*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 top right of the page

Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

As always, thanks for the read and happy shooting!

Cheers,

Tyson

51 thoughts on “*Panasonic GM1 Reviewed – Say hello to my little friend

  1. Thanks for sharing your findings!

    I’m still in love with the idea of this camera body, especially for some simple food photography when my iPhone 5c isn’t good enough. Of course, it’s really expensive as a substitute.

    Most of the reason I wouldn’t buy a GF1 or GX7 or E-PL5 is because of portability. They do good work but they’re too much of a compromise for the size. The GM1 is a compromise but we know that it will be and it achieves greatness despite its size. Why buy something bigger unless it’s substantially bigger?

    I had this tripod on my wishlist as something I would buy. It’s perfect to take places you can’t take a full-size tripod: http://www.adorama.com/BGMTPIXIWH.html I thought that it would be perfect for the GM1 but it is supposedly strong enough to handle the GH3 + 35-100mm f/2.8.

    Unfortunately, that FujiFilm X-T1 has rearranged my thinking and I’m probably not buying any equipment until the end of the year when I can handle the X-T1 and a few lenses that will be out by then.

    Like

    • Yeah, the XT1 has peaked my interest as well. Fuji is doing things right in my opinion, but I can’t bring myself to invest in an entirely new system at this point.

      If looking at the GM1 as a phone replacement, it’s certainly pricy, but if it’s also able to be a GH3 replacement in situations where it’s just not practical to bring a bigger cam around, then it starts to make more sense and this is where I’ve been able to justify it. (Not that I’m rocking the GH3 specifically myself, but it serves the same purpose for me)

      Keep me posted, I would love some first hand insight into the XT1🙂

      Like

      • Yes, sir. I just need for the lenses to become available before I can buy anything. My first SLR was a Fujica and the X-T1 is very similar, so it should be interesting.

        I was just writing something on the GH4 from various bits I’ve read following the release. I’m wondering about replacing the GH3, but I have too many questions, and of course, the replacement may be the X-T1. I’m about to send my Panasonic 35-100mm away to fix the huge lens flare problem.

        When I was comparing the GH3 with the Olympus E-5 over back-to-back nights of basketball photography, I came away wondering why I bought the GH3 when the E-5 and 35-100mm f/2.0 did such a great job. Sad, isn’t it?

        Like

      • I want to see a couple things from the GH4 myself. Firstly still frames pulled from the 4k video. This could be pretty amazing for a hybrid setup, but I would have to get much more serious about video and my workflow involving video to use this. Secondly is the claim that the GH4 has better highlight recovery over any of the current m4/3 cams. I have been pleading for a 14bit RAW file from these little machines for years, and while this doesn’t appear to be the case with the GH4, better dynamic recovery is a step in the right direction.

        Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be buying a GH4 anytime soon, but I do like to see the system advancing.

        The XT1 seems to be Fuji’s first real game changer. I think they’ve done really well for the pro-sumer category, but the XT1 is every bit a pro-spec’d camera from where I stand. Fuji’s current glass is also top shelf, or at least a few of the lenses have shown that they can offer wonderful quality at competitive prices by keeping all these lenses under $1k which is really pretty cool considering they have quite a couple high performing f/1.4 optics and now the f/1.2 56mm lens. The 10-24mm zoom looks like it will also add a very useful tool, and one that I’d certainly need to look at if I were to try to use this system for my interior work.

        So many quality systems pushing the whole of the industry forward. It’s an exciting time for sure.

        t

        Like

      • Yes, the 10-24mm was so interesting to me that I wrote about it, as it seemed a gateway drug of sorts: http://nobuyukishouldknowbetter.blogspot.com/2013/12/fujifilm-10-24mm-f40-lens-reason-to.html

        It’s tough to find real ultra wide angle lenses and at US$999.99, it calls to me, along with two other lenses, which suddenly puts me dangerously close to US$4500.00 with taxes, etc. I still haven’t bought any normal or wide angle micro Four-Thirds lenses. I’m just so uncomfortable.

        Like

  2. Very informative! Since you mentioned RAW performance in GX7, I was wondering if shooting in RAW in low light situations esp. at ISO 1600 would be less noisier than shooting in JPEG?

    Like

    • More than it being less noisy, it does a better job at retaining detail and resolution via bit depth and gradation. For me, this comes in handy when applying any further noise reduction if that is necessary, which I don’t normally need on the GX7 at ISO 1600 unless the image is underexposed and I try to pull the exposure up in post.

      I personally prefer to shoot in RAW all the time. I’d say that it could be unnecessary if shooting in good, even, somewhat flat light where the tonal depth and dynamic recovery gained by getting the 12bit per channel wouldn’t be as beneficial, or evident, but that is me🙂

      Like

  3. Hey Tyson,
    What a great thorough review…hell, I don’t even have any questions for you…just wanted to compliment you on your fine work. I enjoy your writing style – it’s fun while being totally informative. BTW, I enjoyed my trip to Portland but, didn’t make it to one of the sports bars you suggested because of timing. I ended up watching the game in my hotel room with my kids and they now think their dad is crazy =). Highlight of the trip? Eggs benedict from Mothers – oh my, that place knows how to breakfast/brunch well!
    Cheers,
    Bill

    Like

    • Thanks Bill, and congrats. I’m sure it has been a fun week for you guys up north🙂

      Mother’s is the spot downtown, but if you come down next time, I’d suggest a couple spots on the east side of the river. Our favorite b-fast spot over the last few years has been Petit Provence. A French bakery that does brunch, and does it amazingly.

