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*Panasonic GM1 Reviewed – Say hello to my little friend

*Panasonic GM1 Reviewed – Say hello to my little friend

gm1 and friends

I have spent the better part of the last month shooting with this camera almost exclusively.  I wanted to really get a feel for this tiny machine, its ins and outs, before I wrote up any type of review.  While being the smallest interchangeable lens system camera body currently available, it certainly has some ergonomic drawbacks, but that begs the question, who is this camera for, and can it be a compliment or even replacement for another of the micro 4/3 system cameras, even {gasp} a larger system camera?  Well…

GM1

The

Panasonic Lumix GM1 (now -$50 off, only $698 at B&H!)

is the world’s smallest interchangeable lens system camera body which is immediately apparent when pulling this thing out of the box.  This wouldn’t be too exciting if it weren’t for the relatively huge sensor residing in this little mighty might enabling great low light performance, the ability to shallow up the depth of field (capable of producing very pleasing bokeh) and enable shooters to produce very high end image files and video, all encased in a camera body smaller than many point and shoot cameras.

For those who are not Micro 4/3 system aficionados, Panasonic and Olympus jointly developed the m4/3 system, employing a 17.3mm x 13mm sensor, providing an effective focal length multiplier of 2x compared to the standard “135mm format” or in digital terms “full frame.”  This means that a focal length on a micro 4/3 system camera will have the same equivalent field of view as a focal length twice that on a 35mm or full frame camera (i.e.: 12mm on m4/3 = 24mm on full frame, etc).

This allows for an overall size reduction in both lenses and camera bodies.  By removing the mirror and employing a full time live view feed as opposed to an optical view through the lens, it also allows for further size reduction by way of a shorter flange/register distance between the rear elements of a lens and the sensor.  All this mumbo jumbo aside and we get smaller, lighter cameras and lenses while maintaining a relatively large sensor capable of a high level of image quality and overall performance.  While there are advantages in certain image quality perimeters by way of larger formats, these benefits have seen the gap lessened substantially over the last few years with the micro 4/3 system showing its ability to play with the big boys.

Enough about the system comparatively though, I wanted to know how THIS camera handled and performed.  I’ve enjoyed shooting with the micro 4/3 system for years now, and I’ve grown to expect a lot out of these cameras.

After shooting with this camera and mapping out what I wanted to get through in this review, I’ve broken it down to:

  • Ergonomics and Size
  • Features and Functions
  • Image Quality
  • Who this camera is for, in my opinion of course and a final conclusion.

A proud moment for dad

  • ERGONOMICS and SIZE

This camera is a solidly built, robust little machine.  Great tactile feel with a substantial, yet light weight profile.  It feels like a real camera, just a really small, real camera.  The lines and appearance show that Panasonic has been hanging out with Leica, presumably doing Leica’s homework in exchange for being able to high five Leica when walking by each other in the halls, and occasionally being seen together in public.  Whatever it is, I do like the visual design of this camera.  It combines sleek looks with the intuitive overall layout that I’ve come to expect from Panasonic which is probably one of the main reasons why I keep buying their stuff.

There is no denying that this camera would be at home in the hands of a young preschooler, but we all know that todays kiddos are totally cutting their teeth on mobile platforms and smart phone hipstography.  Both my kids, while still under the age of 5, are already fully versed in touch screen interactions, candy crushing or temple running and I feel they are going to have a very different reality in many ways with things like photography as they grow older.  At least, that is what my limited market research has shown me 😉  This movement toward a multi platform, mobile friendly resemblance has come through with this, and many newer cameras by way of app integration, wifi features and touch screen interface.  While I can’t play Plants vs Zombies on my GM1, I can integrate it very easily into my daily interaction with my various devices, and while it may be seen as silly to many an established photographer, it can be handy, and really no body is saying you have to use these features.  We will get back to the features later.  For now, let’s stick with size.  Speaking of mobile devices, the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is smaller in some dimensions than my phone.  It is about as thick as two of my phones stacked on top of each other, but otherwise, it’s noticeably smaller.

iPhone 5s vs Panasonic Lumix GM1

Enter the worlds smallest MILC camera.  It is absolutely tiny.  Granted, as we discussed in my

first look post (read and see the unboxing video here)

I have larger than average hands, so my expectations fell somewhere between, “sure, yeah right” and “seriously, you’re joking” when it came to me actually considering the purchase of this little camera.  As I’d mentioned, I went in to my local brick and mortar to have a look and ended up walking out with one.

