(a not so) quick Crazy Comparison: NIkon V1 vs Panasonic GX1 & other tidbits

(a not so) quick crazy Comparison: Nikon V1 vs Panasonic GX1 

Hello to all! Hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are and whatever you are doing. While anxiously awaiting for the new cameras to start shipping (Olympus OM-D, Fuji X-Pro 1) and my NEX-7 to arrive I decided to bring out the Nikon V1 and do a super quick comparison to the Panasonic GX1, just a daylight shot to see how each camera renders color and sharpness. I recently had a GX1 sent to me again with the 14-42 X Power Zoom lens and figured I would do some side by side testing with the smaller sensor underdog Nikon V1. I have to say that the X power zoom lens is quite nice in fit and feel. Looks great on the GX1. BUT, for some reason I prefer the standard lenses as zooming in with this lens feels like I am using a camcorder. It is great for video but for photos give me a standard zoom ring any day. Still, the lens is nice as it is small and compact, and that is always a good thing when it comes to a take around camera but at $949 it is a little on the pricey side for this camera with no EVF and a slow zoom lens.

So..just one quick grab from each…click on them for larger

1st the Nikon V1 and 10mm (27 equiv)  2.8 at f/3.5 

and the GX1 with the zoom at 14 (28 equiv) f/3.5

Seems the Nikon is sharper but it also has more grain when viewed at 100%, which is not a bad thing for this kind of camera as I feel it is that little bit of grain and sharpness that gives it the look it gives, which many like and many hate. I like it as it is different to the smooth and softer GX1/Micro 4/3 sensor. But many say the output of the V1 looks like a small sensor P&S, and in some ways it does. That is due to the smaller sensor being used. Still, in use I prefer the V1 for everything it does well and for most of us who just share images online of print small, it is plenty good enough. Either camera is.

The few shots down below were shot as I was going through my weekly auto car wash – some are with the V1 and others with the GX1. Just shows that for 90% of our uses, any camera will work. Even one with a smaller than M4/3 size sensor. The things I look for these days in my “take everywhere” body is a combo of image quality, usability, speed, focus speed and accuracy, feel and build. These days there are many cameras that give this to you and many that do not. For me, the V1 is perfect for a 2nd body, take anywhere body, or do it all body as long as you do not want shallow depth of field. That is just about it’s only weakness when compared to a Micro 4/3 body (well, the lack of lenses as well).

With the new bodies coming though, it seems like it will be a royal rumble…every camera for itself – The Fuji X-Pro 1 (Coming March 20th) will deliver outstanding colors and IQ with amazing low light but still slower than average AF (my guess). The OM-D E-M5 will be the best M4/3 yet (again, just my guess) and have just about everything you can ask for but a full frame sensor. I think that the Fuji will be better in lower light and deliver those Fuji colors many of us love so much but it is also more expensive and larger. The Sony NEX-7 is still going string and starting to ship next week finally (I think). I should have mine soon and when I do I will be taking a 2nd look at it now that I can process the RAW files. Remember, my review was comprised of JPEG only images!

We also can not forget about Leica…where are they and what are they up to? I wonder if they are eyeballing the competition or just having a cocky attitude about it. What about the new Sigma DP series that has been revamped and promises to be the best quality compact? Will be interesting over the next few months…but this right here and right now is the calm before the storm. We are all waiting for the reviews and samples from these new cameras to surface and I am ready to rock and roll.

For now, can you tell which page was shot with the V1 and which was taken with the GX1? EXIF is there so it’s not a contest but could be fun to guess.

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and a series from the V1 using THIS cheap light kit that I have in my living room – of course I added filters using Alien Skin Exposure to give it a creepy moody look

Oh, the site may look a tad different today. I am expirementing with the colors – I added some black in as I felt it looked a little bolder but still unsure about it. I may try a few things this weekend so if you come here and it looks a bit different, that is just me messing around with it. Have a great weekend and shoot all you can! I will be heading to a tattoo convention with the M9P, 75 Summilux and SLR Magic 50 T0.95  so hopefully I will be able to do my review on the 75 soon and add to my 50 review as well!

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56 Comments

  1. Hey Steve, just an FYI:
    …clicked over form your “reviews tab” …and you have a typo there that says
    “Nikon V1 vs. Panasonic V1”

  2. Since you seem to prefer both the V1 and E-P3 to the GX1, which do you prefer out of the former two? And which is the most fun to shoot with?

    I’m trying to decide on a mirrorless CSC at the moment and am most swayed by the E-P3, since I am more confident of buying into the MFT system due to the great lenses already available. The main thing stopping me is my worries over the ageing sensor, which doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with the newer models like the GX1 or even V1. While the E-M5 looks like a fantastic camera, it’s a little bit over my budget and I prefer the size and styling of the PEN over the OM, so I can only hope they include at least some of its improvements in a possible E-P4 later this year (mainly the sensor, I doubt it will get the EVF or tilting LCD but I’m not massively worried about either of those).

    • Well I would ago M4/3 and if possible the E-M5. If not that one due to budget go for the E-P3. The lenses are awesome and new ones are on the way soon and it is a great camera. Cameras come and go through my hands but sometimes there are a couple that stay on for the long haul. The PEN series has always been around in my house.

      • Yeah I would love the E-M5, but I’m not really sure I can make myself wait 2 months for it!!

        I will probably end up picking one up maybe a year or so down the line, since as I’m only just starting to invest in the MFT system I also have to account for the cost of the lenses, and I’m having a hard time trying to resist that awesome but expensive 12mm f/2, 25mm f/1.4, 45mm f/1.8 combo 🙂

  3. Steve I’m slightly aghast you’ve chosen a lens with a documented fault to represent and bury the GX1 with. And possibly even more befuddling, are you seriously comparing a prime lens with a zoom, and then making some bold declarations based on the resultant sharpness?! Please say it’s not so…

    I’ve heard some shonky used-car salesman pitches in my time, but this one really takes the cake!

    • Both cameras had their “kit” zooms – have to be fair you know. Why would I put some HQ prime on the GX1 and use the 10-30 zoom on the V1? Both were shot with kit lenses, period. SO yes, it IS so. 🙂

      • Well if that’s the case then I wholly apologise and retract the statement.

        However there’s only one 10mm 2.8, and it’s not the zoom.

  4. Hi,
    first congratulations for this great web site. I found it in my search for a second camera. I already owned a D90 but I wanted something smaller, specially as I like going to the mountains and a little bit of climbing, sometimes with a backpack several days, and I needed something smaller and lighter.
    At the end I bought the GX1. I think together with the X power zoom has an unbeatable size that for me is important.
    My opinion is that the detail is great but the colours are sometimes really bad. I haven’t been able to compare it with the J1/V1 but only with my D90. Detail at iso 160 compares to the D90, with a little bit of more noise. That is the good news. The bad news are the colours. Sometimes they are good, but in general WB seems to me wrong, making pictures more purple and needing change when loading the raw file, even after updating to the latest firmware. And I am sometimes really disappointed with reds, specially when I took a picture of a “flor de pascua” we call in Spain, this red plant I think called poinsettia in English. Even after a lot of photoshop I wasn’t able to get the colours I got with the D90.
    Regards

      • I am starting to get good colors after some photoshop. There must be some problem in photoshop reading the white balance of the camara. Silkypix indicates a different “as shot” WB. I just have to overstep what photoshop says for every picture.
        And sometimes I change the red calibration.
        I am starting to get good pictures, but it takes time and can’t use jpgs out of the camera, they are too purple.

  5. Steve, Thanks for posting your thoughts on these two cameras. I was recently in New York and made a stop at B&H to see the Nikon V1. I really liked it. As I was talking to the salesmen, he pointed out the GX1 as a possibility as well. I liked the way it felt. I left and was more up in the air about my choice of cameras. I hate that feeling. So here is my question…. in your experience which one of these cameras gets out of the way and just let’s you shoot? I have the big stuff (nikon d700 and d3 for other purposes) this is for my carry around everyday camera. Thanks again for your blog site. I really enjoy it.

    • WHich one gets out of the way and lets you shoot? The V1 would win that one, but the GX1 will give you more shallow DOF and less noise (but less sharpness and Nikon has better color IMO) – I had no desire to own the GX1 when shooting it, but I do own the V1.

  6. I find the Nikon’s files to have a lot less tonality across the scale. They also exhibit more contrast and I find the blacks to block up. A lot more can be done with the Panasonic files. Especially in RAW. I rarely shoot or use jpegs out of the camera.

  7. Which camera has better, more accurate color? The sky in the first Panasonic shot looks too purple, but the V1 looks real.

  8. I find the Nikon V1 a great second camera. When out shooting Landscapes with Medium or Large Format film cameras its the perfect Compact, and the other two lens sit happily in my jacket pocket. Its a killer compact as I will not consider a camera without either a decent optical viewfinder or EVF. The Leica’s, Sony’s and Fuji’s of the world may give better image quality but as a responsive carry everywhere camera its hard to beat.

    A few years ago we had very few choices for compact interchange lens cameras now it seems there are options for us all.

  9. Everyone should check out the new reviews and SAMPLE pics that have littered the web in the past 24 hours of the Olympus OM-D!! People are saying nothing but positive things about this camera and rightfully so, the images look fantastic,and the 12-50mm is no slouch!! There was an event in Amsterdam where they got to go out and shoot the hell out of that beauty!

  10. With so many new cameras coming out, keeping up with the products/lenses is becoming more difficult than passing a college calculus course. It’s just getting too busy. I have dropped out of school and reverted back to film. But, I will buy one last digital camera, the Olympus OM-D. Only because I love Olympus cameras. Will continue shooting film with my Leica film cameras: M6 TTL (.72), M6 TTL (.85), M7 and a Voigtlander R4A. The finders in my M6s have both been upgraded by Sherry Krauter to MP standards to eliminate the flaring problem. Both are great cameras. My M7 also has the latest finder. All work great with my Leica lenses. I’m getting too old to keep up with the new “alphabet soup” series of digital cameras and spending more time behind a computer than behind a lens. The key to good photography, in my opinion, is good composition and good luck in selecting subjects that produce great images. Ansel Adams did very well without a constant stream of “alphabet soup” digital cameras. None of us will ever match his accomplishments.

    • Amen. Though you don’t have to keep up with the rat race. I shoot film and digi pretty equally, and if you have a tool that works, you don’t need to change it. I will use my current digi cams until they fall apart, also my film bodies. (Caveat: I do not expect my digicams to last as long as my leica or Nikon film bodies).

      Jay

  11. The black is good, Steve. All white is just too bright.
    Thanks for giving us mini-comparisons like this. Most of us can’t acquire multiple cameras and it’s great to see how they stack-up with each other.

  12. Steve Shallow DOF and low light capability are the two primary reasons to get any kind of ILC, and if the sensor isn’t big enough for either of those, then it’s kind of pointless, and you might as well save some money and get a high end fixed lens point and shoot. I used to walk around with a Ricoh GX200 and I loved it, but when I got my GF1 (which kind of seemed like a direct descendant of the GX200) it was just a whole other world. I spent 7 hours yesterday walking around Manhattan with my new GX1, the Olympus 45mm 1.8, and the Leica 25mm 1.4 (in part purchased on your recommendation even though I have the 20mm 1.7, very happy with the 1,4). I’m sure I could have gotten many of the same shots with the V1, but I also could have with a G12, G1X, GXR, VRXG1 (may have made that last one up) or an Iphone for that matter. But at least a third of my shots had some really nice bokah, and when the sun started going down, me and my GX1 were still in business. Later I was at an art lecture and got some really interesting shots of my teacher with nothing more then the light reflected off a screen from a projector, something I couldn’t do with a point and shoot sized sensor. I’m sure the V1 is a great camera, those Vietnam shots can attest to that, but I can’t help thinking that the V1 and GX1 are aimed at the point and shoot crowd that doesn’t know any better. The “Best Buyers” as you call them. For just a little more money and bulk, they could be getting so much more. It’s bokah and low light that get you into the realm of professional grade photography. I just seems like those buyers are getting short changed. The micro 4/3s are great carry everywhere cameras. Why not have it all?

    • Id take a V1 over a GX1, that is my personal feeling for me. I have both here in front of me and have been shooting both of them. I prefer the V1 for its EVF, speed, metering, color, sharpness, battery life, and I even prefer the design and build. As to getting a fixed lens P&S, wouldn’t have the same ISO performance, the same speed, accuracy, etc. Add to that there will be newer faster lenses for the V1 coming, and a fixed lens P&S would be stuck with its slow lens for life. The IQ of the V1 is beyond most P&S cameras and add that usability and you have a winner in my book. With that said, once the OM-D is out, my V1 will get little use. 🙂 But who knows?

      • It’s always personal. I’m not interested in the Pentax Q, but I did play with one a little at B&H because it was just to charming to walk past. Didn’t get the same feeling from the V1 when I picked it up. It’s a shame you haven’t been able to test the GX1 with it’s EVF. The LVF2 is fantastic. I just don’t see it being an add on as that big of a deal. Once it’s locked on it really is like one solid unit. Sure, it ties up the hotshoe, but you don’t use flashguns much with walk around cameras and you can use a video loupe for eye level shooting when you do. I did that with my GF1 and it wasn’t as awkward as you’d think. Plus the 90 degree bounce flash alleviates the need for a flashgun in most situations. The EP3 has the same issue, and both have eye watering price tags when the EVF is added. Apparently I’ve crossed the line of hard core addiction because I have a silver OM-D and 12-50 on order with no intention of letting go of my beloved GX1. I let you know my thoughts about the comparison when I get it. If you get a chance to use the GX1 with the EVF, you should give it a second look.

        • Yep. It’s a stupid camera nerd decision. I’m not rich either. It is weather sealed, has a tilt screen (although it really should have a full on flip screen), a host of features like in-camera portrait editing, Olympus jpeg color and compression (which admittedly may be lost on me, I’m not a pixel peeper and I don’t always agree that the Olympus jpegs look better) faster burst rate with what seems to be a much bigger buffer, and it will provide me with a second body housing that glorious sensor with it’s wonderful low light performance for when I want to walk around shooting with multiple lenses, which is probably the only decent reason to get it. I suspect the lighter and possibly better handling GX1 will be better for every day use when subway commuting and the heavier OM-D will be better for days when I’m willing to trade bulk for beefier performance or for parties and gatherings when I want to use a flashgun. That was my reasoning for getting a GF1 and GH1 and I didn’t regret it, but the I got a used GH1 pretty cheap. I still may cancel the order. I’m hoping they’ll have a display model at B&H or something that I can play with before it ships.

        • Sensor may be the same, but the rendering software is different. Panasonic and Olympus have different ideas about what is correct color, even in raw.

          They’re probably similar in technical aspects, noise, resolution, etc., but it’s not hard to tell their colors apart.

  13. been using the sigma dp2 for years and cant wait for the new Sigma’s i have Sigma and GH1 , though in the market for a new M43 camera i must say though that GH1 image quality sucks compared to the sigma – which though quirky when it shines it really does shine. Im looking to get another m43 street camera – the GH1 is great for video, im leaning towards getting a used GF1 while i wait for the dust to settle on the new Fuji, OM-D , possibly GH3

  14. I can confirm the excellence of the Nikon 1 system, especially compared to an Oly Pen E-P2, which I sold before I purchased the Nikon 1 V1. I absolutely love the nice, bold colors of the V1, the sharpness of the JPGs, the contrast, the slight, profiling grain at base ISO (the grain is very similar to the brilliant RAW results of the D300s), the silent electronic shutter, and the highly accurate, intelligent, and robust, if not fool-proof metering system (you can even point it against the sun and get the correct exposure!).
    Why do I prefer it over the Pen E-P2? When I used the E-P2, as a light companion for my D700, for landscape shots in the Big Bend area, I was severly disappointed by the E-P2’s weak, greyish colors, brittle RAW files, bad contrast, unreliable metering system, hunting autofocus, and the typical nasty M4/3 shutter sound. I considered it a waste of time to use it – and sold it.

    • That is more or less the same experience I had with the EP-1 and EP-2 – got the EP-2 because I thought the view finder would be nice, but no, what a clunky add on.

      You can get nice pictures with both cameras and they are nice to carry around, but I was just generally too disappointed with the output (and talk about noise in high contrast scenes even at ISO 200!).

      I think it is really hard to go back to something less, when being used to the IQ of the D700.

      I tried the X100 which has great IQ, but then the AF is just really bad and slow.

      Now the X-Pro1 is out, but the price is riduculus for an APS-C camera (the price of lenses are ok though). A bit curious if Fuji have improved the AF.

      The N1 also has limitations, but as you said the AF, metering, color output, grain etc. is consistent and very, very good for such a small sensor and that is what makes it fun too shoot. The camera gets out of the way so to speak and you can concentrate on shooting.

  15. I just took a close look at the images…not hard to tell them apart. Look at the red “X” in the car wash. The GX1 image is so much more intact than the V1 shot. If I want “grain”..I can ad that later in post…In 2012, I would prefer to have a camera that does not deliver that in the image. I would rather have a tight image in RAW and go from there……….
    Also…again, I think that the X kit zoom is a gimmick lens. If you need a sharper kit zoom try the old 14-45mm that came on the GF1, etc. (Pany’s best MFT kit zoom).
    Best bet to utilize the sensor ..primes.

  16. the new color (BLACK) looks bad, like dpreview site, is not as clean as before.I think you’d better make the site looks pleasing,not so depressed.

  17. Am I the only one bothered by the incredible amount of distorsion on the first Nikon’s image ?
    GX1 + 20mm + 45mm is such a nice combo that I would not trade it for anything else !

    • Distortion is quite normal for wide angle lenses. Some lenses are better than others, but it is easily fixed in Photoshop or whatever tool you use.

      • I just did trade my GX1+20mm for the Leica 25mm 1.4. Good trade. I say go for it and sell off your 20mm if you have to. It seems, oddly, that the used 20mm is going up in price and the new 25mm is going down. Believe me, I LOVED my 20, but the 25 is just worth the upgrade. Also use 45 and I agree, awesome combo!

          • Oh… I’m thinking HARD about the 25mm, but the 20mm is so small that I can drop my GX1 in my jacket’s pocket…
            After buying a few expensive lenses for my Leica’s over the year, I’m a bit reluctant to buy a (relatively) expensive lens for my Panasonic. But… The 25mm seems to be THE lens I need.

  18. Just bought a GX1 this week. Already have the J1 and have tried to compare the output. I agree with you regarding the V1/J1 images, as I also think they are very very good. I’ll probably favor the GX1 for details, but that depends on what you shoot (mostly landscape for me).

    Wondering if I will be selling the X100 to get a X-Pro1 later….

  19. i totally picked the V1 shots- i just sold mine a few days ago- i loved the size/speed/crop but the graininess in low and changing light drove me away. the kit lenses are great but WAY too slow. went back to D7000 until i can get my mitts on the new Fuji or Oly to make a decision…

    at least i still have my X100 to carry around…

  20. Given your characterization of the GX-1’s rendering, Steve, I might offer as an adjunct to the question I posed moments ago that I did see some closely rendered files on-line comparing directly both 12mp and 16mp Panasonic m4/3 sensor/processors to that of the 12mp/generation VI processor Olympus. There I saw pretty much what you describe for the Panasonics, but notably more contrasty, edge-defined details plus a pleasant appearance of ‘tooth’ to the test shots as the ISO climbed for the Olympus. I studied RAW files, but JPEGs were similar (again confirming what many say about the goodness of Olympus’s JPEG engine). I qualify my judgement by stating that these were ‘macro’ renderings of a flat-field subject; however, it was hard to come up with an excuse not to generalize from what WAS shown.

  21. You’ve made the comment before about liking the look of a touch of ‘grain’ plus sharpness in digital files vs. a too-creamy (?) presentation, Steve. It brings to mind all those film/developer combo comparisons the late (or subsumed) ‘Modern Photography’ magazine used to run. Personally, I was drawn to the sharp, contrasty, well-defined grain look of certain films with dilute Rodinal. As a new micro four-thirds system owner (E-PM1, for now) interested in black & white photography, I’d like to put a proposition before your astute readership in view of the foregoing, just to get some possibly helpful educated reaction and advice: Could the latest generation micro four-thirds with quality glass be the IDEAL modern format for a variety of subjects rendered both as (ink-jetted) ‘traditional’ B & W display prints and as on-line B & W images? I’m leaving aside the Leica realm here, of course, for the usual reasons. Thanks to all for your opinions.

    • I love m4/3 (I own a GF1 and the new GX1) but I used them knowing that I am making compromises. I gain portability, light weight, smaller lenses, more stealth look. However, when I decide not to be lazy and go out with my D700 with a fast prime: I never regret it! FF is simply another world.

      • Thanks Jay — I enjoyed your photos. You might want to check into my series of posts with Ibraar Hussain under his mid-March post: ‘Choosing and Using Black & White Film’. There’s a discussion of a hypothetical “hybrid”-thinking/processing approach to doing B&W with m4/3’s, and quite a bit regarding adapting the Zeiss/Kyocera Contax G system film rangefinder glass to m4/3’s cameras. In my case, the m4/3’s choice led also to a Contax G1 plus 28mm Biogon and 90mm Sonnar lenses… AND the Kipon adapter to make that Zeiss-designed glass available for use on my (for now) Olympus E-PM1 body. And yes, B&W work is very much on my personal agenda.

  22. Thanks jevfp! I am a happy owner of a GF1 and considering the addition of the GX1, but unsure of the quality improvement, Your succinct statement helped a bit. How would you rate the G3 compared to the GF1?
    Cheers, Michael

    • Thx Michael,.

      For image quality itself was not much of improvement ,.also very poor battery life,.but for me I personally ..,I don’t know,maybe it was more about the feeling for me … it just made me felt like holding P&S camera or. maybe because I always carried GF1 along with my old nikon FM3a,.,..
      I always been a panny camera when it comes to digital ,but this new OM-D shape ,.its gorgeous ,look like my old nikon,..lol

      so better wait for OM-D if you are looking for an upgrade in my opinion,.anyway everybody have their opinion and taste,.thx

  23. thx Steve ;

    Having GX1 for almost two months, made a lot of picts and comparing with my old GF1 also G3 and somehow i found the file from GF1 is more sharper and crisp than GX1 in good light condition. I am really disappoints that GX1 still can not replace my old GF1[UPGRADE] in term of image quality.

    soon as I get my OM-D and FUJI X-PRO 1 i will sell my GX1 .

    Can’t wait to read your review about FUJI and OLYMPUS

    • jevfp..what lens do you have on the GX1. The compact X zoom is a bum lens in my book. It just is not sharp…(the 45-175mm X lens is VERY decent, tho). The kit X zoom has the compact size…but I think that it does the camera a dis-service.I have a G3 and a GX1 and used to own a GF1 (great camera). Slap the Pany/Leica 25mm f/1.4, the Oly 45mm f/1.8 OR the Oly 12mm f/2.0…on your GX or G3 (put NR to -2) and you may change your mind.

      • Thx Bob ,.

        I used the same base setting on GF1,G3& GX1 with several lens ; 14-45 GF1 kit ,20mm ,both 25 PL Summilux DG & D [43 SLR] version, 7-14 & OLy 45f/1.8.I don’t have the Oly 12mm f2 [must be a great lens], but I have also the other Panny lens,45-200,14-140,100-300,45 PL macro f/2.8+some manual lens Nikon, Zeiss& Voigtlander.

        I loves this M4/3 gear since i read Steve review on GF1 about two years ago and purchased it and felt wow the first i taken pict,…I mean the image file it’s so crisp and sharp in good light condition and i was happy with it and until last year i decided that I needed another one for an upgrade body,.. and then I purchased G3 over GH2 [too expensive]. Felts like a toy when I holding G3,..I don’t know but i didn’t made a lot of pict with it, so I gave it to my girlfriend,.also the VERY POOR battery life,..but the AWB I think G3 is better than GX1 in my opinion,.yeah I believe Panasonic screwed up about the AWB on GX1 ,.no wonder they had to come up with the firmware to correct the AWB,..

        Again, every time I made pict comparison with the same setting in good light condition, I ‘ve found GF1 give me more sharper and crisp result,..just don’t believe i waste 950$ for an upgrade but found disappointed. GX1 it maybe a very good camera for some reason ,.but there is no point for me ,.especially when I read STEVE review on GX1 when it’s compared with EP-3…

        I hope Panasonic will come up with more serious camera in the future,.just like Oly with EM-5

    • I tried the X zoom and it is very soft in the corners compared to the first generation of the standard zoom. I feel that one sacrifices a lot in IQ for a bit more portability. I like the GX1 with the 20mm and the 7-14 zoom.

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