode with the GX1, AFF (Autofocus Flexible), that's designed to adjust to small movements of the subject that presumably fall through the cracks between tracking AF and continuous AF, but I couldn't get it to exhibit any advantage over the older AF methods and focus area options--and for which the GX1 offers a lot of choices.

Conclusion
The GX1 may not have retro-tastic looks, but it's a well-designed, really good ILC that's got a lot to offer advanced shooters, as long as you're not trying to capture sports. Definitely try out the power zoom lens before committing to that kit, though.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Nikon 1 J1
1 
1.3 
1.1 
0.4 
0.2 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
1 
0.6 
0.5 
0.6 
0.3 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3
0.6 
0.6 
0.6 
0.6 
0.3 
Olympus PEN E-P3
0.6 
0.8 
0.7 
0.6 
0.3 
Sony NEX-5N
1.2 
1.1 
1 
0.6 
0.3 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in fps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Nikon 1 J1
5.1 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1
4 

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Dec 15, 2011
  • Optical Sensor Type Live MOS
  • Sensor Resolution 16.0 Megapixel
  • Optical Sensor Size 13.0 x 17.3mm