My final thoughts on the Panasonic GX1 vs E-P3

My final thoughts on the Panasonic GX1 vs E-P3

So I know some of you are waiting for my review of the Panasonic GX1. Ive had the camera for while now and have been shooting it daily, and shooting it next to my micro 4/3 fave, the Olympus E-P3. I posted the review from David Babsky who loved the camera and you can read that 3500 word review HERE. I feel that David did a good job talking about the cameras features and capabilities so I did not want to re-hash what he said. I do not feel as excited about it as he does though so I will just give my thoughts on it in this short article instead of doing a full blown review. David posted ISO samples, crops, and talked about the design and control so no real need for me to repeat it.

The Panasonic GX1 and the Olympus 17 2.8

At about $700, the GX-1 and kit zoom is not cheap. Many complained about the Nikon V1 at $850 even though it focuses faster, has a more solid build, has a fantastic built in EVF and can compete with any M4/3 camera at high ISO. Oh, and it also shoots better quality HD video than either of these M4/3 cameras! So using that logic, the GX-1 should not cost what it does. When I received the camera I was a bit disappointed in the feel of it. While it is leagues better than the brain farts that were the GF2 and GF3, the GX1 just doesn’t have that sweet solid feel that the E-P3 has. But for many, the feel doesn’t matter. The inside, the guts, the good stuff…that is what matters and that is what gives us the image that we see on our computer screen.

When the GX1 was announced my thoughts were “FINALLY”! Panasonic was going back to their GF1 roots with the same body design and control and that was/is a good thing. When I started using the camera I realized it really is not much better than the old GF1. I mean, of course it does much better in low light and focuses faster but it still doesn’t have in body image stabilization. It is still on the small side and smaller than the GF1. The rear dial feels cheaply made, and the big one for me…no built in EVF! GRRRR.

Why oh why didn’t they put in an EVF? The Fuji X100, The Nikon V1, the Sony NEX-7 – All newer cameras and all have EVF’s. Even if the GX1 came in at $800 or even $900, an EVF would have been welcomed and made it much more enjoyable to shoot. It would have also separated itself from the E-P3, it’s main competition. To me, if I were to stick with Micro 4/3, and there is good reason to just due to the amazing lenses that are available, I would stick with the E-P3 no question. I would NOT sell my E-P3 for a GX1, no way, no how.

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Again, this is not really a review of the GX1 as I feel it is not needed due to David’s review that explained the camera in detail but I know many were wondering how I liked this camera. Bottom line?  I like the GX1 but I like the E-P3 more. I like the feel of the E-P3, the control, the LCD, the touch screen, the filters as well as the color more with the Olympus. It is what it is and after spending time with both, side by side, those are my opinions.

There are areas where the GX1 does indeed beat the E-P3 though. The sensor IS without a doubt a better sensor than the Olympus’s aging 12MP many years old design. The low light/high ISO performance is better with the GX1. No question. BUT…in good light I found the Olympus to provide me with more pleasing images every time. I also love the B&W Art filter on the Olympus and use it quite often. The GX1 can not replicate it in camera. The GX1 takes better HD video with less jello effect (the E-P3 is lousy in this regard) and I would pick it over the Oly for video. Then again, if video is your thing and you are in the Micro 4/3 camp, go with a GH2 🙂

ISO 1600 from the GX1, taken at night in a parking garage – click the image for larger

GX1 AT ISO 400, INDOOR AT NIGHT,  NO FLASH – RAW – 25 1.4

I am not bashing the GX1. If someone wanted to get into M4/3 right now, I’d say that the GX1 is a good choice due to the low light abilities and newer sensor. At the same time, I would say that I enjoy shooting the E-P3 more. I am not alone in this either. I spoke with a few people this past week who own both and every one of them agreed with my findings. There is just something about the little Oly that gets me. If a Leica talks to my soul, the PEN talks to my heart. The Panasonic doesn’t really speak to me much at all. Then again I am a guy who loves the camera look, feel, and style in addition to what it gives me in the images.

The Panasonic 25 1.4 on the E-P3. This is a GREAT lens…

The Panasonic GX1 with the 25 1.4

The power of the EVF

If the GX1 was $599 Id say BUY IT NOW and consider it a steal. I also think the E-P3 should come down to $600 because today cameras like these SHOULD have an EVF built in. The V1 showed me this and I use the V1’s EVF 95% of the time. I think more and more cameras will be coming with fantastic EVF’s (Fuji X-Pro 1) and any camera in the $800 and up price range that doesn’t is asking for trouble. For example, if Leica releases an X2 without a built in EVF there will be plenty of bitching and moaning because we all know an X2 will not be cheap.

So to sum it up, the GX1 is a great little Micro 4/3 camera. It is a much better successor to the GF1 than the GF2 and GF3 by far and has the latest Micro 4/3 sensor technology. But for those wanting to get into Micro 4/3 then you have choices and in the enthusiast camp, it is mainly between the GX1 and E-P3. You have to decide what you desire more. Both come in at the same price right now with their kit lenses and both can mount the Olympus or Panasonic or ANY Micro 4/3 lens. Either way, if you own the E-P3, I would stick with it. If you own a GX1, that is great too. Both have their pros and cons and both can deliver fantastic images.