While tiny, the designers of this camera have done well to make the available real estate count.  Holding onto this camera  is almost like holding your cell phone, and in that, we have all become a bit more accustomed to feeling comfortable with tiny, expensive electronic devices being gripped by the tips of our fingers or wedged into our palms.  While I feel that most of my frustration with this camera comes from the cramped and limited space available from which to grip it, I knew exactly what I was getting myself into, and wasn’t buying this camera to necessarily feel great, or even secure in my hand, but rather to enable me to cram it and three lenses into my pockets while out on a wander with no problem.  That I can do that, and capture images that can rival high end DSLR’s in many situations is amazing and a testament to design.  Let’s not mince words here, this camera is all about size, or more accurately the lack of it.

Panasonic Lumix GM1 and Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 with hood

When shooting with this camera, I find myself using it as I have many compact point and shoot’s before and by that I mean one handed.  The minuscule size just seems to lull me into improper shooting techniques, but that said, I have found that with the intended optics, namely the new kit zoom and the various micro 4/3 pancake lenses, it is light enough to pull that off, in good light anyway.

With larger optics, contrary to what I had assumed, and I’m sure many of us think, this camera actually does okay with more physically imbalanced lenses.  As long as you can comfortably support the lens in your left hand, this little camera actually does well to act as merely an LCD screen and shutter button on the back of these lenses.  Again, results are far better in decent light with workably fast shutter speeds as stability can always be an issue with a device this small, but still, it is far from as awkward as I assumed it would be, and arguably better stabilized when you have a good chunk of lens to hold onto.  While not a perfect fit in many cases, I did find that shooting the GM1 with the PL25, Oly 75 or Lumix 100-300, was actually a very workable and even an enjoyable experience.  I still prefer shooting these larger lenses on my GX7 where I can firmly plant the camera against my brow and have a strong, secure hold on the camera via the grip, but I wouldn’t discount this little guy from being able to utilize the whole of the lens catalog in a pinch.

I do feel however that this camera was designed to be used primarily with a few of the system’s lenses in the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, the

14mm f/2.5 pancake

, the

17mm f/2.8 pancake

, the

20mm f/1.7 pancake

and the soon to be Pana-Leica 15mm f/1.7 lens (or 35-100 compact zoom in development).  While I’ve found shooting the PL25 and Oly75 workable, I’d say that the

Oly 45mm f/1.8

would probably be about as big as this camera could realistically handle for one handed shooting.

The 20mm pancake does really well and is a great low light solution, but even that lens, or the Oly 17mm f/2.8 pancake measure wider than the GM1 body is tall making it an odd fit, incapable of sitting flat when set on a table or other flat surface.  This can be remedied by buying the add on, accessory grip from Panasonic as it does add a small amount of height via the camera plate on the bottom, which will also help if wanting to mount this camera and any of the non-tiny lenses to a tripod without the lens getting in the way.  Otherwise, I’ve not been overly bothered by the size discrepancy and aside from sitting it on a flat surface, I don’t notice it getting it in or out of my pockets.

Ergonomics and Size – What I like:

  • 6 custom function buttons (1 hard, 5 touch screen) make for a fully customized, controlled and at your fingertips experience.
  • Focus mode switch that surrounds the Fn1 button makes easy work to switch between focusing modes.
  • Access to all necessary (and labeled) exposure parameters (except a direct button for ISO which can be assigned to any Fn button).
  • Thumb wheel is also a multi directional pad.
  • Touch screen is very responsive, which is good because much of the interaction is utilized through it.
  • While cramped, the buttons are recessed making them more difficult to inadvertently press.
  • The leatherette finishing is very nice to the touch and adds to the simple, elegant design.  Not “grippy” so much, but not slippery.

