The GX1 is capable of shooting video at 1920x1080i full HD at 30 frames per second, or 720p at 60 frames per second. It shoots in either AVCHD or MPEG4. The controls for video are rather spartan, as you simply have control over exposure compensation and the starting and stopping of recording using the dedicated movie button. Focus can be re-locked at any time during filming by half pressing the shutter button, and full resolution stills can be captured during recording as well. The camera can also do focus tracking and continuous autofocus during movie recording. Movies are of very high quality, and can be used for some really excellent film making, though I would suggest if video is your primary goal, something along the lines of the Panasonic GH2 or GH1 would be much better suited to you, as they allow for full aperture, and shutter speed control, frame rate, etc. I am not much of a video shooter, so any decent mode here is a bonus for me. My GH2 sees 99% of my video use, as it well should.
External Viewfinder – LVF2
As mentioned earlier, the GX1 does not come with a built-in electronic viewfinder. Panasonic does offer the excellent LVF2, however. The LVF2 is a 1.44 million dot EVF with a 120Hz refresh rate and 1.4x magnification, virtually identical to the EVF in the G3. Because of the high magnification, the apparent viewfinder image is equivalent in size to most full frame professional DSLRs. It is crisp, clear and bright, and is a wonderful add-on, especially if you use manual focus. I generally prefer using a viewfinder, so I ordered the LVF2 with my GX1. The viewfinder is solidly made and attaches securely to the camera’s hotshoe and accessory port. The diopter adjustment is located underneath the viewfinder, and is accessible only when tilting up. This is a great location, as it’s easy to access, yet very difficult to accidentally knock out of position. The EVF tilts 90 degrees to allow top down shooting, which is great for low to the ground or macro shooting. It comes with a small velvet bag to pack the viewfinder in when not in use, and has a nice locking mechanism to prevent accidentally being knocked off the camera. Overall, it is a very well made piece of kit.
There are two issues with using the external viewfinder. First, it takes up the hotshoe, which means that you can’t use an external flashgun and the viewfinder at the same time. I understand the tradeoff, though, and it’s ultimately not too big of a deal. The second issue is that the EVF does not have an eye sensor, so you must manually switch between the EVF and LCD. Coming from the GH2, this is taking a long time to get used to. I generally make settings changes on the LCD, then raise my eye to the viewfinder (a holdover from my DSLR days). This isn’t really possible, without pressing the button on the EVF back and forth. Luckily, Panasonic did include an option (on by default) to do playback on the LCD automatically. If you are using the EVF and press the playback button, it will display on the LCD. This is a nice touch. I would love to have the option to display camera settings on the LCD when the EVF is active, much like the settings display available on the GH2 and other G series bodies.
The DMC-GX1 is a great little camera. It is responsive, compact, with excellent ergonomics, fast and accurate autofocus and very well placed and accessible controls. Panasonic also managed to squeeze in a bit better high ISO capability over their previous cameras, which makes this little camera capable of some very high-end output. On the down side, the EVF is still an accessory that must be purchased separately, and the camera lacks any serious video control. Image review is not possible until all images have been written to the card, an odd limitation that started with the GH2 and is not present on the G1 or GH1. That said, for still imaging, this is easily Panasonic’s best compact style CSC to date, and rivals the flagship of the Lumix line, the GH2, in everything but video. Outstanding.
36 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1”
Great review, JS. Thx for sharing!
Btw, – love your b+w portrait (GX1, Leica 25mm f/1.4, ISO 160, Off camera strobe), in the photo samples’ end.
Excellent review, thanks
thank you, great review.
Thanks for a straightforward, understandable review. But could you please explain something you wrote about the viewfinder? You said:
When dealing with viewfinder magnifications, I’m more accustomed to seeing the viewfinder image compared to subject size rather than sensor size. For example, my Epson R-D 1 camera has a finder magnification of 1.0x — which means that when I look through it, the apparent size of the subject is the same size as the same subject viewed with the naked eye. This is a great feature of the R-D 1, because it allows the user to keep both eyes open at all times; both eyes see exactly the same magnification.