The Olympus Pros vs the GX1

  • Better out of camera color
  • Better body feel (in my opinion)
  • Better LCD and Touch screen implementation
  • In body Image Stabilization
  • AF is just as fast as the new GX1
  • Buttons and dials feel more solid than the GX1
  • Art Filters

The Panasonic GX1 Pros vs the E-P3

  • Thinner and sleeker
  • Better high ISO performance
  • More resolution – 16MP vs 12MP
  • New sensor technology
  • HD Video a bit better on the GX1

Below are a few snaps taken with both cameras. Enjoy!

The 1st four were shot with the GX1

The next few are from the E-P3

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102 Comments

  1. For me it was a no brainer, GX1 all the way. I love the user interface: touch screen, all commonly used buttons immediately accessible like white balance, ISO, etc plus 4 customizable buttons. The GX1 might not have the best images out there, but what good is a camera if it’s a pain in the rear to use? I want a camera that is a pleasure to use and is easy to figure out.

    The UI was only 1 factor. Most of the lenses out there are by Panasonic. And the ones by Leica are made by Panasonic as well. The saying goes, shop for the lenses first, then the camera. I knew I wanted high quality lenses and Panasonic is the way to go.

    I’m not saying that Panasonic’s lenses won’t work on Olympus cameras. Obviously they do, but there are some complaints about purple fringing and other problems with the 25mm F1.4 Leica that Panasonic owners don’t seem to have. Panasonic lenses have built in correction with Panasonic bodies so the images might look a little better.

  2. Just sold me GX1 on Ebay. The colors were a little off to me. Always loved the EP3 but thought the price was outrageous. Not anymore! I just bought the EP3 for $329.00 on Adorama brand new in box. They still have some left. I knew it would come down eventually. Even though it is almost 2 years old this was once the best micro four thirds camera out there. Still, it is no slouch today and at the price less than most point and shoots this is an amazing deal. Olympus colors are back baby!

  3. Thanks for your amazing/in-depth reviews! I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I purchased a GX-1 a few months back and love that little thing. I got it on Amazon for a little less than $300 along with the Panny 20mm f/1.7 – what a great combo. This purchase lead me to investigate the M4/3 system s and fell in love with them. I sold all of my Nikon gear and got the Gh3. I’m loving that camera along with the pro f/2.8 lenses and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8. Now I’ll wait to purchase the OM-D until it drops in price drastically and then comment on that review 🙂

  4. Hi Steve, debating between these two camera. Prices have really come down in the last year!

    Now that the GX1 is about $450 with lens, is it the best camera to pick up? I know other m43 cameras have come down significantly too. I am looking for a m43 camera, my biggest 2 important factors are #1: smallest possible size, and #2 best low light conditions (weddings/parties/etc). With that in mind I think GX1 may be the best choice. Unless something else has come out in the last year that I should consider?

    What would you recommend today? Thanks!

    • Whatever you feel drawn to the most. Go with your Gut. I prefer the E-p3 but at $450 the GX1 is a deal, with the lens. Either will be great and deliver nice quality images.

  5. Hi Steve, thank you for the wonderful reviews. I’m thinking of picking up a EP3 and wanted to hear your views on refurbished sets since they are 25% cheaper than a brand new one. Should I go with a refurbished EP3? thank you!

  6. Hi Steve,

    Just wondering about the e-p3’s few cons.
    Heard that ep3 has difficulties when finding focus on screen sometimes.
    shutter speed is not as smooth as gx1.

    I actually felt gx1 is a better camera in terms of image quality , but ep3 has a better design for me.
    I don’t know which one to choose…
    both of them have pros and cons so it s pretty hard to decide…
    I know you like olympus ep3, but i just feel for gx1 but one problem with it is that doesn’t have image stabilisation . if i use lens like 20mm 1.7 which doesnt have IS, then would it be a problem to take photos using gx1??
    cheers

    • I just prefer the Olympus PEN offerings to the Panasonics – but they is my preference. The 20 1.7 should be fine shooting on any M4/3 body. It is really only when you get into longer lenses that IS is really important. Or video..

  7. I love the boxed design of the Panasonic DMC-GX1. There is no need for an EVF because a GX1 with an EVF already exists and is called the GH2.

  8. Hey man! great reviews. Just wondering, do you which would you prefer IQ wise compared to the Nex-5-n ….do you have the same misgivings as you have mentioned with the 7? (flatness, ‘Sonyness’) or are they minor things (I am a camera buying noob) …your review for the 5n seems very favourable, but not so with the 7 lately….does it follow that the Sony’s are no longer in your good books? I was umming and aahhing between the GX1 and the 5n. I was very nearly persuaded by the vid on YT of the Panasonic balloons, but, tbh, I dont really know what i’m looking for 😀
    Cheers anyway:)

    • The Sony NEX cameras are actually outstanding. There are so many to choose from today that it is tough but can’t go wrong with any of them really. All comes down to personal preference.

  9. Buy a Panasonic and an Olympus. This is one of the key strengths of m43, you get to use two manufacturers cameras with your lens collection, both giving you different looking photos that excel in different situations.

    I used to have the gf1 then I bought the g3 for the higher pixel count and the evf. I then bought an ep2 at which point I sold the gf1. The g3 isn’t as nice to use as the others but having the swivel tilt lcd means I get some great shots (eg. candid portraits) that I can’t get with the others.

    The ep2 means I get the image stabilisation which is useful for my old manual lenses.

