Panasonic introduces the premium compact-style Lumix DMC-GX1, its fourth current compact system camera in the range that packs the same number of pixels as its larger siblings
Extra detail in this street scene can be extracted using iDynamic mode
According to DxOMark (www.dxomark.com), the Lumix DMC-G3 has a dynamic range of 10.6EV at ISO 160. Given that the sensor in the GX1 is virtually identical, I would be surprised if the results are any different. Current APS-C-sized sensors across most brands are capable of 11.5EV at the very least, giving around 1EV extra of dynamic range over the sensor in the GX1.
When compared with the competition, the GX1 is slightly below Nikon’s 1-series cameras (which uses a smaller sensor) and pretty much on a par with the Olympus Pen models and the Samsung NX series (the latter uses a larger APS-C sensor). This goes to show that it is not strictly a case of the larger the sensor, the wider the dynamic range.
It is at higher sensitivities where a smaller sensor’s ability to resolve colour and produce a wide dynamic range is affected. At such settings, images are typically a little flatter tonally than current-generation cameras with APS-C-sized sensors. However, this is an area where Panasonic’s cameras perform better than the Olympus Pen models. With the exception of the Lumix DMC-GH1, the GX1 looks like Panasonic’s best CSC yet.
In real-world settings, the slightly more limited dynamic range can result in the loss of some detail in overcast, bright white skies when trying to retain detail in a foreground. Top-end highlights can suffer, too.
The iDynamic mode offers three levels of strength to add detail to shadow and highlight areas. The strongest setting removes a degree of punch, while the other two settings provide a good compromise between detail and contrast. Bracketing over three, five or seven frames is possible, although layering the images must be done using Photoshop or HDR software to receive the benefits of such a feature.
In creative control, there is an HDR mode that can be saved at full resolution.