Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 camera review
Given the DMC-CM1 is leaning heavily on technology used in Panasonic's compact and Micro-Four-Thirds cameras it is not a surprise the "connected camera" is using quite a few features we have seen on many Panasonic cameras before, for example the i.Resolution and i.Dynamic features that increase edge sharpness and shadow detail respectively, as well as the Photo Styles "film simulation" settings and the usual scene modes that automatically optimize shooting parameters for specific scenes.
Apart from the Lumix camera app the CM1 comes with a few pre-installed separate imaging apps, including a basic time-lapse app, a useful app for extracting still images from video files, Pashadelic which allows you to discover photo spots through other users' images and 4K Pre-Burst which can also be accessed from the camera app and that we'll have a closer look at below. In this section we will focus on the features provided through the Lumix camera app.
The CM1's panorama mode works reasonably well but in terms of output size, image detail and capture angle cannot compete with the excellent modes on the latest Samsung devices or the iPhone 6/6 Plus. 180 degree horizontal panoramas are approximately 3500 x 680 pixels large which is quite a bit smaller than a standard exposure. Vertical panoramas are approximately 300 pixels taller. On the plus side stitching quality is pretty good and moving subjects in the scene are dealt with well.
You can also apply the iArt effect filters and exposure compensation. The latter can be very useful in difficult lighting situations but you'll have to adjust exposure while you are still in P or Auto mode. You cannot change the setting once you are in panorama mode but previously adjusted settings are maintained.
Like on most smartphones and cameras, the CM1's HDR mode works by blending several bracketed exposures that are captured in very quick succession. The image is slightly cropped to counteract any camera motion during capture and the mode does a good job of recovering clipped highlight detail. Shadows are slightly lifted as well and the end result still looks pretty natural, but unfortunately HDR mode only works well with absolutely static scenes. Even slow moving subjects, such as pedestrians or trees swaying in the wind, will cause very noticeable ghosting artifacts.
Some HDR exposures also show extreme chromatic aberrations, as you can see in the sample below on the right. Most manual settings, such as ISO, white balance or shutter speed, are still accessible when shooting HDR but overall, due to the problems mentioned above, the mode is only of limited use. Also note that it cannot be combined with Raw capture.
After you set the camera to 4K Pre-Burst mode it continuously captures 4K video but does not save the footage to its internal memory. Instead, it continuously buffers three seconds. This allows you to pick your favorite out of 44 still frames, captured 1.5 seconds before and after you hit the shutter button, and save it to the camera's memory. In contrast to most similar modes on other devices 4K Pre-Burst allows you to manually set the shutter speed, which makes it genuinely useful for action scenes. Just be aware that you can only use the mode for a limited time before the camera gets too hot - you'll then have to let it cool off before using 4K Pre-Burst again.
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