    I paid 300 pounds for my new g3 and 300 pounds one month ago for a brand new ep2 that came with oly 17mm and the flash. The camera prices drop so fast because so many new m43 cameras are being released so it’s no real hardship waiting six months to a year and picking them up second hand for a couple hundred pounds second hand. Some of the people selling them have hardly used them so it’s relatively easy to buy them in mint condition.

    Personally, I want the swivel screen, an evf that doesn’t protrude, image stabilisation on the sensor, the handling of my Canon dslr in the body of the gf1.

    Love your website, I stumbled upon it when I was researching the old Jupiter lenses.

  10. Re: “..the big one for me…no built in EVF! GRRRR.
    Why oh why didn’t they put in an EVF?”

    Because they make a DMC-G3 that does have a really good EVF, and a tilt-swivel LCD, for people who want a built in EVF (like me, I have to add). You aren’t FORCED to buy a GX1 if you really want an EVF, you really should try a G3!

  11. Some of the folk here do have a point when they mention the Panasonic G3.

    It does address many of the things you dont like about the GX1 – AND it has the newer 16mp sensor.

    Why do you ignore it? I know it is not the most appealing camera in the looks sense – it does not scream with “thingness” like a NEX or even a V1. But it should be considered.

  12. very very thanks for your thumbs up to ep3 PROS:

    LOWLIGHT capability cause of IBIS + anti shutter vibration with primes (no need for high ISO)

    DYNAMIC cause of shadow enhancement (crazy! 11 steps, great for B&W)

    DETAILS cause of tone control (+/- then info) thinner AAfilter and better AF

    COLORS cause of sensor tweak and rendering engine

    FASTER cause of dualcoreprozessor (no wait for picwriting)

    HANDLING cause of different grips, better display, solid body/buttons

    OM-D cant wait for …

  13. I just bought the GX1 to replace the GF1, a wide step ahead ! The AF is snap fast, the sensor is on par with my wifes’s excellent GH2, the touch screen focus is one of the most practical thing ever, the ergonomics are even better than those of the GF1, but in a smaller and cuter design. And as far as video is concern, the results are properly stunning.
    So…
    Well, I would not go for a bulky Nikon with a tiny sensor, and since I already have excellent lenses (Panasonic 20mm, Olympus 45mm), I think the GX1 is one of the best choices around.

    • I hear what you are saying and I am a fan of Panny. I loved my LX5 until I lost it ! 🙁

      But I still think the Nikon V1 has the edge – for me the better AF means that you get a greater percentage of in focus keepers and, after all, that is just as important as how many pixels you have…

      The sensor size of the two cameras is pretty irrelevant unless you are printing A3 or larger.

  14. Oh and in regards to lenses… will the kit lenses be enough for me or is there others you’d recommend for landscapes and cityscapes?

  15. Great review though I’m still confused…. upgrading from a Canon P&S and was looking at the olympus E-P3 / E-PL3 and the Sony Nex-5N…. will be travelling through cities & grand canyon in june and wondering which is best for landscape and outdoor shots? (i dont care for portraits). I know the Sony Nex-5N is superior in low light but how would the olympus be at night & sunset/sunrise shots??

    Any advice/thoughts would be much appreciated.

    • For landscapes at the grand canyon? Either will do but if you go for the Olympus Id recommend the Olympus 12mm lens, or the SLR Magic 12mm. The Sony would be best with the higher end Zeiss 24.

  16. Steve you say you’re not bashing but your reviews on the gx1 have been nothing more than ep3 biased from the get go. It really shows through in your reviews and comparisons… natural mode on both cameras? lmao… ep3 should be compared against the gh2 in both weight, size and price. In which regards the ep3 fails to stack up.

    • No bias at all! I actually BOUGHT The GX1 and intended to keep it as my M4/3 body to keep around. Was going to sell the E-P3. When it arrived and I took it out of the box I much preferred t he feel and build of the E-P3 but decided that the IQ would tell the tale. After comparing both I easily preferred the E-P3 in just about every way so why would I want to write and say the GX1 bested the E-P3 for me? I should lie about my experience? Never will.

      If the GX1 was the better camera i would say so. The fact is that they are both wonderful and both highly capable. You will get better low light/high ISO with the GX1 but I would never sell an E-P3 to buy a GX1. I found the E-P3 more fun, more inspiring and it gave me better color (for my tastes).

      Not everyone has to agree with me, I just tell about my experience with each camera. The only Panasonic I ever really loved was the GF1 and to some extent the G2. For me, the E-P3 stays in my camera stable. Thanks for your opinion. Always welcome.

  17. Through my experience using cameras from both Panasonic’s and Olympus’ lines, I believe that Panasonic cameras offer better battery life, and have better start up time from standby mode or power off. It’s quite a notable difference when you’re out shooting on the street.

    Maybe this is something you could test too?

    I still chose the Pens over the G’s since they have built in stabilization.

    • i always leave my cam on standby.. so anything i like I just shoot

      my GF2 and EPM1… almost start up instantly from standby or sleep

      I dont really notice big differennce

  18. ou ou ou!

    A) V1 better quality video…well…can you provide me some samples or educate me?

    I’ve seen what can be done with proper manual focus 20mm f1.7 (DOF playing, almost cinematic close-ups) and F1.8 45mm with video (tripod) and it was stunning. Hell, even classic X-lens kit was amazing in video (a bit focus hunt though). Not mentioning the new X video lenses that are coming, a bit pricy though ($1000-1500 usd)

    All the videos from Nikon 1 system looked flat in comparisons (due to weak lenses of course) and lacked resolution details for me. I would welcome some video-proof as Panasonic is great in video taking if used/focused properly with much better lens selection that of what Nikon offers – more importantly at night! I just love Nikon 1 ISO performance but I believe in video, even if a bit limited on GX1, Panasonic wins (hoping for some hacks like GH2 received, or even GF1).

