With a classic design and bags of creative features, this new CSC – the Panasonic LUMIX GX1 – might leave you wonder if you really need your DSLR!
The Panasonic LUMIX GX1 has a very fashionable look to it that’s clearly designed (as the press release says) for the ‘sophisticated photographer’. With a 16MP sensor and the choice of 14 G-series lenses to shoot with, you really could swap over from your beefy DSLR outfit and opt for this lighter option instead.
The touchscreen function on CSCs is quickly becoming a firm favourite with us. The GX1 has the fantastic option of not only selecting your focus point by simply tapping the screen then dragging the focus box, but also changing the focal length (when a zoom lens is attached), and even taking a shot can be done via the touchscreen. Simply compose your shot and tap the screen to take a picture. The GX1 beats its competitors hands-down by allowing you to drag the focus box right into every corner of the frame. With the usual shooting modes such as aperture-priority, shutter-priority, manual and program mode this CSC gives you the creative freedom you'd expect on a DSLR but without the hassle of a million buttons to fight your way past before taking a shot. When shooting in manual mode one very handy feature is the ability to switch between changing the aperture and shutter speed by just pressing the dial on the back of the camera (conveniently positioned where your thumb sits). Full HD video (1920x1080) is also available in this little package, and can be turned on immediately via a small red record button on the top of the camera. Focusing on subjects is no problem with the choice of 1-area AF, 23-area AF, Face Detection, AF tracking and Pinpoint AF, all of which work beautifully even in low light conditions. The GX1 isn’t the lightest of CSCs but sturdy build probably means any accidental knocks won’t put it out of action. The integral flash pops up at speed and gives a lovely spread of light – in fact, a surprising amount of light considering the size of it. And despite having a springy mechanism, it still feels robust.
The GX1 won us over with its creative control. This is the first CSC we’ve used where we looked at the LCD screen after taking a shot and thought we’d taken it on a DSLR. With aperture-priority selected we found ourselves shooting scenes we would have normally just walk past. If it seems like we’re banging on comparing the GX1 to DSLR cameras and you’re thinking, “But you’ve got to use the LCD screen to shoot with”, well, there is an additional EVF (electronic viewfinder) you can buy to fit onto the hotshoe on the top-plate. Perfect if you really can’t get your head round shooting by just using the screen.
We didn’t see any noticeable noise until we went over the ISO 800 mark. For our test shot we went right up to ISO 12,800 and strangely liked the pixelation effect the high ISO rating was giving me. It reminded us of our film days and the results we would get from a grainy roll of ISO 1600 film. We were more than happy with the results we were getting at low ISO settings and would have no problems printing out an image to A3 size.
Using the GX1 definitely feels as if you’re shooting with a DSLR without the bulky weight or the huge amount of confusing buttons (half of which you’ll never use). The images we shot could be placed alongside those taken on a DSLR and you’d be hard-pushed to tell the difference. The 14-24mm is a great lens that delivers top quality results, however we did find ourselves wanting a little more focal length. But with 14 G-series lenses to choose from, there’s more than enough options out there.
- Street price: £148 (Secondhand price as of July 2016)
- Effective resolution: 16MP
- Sensor type: Live MOS Sensor
- File format: RAW & JPEG
- ISO: 160-12,800
- Creative control: Expressive/Retro/High key/Low key/Sepia/High dynamic/Toy effect/Miniature effect
- Card type: SD/SDHC/SDXC
- Video: Full HD 1080p
- Battery: 1x Li-ion
- Weight: 318g
- Visit: www.panasonic.com/uk
This review was first published in the March 2012 issue of Digital Photo - download back issues here.