FIRST LOOK: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1

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      In summary

      A feature-rich, customisable, G-Micro series camera designed for photo enthusiasts.The latest addition to Panasonic’s popular Lumix G Micro System range has been designed to provoke interest among photo enthusiasts. The new GX1, which will be available locally early in 2012, is the company’s most feature-rich and photographer-friendly model to date. Equipped with the 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor introduced in the G3, it boasts a new rangefinder design, a mode dial and several customisable controls. . . [more]

      Full review

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      The latest addition to Panasonic’s popular Lumix G Micro System range has been designed to provoke interest among photo enthusiasts. The new GX1, which will be available locally early in 2012, is the company’s most feature-rich and photographer-friendly model to date. Equipped with the 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor introduced in the G3, it boasts a new rangefinder design, a mode dial and several customisable controls.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The new camera’s body is reminiscent of the original GF1 and based upon a boxy chassis made from high quality resins. The machine-tooled dials and laser etched characters on the camera body are designed for smooth operation and many years of reliability. There’s a generous grip on the front panel that is comfortable to hold, thanks to a resilient elastomer cladding.

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      Angled front view of the GX1 in silver, with the new Lumix G X Vario Power Zoom 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S (H-PS14042E) lens fitted and the pop-up flash raised. (Source: Panasonic.)
      The lens mount takes up roughly half of the front panel, which is otherwise sparsely populated. Aside from the grip, only a recessed LED that doubles as a self-timer/AF-assist lamp and the lens release button interrupt the smooth exterior surface.
      Most of the interesting features are provided on the top panel, where the mode dial holds pride of place between the shutter button and flash hot shoe. Eight shooting modes are provided: P, A, S and M plus two Custom memory modes (C1 and C2) and a Creative Control setting.

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      The top panel of the GX1 with the pop-up flash retracted and no lens fitted. (Source: Panasonic.)

      An iAuto button is provided behind the Movie button for snapshooters who can’t manage manual adjustments. In this mode, the camera automatically engages AF Tracking, Face Recognition, Intelligent D-Range control, Intelligent Scene Selector and Intelligent ISO Control. The new camera also includes an iA Plus mode that enables users to adjust the defocusing area, exposure compensation and white balance in scenes where slight manual adjustment may produce a better picture.

      The hot-shoe accepts the optional FL220, FL360 and FL500 add-on flash guns as well as Panasonic’s optional DMW-LVF2 Live View Finder. The finder boasts a resolution of 1,440,000 dots and provides100% field-of-view coverage and a magnification of 1.4x (0.7x in 35mm format). It can be tilted for high or low-angle shooting.

      Left of the hot-shoe is a pop-up flash, which springs forward and has a GN of 7.6 (metres/ISO 160). Eight flash modes are supported: Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced Off. Users can choose between first- and second-curtain synchronisation and flash output is adjustable across +/- two EV in 1/3EV steps.

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      The rear panel of the GX1 showing the connection for the optional DMW-LVF2 Live View Finder. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The rear panel has a fairly conventional layout that is dominated by a 3-inch touch-panel TFT LCD, which has a 3:2 aspect ratio and a resolution of 460,000 dots. Without the optional EVF, this screen is used for composing shots in Live View mode. Touch-screen operations are based on previous models.

      To aid shot composition with live viewing, Panasonic provides three guide line patterns in the set-up menu, dividing the screen into 3 x 3 rectangles, 8 triangles or a pair of cross lines that can be adjusted via the touch screen. A built-in ‘Level Gauge’ detects the horizontal and vertical angles of view while shooting and displays this on-screen to help ensure straight horizons.

      A blinking highlight alert for indicating over-exposure is also available. Auto image rotation ensures shots taken in portrait aspect will be automatically displayed vertically during capture and playback.

      Above the monitor screen is a button for raising the flash. To its right is the connection port for the optional DMW-LVF2 Live View Finder. The playback button and one of the camera’s four programmable Fn (function) buttons sit further to the right, with the rear control dial just above the thumb rest in the rear panel’s top right hand corner.

      This dial operates as it does in the G3, covering the same functions as the Menu/Set button (see below). Rotating the dial to the left or right allows users to select various functions. Pressing it in determines which function is selected.

      A second Fn button is located just above the arrow pad, next to the display button. Two additional ‘soft’ Fn buttons can be accessed via the touch-screen. Users can select from up to 25 functions to assign to any button. In addition, up to four custom setting patterns can be saved in the camera.

