Black Panasonic DMC-GX1
with Olympus 45mm F1.8 and Mizar Brown Half-Case with Strap
After two years with GF1 around, Panasonic finally released the true GF1 successor, the GX1. I have to admit, I've been waiting for this and the timing is just about right for me to upgrade. After using for 2 months, I can now pen down some thoughts I have about this camera, coming from a previous GF1-owner perspective. I won't comment much on picture quality, as plenty of reviews about this are available elsewhere. Instead, I'll concentrate on the physical build and handling.
Rationale of Upgrade
The GF1 is still a very good camera. So why did I upgrade? The main reason I've decided to move on to GX1 is more about what I use my camera for nowadays.
- Lots of indoor shooting. My toddler don't spend a lot of time outdoor. Therefore, many of my photos nowadays are taken indoor. The new 16 megapixel sensor with much better high-ISO output is just what I need. (Yes, DSLR still fair better, but keeping my camera system small is still my top priority).
- Better video quality and handling. Though I still shoot a lot more photos than videos, I do shoot more videos than I did previously. With better high-ISO capability, Full-HD capable and stereo mic, the GX1 captures much better video than GF1. Noise grains are a lot finer than GF1 in the dark area too. On top of that, the touch screen allows me to select the point to focus during recording without changing composition.
Other features of GX1 which also influenced my decision are:
- Faster AF. I didn't measure against GF1, but does feels a little faster.
- Touch Screen. On top of being helpful to video capturing, I find that it's very useful to overwrite the focus point for stills as well, as the auto focus do focus at the wrong subject of interest occasionally.
- Bundling of 14-42 pancake X lens. This, is more of a want than a need. But since it is small, has Power OIS and Power Zoom, I figured it would be useful to have this lens around for both stills and videos. Moreover, the bundling with the GX1 turns this lens to a relatively "cheap" kit lens, so it's a no-brainer to go for it instead of getting the body-only GX1 package.
Features that I like after I've used the camera
- Built-in orientation sensor. The 20mm f1.7 that I use very often does not include the orientation sensor, which required me to manually rotate my shots manually in my workflow when shooting with GF1. GX1 comes with the sensor and rotates for your automatically. This cuts down my post-processing time.
- Drive Mode button. Gone were the GF1's latch to switch drive mode. Instead, it's replaced with the down-cursor button. Though seems like a step backward at first, it's actually allow you to make more adjustments via the touch screen as you switches drive mode. For example, switching to Auto Bracket allows you to set the number of exposures and exposure compensation, or switching to self-timer then allows you to also set the 10s, 10s/3Pictures or 2s. This was previously hidden in the GF1 menu, making it difficult to tune the drive mode quickly.
- Bounce-capable pop-up flash. In rooms with low ceiling, pictures tends to look better with the bounce flash.
Features that I don't like after I've used the camera
- On/Off switch. I prefer the GF1's on/off switch, as it is easier to switch the camera on with one hand and only with the index finger. Now I need to hold the camera with both hands to switch it on. It's a small camera anyway. So I don't see why put in a switch that is meant for a larger cameras.
- iA button. A feature that I don't use at all. Heck, don't think many of the buyer of this camera will use this too. So to me that's a waste of real estate on the camera. Could have been used as an additional function button, and leave the iA at the mode-dial.
- Recessed video record button. Makes it slightly harder to press. I don't have issue of accidental video recording with the GF1 record button, so I don't see the need for this design change.
Some Minor Quirks
- The handgrip. Though seems like a good idea, it does require some time to get used to it. Having said that, it's a must-have to promote better grip on the camera, as the GX1 body is slimmer than GF1. I just hope it doesn't become sticky later on.
- Rear dial. It is noticeably smaller than the GF1 version. Not too big deal, just need to get used to it.
- Disp button. It's prone to accidental pressing, as it's placed very close to the thumb rest. It's quite annoying. Having said that, glad that it's just a display button, which doesn’t affect picture/video shooting parameters.
- Physical switch to enable/disable the touch screen. No more accidental bump.
- Swivel LCD. If not because the G3's built is not as solid as GX1, I would have picked the G3.
- Turn iA button into a function button. Don't see why this can't be implemented with a firmware update.
- Time to include wireless-flash capability, like Olympus.