What I don’t like:

  • There is no easy/quick way to toggle the touch screen off and on.  I tend to accidentally assign the single point AF to the top right corner of the frame when my thumb spills onto the screen.  I would love to be able to assign a “Touch Screen ON/OFF” to the Fn1 button for instance… Eh Ehhmmmm Panasonic… 🙂  The other option here would be to shift the 4:3 displayed live view image all the way to the left as opposed to centering it on the 3:2 aspect LCD which would give us a little bit more room on that right hand side (there is dead space on either side when in 4:3, or above and below when shooting video in 16:9 *see the image below)
  • While I know it would push the claim to being the worlds smallest, I would really like a tilting LCD screen and hotshoe (okay, this is getting nitpicky I know as this is not the camera for such features, I’m just wishing here)
  • Having to pay $100 for the Panasonic add on grip (which should arguably just come with the damn camera as an included add on) is steep.  Most of us I feel, will probably need an add on grip of some type to feel secure in holding this thing comfortably for any length of time.
  • See the above grip solution necessary to comfortably mount this camera to a tripod with any lens but the 12-32 kit zoom or the 14mm Lumix pancake.  Again, not this camera’s intended audience I’d think, but still, many of us will want to attach this to our tripods and as is, it is difficult at the very least to fit a quick release plate to this camera.

All in all, if looked at as a high end, go everywhere with you point and shoot that can also use a bevy of high end system lenses, one might feel fully comfortable excusing the less than stellar handling and overall ergonomic trade offs.  If wanting this camera to be your primary, in your hand for hours and hours at a time camera, you’d probably do better looking at a larger, more sizable, easier and more comfortable to hold body.

GM1 from the back

  • GM1 FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS

Many of the features that were implemented into the Panasonic GH3 and GX7 have found their way into the Panasonic Lumix GM1 like WiFi, silent mode, focus peaking and the like.  Oddly, various others have not.  One thing I will say for Olympus is that they do a great job at utilizing newer features and sensors across their product line (see the 5 axis IBIS and 15.9mp Sony sensors in the most recent EM, EP, EPL and EPM series cams, less the recently announced E-M10 in some regards).

By removing as much bulk possible to remain the smallest interchangeable lens system camera ever, certain features were going to have to make way.  The GM1 does not have a tilting LCD (which I’ve grown to love as my digital waste level finder on the EM5 or GX7), nor In Body Image Stabilization/IBIS (which for Panasonic isn’t too weird, although I feel every m4/3 cam should now employ it in some capacity without exception seeing as we now know Panasonic can and will put IBIS into a camera, a’la the GX7).

Another odd limitation is the remarkably hindering 1/50 second max flash sync speed… ?  What?  With an electronic shutter, surely they could have gone the other way and synced the flash to 1/500 sec or so, or certainly, at the very least the previous system standard of 1/160sec.  This makes it challenging to balance dynamic and static elements in a scene.  Freezing any movement while still exposing for the ambient light unless your subjects are literally standing still is always going to be tricky, but by limiting one of the major factors in flash photography, it is an odd choice at best.  I’ve found that 1/50sec is slow enough to more often inadvertently catch someone mid blink, or is more likely to soften the image due to normal movement with a shutter speed as slow as 1/50 sec if you’re also exposing to balance the ambient light.  With the system standard 1/160, or 1/320sec (like the GX7) sync speed, this camera should have at least hit closer to that.  This, to me is a real bummer.  With a faster sync speed, we can always dial it down if we DO want to use a 1/50 or slower shutter speed with a flash, but when that is where it tops out, it is limiting and unfortunate.  As an example, if wanting to use external lights, firstly you’ll need to be able to optically trigger them as the GM1 has no hotshoe, and then the camera will only be able to sync to 1/50 sec which can begin to add issues when trying to overpower ambient light levels, etc.  With the second curtain sync set up in camera though, you at least can have fun with ghosting and subject movement…

slow 2nd curtain sync

So, what do we get?

Well, the GM1 does add an impressive 1/16,000 max shutter speed which is a first as far as I’m aware, at least it is for me.  This is one full stop of light cutting goodness (two for many of the system cameras which top out at 1/4000sec) which can come in handy when shooting in a lot of light.  You can get away without an ND filter in certain situations, or at the very least gives you one, or two more stops to play with if using one, and I’m a fan of gaining a stop here or there whenever possible.  This is a good thing even if it won’t be a huge benefit to most users, most of the time.