      The arrow pad is quite conventional, with the vertical buttons accessing the ISO and drive settings, while the horizontal buttons open the autofocus and white balance sub-menus. The central Menu/Set button lets you into the main menu and locks in selected settings.

      Below the arrow pad are two buttons. On the left is the Q.Menu button which displays the Quick Menu on the screen, allowing users to adjust supported settings by touch. This button doubles as a Delete/Back button. Beside it is an AF/MF button for switching between auto and manual focusing.

      The battery and memory card share a compartment in the camera’s base plate. A metal-lined tripod socket is also found here, located in line with the lens axis. Interface ports for the remote controller, HDMI and AV-out/USB connections lie beneath a cover on the right hand side panel.

      Like its G-Micro System siblings, the GX1 features the effective supersonic wave filter dust reduction system pioneered by Olympus. The new camera is also compatible with the UHS-I standard for SDXC/SDHC memory cards and can take advantage of high-speed data transmission at up to 90MB/s. Better energy management improves the capacity of the DMW-BLD10 battery pack by up to 11% over the DMC-G3.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor in the GX1 is the same as in the G3 and is covered in our review of that camera. It’s coupled to the Venus Engine VI FHD CPU, which boasts three processor cores, enabling full resolution (16 megapixels) continuous shooting at four frames/second with the camera’s mechanical shutter.

      The sensitivity range in the GX1 is the same as the G3, extending from ISO 160 to ISO 6400. High speed burst shooting at 20 fps with electronic shutter is also selectable, although only at the S image size, which is 2272 pixels wide for 4:3 and 3:2 aspects, 1920 pixels with 16:9 shots and 1712 pixels for 1:1 aspect ratio images. Typical image sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio

      Image Size

      Resolution

      Fine

      Standard

      4:3

      RAW

      4592 x 3448

      20.5MB

      L

      4592 x 3448

      9.5MB

      4.7MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4592 x 3448

      32MB

      25.6MB

      M

      3232 x 2424

      5.0MB

      2.5MB

      RAW+JPEG

      3232 x 2424

      25.6MB

      23.3MB

      S

      2272 x 1704

      2.9MB

      1.5MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2272 x 1704

      24.4MB

      22.3MB

      3:2

      RAW

      4576 x 3056

      19.9MB

      L

      4576 x 3056

      8.5MB

      4.2MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4576 x 3056

      22.3MB

      18.3MB

      M

      3232 x 2160

      4.7MB

      2.3MB

      RAW+JPEG

      3232 x 2160

      19.0MB

      16.5MB

      S

      2272 x 1520

      2.8MB

      1.4MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2272 x 1520

      16.0MB

      15.5MB

      16:9

      RAW

      4576 x 2576

      18.3MB

      L

      4576 x 2576

      7.4MB

      3.7MB

      RAW+JPEG

      4576 x 2576

      20.5MB

      17.1MB

      M

      3232 x 1824

      4.3MB

      2.1MB

      RAW+JPEG

      3232 x 1824

      17.7MB

      15.5MB

      S

      1920 x 1080

      1.1MB

      0.6MB

      RAW+JPEG

      1920 x 1080

      14.6MB

      14.2MB

      1:1

      RAW

      3424 x 3424

      16.5MB

      L

      3424 x 3424

      6.9MB

      3.4MB

      RAW+JPEG

      3424 x 3424

      17.7MB

      15.1MB

      M

      2416 x 2416

      3.7MB

      1.9MB

      RAW+JPEG

      2416 x 2416

      14.6MB

      13.5MB

      S

      1712 x 1712

      2.2MB

      1.1MB

      RAW+JPEG

      1712 x 1712

      13.5MB

      12.8MB

      Video recording formats are similar to the G3 with two video recording modes: AVCHD and Motion-JPEG. However, the number of settings is reduced with the removal of the WCGA setting for Motion JPEG recording.

      Most functions default to iA (Intelligent Auto) or iA Plus in movie mode, which engages features such as the Optical Image Stabiliser, AF Tracking, Face Detection, Intelligent D-Range Control and Intelligent Scene Selector. Our guess is that the widest apertures will be favoured for video in low and medium light levels, with stopping down only taking place in very bright conditions.

