Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 is the natural successor to the popular GF1, taking many of its design cues from that two-year-old camera whilst incorporating virtually all of the recent advances that Panasonic have made in their other G/GF-series cameras. Breaking the compact enthusiast design out into its own range makes perfect sense, with the GF-series now aimed predominantly at new compact system camera users, the G-series at DSLR-wannabees, and the GF at those looking for a combination of the two. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 does have some serious competition though, most notably from the Sony NEX-7 which squeezes an integrated EVF, flip-out screen and larger APS-C sensor into an almost identically sized body. That shouldn't detract from the GX1, though, which successfully takes on the mantle of the GF1 to create a great camera in its own right.
We're a little less sure about the new 14-42mm power-zoom lens, though, which is one of the two kit lens options for the GX1. While it undoubtedly makes the overall package smaller, impressively being similar in size to Panasonic's 20mm pancake lens, we really missed having zoom and focus rings, instead replaced by slower and less precise push-pull switches. Thankfully you can also buy the GX1 with the more conventional 14-42mm lens or body-only, so its definitely best to try before you buy and see which lens best suits you. Even with the standard 14-42mm lens, the GX1 is smaller than the Sony NEX-7 and its comparable 18-55mm lens, lens size being one of the key advantages that Micro Four Thirds overs over the APS-C compact system cameras.
Sharing the same sensor as the DMC-G3, the GX1 achieves the same very neat trick of increasing the resolution from the GF3 and improving the image quality at the same time, in particular moving things on in the ISO stakes, with noise not rearing its ugly head until ISO 1600. Recent DSLR users probably won't be impressed by this feat, but in the world of Micro Four Thirds it's a big advancement, although again the likes of Sony's NEX system and Samsung's NX series have the edge thanks to their larger sensors.
The GX1's improved touch-sensitive screen helps to deliver all the convenience and more of a compact camera shooting experience, while the plethora of external buttons and controls means that you could completely ignore the touchscreen if you want to, although you'd be mad not to at least experiment with using it. The GX1 is also one of the most customisable cameras that we've reviewed, with no less than four configurable Function buttons and four custom shooting modes on offer. Completing the GX1's impressive bag of tricks are the super-fast auto-focusing system, with times of under 0.1 second with the standard power-zoom kit lens, 4.2fps burst shooting, and the improved Full 1080i HD video mode complete with stereo sound, continuous auto-focusing, and both AVCHD and MP4 support.
The new GX-series unfortunately doesn't quite slot into place between the GF and G ranges, costing as much as the G3 with the same 14-42mm lens, so it's more of a direct alternative rather to our favourite compact system camera of 2011. We'd still just give the edge to the G3 thanks to its built-in EVF and rotating LCD screen, and the Sony NEX-7 that we're also reviewing soon is definitely a very big rival, but if you want virtually all of Panasonic's compact system camera technologies in a small, customisable and intuitive package, the new Lumix DMC-GX1 fits the bill almost perfectly.
|Ratings (out of 5)|
|Value for money||4|