All About Compact System Cameras (Part 3) - Panasonic DMC-GX1, Pentax K-01

11/13/2012 9:48:29 AM

Ratings: 4/5

Price: $1199 (14-42mm lens); $1599 (12-35mm lens)

Description: Panasonic DMC-GX1

There’s something reassuringly solid about the GX1

There’s something reassuringly solid about the GX1. With a metal body, the Panasonic is easily one of the heaviest on test although, unlike the Pentax, it doesn’t feel overly bulky.

It’s evident from the sheer number of buttons and dials that the GX1 is targeted at more proficient photographers. In addition to the Mode dial, the Panasonic includes dedicated buttons for everything from autofocus lock, white balance and ISO to a dedicated ‘Intelligent Auto’ mode to take the challenge out of getting good shots.

Programmable function buttons offer a level of customization that most cameras in this class lack. There’s even an in-built gyroscope which shows a level on the camera’s touchscreen ensure your photos are all short straight.

The touchscreen itself is intelligent designed, offering the ability to customize your display and decide what information you want to see on the LCD. But despite the convenience, it’s hardly the most elegant of interfaces. The screen itself also pales in comparison to the stunning displays from Sony and Samsung.

Like the Samsung, Panasonic builds its image stabilization into the lenses. This means two things: First, getting a crystal-clear shot in lower light conditions is significantly more challenging. Secondly, the best lenses are heavier and, given the weight of the body, can potentially be a turn-off for prospective buyers.

That said, the in-body flash and stereo microphones for 1080p video recording are nice inclusions and, when coupled with the robust body and feature set, make the GX1 an attractive camera for passionate photographers.

Buying advice. A beautiful camera that delivers on many of the promises the Compact System Camera category offers. With a better screen and improved UI design, it would be tough to beat.

Pentax K-01

Ratings: 2.5/5

Price: $799 (body); $849 (40mm F2.8 XS lens); $849 (DAL 18-55mm lens


Description: Pentax K-01

The K-01 is chunky, heavy and striking

If the whole idea behind the CSC category is to shed the bulk and weight of a DSLR, somebody forgot to tell Pentax. Designed by Aussie Marc Newson, the K-01 is chunky, heavy and striking.

While every other CSC camera on test requires its own breed of lenses, the K-01 is unique in the fact that it uses the Pentax K-Mount, immediately opening up a huge collection of lenses for users. This fact alone will help the K-01 sell some units, especially with legacy Pentax SLR users.

Despite the bulk, the controls on the K-01 are well laid out, offering simple access to all the main functions of the camera. The mode dial offers quick access to both a bulb mode and HDR mode in addition to the standard suite of manual and automatic options. It’s a nice addition for keen photographers hoping to get the most out of their camera.

Image quality is fantastic thanks to the 16.3 megapixel APS-C sized sensor, although the act of getting there is a process and a half. The autofocus on the 40mm kit lens is slow, cumbersome and noisy. In fact, it’s seriously noisy, like grinding your car’s gears without pressing down the clutch. It gets there in the end, but the process is easily the slowest on test.

The 3in LCD is bright and vibrant, accurately representing the taken shot, although disappointingly, like the Nikon it doesn’t showcase changes to the settings in real time.

On the upside, in-body stabilization helps keep photos with slower shutter speeds free of blur, although it doesn’t hold a candle to the performance of the Olympus stabilization.

Buying advice. If you own a large collection of Pentax K-Mount, this is a serious option. But the bulk, weight and terrible autofocus will turn off most other potential customers.


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