    B) you’re comparing it to E-P3 (no viewfinder) and reviewing m43 system so please stay away of EVF bashing. It’s avaiable separately and on 90% of m43 cameras you won’t find one that is built in anyway – one of the reason the system was made for. To be compact.
    Why criticize it on GX1? Nex7/Fuji are different beasts (twice as big) and Nikon 1 system is a failure (imo) you’re liking it though. I wasn’t really expecting to find viewfinder topic ‘written in bold’ in the review – it’s more or less a preference – not a camera’s fault. These cameras are not for you, yet they are find for some people. Nothing wrong with it – I would bash viewfinder if I couldn’t get one (Nikon J1, funny Canon G1X failure one…) and here – the only good point you made is, that viewfinder would make a bit more competitive against E-P3. But also, more bigger – an area where new Olympus m43 Pro camera be in a few weeks.

    3. well, I just sold my E-P3 & was an easy choice (I shoot RAW, it is 5s process to extract it to TGA/JPGs in LR). Couldn’t stand E-P3 performance with few panasonic lenses (plus I think Panasonic X-lenses firmware is offering more control) + it was unusable at 1600/3200 and IBIS wasn’t 100% solution to use ISO800 all the time.
    Plus, video quality is twice as good here for me – although I lost full manual control. E-P3 menu was madness and some horrible quirks are making me sad even now (like access to IBIS – no toggle button on it, no chance to shoot video without one and stills with it enabled in a quick way). GH2 (you’re right, the video king) is GIGANTIC in comparison.
    Also E-P3 is £150 pounds more expensive than GX1 here on islands (and rest of europe).

    4. I also think GX1 touchscreen controls/layout are WAY BETTER (you’re right with OLED screen quality though, E-P3 wins easily here) and resistive touchscreen system is also better for camera (GX1) than capacitive (E-p3). It allows you to wear gloves, use it in winter times or not accidentaly pressing a thing like on iPhone just by sliding a palm over it.

    5. overall, do I like GX1? Does it have faults? Well, it does, soooo many (the built quality you mentioned & click wheel is the saddest for me). But this is true for any camera, even Leica M9 (I could write cons all day) so you need to choose what is right for you. I like m43 system and can’t stand funny NEX one (I’m not much into manual focus despite focus peeking) or DSLR wearking-knee-joints cameras, and in this system, this is the best camera to date, for a better price than E-P3. Wish it would have ext mic input, something which can be done on E-P3 via SEMA-1, but mounting mke 400 (original was rubbish) was awkward anyway and ADC was cheap, so I bough recorder instead…

    Great blog, one of the best photographics sites with proper opinions (not lab tests) and the best one for me to write rant to early in the morning drinking coffee IF I don’t agree 😉

    Straight to bin.

    P.S. IBIS is absent also in one other brand…well…I meant… only OLY has one. All the other not. It is sad, but it certainly isn’t drawback of a

    • +1

      I like Steve’s reviews but this one is obvioulsy very biased against Panasonic. GX1 is a great camera and smokes all the old Pens. I even choose it over the OM-D due to size, prize and feeling. Love the grip on GX1 in comparison with the OM-D.

      So the Oly focuses as fast as GX1, how can that be a pro? And is it true with a panasonic lens in low light?

      • No Bias at all. If I liked the GX1 more I would have kept it. When I did this test I remember liking the E-P3 MUCH more. The color, the experience, etc. No way I would take this over the E-M5, which is just as small BTW besides the EVF hump, which is still smaller than the Panasonic EVF add on for the GX1.

  19. Hey everybody!

    First of all, I have only recently stumbled upon your site, Steve. Very nice work!

    How does the AF and metering of the GX1 compare to the Nikon V1? I am not scrambling to commit to a new system just yet. But I have kept an eye out for new releases and these two (sight unseen until now) have struck a chord.

    I mostly collect and do street photography and I am set there as far as gear is concerned. I am however looking for an advanced point and shoot that would allow me to capture family pictures and such while preserving some compositional freedom.

    Just from comparing pictures on your and other sites, my eyes seems to prefer the colors that come out of the Nikon. Quite enchanting, really.

    All best!

  20. In defense of GX1:
    I love the skin tones of the Olympus line. But most pictures shown in reviews are not of portraits. For example, the NEX Sony line produces the most god awful skin tones ever seen. People look orange. Or super yellow. Yet the Gold dpreview rating shows 50 samples, not one human face.

    The GX1 is better than the E-P3 for non human pictures. The zoo, the country, the city, that 1 stop makes a large difference.GX1 will give you clean 1600, when the P3 will not. GX1 is better for indoor sports, for example.

  21. BY next month something else will be out and we will be like GX1 whats that?? I’m glad Steve that out of all the gear you get to use there are a few pieces of kit (bodies and lenses) which keep you coming back to them. Otherwise we’d all be using a new camera each week.

  22. ummmh… I´ve a epl1 almost always with the 20 panny, ocasionally with minolta 1.4 md. I was waiting for a m4/3 new camera with evf, better body, better sensor… For me it´s clear. I´ll wait for the Fuji.
    Thank Steve, for giving us the choice to know the product before buying it!

