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Featured forum post: Panasonic GX1 Mini-Review

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Jman, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    475
    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Thought I'd put together some impressions of the new Panasonic GX1 from the past two days, in case anyone was interested. I got the camera yesterday morning (it is replacing my E-P1 and likely my GH1 as well...so I'll have GH2 and GX1 as my two bodies).

    gx1-2.

    gx1-3.

    Build Quality / Ergonomics
    The GX1 is slightly smaller than the GF1, which is it's nearest direct ancestor, and it's also a bit smaller than the E-P1 it replaces in my bag. Thickness and height are similar, but there is less room on the grip, and the width is less. This would actually be a big hindrance for me ergonomically if it weren't for the wonderful rubber grip they've added. The grip is perfectly contoured to fit your hand, and it even works well when slipping your middle finger along it when carrying it around (which is more comfortable than carrying in the shooting position).

    The camera has a metal body that is painted. Unlike my GH2, "Lumix" is engraved in the metal and filled with white paint, while "GX1" is raised and textured. The top plate is a matte plastic with good quality fit and finish. The buttons on the back are all metal, and have a very satisfying click.

    Ergonomically, Panasonic did a very good job for such a small camera. While the grip isn't as comfortable as the GH2 due to the size, it's very good considering the size of the body. Buttons are well placed and those that would be prone to accidental pressing with the heel of your palm are recessed, yet still easily accessed when needed. There are two programmable function buttons, the typical four way buttons that control direction as well as ISO, WB, Drive mode and AF. There is also a dedicated display button and a Quick menu button for changing other parameters. There is a mode dial, a nice on/off switch, the shutter button, a dedicated movie shutter button and the iA button for toggling the intelligent Auto mode on and off.

    The click thumb wheel on the back operates the same as on all other recent Panny G series cameras, though it's a little smaller than on the GH2/GH1/G1, etc. The first day it was a bit stiff and finicky, but has been broken in now and feels good, though still not as nice as the GH2's, presumably due to size.

    Overall, the camera feels good in hand and all major controls are quickly accessed.

    Menus/Touch Screen
    Like all recent Panasonic bodies, the 3" LCD is a touch panel as well, and it works very well. They have made some changes to the touch screen operation and the quick menu system that are for the better. Like on other touch G series cameras, most major functions can also be changed via touch screen (but aren't required to be). You can set focus point and focus point size just by tapping, which is great. They have added a pull out drawer which has two more customizable function buttons activated via touch, as well as the touch shutter control. It doesn't get in the way and is a nice way to get to other settings quickly. Good improvement here.

    Performance/AF
    The camera is very responsive. It starts up quickly and like all recent m4/3 has blazing fast AF that is very accurate. Nothing to complain about here. I haven't done any burst shooting with it yet, but I did do a 5 frame bracket burst which was quick and responsive. Shutter lag minimal, though the shutter mechanism itself sounds slower than the GH2, though in practice there is very low lag.

    Image Quality
    With the same sensor as the G3, the GX1 enters the top tier of m4/3 bodies with regards to image quality. Still, though the GH2, G3 and GX1 all have similar sensors and similar image performance, there are some differences from the GH2 that I have noticed in the pictures I've taken (and the head to head comparison I did last night). I can't speak to JPEG performance, as I shoot RAW only on both cameras, so I frankly don't know and don't really care about the JPEG output.

    - At low ISO, the GH2 and GX1 have very, very similar image quality. It'd be tough to pick between them. While I don't have any harsh condition direct comparison, it did seem that the GX1 might have a little better dynamic range at low ISO.

    - At higher ISO, the GX1 is actually better than the GH2. It's not a big difference, but it is there. GX1 files at 800 and higher have slightly lower noise than the GH2, and definitely better dynamic range and color. In ISO 2500 shots, with the same exposure (and same levels elsewhere in the pictures), the GX1 was able to hold better detail in both the shadows and highlights (and avoid blowing out the highlights) than the GH2. Also, while the GH2 tends to have pretty major color casts at ISO 6400 and 12,800, the GX1 avoids these for the most part, providing relatively consistent color response across the ISO range. ISO 12,800 is still only usable for web size or small (4x6) prints, but it is actually moderately usable, which is impressive to me. For stuff I'd like to have any hope of printing larger, I'd stick to ISO 5,000 or lower.

