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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Dynamic Range (JPEG)

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).

To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.

Note: this page features our new interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Compared to...

The GX1 uses a tone curve that is virtually identical to that of the G3, yielding approximately three stops of highlight dynamic range from middle grey to clipped white, with a more abrupt transition from bright highlights to blown-out detail than we see from rivals like the Olympus PEN and Sony NEX cameras. The APS-C cameras used in the latter company's offerings also produce roughly one additional stop of highlight data.

In these particular controlled tests, Panasonic's iDynamic mode doesn't have any obvious effect, as the camera is unable to 'analyze' the scene. In real-world shooting, iDynamic's effect is relatively subtle as well, lifting the shadows slightly but doing essentially nothing to tame the highlights. You can see image comparisons describing this behavior in more detail on our photographic tests page of this review.

Photo Styles

The GX1, like the G3 and GF3 before it, has five 'Photo Style' color response presets in addition to its default standard mode. Of interest here is that two of these presets yield a different scene brightness at the same camera-reported exposure. 'Natural' and 'portrait' modes produce a brighter image than all other modes with middle gray rendered with approximately 1EV more luminance. As you can see, these deviations in brightness do not extend in any meaningful way to extreme highlights or shadows. Effective dynamic range remains unchanged.

What all this means in in daily use is that photographing the same scene, with the camera displaying identical exposure values, will result in images of different brightness levels based on which Photo Style has been selected. You can see real-world examples of this in our features page of this review.

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Total comments: 2
Adrian Van

I was impressed with the video quality of the GX1 after buying this camera and works with autofocus which quicker than some DSLRs in video AF (except a few of the new dslrs with on sensor AF). Recommended for that alone, over my earlier model Pen. Panasonic knows video. Maybe Olympus is better now. I also have the Olympus 12-50mm and it records fine detail capture on the GX1. I recommend upgrade from the kit. I also have the original Panasonic 14-45mm, sharp lens with OIS which helps stabilize with video in a smaller lens than the Panasonic 14-140mm if carrying size if a consideration. Great lens also, and still can be found online.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting

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.

Total comments: 2