    • there’s nothing to wait for, just check some Fuji X-Pro bashing (like automatic video mode on pro camera with weak video quality – or that you need to press 3 buttons to start recording – videographers ‘heaven’).

      X-Pro is amazing in its own way (would be probably my camera choice instead of SONY NEX line) but it’s lens selection is small (although quality is better than NEX, can’t get any worse can it?).
      Great semi-wide (and good ultra-wide) and superb 50mm, average although sufficient portrait (F2.8) and below average zoom (F4 although maybe constant but with cca 110mm FX, which isn’t sufficient for sport/wildlife) this year.

      Nothing else.
      Somehing else in 2013, but hey, 2012 just began!
      You better buy a camera for the system which has lenses even now! And for manual focus lenses (with adapters) – I think Sony NEX7 peaking wins anyway.

      Fuji has a great viewfinder though 😉

  23. The GX1 seems somewhat uninspiring. I expected more from the company that started the whole mirrorless ILC category back in late 2008.

  24. E-P1 (& E-P3) sensor photos are the closest thing to sensor on E-1 (2003)

    Panasonic (&Sony) can keep on releasing their increasingly hospital sterilized looking sensors that do Dettol high iso.

    If I want photos to look as if it has not come from an operating slab, rather from the subtle imperfect nuances of life I will keep on with sensor on E-P..

  25. Just checked the GX1 off my list. Thanks, Steve.

    There is a ‘streetshooter’ package at bhphotovideo.com for $1499. Includes the EP-3, standard 14-42mm kit lens, a large grip, VF-3 finder, a camera bag…and the 12mm f/2.0!! One of the best 4/3rd primes out there! (you wouldn’t have anything to do with the creation of that package…would you, Steve?)

    If you compare and total up the individual components of that package, it should be close to around $1900! The way I see it, I’m buying the EP-3 for only $500…that’s a great deal. The 12mm lens is too much of a premium lens and won’t drop from it’s $799 asking price anytime soon.

    Now, with Fuji coming out with their new camera…and as early as March?! Crazy! At the same time, I’ve read rumors that just body alone is going to cost $1900?? Does anyone know if that’s true?

    Tough decisions. At the same time, I really hope Panny and Oly keep things up with their cameras and lenses in the micro 4/3rds format.

    • I saw that street shooter package and yea, its a great buy. You get all of the good stuff at a much reduced price, so for someone just getting into something like this then that kit is fantastic. Add in a 25 1.4 and a 45 1.8 and you are set!

      • ….and I would add the amazing oly 45mm 1.8. Great for bokahrific portraits even on the street (although I use it with panny GX1) If you found one on the New York subway in a lowepro bag with an oly FL360 flash, let me know, it’s mine 🙁

    • X-Pro1 Body + 35mm f1.4 Euro1300 minus taxes approx $1300.
      $600 approx 18mm f2
      $600 approx 60m f2.4 Macro.

      Later I expect
      16-80mm (24-120mm)
      85mm f1.4
      135mm f1.8-f2.5
      200mm f3.5

  26. Steve, great series. I bought the GX-1, have my first baby on the way and wanted low light indoor shots / low profile camera which leaned me towards the GX-1.

    I recently bought the Pan 20mm f1.7, which I bought for indoor shots of the little one, do you think it is worth me returning it and getting the 25mm f1.4? It this lense that much better.

    Thanks

    • The 25 1.4 is a but better than the 20 1.7 but the 20 1.7 is great. The 25 is like 2 1/2 times longer so makes the camera larger. The 25 has a richer rendering with more depth. My review of it will be up next week.

      • Thanks – I might stick with the small and light 20mm, i am going to Samy’s camera today to checkout the 25mm. Do you have any suggestion within the GX-1 settings to warm up the pics, your preferred settings?

  27. Thanks for Your insights Steve, I always enjoy them. I prefer the image quality of the GX1
    hands down in pretty much every way compared with the EP3. I also don’t care much about how a camera looks ( ergonomics are important though ) and art filters are
    just gimmicks for me. But I totally agree with Your findings about the lack of an EVF.
    I have a Germany trip coming up in May and I am still wondering what small ILC
    I am going to buy. So far I like the Nikon V1 very much and the NEX5n. I wonder
    what else is coming up soon. Thanks again.

    • I much prefer the colors that come out of the EP3. In comparison, the colors out of the GX1 appear flat and washed out. It’s very apparent and to my eye makes the EP3 images look so much better than the GX1.

      • That begs the Question, was he shooting in jpg or RAW?? I’m sure the GX1 SMOKES the EP3. Everybody knows Panasonic jpgs aren’t too good, but RAW is where it’s at.

        So what was you shooting as Steve?

        • It was all clear. I did four posts on these two. One was JPEG, one was RAW and this conclusion was RAW except for a couple of E-P3 JPEGS. As for the GX1..it doesn’t really “smoke” the E-P3. The E-P3 is just as sharp, if not sharper and me, I find its output more pleasing. But thats me. You can see the RAW comparison I posted between the two.

          • Ok, I stand corrected, but those GX1 shots look better in my opinion compared to the other pics. The colors are crazy on that graff pic and I hope those pelicans don’t get sick from that sewage run-off..