    A few quick samples
    I haven't had a ton of time to take a bunch of shots, but I did go out for about 20 minutes last night (it just so happens the shots I took lent themselves to a gritty B&W treatment), and then I did a portrait session for my wife's high school musical (I do the lead cast photos each year). I shot with both the GH2 and GX1, with the GH2 getting most of the shots, but I've included a few samples from the GX1 here. These are to be in B&W, but I left one in color to show color response. These are all with the Leica 25/1.4:

    4 Shot stitch:
    supreme_court.

    fearless.

    stair_shadows.

    forrest1.

    rachel1.

    miles2.
     
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  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    Great review, Jordan. I agree with your IQ comparison with the GH2, especially in high ISO images.

    David
     
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  3. Since you have/had the GH1, I wonder if you can comment on how it compares to the new GX1 in terms of image output. For instance, some of the areas where the GX1 is claimed to improve on the GF1 (noise quantity/quality, dynamic range, colour output, WB accuracy) were areas that the GH1 (from my experience anyway) was already ahead in. I suspect the GX1 is well ahead of the GH1 at the highest ISOs, but how about within the normal operating ranges?
     
  4. Chuck Pike

    Chuck Pike Mu-43 Veteran

    333
    Apr 3, 2010
    Charlotte, NC.
    G3 the camera that almost was.

    Seems to me, that most reviewers have just passed right over the G3. When you look at the review on DPreview, comparing the G3 vs GX1, the difference is the built in viewfinder and the flip out LCD on the G3, all which are missing on the GX1. After reading that I bought the G3 from B&H. When you look at the B&H page for the G3 most models, including the black body only are listed as discontinued. On 17th St. they are listed as back ordered. So, it looks like the G3 came and went in less than 6 months.

    Now all that being said, I will keep shooting with my G3 and use the GF1 as backup. For me the camera is a tool, and both of these cameras are darn good tools at that. We are so blessed to live at a time when so much is happening in photography. I think I have spent what the wife will allow for some time to come, but that is ok, as I have the equipment that I need for some years to come.

    Images for books, magazines and calendars | photosbypike
     
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  5. Iansky

    Iansky Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    The Cotswolds, UK
    Great news on GX1 quality

    Hi Jordan,

    Thanks for this comparison / first impressions.

    I have been using the GF1 as my main street camera and have recently got hold of the Fuji X100 to take on that mantle.

    I have however also ordered the GX1+14-42X lens and intend on keeping the superb Panny 20mm f1.7 that has been my prime street partner for ages so I am looking forwards to seeing how well that performs on the GX1 as well as the LVF2 and 14-42X.

    I am interested to see how I will fit the GX1 kit into my system but have a feeling of empathy toward Panasonic MU43rds so wait with eager anticipation for it's arrival.

    Will it replace the X100 for street - possibly - for landscape - No.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    475
    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I keep being more impressed by this little guy. If properly exposed, ISO 12800 is completely usable for small prints (and of course, web use). I think 8x12 might even be doable and look good if you can tolerate a little grain. Here is an ISO 12,800 shot, handheld, with the Oly 45/1.8. (ISO 12,800, f/4, 1/50s, lit by my dining room chandelier). EXIF is intact.

    still_life_12800.
     
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  7. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    ISO 12,800?!!! That is amazing, Jordan.

