POLL: Do we really need a compact GX model with built-in viewfinder?


The picture on top shows the back of the Panasonic L1 Four Thirds camera

Now let’s face the big question. Who of you believes a GX model with built-in viewfinder would have been a better product than the newly announced Panasonic GX1? As you know the chiefs of Pana said that a GX model with built-in viewfinder “may price it out of the range of the people we’re trying to reach. And not everybody wants a viewfinder, so at least this gives the consumer the option of having it or not. Personally I do not use them…“. (Source: Photographyblog).

Let’s make some calculations about the possible price of the GX model with built-in viewfinder:
1) The GX1 body costs $700 at Amazon. The external viewfinder has been priced at around $250. Total price: $950
2) The NEX-7 costs $1200 (but price will go up because of the flood)
3) The Fuji X100 (which comes with fixed lens) also costs $1200.
4) The current Panasonic L1 Four Thirds camera with built-in viewfinder sells for $1900 at Amazon and for $1000 used on eBay (Click here).

So let’s assume the price of the GX model with built-in viewfinder would be $1000-$1100. The question is:

Would you buy a GX camera with built-in viewfinder (and priced at $1100) or would you still prefer the GX1?

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And an even more complicated question is:

Whay's the reason why you need a built-in viewfinder?

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  • daniel.alenstein

    Looking at this camera, I finally realize my mistake. I had hoped for a small, elegant camera with very high IQ. Not necessarily a cheap camera. A camera that could replace a good but bulky and ugly DSLR with something Contax-like.

    When m43 started, it all seemed possible. The perfect camera was just a few features away. But those features never came. And now I see why: It just doesn’t make sense to produce a m43 enthusiast camera.

    I would call myself an enthusiast. And at the end of the day, I want an elegant system. But IQ is even more important. And because of the size of the sensor, the IQ of m43 will allways be a bit worse than NEX – and probably worse than upcoming Fuji and Leica systems. Because of that many of the target audience of a m43-enthusiast-camera would say: Oh – what a nice camera. But for that sort of money I’d rather buy something with the best IQ possible.

    When m43 everything looked so tempting. It was and still is hard not to feel sympathy for those nice little cameras. Good IQ, good looks. A good compromise for many. But as much as enthusiasm is not about compromise, Panasonic and Olympus are right on not producing the camera so many in this forum are craving for right now. I’m sure they will after a while. Same like Olympus produced an E-5. But it will not sell extremly well.

    Still l like this forum and hope I am wrong and they prove me wrong.

    • theDA

      If you only “figured’ out the whole sensor size thing now, then you have wasted your time and our time. No offense, sorry.

      • daniel.alenstein

        I was – and probably everyone else – aware of this. My point is: When Olypan started this, they were the first, and for some time the only ones with a tempting mirroless offer. The result in my case was wishful thinking. I forgot about sensor size – or at least tried to. If Sony (maybe Fuji, Leica) would have been first, the reaction to m43 would have been quite the same as for the new Nikon system.

        Reading this forum I got the impression that not only myself, but also other people might “waste their time” or get frustrated about panoly. And that just because m43 timing was brilliant, but the products are “only” good – very good.

        • theDA

          I see your point. I do. Again no offense, but you make it sound as if m4/3 is a huge mistake for all enthusiasts.

          So panny and their partnership with leica with oly on board with m4/3 producing a good lens line up and panny developing a new collapsable zoom and implementing a very good touch focus feature and a new sensor in the g3/gx1 all in a very small footprint and announcing a 12-35 bright lens – just isnt good? Then you go and say m4/3 sucks even more cause NEX is better with a slighty larger aps sensor? You can’t take pictures with just a sensor. (Also, their 24mm f1.8 is $999) I assume at one point you saw the iq, dof, colors, etc of m4/3 and was satisfied given it’s size. But all of a sudden only NOW you realize it’s all crap and it’s all because the m/43 sensor isnt the size of your DSLR of that you wish to replace.

          • daniel.alenstein

            I would just like to point out politely, that I didn’t say those things.

