Panasonic / Lumix GX1 preview : an interesting compact.

If you've read this blog before, you know 2 things about cameras:
  • Sensor size is the main indicator of a digital camera performance level...
  • ... anything below 24x36mm (an FX DSLR) is no suitable for serious work
However, that would be a little too much in-the-box to claim that no great picture has ever been taken with a compact, smaller sensored camera. There has been plenty in fact.
Let's say that they don't allow enough to satisfy a pro, it's too restrictive, but I believe one day there will be compact bodies with quality lenses and a large sensor. 

This GX1 is pretty much as close as it gets to such a camera. Its sensor is 17X13mm (micro four third), which is already much much better than the rubbish 8X6mm sensors that equip most compact stuff (at this size let's not call it cameras), and is has some good prime lenses to go with it. Out in December for about 700$ (body only).

It's a 16MP sensor, shoot 1080p video bla bla they all do the same now. Only lens, sensor and ergonomics really matters.

Let's discuss the bad, then the good.

12MP is as far as I would go for that size, so the 16MP sensor on this one will I am afraid not perform as good as the Fuji X100 sensor. More pixels + same size sensor = smaller pixels = not as good in low light. It's mechanical.
Its predecessor the GF1 was very poor in that field, anything form 400ISO was not really usable. It sucks properly because that camera is supposed to be for the backpacker who care about the shots yet can't afford to carry much. It means you'll be in situation when nothing will mater more that the ability to capture subtile natural lights. 

It will have an external viewfinder for only 200$... no that was sarcasm. It's a joke. 200$ for a compact camera viewfinder? Come on.

Now it will have it's avantages over the X100 (so far my reference in compact world):
  • it's not a X100 with a wannabe vintage look and low stocks, so it should be available and more affordable
  • the GF1 was an excellent camera (see this field test), if they improved on it, it could become an even better choice for the traveler.
  • it has the excellent 20mm f1.7 lens. 
Also it has interchangeable wait, I don't see any reason at all why not getting it only with the 20 f1.7. With a sensor that size, it'll take maximum aperture to play with depth of field. So it's a fake benefit. And buying lenses on a camera format that is less than likely to last is a very risky investment. 

Ok enough speculation: 
  • You should wait for it because it could be a really good compact, if you are planning a trip around the world Indiana Jones style, consider it.
  • You should wait for it because it has a great prime lens to go with it. Buy it body only, then with the 20mm lens.
  • You should wait for it because it'll be cheaper than a X100
  • You should maybe consider how important size really is for you, because if it's not that important, it cost nearly has much as a Nikon D7000 body that will destroy it.
  • You should consider how important getting multiple lenses is for you, because gearing up on a compact camera format that will be dead in 5 years is a good way to waste money. See previous point, in that case get a Nikon D7000.

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