    David
     
  8. gsciorio

    gsciorio Mu-43 Top Veteran

    636
    Dec 29, 2011
    Miami, FL
    Would love to see some raw files in high contrast situations.
     
  9. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    475
    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Got my LVF2. Seems well built and sturdy, except that the metal center piece that wraps around the viewfinder on mine sticks up very slightly over the plastic end cap, which is slightly annoying, but not enough for me to worry about an exchange or something. I was able to push it down a bit and it's a little better. The hinge is very sturdy, which is great as I had worried that it would be a failure point, but I would think that if that fails, you've got bigger problems...it's not going to break through normal handling. Also, the viewfinder secures to the camera very securely. With the small latch, it won't come loose accidentally, and the fit is smooth yet tight. Very secure.

    In operation, it seems great to me. No color cast that I can see...appears to be the same view and color as the rear LCD image. Clarity and smoothness seem on par with the GH2 viewfinder and slightly better than the G1 and GH1 finder. Only downside is you need to manually switch between LVF and LCD, but the button is well placed, so I'm sure I'll get used to it. Still, I would rather have the sensor used in the G1/G2/GH1/GH2 to automatically switch. Perhaps it would increase the size a bit too much.

    A comment on the size. In pictures, the thing looks pretty big, and while it obviously raises the height of the camera considerably, in use it feels smaller than it looks. It's a nice complement to the camera, and I think I will use it a fair amount, when I am not in need of the small size or use of the flash hotshoe.

    Some pics:
    [​IMG]

    lvf2-2.

    lvf2-3.

    And, just for giggles, I took a picture of the view you see. (I could only have gotten this shot with my iPhone, as it's the only camera small enough to see inside. :) )

    lvf2_view.
     
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  10. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    Clever!

    DH
     
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  11. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    475
    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Hi there,
    I'm been looking longingly at the GX1 myself, do you think it is superior to the PEN EPL-1 as I'm considering upgrading/ adding to my micro4/3rds collection and the GX1 just could be the one for me !

    All opinions greatly appreciated!

    Thanks.
     
  13. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    475
    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I think it is vastly superior to the EPL-1. The only thing the EPL-1 does better is it has in body IS. That's pretty much it.
     
  14. desmoface

    desmoface Mu-43 Regular

    171
    Jan 16, 2012
    Hi Jman, how do you think the GX1 compares to the Nex-5n & E-P3? Thanks in advance.

    Steve
     
  15. BobBill

    BobBill Mu-43 Veteran

    261
    Dec 29, 2010
    MN USA
    Bob Hively-Johnson
    View Finder Giggles

    I must assume you do not use the eye level finder often. For some of us, that is the only way we take pics, particularly outdoors.


    In an otherwise fine instrument, the Lumix finder is, essentially, not quite the best. Which brings one back to an Olympus Pen 2 or 3 even for that feature, lens options not withstanding. (Or even a Nex 7)


    Why not wait until Lumix sets the mirrorless system within the housing, as in no hump or added finder?


    Good information, however. Appreciated.
     
  16. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Mu-43 Regular

    180
    Oct 10, 2011
    Ashland, OR USA
    David
    Are you referring to the older LVF1 finder, or the new one built for the GX1, the LVF2? The newer one uses the same display found in the GH2, and it is an excellent EVF, IMO. Mine is permanently attached to my GX1.

    David
     
  17. BobBill

    BobBill Mu-43 Veteran

    261
    Dec 29, 2010
    MN USA
    Bob Hively-Johnson
    Review Comment re GX 1 Finder

    David, Yes, had that finder in mind, not the newer version, which I have not used, so should have noted. Permanently attached...did not know that either. Will check that out.

    I like the Lumix line generally, so will check it out, though I am holding my breath waiting for finder to be body feature.

    Thanks for heads-up.
     
  18. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The results look great! I'm still hoping for improvements in continuous AF. Looks like CDAF is moving in the right direction.

    "One drawback to CDAF, though, is that it is inferior to PDAF for tracking motion. While the GX1 offers a focus tracking mode, which identifies an object and follows it as it moves in the frame, as well as an excellent face detection mode, the continuous autofocus is not as accurate or fast as most DSLRs on the market. The GX1, however, seems to inch ever closer towards acceptability in this realm. While I haven’t had a chance to fully test out continuous focus, in the limited testing I did, results seemed better than on my GH2."