    • Olympius

      Yes, the 4/3 sensor is not as good beyond it’s base ISO as APS, and it’s a real DOG compared to a full sized sensor camera like the Canon 5D Mk II. This is old news. However, I do believe that pricing 4/3 sensor cameras at the same level as those with APS sensors is a mistake. They should, at least, be $100 dollars less than a comparable APS sensor camera. I call it the tiny sensor discount. But unfortunately, the economics and business of camera making has a lot more to it that just the size of the sensor in the camera.

      But I will say this in 4/3’s defense: even the older Panasonic 10mp sensor far outperformed any 35mm color film I’ve ever used, and at base ISO of 100 I’m getting results that I would readily compare to Kodachrome 25.

      I came to Olympus from the realm of 35mm film, and have never ceased to amazed at how well the Panny 10mp sensor (combined with Oly’s TruPic engine) rendered color. I’ve been 101% satisfied in that regard, and I’ve heard from far more than one NIkon / Canon user how much they like the colors that Olympus renders.

      And then there is the old E-1, a soviet tank of a camera, with a 5mp Kodak CCD sensor, that is legendary amongst Olympus users for the wonderful tonality and film like quality that the camera regularly produces.

      And the 12mp multi-aspect sensor in the GH1 is, in my opinion, just as good as anything the Canon 18mp sensor can produce, at ISO’s up to 3200. That sensor may be the best that has ever been in any 4/3 camera, micro or otherwise — and it’s ability to render video is legendary.

      Hence, how much you like or dislike the 4/3 sensors is relative to your expectations, and what you have used in the past. If your goal as a photographer is to crystal clear photos with accurate color at ISO 10,800 — then 4/3, along with APS, is probably not for you.

      – Olympius

      • daniel.alenstein

        My main concerns about this are DOF and DR. Especially DR can be a really important point when it comes to colours. 99% of the time, crystal clear is not what I’m after.

        Nevertheless: You are right, not only are there good 43 cameras, the colours rendition of some of them (as far as I can tell) is quite likeable.

  • Dear Admin,

    would it be possible to make a poll about the hinged screens on the compact line (GF/GX) ?

    I am always curious about whether I am alone who suppose that fixed LCD (without choice) is a huge omission, or not.


    PS I now see that the members can create polls on 43rumors forums, maybe I will create it myself.

  • Daniel, you’re only partly right. Panny has really only introduced one sensor advance since the G1: the GH2.

    It seems the current state of Panoly sensors is such that even Nikon’s 1 with 2.7 crop factor Aptina sensors are threatening them.

    Except the GH2 of course.


    Make a small GH2 but without viewfinder or an offset viewfinder. Enough buttons. Out of metal. In Japan. Super durable and reliable. Nothing is loose, good fit and finish. Put the best sensor, processor and software. Sell as body only (since people will buy a Nokton anyway) or with a prime assortment (not with a zoom or cheap kit lens, that’d be degrading!). F numbers should preferably start with zero. One would be acceptable. Two can go in an emergency. Never put on three point something pitch black pinholes. Charge a huge amount of money. Pure sex. Picture mountain climbers, jungle explorers, urban night riders (I know these groups use GF or PEN, I’ve seen the photos). Show that you’re a leader and not a follower.

    The GF1 + 20 mm is already as good as X100 photo quality wise. It’s even about the same size.

    Now go beyond that.

    Maybe Fuji could get into M43 and do the right camera. Or Kyocera could buy Olympus imaging.

  • fred schumacher

    The most significant photographic innovation of the past three years, by any manufacturer, is the Panasonic 14-42 X lens. It is a game changer. Everything else is incremental.

    I look at displays of big digital SLRs for sale in stores, and to me they look like dinosaurs. Right now they’re popular, but their days are numbered, because we live in a world obsessed with miniaturization and portability.