      The maximum clip length for AVCHD movies in FSH mode with the 14-42mm kit lens is listed at approximately 70 minutes. No specified recording capacity was available when we published this ‘first look’. Recording options for the GX1’s movie mode are shown in the table below.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode

      Picture size
      (pixels)

      Frame Rate

      Bit rate

      AVCHD

      16:9

      FSH

      1920 x 1080

      50i (sensor output is 25p)

      17 Mbps

      FH

      13 Mbps

      SH

      1280 x 720

      50p (sensor output is 25p)

      17 Mbps

       

      H

      13 Mbps

      Motion JPEG

      FHD

      1920 x 1080

      25 fps (output at 30 fps)

      20 Mbps

      4:3

      HD

      1280 x 720

      10 Mbps

      VGA

      640 x 480

      4 Mbps

      By default, soundtracks are recorded in stereo and Dolby Digital Stereo Creator is built into the camera to ensure high audio quality. Holding down the movie button delays the start of audio recording by half a second.

      A wind cut filter is also available to subdue interference from background wind. Users can record a snapshot while shooting a video clip by pressing the shutter button. The Picture Mode in the Motion picture menu lets you choose between movie and still picture priorities.

      Selecting the former locks the still image size at S (2M) and the aspect ratio is fixed at 16:9. Up to 30 shots can be recorded with a movie clip in this mode. Simultaneous recording is blocked for VGA and QVGA movie settings.

      When picture priorities is selected, the still images are recorded with the set picture size and quality and up to eight shots/clip can be recorded. The screen goes dark while the still shot is captured and audio recording pauses briefly during this time.

      Controls
      The touch-panel controls are essentially the same as in other recent G-Micro series cameras but take in the additional ‘soft’ Fn buttons. Basic settings include touch focusing and touch shutter, which focuses the lens and triggers the shutter when the screen is touched.

      Touch focusing also enables users to simply touch the LCD to focus and lock on the subject and then follow it with AF Tracking. Other touch focusing features include 1-area AF in Face Detection, Multi-area AF, Pinpoint AF, and Movable MF Assist.

      One of the most significant new additions in the GX1 is the AF Flexible (AFF) focus mode, which automatically switches between single and tracking AF according to subject movement. In this mode, when the subject is still, the focus will lock but as soon as the subject starts moving, the focus will re-adjust automatically until the subject stops moving. This mode will be handy for photographing sports action or wildlife and also for family snapshooters when capturing shots of active children.

      Another useful addition is One Push AE, which enables users to adjust exposure with a single press of the Function button if the image is over- or under-exposed. This setting will be handy when shooting outdoors with an open aperture (for blurring backgrounds) or indoors using a fast shutter speed.

      The Contrast AF system in the GX1 has been designed to provide superior performance at wide lens apertures and is roughly one third faster than most Phase Difference AF systems. Light Speed AF technology in the new camera reduces the detection time for focusing to around 0.09/second and boasts a drive speed of 120 fps, giving an accuracy and speed that rivals many DSLRs.

      The Creative Control settings in the GX1 are an extension of those offered in the G3, with the addition of new Miniature Effect, Low Key and Toy Effect modes to the basic Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia and High Dynamic settings of the G3. ‘Photo Style’ adjustments allow fine-tuning of contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction for the Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery and Portrait presets. A Custom mode allows manual control of colour effects in these settings.

      Playback and Software
      Playback modes are similar to those in other G-Micro system cameras and include single-image playback, index display of12 or 30 thumbnails, Calendar display, Zoomed playback (up to 16x), Slideshow (duration & effect is selectable) and Category or Favourite displays. Playback mode also supports playback of video clips and 3D images (the latter requiring a 3D TV set).

      Editing functions available in playback mode include Title Edit, Text Stamp, Video Divide, Resize, Cropping, Aspect Conversion, Rotate, Rotate Display, Print set, Protect and Face Recognition Edit. Image protection can be applied to single or multiple frames and single or multiple images in bursts of shots. Image deletion can be applied to single or multiple frames, all images on a card or all images except those tagged as Favourites.

      Images can be tagged as Favourites or for automated DPOF printing. With the latter function, print size, layout and date setting can be specified.

      The software bundle supplied with the GX1 includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 7.0 HD Edition for easy organisation of photos and videos, SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.1 SE for RAW file development and a 30-day trial of LoiLoScope for editing videos.

      The GX1 will be offered in black as body-only or with the Lumix G Vario 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA OIS (H-FS14042E) kit lens. Both black and silver bodies will be available with the new Lumix G X Vario Power Zoom 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S (H-PS14042E) lens.