Speaking of stops here and there, the GM1 also enables the ISO expansion to ISO 125 on the low side, and up to 25,600 on the high side.  Having those settings available is nice when the situation deems them necessary, although, how handy they are in reality might be a different story.  Again, I’d always rather have these settings and not need them 99% of the time, than need them, or find them handy that 1% of the time and not have them.

This camera also comes equipped with the recently released (via the GX7) Silent Mode rendering the camera entirely silent which is great for performances, street, critter or sleeping kid (your own, not a creepy kid stalker type) shooting, not to mention entirely eliminates the possibility of shutter shock.  Keep in mind that this will also disable the flash and focus assist lamp which may take a second to remember if you needed to pop the flash up for a quick shot for whatever reason leaving you scratching your head as to why it won’t fire…

Focus Peaking is just cool.  For those who have yet to stumble across this feature, it provides a colorized area where the image is in focus, enabling a confirmation when manually focusing.  While I’m sure the current version can and will be improved upon allowing for better recognition in lower contrast areas, having it is so much better than not having it, and when using a manual focus optic, shooting macro images or distant landscapes, it makes for such a great, quick way to ensure focus where you want it.  I expect to see this on all cameras moving forward as it should be included in any live view capable camera in my opinion, period.

Video. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a video guy.  That doesn’t mean I don’t like having high quality video on my cameras, because I really do.  I’m just not the one to properly review such features.  To me, with 24/30P at full HD via the AVCHD (not sure if the PAL folks get 25P, but I assume they do) and a 60p at 720, it looks really nice and seems to be up to snuff for the casual video shooter like myself.  Of course, with the challenge of fitting this camera with most any lens for the system onto a tripod due to the cramped layout and tiny body, and of course not having IBIS to help stabilize any non optically stabilized lens, it is going to be far from the perfect video shooter’s camera in many situations.  Still, the size and weight, if used combined with the smaller lenses can enable this little thing to fit into tight spaces, or if used as a quick changeable sensor to a collar mounted lens, enabling an easy on and off while the rig is otherwise setup, it doesn’t weigh much of anything, and has the WiFi control, it will certainly have it’s niche for video I’m sure.

The WiFi is great, and works as it does with the GX7.  While I tend to use it more as a remote trigger (which is AWESOME that it comes built in) I have found myself utilizing the WiFi to transfer pictures to my phone for quick upload or to pass along.  This is one feature that I feel will certainly be attractive to buyers of this camera regarding the WiFi.  The ability to instantly send files to your smart phone or tablet enabling a quick share to the Instafacetwitspacestagrams of the interwebs or enable an instant mailability via your email server of choice is just cool.  Wireless file transfer? Check.  Studio viewing on a large screen?  Check. Complete wireless control of the camera? Check.  Hello, future.  Now all I need is my Marty McFly hoverboard and I’m set.

Why not just take a picture on you phone you ask?  Have you ever tried to shoot in anything less than really good light with your phone?  I don’t care what Nokia says, while I’m a fan of constantly evolving sensor technology, a tiny phone sensor sucks in so many ways compared to larger sensor cameras.  Yeah, slap the Pana Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens on this little bad boy and watch your instatwit followers swoon over your accurate color and shallow depth of field on that shot of your dinner… 🙂

Okay, a bit of tongue in cheek there, but before you may condemn a streamlining of mobile based features as some gimmicky non-necessity, think about this… In the past, we have had to invest large amounts of money for wireless FTP devices, or connect our cameras to a computer to view images as they’re captured (handy in studio and commercial settings) as well as wirelessly control, let alone SEE what we’re controlling via a screen on a camera like this GM1.  Keep in mind, to transfer images to your computer (non-mobile device) you may need to purchase a third party app (the couple I found were like $2 or $3 and had varied reviews) and while perhaps not the best answer right now, it is only a matter of time before a fully functional app is brought to market.  Now, simply using an integrated WiFi feature, we get all of this included.  This is awesome.  Nevermind the ability to send images to your phone to instantly share or email, these new applications and features enable a usability that has potentially cost more than this camera sells for on its own in the recent past.  This, again, is awesome.

wifi GM1 setup

So, setting up the transferring of files to your phone/tablet via the GM1 built in WiFi feature: To do so, simply install the free “Panasonic Image App” onto your device, initiate the WiFi on the camera (I have mine set up to my custom function on screen button no.6) and it will ask you to start a new connection, select a destination from history or select a destination from favorite.

