Panasonic ad copy describes the GX1 as a "sophisticated premium design" offering "superb" image quality. Let's see how close the marketing ink comes to reality.
The GX1 powers up quickly, presenting a shooting screen in just over 1 second; I was able to get off a first shot in about 1.5 seconds. Single shot to shot times were basically as quick as you could take the shot, reacquire focus and shoot again, although there is just the briefest of blackouts between shots. Continuous high-speed shooting rates at full resolution were 4.1 fps, right at the advertised 4.2 fps claimed by Panasonic. The GX1 also has a super high-speed shooting rate that allows the camera to capture 40 images at 20 images per second with 4 megapixel resolution.
AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, pre-focused)
|Panasonic Lumix GX1||0.15|
|Sony NEX-7||20||10.0 fps|
|Pentax Q||6||6.2 fps|
|Panasonic Lumix GX1||32||4.1 fps|
|Olympus E-P3||13||3.3 fps|
*Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera's fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). "Frames" notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.
Shutter lag was a speedy 0.01 seconds - and sharp eyed readers may have noticed that we have deleted the shutter lag table from this review. With so many cameras beginning to perform at 0.01 seconds or better we're only going to use the table for cameras that don't make the magic 0.01 second cut off. AF acquisition time in good conditions came up at 0.15 seconds, virtually a dead heat with the class leading Sony NEX-7 according to our measurements. Acquisition time predictably slowed in dimmer conditions, but the GX1 still remained fairly quick as light levels dropped and struck me as being a little bit quicker than the NEX-7 in this regard.
Panasonic reports a 7.6 guide number for the GX1 built-in flash in meters at ISO 160; that translates into a flash range of approximately 7 feet at wide-angle maximum aperture and 4.45 feet at telephoto. Flash recycle times ran about 5 seconds with full discharges and the camera will allow you to reacquire focus and hold a full push with the shutter button immediately after capturing an image with flash, but the shutter won't trip until the flash is fully recharged.
Battery life for the GX1 is listed as 300 shots for the manual 14-42mm zoom lens, 310 shots for the power zoom (that's right, doesn't make sense to me either but I checked it twice) and 340 shots for the 14mm pancake lens. The battery "fuel gauge" consists of a small battery icon with three bars - after one bar the blinking red battery icon tells you your power has been exhausted.
Lens Mount/Kit Lens
With maximum apertures of f/3.5 and f/5.6 at the wide-angle and telephoto ends of the zoom respectively, the GX1 power zoom is about average in terms of kit lens speed. At wide-angle there was just a faint hint of barrel distortion and some image softening in the corners of the frame. Edges at wide-angle were bit softer than the center but less so than in the corners. Telephoto looked distortion free and also showed some softening of the image in the corners and edges.
The lens showed a bit of vignetting (darkening in the corners the frame) at both wide and telephoto ends of the zoom that, depending on the nature of the scene, might be noticed by sharp eyed viewers. The GX1 has a shading compensation feature (disabled by default) that can help reduce the effects of vignetting, but Panasonic cautions that use of shading compensation may cause noise in the periphery of the picture to stand out with higher ISO sensitivities.
There is some chromic aberration (purple fringing) present at both ends of the zoom in some high contrast boundary areas, but typically 300% enlargements are required before this defect becomes somewhat noticeable - our GX1 kit lens produced a fairly good performance in this regard.
That kit lens 14-42 mm focal range translates into a 28 to 84 mm range in 35mm equivalents given the GX1's 2x crop factor: not overly wide and just starting to reach the low end of telephoto focal range. Not the setup to capture wildlife on a distant hill but if you can move relatively close to your subject or want to shoot distant vistas the GX1 and the kit lens do a pretty good job.
Above is a shot of the Navy fleet replenishment ship Henry J. Kaiser docked at the North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego with the carrier Ronald Reagan in the background; a shot of the San Diego skyline from across the bay in Coronado and a couple shots on the beach near the Hotel Del Coronado.
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