Panasonic GX1 Announceed

Panasonic today showed their true update to the GF1, the GX1. Using the 16mp sensor from the G3, a new Venus processing engine, and a host of small changes, the GX1 appears to be centered tightly on the enthusiast user as opposed to the new or upgrading-from-compact user that the GF2 and especially the GF3 models seemed to target. 

Along with the choice of the new collapsing X lens for the kit, Panasonic also gets the GX1 down to the more trim size that Olympus has been hawking for some time. With the new sensor and lens, ike Olympus, Panasonic is touting "ultra fast" autofocus. 

Still, there's a lot of familiarity to the design. We still have the same basic 3" 460k dot LCD (though it's a touchscreen now), pop-up flash, and basic body shape and size of the GF1/GF2. We do get more buttons and controls, including an AE/AF lock button, two function buttons, and an AF/MF button. Yet the basic inerface design stays very true to the original GF1/GF2. 

Other subtle differences: the powered accessory slot under the hot shoe is redesigned, meaning the old EVF finder won't work with the new camera (or vice versa). Thus, we get a new tilting 1.44m dot external viewfinder along with the camera itself.

So here we are two years downstream from the camera that really precedes the GX1 (the GF1). What did we really get? Some modest camera control refinements and a new sensor and imaging ASIC. A few performance enhancements (AF acquisition time). A better suited kit lens. This was a very evolutionary update--there's no revolution here. Given how the sensor performs (it's in the G3), I don't see a lot of reason for a GF1/GF2 user to rush out and upgrade, especially those shooting raw. But that's okay. If the past is any indication, at least here in the US it will be quite a while before the GX1 is really available, anyway.

The real problem with the GX1 is the G3. The minute you say that you want both the GX1 and the new EVF, you're probably better off getting the G3 with its built in EVF and swivel LCD. Yes, you pay a small price of the G3 being somewhat bigger and the EVF not swiveling, but I judge that to be a very small price, and in real monetary costs, the G3 is cheaper than the GX1/EVF combo.

All that said, the GX1 is a welcome evolution of the GF1. Panasonic has brought the camera up to their current state-of-the-art, which means new users are getting something pretty decent. But again, check the G3 if you're considering the GX1 with the EVF. 

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