            The 1st pic of the EP is very vibrant with the colors though…

  28. Hi Steve!

    hehe – love that part: “…brain farts that were the GF2 and GF3…” as it is truly spoken out what they are.
    😉

    Hopefully 2012 will bring us really awesome concepts, ideas of the engineers despite what brand it is!

    Wish you well.

  29. I’m in the midst of deciding between the GX1 & EP3. Have read many reviews & comments. Clearly both have their pros and cons.

    If it’s a brand new purchase, will people go for GX1 or EP3?

  30. Thanks for the review Steve. I think Panasonic missed an opportunity to put a quality EVF and win the race. I think they see only the Olympus as competition. They tend not to see that many m43 shooters mount older lenses with adapters. I have the Panasonic 25 F/1.4 and I shot portraits for my friend. At the end I took a few shots using the Contax G 45 F/2. The details and the sharpness of the Contax is absolutely amazing. I am waiting for general availability of the NEX-7 so that I can capitalize the unused portion of the Contax lens.

    While traveling, the EVF saves me precious battery life and helps me shoot in bright daylight. I bought the GH1 purely for that purpose.

    Cheers.

  31. This is about how I expected your review to read. Clearly you are uninspired by he camera as evidenced by the brevity of the review.

    The only thing I really have to wonder is why you are on the v1 so hard. I haven’t shot one yet, but the output is marginally better than something like the lx5…with better high iOS performance, it’s certainly not as good as most mft cameras in good light, as witnessed by your samples from both.

    I guess I’ll have to try one to understand why you like it so much, because I really don’t get why thenv1 is the apple of your eye right now.

  32. Steve, thanks so much for your review, also for posting David’s review! Very insightful and helpful!
    By the sound of it I’ll probably upgrade to the EP3 when I have the money. Since for me it has a very huge impact whether a camera fits snugly in my hands. The feel alone of holding my EP1 in hands just makes me want to take it up and shoot photos. =)

    One “what if” question:
    You say you wouldn’t choose the GX1 over the EP3! How about the other way round?
    Say you had bought the Panasonic first, would you then switch to the Oly? 😉

    Thanks again, man!

  33. Glad you were not wishy washy and had a definite opinion and backed it up with facts!
    I have a GX1 with EVF2 and just love the combo. It is like a supercharged GF1 for me…and I really think that with the LVF it is one of my favorite photographic tools right now. I am not in the Olympus camp…but I get it…you like that camera more. Its all good…I guess they are both really fun cameras and people’s sensitivities will gravitate toward one or the other if they want an MFT camera. Haven’t tried a V1…but I won’t at this point…there is just too much fun glass for MFT to choose from. …but again…if you want thing fast and simple with very decent quality…the Nikon sounds like that is a good choice, too.
    I do not think I have seen a time with sooooooo many GREAT cameras to choose from!!! With more great ones on the way….It’s an AWESOME time, right now!!!

  34. You need an EVF with the EP3 if you are going to shoot in bright outside conditions. IMO, the VF3 is worthless. The VF2 is far superior and a necessary accessory to the EP3. Another great accessory for the EP3 is the FL300R flash. Very cool that it can be use in remote mode off the camera. It gets pricey with all the bits but still the system with a few lenses is less than any one of the Nikon fast glass lenses. The EP3 is intuitive, great to have in your hand and a pleasure to use. The images are great and the ART filters make it all a lot of fun.

  35. Nice comparison, Steve!

    To be honest, I just don’t like the design of the GX1. Yeah, a camera is a tool and maybe shouldn’t be rated just of how it looks, but I’m a very visual person and so I regret buying something ugly (in my opinion) forever … The E-P3 just looks and feels classier.

    But after all I’m glad I bought into the NEX territory 1,5 years ago. The NEX-7 would still be my preferred body (if I would have the money) and the Zeiss 24mm (still undecided wether it’s worth the money or not …) and the 50mm 1.8 are great lenses to go. Hope I’ll be able to test at least one of them out next summer. 🙂

  36. Steve, great candid insight, but color me curious too: in the soul heart continuum, where does the NEX-7 sit (if at all)??

    • The 7 is great but still different than shooting the PEN. The 7 feels more like a computer with a lens. The PEN feels more like a camera. Both are fantastic though I tend to get better images from the PEN.

    • plus it has touch-to-focus feature in video (if you switch off the continuous af) which is a very nice feature to have and makes for some interesting video clips – easily, even on non-manual lenses.

      but I ‘fear’ GX1 will be shortlived, as the new m43 pro oly camera is coming out, and I think this will be the answer of many people quest for ultimate-portable camera with great selection. Rumor is it will be waterproof, and viewfinder is built in. Hard to beat once released.

  37. Steve, I agree with you. I have the EP3 and five lenses including the Panny 20 1.7 and the 25 1.4. I sent the GX1 back after a week. The GX-1 feels great with the 25 1.4, but in the end, I kept going back to the EP3. I have also grown very fond of my Fuji X10 which feels great in the hand, has the dials and buttons for control in tall the right places, and takes wonderful images. No EVF but I can deal with the optical finder. I use a VF2 on my EP3.

    • Hi Ralph,

      I just bought Fuji X10, which really feels great and also takes nice photos. The manual dials, buttons are all well positioned. Love it every single minute!!! X10 is handy and handsome little guy.

      • Alberth, Glad to hear that you like it. As you get into the various menu features you will appreciate how much this little guy can do.

