Body & Design
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 carries forward the form factor and styling that garnered the GF1 such a strong following among enthusiasts. Going against the current trend of sleek, minimal styling and gently sloped edges, the GX1's rectangular shape, prominent mode dial and abundance of control points are clearly designed to appeal to users who place a priority on manual control over contemporary styling.
External similarities aside, the GX1 is much more than just a refresh of the GF1. It comes as no surprise that it builds on many of the advances Panasonic has incorporated into recent models, most notably the well-regarded touchscreen interface first seen in the GF2. Autofocus can be achieved simply by touching anywhere along the LCD with the added ability to adjust the size of the focus point on the fly. A customizeable Q.Menu gives easy onscreen access to as many as 15 camera settings. Touch Tab is a brand new feature that provides an onscreen dock for up to five control and display functions that can be expanded or hidden with a single touch.
While previous advances in Panasonic's touchscreen interface were accompanied by the elimination of external control points, the GX1 offers a very compelling balance between external and onscreen camera control. You can operate the GX1 with minimal touchscreen operation or, if you prefer, can setup the Q.Menu and two onscreen Fn buttons to reduce or eliminate the use of most hard buttons. While users opting to employ both methods of control will reap the most in terms of efficiency, it is refreshing to see such an equitably presented set of options.
Compared to the DMC-GF1
As the images below attest, there is precious little in the way of size, form factor and styling to separate the GX1 from its spiritual predecessor, the GF1. Indeed, when resting the two side-by-side in our office, it's not been uncommon for us to inadvertently pick up the wrong camera.
Perhaps the largest and certainly most noticeable design change is the GX's1 more pronounced, textured rubber handgrip offers a more secure hold of the camera. Some control points have been rearranged, but a GF1 user would feel right at home.
Compared to the DMC-GF3
Users waiting for a GF1-style update found little in the GF3 that would make for a sensible upgrade, with the latter's paucity of on-body controls and reliance on the touchscreen for most of its operation. At a glance, it is easy to see that these cameras are intended for two distinctly different audiences. The GF3's gently sloping curves and compact camera-like appearance contrast sharply with the austere, utilitarian styling of the GX1.
Compared to the DMC-G3
It is fair to summarize the GX1 as a GF1 body with the internal specs of a G3. Virtually all of the features that were new in the G3 have worked their way into the GX1, not least the 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor. The GX1 does introduce a few new tricks of its own, such as an ISO of 12,800 and an onscreen level gauge.