The GX1 carries over all the goodness from the G3 and squeezes it into a reimagined GF1-style body. Can the GX1 offer the ultimate Compact System Camera experience? The What Digital Camera Panasonic GX1 review takes a closer look...
Panasonic Lumix GX1 review – Design
The recent Lumix GF3 stripped back physical controls to a bare minimum and its exclusion of a hotshoe meant a simplified, miniaturised and therefore, in some respects, a limited camera. The GX1, on the other hand, is quite the opposite: it’s still small, but the onus is on providing all the hands-on controls that demanding photographers require.
There’s a main mode dial on the camera’s top, next to which are two buttons – one for movie and the other glows blue when pressed to show iA (intelligent Auto) is activated. On the camera’s rear there’s a thumbwheel, four-way d-pad, two programmable function (Fn1/2) buttons, plus separate Q.Menu (Quick Menu), Display, AF/MF and AF/AE lock buttons. The ability to customise means the camera can be set up how you choose – not only to dictate the function buttons’ settings, but also to drag-and-drop settings into the Q.Menu using the touchscreen. This means settings can be re-ordered, added or excluded from the on-screen menu to make sure it’s set up exactly as wanted. Our one and only moan is that the Drive mode switch (that appeared on the GF1 around the main mode dial) is nowhere to be found – instead it’s demoted to a down-press of the d-pad.
In use everything feels right; the GX1’s layout is intuitive and leaves little to be desired when it comes to controls. The premium build also makes the camera feel that extra bit special. No other G-series camera has been made to this standard, and it really shows.
The new lens, however, isn’t going to be to everyone’s tastes. Although a good looker that’s well built and aesthetically matches to the GX1’s body, it’s the fact it’s a powered zoom that will grate with some. Rather than a traditional twist-barrel to zoom and/or focus the power zoom version has two toggles on the barrel instead. Their placement takes a little getting used to and the speed of the zoom doesn’t feel rapid enough. There are some benefits, such as holding the camera steady during movie recording and the obvious smaller size, but the additional cost (the power zoom adds a premium of around £150 more than the conventional 14-42mm zoom) is a tall order. Other power zoom lenses are due in the near future and may have more appeal but, for now, we’re not totally sold on the idea.