  1. Select “start a new connection”
  2. Next you can choose from the plethora of wifi enabled sharing choices (Remote shooting, Playback on TV, Send Images While Recording or Send Images Stored in the Camera).  This should be pretty self explanatory.
  3. Once you’ve chosen your function, (for this, let’s continue with sending images to a phone) choose the destination (phone, PC, cloud sync service or web service).
  4. Then, you’ll need to choose the connection method (via network, or direct).  While out and about, it’s more often than not going to be “Direct” so go with that.
  5. Next, choose “Manual Connection” and it will pull up a password for you to enter on your phone in the wifi network settings.  So, on your phone, you will need to find the WiFi network your camera has created (it will mention the GM1 somewhere in there) and then enter the password from the camera onto your phone when prompted and viola!  Start the Panasonic Image App on your phone and then select the device being connected to on the camera’s LCD.

Reading through this makes it seem complicated, but it really is pretty intuitive and once you try it, it should be easy to do again and again.  Sometimes I make a wrong turn by selecting the wrong option, but the GM1 has done really well to give us a simple “Back” arrow on screen to jump back one screen at a time to remedy our poor choices.

While I mentioned much of the following in the Ergonomics section, I do feel that many of these features should be chalked up to functional offering as well like the very nice Focus Mode Selector switch on the top of the camera surrounding the single “hard” button option for an assignable Custom Function.  The camera employs 5 more custom function “soft” buttons on screen which also, when assigned provide a small icon to show you what is assigned to each.  For me, this is pretty sweet.  I get my major functions accessible to me via buttons on the camera, and for those that are not, I can easily assign them to one of the 6 Fn buttons.  The hidden, on camera pop up flash is handy and can be tilted (most of the way before it disables the communication with the camera), but damn you Panasonic for limiting it to its horrible 1/50 sec sync speed.  We get two User Defined Custom settings on the dial.  I’ve always appreciated this versus the menu buried versions on other cameras (ahem, Oly).  Add to that, the up to 7 full stop  (+/- 3 ev) swing for auto bracketing, the cool Time Lapse intervalometer, Stop Motion and Multi Exposure in camera options, although, features like the cool and handy Sweep Panorama have been OMITTED from this little camera which to me is odd and honestly, stupid.  That is the kind of feature that many of us, novice through professional can enjoy in a take anywhere, daily documentary camera and removing it is just silly.  I could make the argument that it makes more sense to have the Panorama feature included on the GM1 than it does on the GX7 because I feel it is the type of kitschy feature that plays more to the pocket camera than it does to a more “serious” camera body, but why not just have it available in both?

One last thing that I want to mention regarding functional operation is the Auto Focus Speed.  I’ve heard some say that the AF in this camera is lightning fast.  This has not been my experience.  It’s fast, and accurate when there is a lot of light and contrast, but to my eye, it is closer to the AF speed on previous models like the GX1 as opposed to the recent GX7 which has not only increased speed, but the sensitivity where the GX7 can focus in literal candlelight.  This is not the case with the GM1.  I will test this out against the GX7 in the near future, but chalk this up to another area I feel people should be realistic with their expectations.

For such a small camera, they have done really well to think out the actual interaction with it from the photographer’s perspective and it is intuitive enough to make sense to most anyone, regardless of how much time you’ve spent with a camera in your hand.

GM1 from the top

So, what do I like regarding features and functions?

  • The max 1/16,000 shutter speed.  A stop is a stop, or even better when it’s two stops.
  • Silent Mode.  Tiny, inconspicuous camera that can also jump to ninja stealth mode.
  • Focus Peaking.  Like the GX7 before it, the peaking is just one of those features that I feel should be included on every camera moving forward.  It’s kind of the digital split prism focusing feature for modern cameras.  Makes manually focusing so much easier.
  • WiFi.  Simple, elegant and very handy for remote shooting, wireless file transfer or image sharing across devices.
  • The other bells and whistles like Time Lapse, Stop Motion, Multi Exposure, et al are all very handy and fun to play with.
  • Two Custom, user assignable modes on the dial (C1, C2) which allow you to preprogram commonly used settings like full silent mode, a studio flash setup, a low light setting if you so choose or anything your heart desires.  You don’t need to dive into menus to find it, just switch it up on the mode dial and you’re golden.

