Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Review

Panasonic  DMC-GX1-S Front H-PS14042 PopUp.jpgThis is how I see the game these days:

Compact digicams are the family/personal cameras used by almost everyone.

Mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras like Sony’s NEX and Olympus/Panasonic’s Micro and Macro Four Thirds models are shooting what the bread-and-butter DSLRs used to care of.

Upper end DSLRs are quickly taking over the role of medium format (6x6cm) used by pros for magazine work.

Digital cameras like the Phase One, Pentax and Hasselblad digital backs are assuming the role of earlier 4×5 and 8×10 film cameras.

This is how I see it.

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So the Micro Four Thirds Lumix GX1 is right in there, ready to eat away at the ground of many DSLRs. And why shouldn’t they?

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Features

I opened the box and pulled out the camera. It got to me straightaway!

Fitted with the Lumix G Vario f3.5/14-42mm lens it was small, compact and really tiny!

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What is immediately novel is the zoom control: a tiny lever set into the top left of the lens barrel, as viewed from behind. Right finger to shoot! Left finger to zoom! OK with me! Even neater is the way the lens retracts when you power down the camera.

A few quick comments: the on/off lever is positive, although a little small; the mode dial has the PASM settings plus two custom settings, a scene mode access is there plus an interesting Creative Control mode which takes you to a choice of high key, a pop art look, retro, sepia and other ‘looks’. I have to say I like it!

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And at this point you first encounter the touch screen, which works well! When focusing, simply touch the screen where you want sharp focus; re-aim the camera and the focus point follows. Tap again and you can select the location and size of the AF area: select from single-area AF, multi-area AF with 23 AF areas and even pinpoint AF.

Right next to the shutter button is the recessed movie record button; this arrangement I prefer to a rear-mounted video button: shoot stills with the big button, movies with the tiny one.

Also close by is the Intelligent Auto shoot button: this is for no-brain shooting where the camera itself decides on the settings for each scene.

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The rear surface has the usual four-way jog dial plus direct access buttons for replay, menu, ISO, white balance, burst shooting, auto or manual focus, quick menu display … plus the control dial and Fn1 button. The latter is user selectable, to which you can assign specific functions, such as a level gauge, aspect ratio, flash level etc.

At this point I began to realise that this is the ideal camera for a control freak!

I was disappointed to find the rear screen was not tiltable, a feature of which I am become increasingly fond, especially when shooting bump-free movies, with the camera held at waist level.

The GX1 can capture 16 megapixels on its Live MOS sensor, leading to a maximum image size of 4592×3448 pixels, or 39x29cm as a print.

Movies? Full HD at 1920×1080 pixels in either AVCHD or MPEG4 format. Auto focus is in operation throughout this, while you can of course touch the screen to pinpoint sharp focus.

You can record stills while shooting movies by selecting a priority: with ‘movie priority; you get to shoot smaller stills (up to 30 at 2272×1704) plus video; with still picture’ priority you can capture any size still (up to eight in number). With each the video is momentarily interrupted.

A novel touch: the zoom speed can be set at any of three choices. Even nicer: the actual focal length position is displayed.
The hot shoe can take the optional tilt-shift Live View Finder which, to my mind, would neatly round out the whole kit.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 ISO Tests

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Very good results all the way up to ISO 3200. AT ISO 6400 noise evident but still useable. ISO 12,800: noise up, sharpness down … but still useable. A terrific performance.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Verdict

Quality: excellent.

Why you’d buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1: ultra small; easy to use in no-brainer mode.

Why you wouldn’t: nothing to pick on.

The camera can be bought in a choice of black or silver body colour.

One of the most desirable Micro Four Thirds cameras around.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16 million effective pixels. Metering: 144 zone multi pattern, multi-weighted, centre-weighted, spot. Lens Mount: Micro Four Thirds. Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual. Sensor: 4/3 type Live MOS 17.3x13mm. 35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x. Shutter Speed (stills): 60 sec to 1/4000 second and Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec. Continuous Shooting: 2-20 fps. Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4592×3448 to 1712×1712. Movies: 1920×1080 (50i recording), 1280×720 (50p recording), (sensor output: 25fps) (AVCHD); 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480 (25 fps output) (MPEG4). Viewfinder: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels). File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), MPEG4, AVCHD. Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB. ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 12,800. Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, remote control. Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input. Dimensions: 116x68x39 WHDmm. Weight: 413 g (lens, card and battery). Prices: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix GX1 at Amazon in the following configurations: Body Only, Body with 14-42mm Zoom Lens and Body with 14-42mm X Power Zoom Lens

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

Some Older Comments

  • JacksonG April 27, 2013 09:29 pm

    This looks like a nice camera but Panny did such a great job with the LX5 it's going to be a tough sell. I carry my LX5 on my belt holster even when I'm lugging my Sony Alpha around.

  • Istik April 28, 2012 11:00 am

    Another camera that would just remain a dream to me. Newbie in photography started just this month using Lumix DMC-TZ4 on shots I post on my photoblog Retrato Manila. With limited equipment I focused on street photography and I am quiet happy with reviews I get for my shots but still want to have someday a camera that saves in RAW format and this camera I think is great for that purpose.

  • wedding photographer Toronto April 21, 2012 12:22 am

    iso 3200 still looks really good! I wish they would be made with a larger sensor - ccd - this would made a lot of people think twice about buying DSLRs

  • Remo Pierri April 20, 2012 09:22 am

    I now wait for a fixed lens version, perhaps called LX7

  • lekko April 10, 2012 11:13 pm

    I was impressed with the reviews on DMX-GX1, where I can have it and at what price range, how the results for the moving image, thanks

  • Arkersaint April 8, 2012 03:48 am

    @ Mitch Russo
    Please be informed that the best affordable lens from Lumix for the G** system is precisely the 20 mm / 1.7 which is 40 mm equiv on 24x36, a fantastic prime lens for street shooting !

  • Julie April 7, 2012 10:55 pm

    Just one word (or 2 depending on how you spell it) - viewfinder. I love my LX5 and am very happy to have it, but many times I pick it up - thinking of it as a "real" camera - I find myself surprised that there is no viewfinder. And at times, very sadly, had to just put the camera back in my pocket or just hope, click, and pray because I couldn't see well enough to make a photograph. Yes, it was a compromise when I bought it. Yes, I know I can get an awkward viewfinder to put on it - same with this one. I just hope that Panasonic will reconsider.

  • Joe Strickland April 7, 2012 01:47 pm


    This is an interchangeable lens camera. There is a Panasonic 7-14mm lens available in the m43 mount for it.

    The kit lens tested in this review is 14-42mm which would translate into a 28-84mm in 35mm equivalent. The 7-14mm is equivalent to a 14-28mm. There is a whole system of lens available for m43s from Panasonic, Olympus and Sigma; from the widest 7-14mm all the way to a 100-300mm telephoto zoom. There are also a number of fast primes available.


  • Mitch Russo April 6, 2012 09:10 am

    Thank you Barrie,

    I would love to see a camera of this size and caliber appear with a much shorter focal length, minimum 24mm but 21mm would be perfect. I will stick with my Lumix LX5 for now but will hope for wide angle version some day soon.


  • Barrie Smith April 6, 2012 08:24 am

    To Mitch

    I include the 'lens factor' in these reviews. So just multiple the actual focal length of the lens by x2 to equate to a 35 SLR lens.

    For instance, a 25mm lens becomes a 50mm as a 35 SLR optic.

  • Mitch Russo April 6, 2012 03:21 am


    I am impressed with the DMX-GX1 review, but I am always searching for 35mm focal length equivalents. So what is the equivalent focal length range for this lens?