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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £700
inc VAT

Superb controls, lightning fast performance, slim profile and excellent (but not class-leading) image and video quality – a sublime package that's worth the high price


17.3x13mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (28-84mm equivalent), 413g

Expert Reviews is proud to bring you this Panasonic GX1 review from Short Sharp Reviews – click through to YouTube for a 1080p HD version

We’re big fans of compact system cameras (CSCs) but we’re yet to see one that hits a home run of image quality, performance, controls and features. The Sony NEX-5N came closest with its exceptionally high image and video quality, but it can be slow to focus and its scarcity of buttons and dials isn’t ideal for photography enthusiasts. That’s the camera the Panasonic GX1 has to beat.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

The GX1 takes an early lead with its controls. It’s reminiscent of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1, with a proper mode dial plus dedicated buttons for ISO speed, white balance, drive mode, focus area, focus mode and AE/AF lock. The latter can be reassigned, and there’s a further unlabelled Fn button that can be assigned to one of 25 functions. The metal buttons look smart but their engraved labels are a little tricky to read. The touchscreen is extremely useful for moving the autofocus point and navigating the appropriately named Quick Menu, which gives access to other photographic settings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

The NEX-5N has the advantage for ergonomics, though. The GX1 has a rubber handgrip – a significant improvement on the flat-fronted GF range – but the NEX-5N’s grip is more substantial. The NEX-5N’s tilting screen is extremely useful for video and macro photography, although we prefer the GX1 screen’s 3:2 aspect ratio to the 5N’s 16:9, as photos fill the screen and so are bigger in real terms. The GX1 makes up further ground by including an integrated pop-up flash rather than a clip-on unit. It’s also possible to tilt the flash to bounce light off the ceiling, although its limited power restricts this function’s usefulness. We’re delighted that Panasonic has gone with a standard hotshoe, which is much more versatile than the Sony’s proprietary accessory port.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

The kit lens uses a pair of levers rather than rings to control zoom and focus. It took us a while to get used to using them without having to peer around to the front of the camera to remind us of their location. Both offer a two-speed operation, adjusting faster when they’re pressed harder, but neither was as quick or as satisfying to use as a lens ring.

However, if that’s the price that must be paid for this lens’s remarkable compactness, then it’s one worth paying. CSCs’ portability is often compromised by their bulky kit lenses – the NEX-5N may be light but it’s not pocket-sized, measuring 99mm from screen to lens cap. The GX1 is 65mm when powered down, so it’ll fit in a coat pocket much more easily. There are various fixed-zoom pancake lenses available, but fitting a 3x zoom lens into such a small space is a remarkable achievement.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 16.0 megapixels
CCD size 17.3x13mm
Viewfinder optional electronic
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 3.0in
LCD screen resolution 460,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-84mm
Image stabilisation optical, in kit lens
Maximum image resolution 4,592×3,448
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 25fps
File formats JPEG, RAW; AVCHD, MPEG-4


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 310 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, mini HDMI, wired remote
HDMI output resolution 1080i
Body material aluminium
Lens mount Micro Four Thirds
Focal length multiplier 2.0x
Kit lens model name Panasonic LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/POWER O.I.S
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 413g
Size 71x116x65mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £700

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 60 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-22 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 160 to 12800
Exposure compensation +/-5 EV
White balance auto, 5 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, i.Dynamic, shading comp, colour space
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 20cm
Auto-focus modes multi, flexible spot, pinpoint, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, flexible spot, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket