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