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Displays

The hallmark of recent G-series cameras has been the well-implemented touchscreen interface. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 incorporates features seen in the Lumix DMC-G3 like Touch AF, Touch Shutter, and rack focusing for video, along with picture-in-picture manual focus and an enhanced iAuto 'Plus' mode to name a few.

Pressing the Disp. button allows you to cycle through four default screen views which can hide or show camera information either with or without the level gauge display. Individual items can be added to the live view display. Above you see one of three available guide line configurations that can be selected in the custom menu.
A histogram that updates in real time can also be displayed in live view. The histogram can be moved along the screen simply by dragging it. Multiple screen options can be enabled simultaneously. Here you see the histogram combined with the level gauge.

The live view displays are very flexible in terms of the information that can be displayed. A level gauge, histogram, guide lines and exposure meter can all be set independently to display in the live view information modes. While activating all of these views at the same time would certainly clutter the screen, the option to choose the most appropriate combination for any given use is welcome.

One thing to be aware of is that in manual exposure mode the live view histogram, by default displays tonal distribution of what the camera's metering system would yield, not necessarily the exposure settings you've currently specified. In order to get a 'working' histogram that corresponds to your exposure parameters you must designate a Fn button to activate the camera's DOF preview. You must then press that Fn button twice to set the camera to the 'Shutter Speed Effect On' mode.

Quick Menu and Touch Tab

At the heart of the Panasonic touchscreen interface is the Q.Menu. It allows quick access to camera settings and can be customized by dragging and dropping icons into a virtual tray. While using the touchscreeen is intuitive and efficient, users can, should they chose, navigate and make selections in the Q.Menu via the 4-way controller. This method is generally slower than using the touchscreen, but once an icon is highlighted, its corresponding functionality is engaged, avoiding the need to press the 'select' button. A half-press of the shutter button naturally exits the Q.Menu and switches the camera to live view.

The Q.Menu offers a fast and easy way to access your more commonly used parameters. The choice of available options can be customized by dragging icons from the master list down to the bottom tray of icons.

With so many control points available on the GX1 the Q.Menu gets its own dedicated button, addressing a complaint we had with the G3 in which using the Q.Menu button meant losing access to a Fn button. Of course, with a total of four separate Fn buttons the GX1 offers little need to compromise in assigning button functionality. A full list of the options that can be used in the Q.Menu or assigned to any of the four Fn buttons is given in the table below:

Q.Menu options
(Up to 15 may be selected)
 • Photo Style
 • Picture Setting (size/ratio)
 • Quality
 • Metering Mode
 • Flash
 • Flash Adj.
 • I. Resolution
 • I. Dynamic
 • Ex. Tele Conv.
 • Digital Zoom
 • Stabilizer
 • Motion Pic. Setting
 • Picture Mode
 • Histogram
 • Guide Line
 • Rec. Area
 • ISO sensitivity
 • White balance
 • AF Mode
 • Drive Mode
 • Step Zoom
 • Zoom Speed

Fn. button options
(Can be assigned to any button)
 • One Push AE
 • Depth of Field Preview
 • Level Gauge
 • Focus Area
 • Photo Style
 • Aspect Ratio
 • Picture Size
 • Quality
 • Metering Mode
 • Flash
 • Flash Adj.
 • I. Resolution
 • I . Dynamic
 • Ex. Tele Conv
 • Digital Zoom
 • Stabilizer
 • Motion Pic. Setting
 • Picture Mode
 • Histogram
 • Guide Line
 • Rec. Area
 • ISO sensitivity
 • White balance
 • AF Mode
 • Drive Mode
 • Step Zoom
 • Zoom Speed

The Touch Tab provides a discreet place holder for five useful icons, including those for the two onscreen function buttons. What strikes us as odd, from a design perspective, however is that some of these options are displayed only under specific conditions.

The touch tab icon remains onscreen and when touched, it undocks itself from the edge and shows a list of available options. You can see that the tab design remains the same even though two icons are unavailable.

The top slot in the tab is reserved for zoom control when using one of just two available X-series lenses while the second slot houses the iAuto 'defocus' control icon. What this means is that with a vast majority of Micro Four Thirds lenses attached and iAuto inactive, you are left with a rather incomplete-looking panel. Having buttons appearing or disappearing from a conventional grid, as on previous G-series touchscreen implementations is much less bothersome by comparison in our view. Here, the same amount of screen real estate is devoted to the panel regardless of the number of icons residing in it. Overall, the Touch Tab comes across as a very good idea that perhaps could use a bit more tweaking.

Touch AF and Touch Shutter

One of the most useful features of the touchscreen interface is Touch AF. In live view you can focus on a subject simply by tapping the screen. The GX1 also brings a new focus mode, AF Flexible, in which you lock focus on a subject either by tapping the screen or pressing the shutter button half-way and the camera attempts to reset focus if the subject moves. Touch AF can be turned off altogether in the Custom menu.

With Touch AF enabled you can lock focus simply by pressing on your desired focus point onscreen. You can adjust the size of the focus box either with the rear dial or by dragging the slider on the right of the screen.

Touch shutter allows you to take a picture simply by pressing the screen. When we saw this implemented in the Lumix DMC-G3, we were a bit disappointed in the noticeable lag between pressing the screen and the actual image capture. We find a similar lag with the GX1. Whether pre-focusing the lens or starting with it deliberately out of focus, the time between screen press and image capture is approximately 0.10 seconds longer when using Touch Shutter compared to pressing the shutter button.

The Touch shutter is seen here in its active mode (the yellow icon). Pressing on the icon itself toggles between enabling or disabling the feature.

Unlike in more recent G-series models which include a separate menu option for removing the Touch Shutter option from the screen entirely, the GX1's Custom menu has no such individual control. To disable the Touch Shutter option you must disable the entire Touch Tab. It's worth noting that the GX1 allows you to disable touchscreen capability in its entirety, for those who prefer to work exclusively with external controls.

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Comments

reanim888

Iam really like the design of the GX1, though I do have a few quibbles. It's a little bigger than the rest of the field, but none of these is sufficiently small with a lens attached to be considered significantly smaller than the others. It's got a nice-size grip and thumb rest, which makes it comfortable to hold and shoot single-handed, and it feels well constructed.

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