Review Price £629.99
Panasonic Lumix GM1 preview
What is the Panasonic Lumix GM1?The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is the smallest compact system camera you’ll find in Panasonic’s stable of Micro Four Thirds cameras. It’s tiny and light, but has the same core sensor found in the high-end Panasonic DMC-GX7. This should mean it offers some of the best pictures you can get out of a sub-£1000 camera this small. It’s available from November 18, and will sell for £629 with kit lens.
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Panasonic compares the footprint of the Lumix DMC-GM1’s body to a playing card. It’s 98.5mm wide, 55mm tall and 30mm deep. This is a compact camera-sized body, not one you’d expect from a Micro Four Thirds camera.
The kit lens does add a little depth to it – meaning it’s not as pocketable as something like the Sony RX100 – but the standard lens has been made to match the Lumix DMC-GM1’s super-small body. The standard kit lens is a 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 number, giving 3x zoom, and it’s much more compact than most CSC zoom lenses.
Our first thought is to compare it to the Panasonic Power Zoom lenses, which are more compact alternatives to Panansonic’s standard CSC lenses. But the GM1 lens uses a completely manual zoom ring.
If you care about portability, you should be very interested in the Panasonic Lumix GM1. It’s easily the most compact Micro Four Thirds camera we’ve seen – smaller than either the Panasonic GF6 or the roughly comparable Olympus E-PM2.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 feels top-quality in-hand too. Its body is made of magnesium, and there’s a leather effect across its front for a more distinguished – slightly retro – look.
In the UK, the Panasonic GM1 is available in all-black and orange/silver varieties, but elsewhere there’s also a silver/black version. It’s strong, and light at a shade over 200g, but it doesn’t feel as conspicuously tough and metallic as the larger GX7, which has an aluminium body.
There are naturally knock-on effects for handling too. The aggressive approach taken to slimming the GM1 down means there’s no curvy grip, and all the on-body controls are tiny. Using it feels like using an advanced compact rather than a CSC.
If you want to shoot in manual 24/7, this probably isn’t the camera for you. This is instead a super-convenient camera that’ll take fantastic photos (fingers crossed) with no fuss.
There is a grip accessory if you can’t deal with the GM1’s teeny body. It’s an aluminium stick that screws into the bottom of the camera. It gives a surer grip, but doesn’t come cheap at £89.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 – Screen and InterfaceThe Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 has a 3-inch 1,036k-dot screen that uses a touch LCD-based panel. Panasonic says it’s the same screen used in the Panasonic GX7 – it supports multi-touch and gestures.
Its interface is designed for ease of use, not geared towards those who want to manage the ISO, aperture and shutter speed of each and every shot. This is a camera you can treat as a ‘point and shoot’ (because it is one, more or less).
You get 23 scene modes and 22 creative filters, ranging from the useful HDR to a few completely useless ones that insert ‘twinkles’ into the bright parts of an image. As we’ve found before with some Panasonic camera, the modes section is a little bloated with settings designed for bizarrely narrow situations, such as taking photos of your dinner or a ‘soft photo of a flower’.
The camera has Wi-Fi for easy wireless transfers, but no NFC - seen in the GX7. Panasonic says there simply wasn't space for it.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 – Features and SpecsThe Panasonic GM1 is small, but will it take good photos? Its specs certainly suggest it will. Despite having radically miniaturised internals, the camera uses exactly the same core sensor as the Lumix GX7 – a 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor.
The last twelve months have seen serious image quality improvements come from the Micro Four Thirds sensor type, both from cameras like the GX7 and those of other makers, such as the Olympus E-PL5. Real-world performance – even at high ISO – is often not radically different from an APS-C-equipped camera.
Although we’ve had a chance to shoot with the Lumix GM1, we’ll wait for our review sample to see if it reaches similar heights.
The Lumix DMC-GM1’s ISO range tops out at an extended 25,600, and – impressive for such a dinky camera – there’s a pop-out flash in its top plate.
Panasonic claims its focus engine locks in on targets as quick as 0.06 seconds – although it uses contrast detection, rather than faster phase detection, for its focusing.
In use the GM1 feels snappy and quick to focus, although with the 12-32mm kit lens focusing distance is not as impressive as it would be in some rival advanced compacts. You can’t get all that close to the subject here. Other GM1-optimised lenses that'll come in 2014 include a 43mm prime, a 15mm f1.7 prime and a 35-100mm zoom.
We did notice that in auto mode the Lumix DMC-GM1 tends to underexpose at times, but we’ll investigate this fully in our review.
First ImpressionThe Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is a camera that believes people are willing to pay for image quality even if they’re not massive photo nerds. It costs £629.99 with a kit lens, making it rather expensive compared to compact rivals Panasonic’s own GF6 and the Olympus E-PM5. However, if performance matches the GX7, it’ll be worth it.
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