        • well I never seen more awkward controls than handling X10 in a store, I almost thrown it down to floor. The annoyance came from menu system on display, fiddly-buttons-dials were alright, althoug tooooooo stiff. Too much.

          coming from extensive usage of G10/G12 in the past so used to clever canon menu system with great adjustment control, X10 was inferior, and also, SLOW to use/navigate!

          good you like the camera, there’s camera for everyone here, but just 5 minutes for me and I was certain I won’t buy X10 no-matter-what, switching the camera on ‘aperture’ ring was no-go as well for various reasons.

  38. When you mentioned the Nikon V1, it struck me that Leica’s next camera should be a repackaged V1.

    • And not only that!
      after reading D4 article it struck me that the D5 should be repackaged V1 as well!

  39. Great comparisons between the GX1 and the E-P3! Could you elaborate on why you like the PEN series so much and how it speaks to your heart? I’m just curious and as I’m in the midst of upgrading from my E-P2 I have thoughts about switching to maybe the NEX or GXR. Perhaps your reasons would persuade me to stay with Olympus 🙂 Ofcourse I’m interested in everyones opinion on the mater.

    • Hey Victor. Not sure what it is but when I shoot the E-P3 I always seem to get more keepers that with any other m4/3. It’s quick, its accurate, it looks great and the output is very pleasing. I like the retro style and the build is solid. It’s an old sensor but it doesn’t seem to matter much when looking at my images.

  40. I know Steve, you DO prefer the Oly E-P3, as you said several times on all comparisons with GX1 …but call “brain fart” to the GF2 …mh! That was very rude!
    I think GF2 is great camera, has better operation with the new Lumix X PZ lenses (and others) than the GF1. Besides being closer to GX1 in a bunch of their general caracteristics, without the “cheaper feeling dial”, and finally, it is a camera that can be found with a slower price.
    I was expecting a more serious thoughts from your side, though. It’s just my opinion.
    Thanks anyway.
    Jorge

    • The thoughts I wrote were my honest to goodness serious thoughts. Not much more I can say about it really. The GF2 and GF3 can take great pics yes, but IMO they were indeed “Brain Farts” from Panasonic. They sold horribly and they quickly went back to the GF1 style with the GX1. I doubt there will be a GF4. Again, what you read here are all of my own personal (but honest) feelings.

      • I think the GF2 and GF3 actually sold extremely well in the Japanese home market. A lot of times that’s all they care about.

      • Agree and I hope Panasonic will come up with something more like the GX1 than the GF3 next time. I don’t know how well they are selling in Europe, but that Panasonic is selling the GF3 with the old 14-42 AND the 14mm for less than the 14mm separately makes me believe they are not selling well. It also makes it more difficult to pay full price for a new lens when you can get i for free with a good camera that you don’t want/need. Instead they could bundle the GX1 with either the 14mm or the 20mm.

        I’ve not cared much for the look of the PEN-cameras and have been more interested in the Panasonic models. I might have bought the GX1 hadn’t it been for what Fuji is up to. I’m in no rush, but we’ll see when the price drops and the kit packages changes! Maybe I end up with a GX1:-)

      • Well, in fact, I met for the 1st time the world of MFT with the Oly E-P1 and I loved it, not for its performance in AF, because of its art filters, its style, and most important; has inherited the great Pen cameras history! But I turned my head to the GF1 (feeling some lacking on image stabilization) because of its influenced technology by Leica, not mention its great family lens. Anyway, lots of considetations in order to make the right decision at the time to spend my money.
        Now, because of you, I want to have a closer look, having it in my hands, the E-P3.
        Thank you very much, again. 🙂

  41. Come on Steve, saying the Nikons have better video than any micro 4/3 cam is only going allow your detractors to go on the attack. The GH2, by some acoounts, has better video than any DSLR, even the mighty 5D MK II.

  42. “Oh, and it also shoots better quality HD video than ANY M4/3! ”

    this is a typical exageration, have you heard of Panasonic GH2?

  43. Steve,

    Question re EVF:

    I’m about to buy a new camera, likely a M43 due to size, so I’ve been reading reviews like mad over the last month or so. I’m retiring my point and shoot that I’ve used for many years. Previously I’ve had many film cameras including SLRs. One thing I don’t grasp and would appreciate your comment on is the value of an EVF. To me it is simply a small live-view screen – shows the same thing. The only difference I can see is if one prefers holding a camera to their eye (for stability?) vs at semi arms length. And using an EVF avoids shading a live-view screen in some sunny situations. Am I missing something? I’d appreciate your comment as to why so many people strongly prefer an EVF.

    Regards,

    Don

    • For myself and a lot of others one of the main things I find much better about an EVF/OVF is the way it helps in composing the image, you are right that is essentially a little live view screen, I guess it’s the difference between watching TV outside or watching a movie at the cinema, generally EVF’s are much higher quality, also being smaller they appear that way.

      I’m used to composing with the camera up to my eye, it helps me disappear into the world of photography rather than stick my arms out and squint at the screen, i’d feel very much out in the open doing that (I have the E-P2 with EVF on permanently).

      You may be fine without it if you don’t naturally feel inclined to use one, but like I say for myself and a lot of others a camera without an EVf or OVF is like an odd and very different experience.

    • For many reasons. I’m mainly a point and shoot upgrader. I have good experience with DSLRs through friends and family, but I never had a camera better than my mytouch 4G slide(one of the best on a phone… but not quite pro-level). As the other commenter said, it helps you dissappear into the world of photography, but I think you might undervalue the whole stability thing and sunlight situation. Having a screen that gets smudged and whatnot can mess you up a lot, particularly if you’re trying to manual focus.