And, what don’t I like?

  • The 1/50sec sync speed for flash is just dumb.  I don’t care what reason they have to justify it, it’s just dumb.  If I want to, for whatever reason sync my flash at 1/50sec, I’ll set my shutter speed to 1/50sec, but I don’t understand why you’d hamstring a camera with this as its top sync speed.  Dumb.
  • Exclusion of IBIS.  I know, I know, it probably wouldn’t be the smallest MILC camera ever if they had to add the IBIS mechanism, but honestly, it wouldn’t add THAT much more bulk, and would make this camera that much more user friendly.  If Oly can do it for their low priced EPM series, you should too Panasonic.  Honestly, from here on out, I think EVERY micro 4/3 body should have in body, sensor based stabilization period.
  • Omitting features, as kitschy as they may seem, like the Sweep Panorama feature found on the GX7 is just weird.  It’s been engineered and is merely a feature of the processor, so please look to add these features back into this camera via firmware, and while you’re at it, increase the flash sync speed.
  • No hotshoe?  Really?  I get the whole, tiniest interchangeable lens image capturing device ever, and it probably wouldn’t work well with any wireless trigger or add on flash seeing as you shat the bed on the flash sync speed, but c’mon!  With an accessory port (again with the size reduction) you could sell many of us an add on EVF which could be really handy when using the awesome focus peaking when manually focusing lenses allowing those using this as a primary camera the ability to trick it out to make it more usable in more situations.  This one is more excusable I guess in that this camera is more geared toward a tiny, point and shoot alternative rather than a fully featured camera, but it still seems like they could have made it work.

I know that I’m asking for a bit much here, and many would rightly suggest, that instead of whining to look to another, larger and more feature rich model for the IBIS, hot shoe, pano mode, flash sync speed, et al.  All things said and done, while not a fully specced out camera, the amount and quality of the included features provide very good tools to someone looking at the GM1.  While it will struggle to adapt to certain shooting scenarios, and because of that never really be seen as a fully capable tool, it really doesn’t have to be.  That’s not its job, but I can’t help but feel they could have gone just a little bit further by at least adding the IBIS and upped the flash sync speed at the very least.

GM1 at the beach

  • IMAGE QUALITY

I will pit the GM1 against the GX7 and do a proper comparison in the near future to see how these two stack up, being the two most current releases from Panasonic.  For now, we will judge this little guy on its own merits.

ISO and Noise performance

Because Apple sucks at supporting RAW formats in any way resembling a timely manner, and I use Aperture as my digital asset management software, I’m going to compare straight out of camera JPEGS through the ISO range here.  I’m gonna say that it is somewhat because I feel that many people buying this camera will probably not be shooting RAW, so my laziness in not wanting to convert RAW files through ACR or Lightroom 4 which I also have (actually I don’t think LR4 will support these files…) can be justified by my ignorant assumptions.

This is not how I normally shoot, and will compare RAW files once I can set it up to run through ACR or Aperture once Apple gets off its butt.  For now, here are shots straight out of the camera with all in camera noise reduction turned off.  The first frame is the scene as it was captured, followed by 100%, 1:1 crops at the noted ISO setting in Manual mode at f/4 using the Panasonic-Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens, AWB and the Neutral “Standard” Profile (+/- 0 in all the categories, i.e.: saturation, sharpness, noise and contrast).  Click on any of the crops to see full size.

GM1 JPEG ISO Test

ISO 125

ISO 125

ISO 200

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

ISO 25600

ISO 25600

This is a good reminder for me, of why I shoot RAW.  Panasonic has never been known for their JPEG performance, and to be fair, to my eye, up through ISO 1600 is entirely useable with 3200 being potentially usable after a minimal run through noise reduction software.  Some of the fine detail is still hanging around at ISO 6400 which is impressive, but the artifacts become much more apparent.  I’m very familiar with both the Olympus and Panasonic RAW files from the current sensors, and know that I will get much better performance than I have here.  Maybe by the time that I compare the GX7 vs the GM1, I’ll have my RAW support up and running in Aperture.

