Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 full review

Panasonic was the first manufacturer to market with an interchangeable lens compact in the GH1 back in 2009 – though in fairness development partner Olympus did extend the concept with its smaller E-P1 the same year. Still, the electronics giant has continued to innovate and has created a new premium enthusiast range with its Lumix G ‘X’ series, of which this 16 megapixel GX1 is the first offering. However in truth it’s more refinement than revolutionary, retaining the Micro Four Thirds sensor and lens mount of its GF3 predecessor (and current GF5) as well as handling largely the same.

The aluminium-framed GX1 goes to battle against similarly priced competitors the Nikon V1, which features the advantage of a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), and the Olympus E-P3, which like this Panasonic also features a touch screen. You can get a clip-on EVF for the GX1, but it’s an extra £200. The touch panel here works in tandem with, rather than as an addition to, the metal buttons on its right. That may sound awkward but tapping a finger between the two quickly becomes second nature.

As this is a premium model we do get DSLR-like controls for locking focus and exposure and switching between auto and manual settings. It’s unthreatening though: we could just point and shoot when we wanted courtesy of intelligent Auto mode. The Quick menu button, which calls up the most commonly used settings on one toolbar, is another valid time saver.

Panasonic gave us their new ‘X’ series 14-42mm Power Zoom with the GX1. It features a zoom lever attached to the lens barrel, which means it’s electronic motor driven; you don’t manually twist the barrel back and forth to zoom in and out. This X lens also maintains a slim profile, but it is £130 pricier than the manual version.

Pictures and 1920x1080 pixels video at 30fps are composed via the fixed (non tilting) LCD, three inches in size and with a standard 460k-dot resolution, while battery life is good for around 300 shots. The other main selling point here is the world’s fastest auto focus – officially 0.9 seconds – which means that if you envisage a shot as you’re squeezing the shutter button you’re unlikely to miss it.

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