       

      Specifications

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      Image sensor: 17.3 x 13.0 mm Live MOS Sensor with 16.68 million photosites (16.0 megapixels effective)
      Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds mount
      Focal length crop factor: 2x
      Digital zoom: 2x or 4x; Max. 2x Extra optical zoom for stills, 4.8x for movies
      Image formats: Stills – RW2.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG (Fine/Standard); Movies – AVCHD / MP4; 3D – MPO (when attaching 3D lens)
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4592 x 3448, 3232 x 2424, 2272 x 1704; 3:2 aspect: 4576 x 3056, 3232 x 2160, 2272 x 1520; 16:9 aspect: 4576 x 2576, 3232 x 1824, 1920 x 1080; 1:1 aspect: 3424 x 3424, 2416 x 2416, 1712 x 1712; with 3D lens – 1824 x 1368, 1824 x 1216, 1824 x 1024, 1712 x 1712; Movies – AVCHD: [Full HD] 1920ø—1080, 60i (sensor output is 30p) (FSH:17Mbps, FH:13Mbps), [HD] 1280 x 720, 60p (sensor output is 30p) (SH:17Mbps, H:13Mbps); MP4: [Full HD] 1920 x 1080, 25fps (sensor output is 25p) (Approx.20Mbps); [HD] 1280 x 720, 25fps (sensor output is 25p) (Approx.10Mbps), [VGA] 640×480, 25fps (sensor output is 25p) (Approx.4Mbps)
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-based
      Dust removal: Supersonic wave filter
      Shutter speed range: 60 to 1/4000 second plus Bulb (Manual mode only); 1/25 to 1/16000 sec for movies
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 3,5,7 frames in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV Step, +/-3 EV
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay plus 10 sec, 3 images
      Focus system: Contrast AF system with AFS, AFC, AFF (flexible), MF; AF detection range EV0-18 (ISO 100 equivalent); AF-assist lamp provided
      Focus modes: Face detection, AF Tracking, 23-area-focusing, 1-area-focusing , Pinpoint
      Touch (1-area-focusing in Face detection, AF Tracking, Multi-area-focusing, 1-area-focusing, Pinpoint)
      Exposure metering: 144-zone multi-pattern sensing system with Intelligent Multiple, Centre Weighted, Spot modes; range EV0-18 (f/2.0 lens, ISO 100 equivalent)
      Shooting modes: Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual; Scene (Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Architecture, Sports, Peripheral Defocus, Flower, Food, Objects, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Illuminations, Baby 1/2, Pet, Party, Sunset), Custom 1, Custom 2, Creative Control
      Picture Style/Control settings: Expressive, Retro, High Key, Low Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, Toy Effect, Miniature Effect
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Custom functions: 25 functions programmable into four Function memory banks
      ISO range: Auto, Intelligent , ISO 160, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 (adjustable in 1/3 EV steps)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Flash, White Set 1, 2, Colour temperature setting (Touch operation is possible); Blue/amber and magenta/green adjustments
      Flash: TTL Built-in pop-up Flash, GN 7.6 equivalent (ISO 160/m); Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off modes
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Sequence shooting: Max. 4.2 fps at 16M with mechanical shutter for up to 9 RAW, unlimited JPEG; Max, 3 fps with Live View; Max. 20 fps at 4M with electronic shutter
      Storage Media: SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards
      Viewfinder: Optional Live View EVF with 90 degree tilt, 1,440,000 dots, 100% FOV, 1.4x magnification, -4.0 to +4.0 dioptre adjustment
      LCD monitor: 3.0-inch, TFT LCD with Touch panel with 3:2 aspect ratio and 460,000 dots
      Playback functions: Normal playback, 30-thumbnail display, 12-thumbnail display, Calendar display, Zoomed playback (16x Max.), Slideshow (duration & effect is selectable), Playback Mode (Normal/Picture/Video/3D Play/Category/Favourite), Title Edit, Text Stamp, Video Divide, Resize, Cropping, Aspect Conversion, Rotate, Rotate Display, Favourite, Print set, Protect, Face Recognition Edit; Protect/ Erase (single or multi); direct print (PictBridge)
      Interface terminals: USO 2.0, HDMI (Type C Mini), AV-out (PAL/NTSC), Mic. terminal, remote controller, VIERA Link
      Power supply: DMW-BLD10 ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (7.2 V, 1010 mAh); CIPA rated for approx. 310 shots/charge with H-PS14042 lens
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 116.3 x 67.8 x 39.4 mm (body only)
      Weight: 272 grams (body only); 413 grams with battery, card and H-PS14042 lens

       

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