GX1 Review Questions

I’ve had a few more questions from readers about the GX1 about elements specific to street photography. I think the GX1 is going to be an important camera for street photographers. It meets my main criteria of fast, light and discrete. It also takes great quality photos.

With the GX1 you are buying into a standard that is growing and developing with ever more lenses and a community of passionate street photographers. However, no camera is perfect and you need to pick a tool that suits your usage. A couple of common questions so far have been:

External Viewfinder
The external EVF is not really any better than the G3, so if you really want an EVF then just get a G3. The GX1 with viewfinder attached is taller than a G3. On the street this will mean bumping the EVF against your chest, pulling it off to fit in your coat pocket and generally flaffing around. Not conducive to the decisive moment.

Lumix GX1 Back

The external EVF on the GX1 adds more bulk than I expected.

The G3 is smaller and more subtle than most people realise. It can be used perfectly well on the street. The X100 also has a great viewfinder. Or plump for what you really want and get a Leica.

Lumix G3 Back

The G3 is suprisingly slim in the hand. So if you really need an EVF then try it out.

The real problem is that whatever EVF you use, it’ll never be as clear as an OVF. Kai from DigitalRev put it best (although he was comparing a Sony transparent mirror to a Canon mirror SLR); “The [EVF] feels like looking at what the camera sees, the [OVF] feels like looking at the subject.“ So until EVFs improve I’d take that off the table as a reason for or against the GX1.

As a street photographer you’ll want to experiment with hotshoe OVFs, EVFs and maybe even an SLR style like the GH2 or G3. But in the end you may find that an LCD is just fine.

Build quality
As tough as it is, the GX1 is not a weather-proof camera. The build quality is better than the GF series. But not by much. I said in my original review that I’d be happy dropping the GX1 in a puddle or using it in the rain. But this is more about the fact that it’s good value and if it broke, then it’s not too expensive to replace.

Panasonic GX1 with 14mm Lumix

The GX1 is built pretty tough.

I also think that the GX1 will be like the GF1 in that it’s not technically waterproof, mud proof or dust proof. But that it’ll stand up to most of those pretty comfortably. So test it out for yourself. I think the all metal body will pleasantly surprise most street photographers.

High ISO noise
From what I can tell so far, the JPG engine is better, but the high ISO RAW files will still be pretty noisy over 800. I’m starting to think that this is just the curse of M43 because the EP-3 is no better. ISO noise isn’t a reason not to get a GX1, but if you’re upgrading from another M43 camera just to get better ISO, I’d be wary. On the street, better ISO is great because it gives you more options, but I’ve found that I can live with up to 800 in almost any conditions.

Conclusion
In the end, I’m a street photographer and can only comment on the GX1 for that purpose. I’m guessing that the GX1 would kick all kinds of ass as a travel camera. Especially paired with the X lenes. As a street camera, the GX1 is a worthy successor to the GF1. If you’re new to street photography, the GX1 is a camera that will grow with you and you’ll get years of good shooting out of.

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9 thoughts on “GX1 Review Questions

  1. Great reviews on the GX1 so far. Thanks for writing them.

    I do have a question though: Do you think there’s a significant reason to upgrade from a GF2 to a GX1? I know the sensor’s a little better in the GX1 (16MP vs 12MP), the processor’s faster and you have a few more hardware controls to play with. But are the pics any better? Are the ergonomics significantly better? Is it noticeably faster?

    Ok, that’s actually 4 questions. 🙂

  2. Hi
    Just bought a GX1 with a 14 mm and the 14-42 mm. I have 2 questions :
    * how to focus manually ? (I turn the focus barrel but nothing happens and I didn’t find the setting to do manual focus (as in the old times…)
    * any wide angle (like a 24 mm 24×36 i.e 12 mm) available ?

    Thank you for your response

    Philippe

    • To switch from auto focus to manual focus press the AF/MF button on the bottom right of the camera. Check out page 32 of the manual for a bit more info:
      Pansonic GX1 Manual PDF
      There are a couple of options for 12mm lenses that will give you a 24mm equivalent. I highly recommend the Olympus 12mm or if you want more felxibility in the ultra wide range to complement your 14mm then the Olympus 9-18mm is a good option. You can also find SLR Magic or Noktor lenses in that range.

  3. Hello Peter,
    I’m considering buying the EVF for my GX1 but I have a concern that can I still use the touch screen to choose the focal point while using the EVF for framing?
    Also, I really need a wide angle lens. So should I pick the Olympus 12mm F2.0 or the Panasonic newly announced 12-35mm X zoom lens?
    Regards,
    William

    • On the G3 you can only use EVF or LCD. Not both at the same time.it works fine because it would be a bit hard to spot focus while the LCD is pressed to your face.

      I’d recommend the 12mm prime because the aperture and image quality are do badass. But it depends on your usage.

      • Thank you for your reply!
        I just noticed that the Sigma 19mm f2.8 EX DN may suit me better, because I would like to use the lens for street shootings. 39mm allows me to get the shots without getting too close to the subject; and it’s fairly wide enough for landscape, so…
        For the LVF2, I’m reconsidering should I really get it. It’s quite pricey, and as you said, “in the end you may find that an LCD is just fine.”

      • Not to get all philosophical but… The fear of getting close to your subjects is a fear of your fellow man. The aim of street photography is to face this fear, and to take your viewer right along with you.

        Ps. Maybe ditch the Sigma and the LVF, and just get the Panasonic 20mm and a vintage OVF? Have you looked into the 20mm? What about the 19mm attracts you?

      • Hmm… To be honest, I might feel uncomfortable (sweat sometime…) with getting very close to the subjects, but I’m really not afraid of. The reasons that 19mm attracts me are its reasonable price and quite decent image quality (at least to me). I know and love the 20mm lens very much; it’s compact, sharp and fast, but it’s over my tight budget. Plus, I have already got the 25mm f1.4, so the angle of view is not changing much~

        And yeah! OVF is definitely a good idea! I will look around to get one.

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