    The size of the camera body is not the operative factor in portability. It’s the lens, the object that protrudes. In 1977, I was a legislative staff photographer. I did not use a camera bag. I had a Leica M-3 with a collapsing Summicron that I kept in one coat pocket and, in the other, an Olympus OM-1 with the Zuiko 24 f2.8, the most wonderful tiny wide angle ever produced for 35 mm. I could work quickly, quietly and unobtrusively.

    This week, Target is selling the GF3 two lens package with standard 14-42 and 45-200 for $699. The lenses are too big for the body. Next to it on the display was a Sony NEX with a lens even more ridiculously out of proportion to its body. Miniaturizing the body is the wrong way to go.

    Consumers, not enthusiasts, have gotten accustomed to tiny body/lens combinations that provide everything except low-light quality and rapid response. Put a small, rangefinder style body, the kind they’ve become accustomed to from their point-and-shoots, with a collapsing lens like the 14-42 X next to any other system, and, price being equal, the choice will be to go with the system that provides most portability.

    It’s like the advice I give on used car buying. Find a good mechanic, then buy the car he or she repairs. Select the lens system, and the body follows. As regards the GX, it should have come with a built-in EVF, especially since the people with the most purchasing power have reached bifocal age and are finding their arms are getting too short for looking at an LCD display.

    • +10.

      Why is it so hard to make bright primes and why are they so expensive?

  • Why not slightly more expensive than G3? Sensor and stuff is basically the same… manufacturing it should increase the yield on the parts, thus maintaining cost production… the hardest part would be to keep it compact enough for everything to fit into a rangefinder body….

    Currently GX1 is too expensive if one considers the G3 is cheaper and offers a lot more… just in a bigger (but not that big) body.

    The main issue is that GH1 and GH2 were the only 2 ‘bumps’ in IQ … G3 and GX1 share an above average IQ when compared with the rest of the m43 cameras (Olympus seems to be stuck with the leftovers) … but, by now, it would be expected for cameras to behave a lot better – specially with the growing competition. At this rate super zoom/premium compacts will start poking m43 cameras on IQ department.

    Well … I guess I’ll keep my GH1 till Panny solves to improve something that worth’s it…

  • The Master

    So, it looks like over 2700 people would buy this camera, so far. I think if it was classy looking, like the Fuji X100, that number would easily multiply. Maybe the Panasonic share holders should get wind of this. I wonder how long the CEO would have his job, if all the shareholders knew how much money the CEO was costing the company, by his constant obliviousness to the wants and needs of prospective customers. Oh man, I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes right now – jobs are hard to find these days. :)

    • I don’t think cameras are Panasonic’s biggest concern. They make probably more money with toilet roll holders in Japan.

  • pelex

    When the GX2 arrives (or E-P4), wake me up.
    Dreaming of Fuji ILC….

  • R

    The G series is an excellent lightweight package. Once you factor in the lenses, perhaps still lighter than NEX-7.

  • it’s interesting.. the three example cameras all have different viewfinders. only digital (nex), semi digital with viewfinder a classic rf see through and then the lumix l1 with slr a la original olympus pen with the porro prism.
    three quite different solutions! but I guess if panny would add a viewfinder, they’d probably go for a digital one like the nex. semi makes most sense with a fixd lens body.

  • Ojojo

    Do we make too much of VF specification? The view has been put forward in the past that the reason so many produced such good photographs using old Leicas with their tiny, hard to see through VFs was that the poor VF made users concentrate on major details – that was all they could clearly see!

  • A digital viewfinder could enable 1x magnification and shooting with both eyes open with different focal lengths!

  • nerk

    Answer: some do, some don’t. The choices Panasonic have made are legitimate ones. The feature set of a camera is never going to please all of the people all of the time, and the (unfortunate) reality is that us folks on this forum are not likely to represent a material percentage of their market. Despite the usual florid posts to the contrary, this isn’t a matter of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ or ‘real camera’ vs ‘toy’. Simply preferences. Including built-in EVFs and articulating displays would involve inevitable size and cost trade-offs that some users (clearly the majority according to Panasonic’s market research) would give more weight to than the added flexibility of extra viewing options. The quality of the things they *have* included is another thing…

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