An exceptional enthusiast-oriented camera
You’d have to be passionate about photography to spend almost £700 on a compact camera. Fortunately, that’s just the sort of person the GX1 is designed for. The classic styling certainly looks the part, and there are lots of buttons and dials for quick access to settings, and there’s space for attaching an external flash.
Touchscreen operation is intuitive, but you can control the camera purely via its buttons and dials if you prefer. It’s a shame the screen isn’t articulated to allow for more creative shots. If you need an optical viewfinder, you’ll need to stump up an extra £200 for the optional add-on unit.
It’s fast, rattling off two shots every second in normal use. Switch to burst mode and it manages over four frames per second (FPS). Autofocus is as fast as a digital SLR in bright light and not far behind in gloomier conditions.
Interchangeable lenses are another big draw for enthusiasts. Panasonic Lumix G and Olympus Pen cameras share the same lens mount, so there are lots of excellent lenses covering everything from wide angle to telephoto and even 3D. They’re pricier than lenses for digital SLRs, but that’s standard practice for this sort of camera.
The GX1 is an excellent video camera, with high-quality picture and sound and smooth, silent autofocusing. It’s easy to move the autofocus point using the touchscreen but, sadly, there’s barely any control over exposure settings when recording video. No doubt Panasonic is hoping that keen film-makers will spend even more on the Lumix GH2, but we recommend they go for the Sony NEX-5N instead.
Sensor size is crucial to image quality, especially in low light, and the GX1’s sensor is big. It’s not quite as big as the one in the NEX-5N or digital SLRs, and as a result, it can’t quite match their smooth colours in very low light, but it’s not far behind. It’s a significant improvement on previous Lumix G cameras and a world away from normal compact cameras. The included kit lens is sharp and automatic exposures look sumptuous. Image quality was even better when we switched to Raw mode and developed the images in a program such as Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
The GX1 isn’t cheap, though. If £684 is too much, consider buying the GX1 with the bulkier version of Panasonic’s 14-42mm lens, which brings the price down to £500 at Jessops. It makes for a less pocketable camera but adds tactile lens rings for zoom and focus – the slimmer lens uses levers instead of rings, which aren’t as quick to use.
Whichever lens you choose, the GX1 is a big investment, but with image quality, controls, performance and a lens range that’s on a par with SLRs at this price, it’s worth splashing out on.
Read more reviews
A compact camera that rivals digital SLRs for quality, performance and ergonomics – expensive, but worth it
Superb image and video quality; elegant controls; fast performance
Expensive; video capture is just point-and-shoot
Phone 0844 844 3899
Updating your subscription status