      Another important thing to consider is that EVFs are very often much higher resolution than the LCD. Such is the case with my G3, and would be the case with the GX1 as well. In fact, I also review all my photos through the EVF, unless I’m showing them to someone, because the resolution is so much higher. The resolution difference is also very useful for manual focus.

      As I stated in another post, I don’t see any reason to get a GX1 over a G3 unless you need the marginally smaller body. The GX1 still won’t fit easily into a non-cargo pants pocket, so you might as well go for the G3 which offers all the GX1 does and more(articulated screen, EVF) except for a couple of customizable buttons, and is easily coat-pocketable with a pancake, spoken from experience.

    • I’ve been using an LX3, then E-PL3, now Lumix G5. Before that, I always used (D)SLR’s. The G5 with EVF was a big relief compared to the LX3/E-PL3. It also handles just about as nice as my Canon 60D, and in some cases even better.

      I cannot work with only an LCD screen. Unstable, utterly useless in sunny situations, difficult to compose, impossible to compose with large tele, difficult to focus, I always need my reading glass to view an LCD, an EVF has diopters, freeing me from my reading glass.

      I will never buy a cam without some sort of viewfinder again, I think of that now as a design error.

  44. dunno, love the review as it criticizes the gx1 (as everyone just seems to praise it to heaven and above), but I believe the IQ on gx1 is much better than ep3 (by far)… who shoots jpg anyway when you get a cam like this – especially a panny with its crappy jpg conversion? and if color wise you find the images not saturated or spectacular enough, there’s many sliders in ACR (or other) to play around with, save, and re-use over and over. also the gx1 shoot much flatter images with more detail in low light areas compared to gh2 or g3, where those details are lost. you can pull much more detail it seems with some proper post-processing from gx1 images as from gh2 or g3. I got a link to a review, but not sure if you allow links to other reviews on your site 🙂

    my biggest problem with the panny (with any g serie cam) is that they dont have in body stabilization…. makes your choice of lenses quite limited outside of primes…. I guess panny does that out of marketing perspective, because if not they would of made the switch to in body stabilization way back.

    I agree tho, when you have an ep3, no need to switch to a gx1…. both cams are really nice. for a new buyer I would pick gx1 over ep3 because of the sensor (and IF you shoot raw only… for jpg I would pick ep3 over gx1 – or oly over panny – anyday). in the end the picture on your screen counts more than how the cam feels and looks, or at least for me.

    thanks for taking the time to write and review 🙂 helps many people evaluate, including me.

    cheers

  45. I’ve just ordered an E-P3 (it’s currently being shipped to me). Despite some of its flaws, like the old senor, I just fell in love with it. But no sooner had I ordered it and I suddenly started to have doubts that I should have gone for the GX1. Head says GX1, heart says E-P3.

    I’m sooooooooo glad I’ve read your review Steve; it’s confirmed to me I’ve made the right choice. You’re a legend! Plus I’ve made up my mind to save up for the Olympus 12mm lens.

  46. Hey Steve, I was indeed curious as to your final opinion of the GX1. I recently decided to enter the world of micro 4/3 and was seriously interested when I became aware of the GX1. I’d been aware of the GF1, and the various Olympus Pen cameras for a while but hadn’t paid that much attention until now.
    The GX1 was tempting me big time, and it was almost as an afterthought that I started looking at the E-P3 as well, in part due to your review of it.
    I was still leaning towards the GX1 – newer sensor, better low light performance etc – but realized there really wasn’t much between these two cameras in terms of spec and I thought ‘Dammit, I need to handle these things and see which one speaks to me’.
    So I went out found a shop which had both……. Result: I bought an E-P3. I knew before I even started playing with it. As soon as I picked it up it just felt so much nicer in the hand than the GX1. Coupled with the gorgeous new Oly lenses (which I’m going to save up for!) it became a no-brainer for me.
    Anyway, I just thought I’d share my little journey with you.
    Many thanks for all the work you put into this site. It is helpful and inspiring to me and I’m sure, many others.

    All the best

    Ben 🙂

  47. Even if I am not gonna buy one of them, still in doubt between x100 and nex7, but I enjoyed your review as always and I like the pics you took and the way you shoot, no matter which camera you use, your pics always make me want to go out and shoot, that’s should be the purpose of every site of photography, but not every site does it so well as yours, thanks for the review Steve 🙂

  48. And then there is the Lumix G3, which could be said to be the GX1 with Evf, for much less money…?

    • My sentiments exactly. The only thing the GX1 has on the G3 is a slightly smaller body and a couple more customizable buttons. Perhaps a tiny better processing. But the sensor is the same. I’m loving my G3 so far. And it’s still very portable. I always carry the body in one coat pocket, the kit lens in another one. If I had a pancake I could easily fit it in a coat pocket, and the EVF is absolutely great.

      That said, Olympus JPEGs are unquestionably better in good light, and in many ways I preferred the controls of my old E-PL1(which I only had for a couple of weeks before deciding to spend more money on the G3 for the low light performance). Also, I IBIS was definitely a plus… Nevertheless, I love my G3, and unless you absolutely need the GX1 smaller form factor or a couple of extra buttons, I see no reason to go with that over the cheaper and overall better G3.

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