Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 hands-on preview and image samples




Another potential cult fave from Panasonic Lumix?

Note, this article has also been published on sibling site: Digital Photography Now

Panasonic Lumix's new DMC-GX1 bears more than a simple resemblance to the old GF1

  • Expected pricing: Bundle with G Vario 14-42mm kit lens £599 (available mid-December). With X-series power zoom lens £729. LVF2 electronic viewfinder - £229.

There is no escaping the fact that the replacement for the Lumix GF1, the smaller and lighter GF2, had a hard act to follow. If you ask many a camera journalist what their favourite compact system camera is, many would say the Lumix DMC-GF1 and quite a few actually own and use one. People like the solid and chunky, yet fairly compact, design that provides most of the most-accessed controls in conventional fashion. While the GF2 was a bit of a flop, Lumix fans were saying - we want an updated GF1, please. That request has been granted and here it is in the form of the new DMC-GX1.

Key features:

  • 16 megapixel LiveMOS sensor from the G3
  • Digital level
  • Metal body
  • New optional 1.4 megadot LVF2 electronic viewfinder
  • Stereo microphones plus external mic port
  • HD video recording now supports MP4 format
  • Bundle option with conventional 14-42mm kit or X-series power zoom 14-42mm lens
  • AFF (Auto Focus Flexible)
  • Clearer view via doubled refresh when shutter release half depressed
  • One touch AE override function
  • Low key and toy effect modes added to Creative Control options
  • 3 inch 460K dot resistive touch screen

Getting to know the GX1

With its confidence-inspiring raised rubber grip and chunky design, the GX1 is a nice camera to hold. And there isn't a paucity of controls on the outside of the metal casing (available in black and slightly toned dark silver). Everything is roughly where you expect to find it in a conventional sense. There is also a conventional hot shoe and this now sports a dedicated connector for new accessories that fit to the shoe, like the new 1.4M dot VF.

The guts of the GX1 are carried over from the Lumix DMC-G3, which has been topping the compact system camera sales chart in the UK. This means you get the 16 megapixel LiveMOS sensor and matching Venus Engine FHD image processor. A touch screen, although of the resistive variety rather than the more desirable capacitive type, is now pretty much standard on Lumix G-Series cameras and the GX1 sports the familiar 460K dot panel we have seen on several other G-series models.

There are some refinements in the GX1, like AFF mode where the focus system will remain in continuous autofocus mode until the subject settles down, when the AFF system will lock and maintain that focus setting. And there is One Touch AE mode that helps you avoid a situation where you might be using shutter or aperture priority mode and the aperture or shutter setting you have previously chosen is totally unsuitable for the next shot you're about to take. Press One Touch AE and there is an instant fully automatic exposure override for that one shot.

Another nice touch is that the moment you press the shutter release half way the display refresh rate doubles from 60 frames per second to 120 frames per second. This improves the display quality when its needed the most and also helps the focus system operate more efficiently at the critical moment.

For the first time in a Lumix G camera we have a digital level aid. It's an optional display aid that uses a moving graphic; a marked circle for rotational or left/right tilt, and horizontal lines for forward/back tilts, so it's a 3D solution.

Importantly for many, there is a new optional 1.4M dot clip-on LVF2 electronic viewfinder. This is a huge improvement over the old 0.2M dot LVF1 that was an option with the GF1 and GF2. The LVF2 gives the same resolution display as the integral 1.4M dot viewfinders found in the G1, G2, G3, and GH1/2. I noticed some colour bleeding when moving the display fast across the scene, especially the white side of a building, but it should be pointed out that we were using pre production GX1 samples.

We're looking forward to seeing the final production GX1 when it starts to ship in mid-December, although if you want an X-series power zoom kit lens bundle you will have to wait a further month into the new year.

Next, have a look photos of the sample GX1 we used at a recent launch event for journalists held at Beaumont House, near Windsor, on page 2, and on page 3 we have a 23 image sample gallery with full size JPEGs from the camera for you to evaluate.

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