With the JPEG setting in camera at the pure zeroed out default “standard” settings, I found that while dynamically challenged in certain ways, overall I have been pretty happy with the results from this sensor.  I will be shooting solely in RAW once my normal workflow supports the RAW files and I won’t miss the JPEGS, but I can’t say that I’m entirely bothered by the JPEGS this camera pumps out.  Here are a few example shots from the last month with this camera.

P1080193 - Version 2

P1030640

P1030538

P1030244 - Version 2

P1030112 - Version 2

P1030002 - Version 2

P1020995 - Version 2

P1020979

P1020959

P1020812 - Version 2

P1020647 - Version 2

  • WHO IS THIS CAMERA FOR?

Now, I think that the Lumix GM1 has done well to appeal to a variety of photographers from first time system buyers, to purse or pocket shooters, to those more invested in the system looking for a very compact, companion body (like myself) who can also benefit from gaining a modern marvel in size reduction, and in this I think Panasonic has done really well and succeeded on all fronts more or less.  Sure it has a slightly hindered interface for those used to DSLR like external control, it’s not geared for sport like reflex while somewhat imbalanced with larger optics, but I will say that knowing you’re buying the most compact MILC available and all the size reduction that comes along with it, it is thought out very, very well.

I can see many XZ1, LX7 or even G1X and RX100 users benefiting from looking at upgrading to this camera.  You get a camera body roughly the same size or smaller, a much larger sensor (or reasonably larger sensor in comparison to the G1X or RX100) access to a wide range of micro 4/3 optics, and the ability to adapt just about any lens ever created to it if you want.  It’s going to compete with and surpass the image quality of any of the aforementioned compact cameras and unlike any of them, has the ability to use much faster lenses furthering its ability to outperform the others in lower light shooting.

Yes, your thumb will accidentally get caught up on the touch screen from time to time, or fumble around the buttons, but with a camera this small, you need to accept that, otherwise there are a large variety of other, larger, heavier and more feature rich and externally controllable options out there.  The image quality is near top of the line for the system and the design is a thing of simplistic beauty.  In essence, this camera is a really nice, little machine and as long as you can understand and accept working around its drawbacks, you will certainly be rewarded by its upside.

To me, using this as my second micro 4/3 body as my “go everywhere” camera that happens to be able to use all my system lenses, not to mention any adapted optic AND act as a second, backup body, I am very happy with it.  Yes, I wish it had the new GX7 IBIS, and faster flash sync speed (which is just an odd issue) but outside of that, I feel all other exclusions are very easy to overlook.

  • IN CONCLUSION…

I feel that the Lumix GM1 does very well for itself.  It’s a tiny system camera that can fit most anywhere a compact point and shoot can when coupled with the smaller lenses.  Its image quality is comparable to much larger formats in most situations and you get all of this packed into a camera that will literally fit into most pockets.  I fit this camera with the 12-32 in the back pocket of my jeans with ease, and if it weren’t somewhat of a challenge to get it out of my front pant pockets when wanting to quickly capture something, I could comfortably fit it into the front pockets as well.  For me, this is a perfect companion, second system camera for me.  For the times that I want to put a camera in my pocket and go, or want to travel extremely light, it is now my go to.  I don’t have to compromise image quality for portability, and I think this is exactly what Panasonic were going for with the GM1.

___________________________________________

Currently the GM1 and Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 pancake zoom lens kit is going for $698 (normally $748), which is a solid price when considering the quality this camera and lens combo is capable of coupled with the ability to carry this quality around in your pocket.

You can find the

Panasonic Lumix GM1 with 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 pancake zoom HERE on B&H’s website

 (which is currently $50 OFF!) or if you’re into the cool

Orange Version, click HERE

.

Clicking these links if you choose to purchase this camera or lenses linked throughout the article, would provide me with a small commission as I’m sure you’re familiar being photo blog readers as it is very common for those of us doing this to be affiliates of these on line merchants.  Thanks for the consideration and help in keeping my ability to justify the time spent writing this here blog to Mrs Squeeze possible.

I will be comparing the GM1 to the GX7 soon as well as reviewing the Lumix Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 pancake lens, so if you’d like to have them emailed to you when I post them, you can add your email address at the

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As always, thanks for the read and happy shooting!

Cheers,

Tyson

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