The R-D 1 is a true rangefinder camera with an optical viewfinder, so the lens in use doesn’t make any difference; on cameras with through-lens viewfinders, the finder-magnification spec also has to specify the focal length in use. For example, my Nikon D300’s viewfinder magnification supposedly is 0.94x with a 50mm lens… so if I’ve got a 50 on the camera, look through the viewfinder, and then open my other eye and view the subject, the viewfinder image will look slightly smaller.
You can probably tell from this that finder magnification is an important spec for me! So can you explain what you mean when you say the GX-1’s finder magnification is 1.4x, or that that’s equivalent to 0.7x on a camera of a different format?
If I’m looking through the GX-1’s finder with a “normal” lens (presumably 20mm or 25mm) on the camera, how will what I see compare in size to the same subject viewed with the naked eye?
Ranger 9 –
The reason micro 4/3 viewfinder magnifications are somewhat confusing is that they use the 50mm lens definition as well, even though it’s a longer field of view. It’s a 1.4x magnification with the 50mm reference. With the 25mm reference (as it should be), it’s a 0.7x viewfinder.
As a result, the viewfinder has the same apparent size as a full frame cammera with a 0.7x viewfinder (which, incidentally is the same size as the Canon 1Ds Mark II). Make sense? Since your D300 is a 1.5x crop sensor, but is using the 50mm reference, it is equivalent in size to a 0.62x Full frame viewfinder. So, the LVF2 will have a larger viewfinder image than your D300. Thanks for the comments, everyone!
Nice to see a competent review with some REALLY great image samples that show some creativity and show the traits of the reviewed product! No brick walls…amazing!
Nice work….review and photos.
Have the camera. Love it. Your review is spot on.
Tks for the excellent review. Really awesome pics of the kid, and the black and white portrait really rocks..me!
I’m a relative newbie in the photo realm, and processing raw seems challenging, will the jpegs churn out similar quality to ur shots posted here?
JPEG processing on this camera seems to be a little better than on previous Panasonic cameras I’ve used. If the light isn’t too strong, and you dial back noise reduction in the JPEG engine (Film Styles), you can get very good results. I don’t have a ton of experience with the JPEGs, though, as I almost always shoot RAW, simply because I get a little better dynamic range, more detail and the ability to set white balance and color balance after the fact.
Many thanks for your excellent review, it provides an ‘owners’ opinion of how this camera performs, much more realistic compared to magazine ‘pro’ reviews and articles.
Recently i came accross your web site and have been reading along. I thought I might leave my initial remark. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this web site very frequently.
Nice thoughtul review, if they had included a built in EVF I’d jump in. For now sticking with my G3. A better mix for me. The images in your review are exceptional, you have a great eye and that’s a gift.
Excellent real-life review. Great images also, thanks!
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I use WordPress to publish this site, with a customized version of the Graphene theme. The images, of course, are all my own photographs.
Fantastic review, I link it often. Just like I like em, with comparisons and good samples.
I love your blog 🙂
Once I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a remark is added I get 4 emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you’ll be able to remove me from that service? Thanks!
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find anything in WordPress to remove notifications. Do the emails have a link to unsubscribe or anything? I’ll continue to try and figure out how to do this.
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I learn a lot every time I visit your site. Your photographs are outstanding.
Thanks for the information/review. I have been wanting to get a good quality camera for some hobby photog. and this was very informative.
Great review, and I love your sample shots. Got the GH3 in late November and love it. Looked seriously at the GX1 to replace my GH2 to use as my carry cam. Unfortunately, I like to shoot a lot of video, so the GX1 doesn’t work for me. Hopefully the GX2 will up the video for some 60P and 24P 1080 goodness with more manual control.
caught this late but better late than never
I really like your site. I too have a GX1 and I am curious whether you use an external flash and if so would you recommend it.
couldnt agree more
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