      Cheers,
      t

      Like

  4. Thanks Tyson, as usual, a highly informative and fun review… indeed, come mid-year, I’m likely to get a GX7 with a GM1 as a micro four-thirds “secret agent” disguised as a point-and-shoot.🙂 It was a close call vs the EM5 or EM1 but I really can’t get over Olympus’ humps!

    Like

    • Those humps are beautiful! You can disparage me, but don’t ever say anything negative about the OM-D retro hump! Oops, sorry Jim, sorry Tyson, I just got carried away. Once you have an E-M5 or E-M1, there’s no going back. Heck, even Fuji went “retro-hump” (as did Sony and Nikon), which is why I am now even looking at the X-T1 with lust.

      Like

      • I’ve never had any problems with the retro humps. I still have an EM5 that is about to find a new home with my brother in law, but for my compact system needs, I do prefer having the EVF off to the side a la the GX7. It was weird at first as I’m so used to the more traditional DSLR setup, but the size of the EM5 made it a little tricky for me with my big paws, and being able to either center the lens axis between my eyes when shooting with my left eye, or completely removing my face from the back screen when using my right, I have become more comfortable with that side finder setup, but I do love choices and personally find benefits and drawbacks in everything. Each tool has its job, and certain tools are better for certain tasks when wielded by certain folks.

        Like

      • For me, the Olympus untenable humps revolve around the user-hostile interface. Retro “styling” is so ho-hum, too.

        BTW, great series of looks at the GM1 and an excellent review, Tyson! Thanks! It’s my next camera. I only wish it could take the LVF2! I’ve been loving my GX7 and your looks at that swayed me, too!

        Like

      • Thanks Jeff,

        With the retro renaissance, I can’t help but think companies have seen the divisiveness that Oly has created, with so much attention being paid to the design through conversation and constant debate, and chosen to try and replicate that buzz. All publicity is good publicity perhaps? Anyway, I’ve not seen more conversation surrounding camera design myself, although the new Sigmas might stir the pot a bit🙂

        I do think that Panasonic could have further increased the usability with the GM1 by adding a hotshoe/port and the like, but I’m guessing if asked, they would feel the GF series would be the answer which to me, after the GF2 (actually, probably the GF1) lost my interest entirely. There have been multiple occasions where I’ve wanted to slap a pocket wizard on the GM1 to take some lit shots as I think the WiFi really lends itself to a studio setup, but even if I were to be able to, that flash sync is just so bizarre.

        I have found that this little guy is a good companion to the GX7 though. They’re different enough in size to warrant being brought out for different occasions, and both are fun to shoot with. Having the GM1 and 12-32 able to fit into a pocket also means I can have it along for the ride when I have the GX7 with me anyway, and can keep the 75 on it for a more varied range taking care of the wide through tele range in a couple of pounds. Power in your pocket!

        Thanks again man, I appreciate the read and conversation.

        Cheers,

        Tyson

        Like

  5. Thought id commented on this already, hence delay, sorry about that. Fantastic run down, i was considering replacing the GX1 with one of these down the line. But reading your review made me realise what I really want is the fully fledged GX7. The GM1 seems great but don’t think I would be happy with it as my sole camera. The lack of the new IBIS and viewfinder. As an extra keep in the bag all the the time sounds great though. Any chance you could give me an idea of the kit lens quality? I know its not very fast at 3.5 but is the zoom range worth the price (you can pick them up sans GM1 for about £200)

    Cheers man, great in depth review

    Like

    • Thanks Chris!

      I’m working on a test of the 12-32 lens and so far I think it’s a great kit lens. I’d prefer it over any of the 14-42/45’s mostly because of the extra width at the short end, and it’s compactness. That said, I would suggest looking at, and comparing the usefulness between it and the Lumix 14mm f/2.5. The zoom has obvious advantages, but the 14mm pancake is smaller, lighter and from my eye, sharper as well as being a full stop faster wide open, actually a bit more as at 14mm, the 12-32 is at f/3.7 at its brightest.

      If you could live without the extra width and zoom range, the 14 would give you a smaller, lighter, sharper and brighter package, albeit at a singular focal length for probably close to the same price.

      I’m trying to decide if I should keep both, and can’t seem to come to terms with parting with either right now… Either way, they’re both really good lenses that are very light and remarkably small for what they offer.

      Like

      • You’re right, I’ve been thinking about the 14mm for a while now but will hold off till i see your review of the 12-32. I love a good prime but really like the range of that lens for when I’m going to do one camera one lens trip. Which will co.e up more and more as i sling my camera in my bag or pocket and run out the door (like I’m THAT busy) but you understand my point of view, sometimes a little extra reach is handy. But, i shall reserve judgement until I’ve seen the proof. And the 14mm is so small, if i prefer that, it doesn’t take much space. Cheers man, look forward to the review

        Like

      • I think the 12-32 is going to be my perfect go to lens for just that. A one lens solution for shooting on trips in good light. For low light, out comes the PL25 or whatever, but for a documentation lens, it will serve really well I’d say. For me this is largely because I practically have set the lens at 12mm and had an awesome wide angle lens for the environmental wide, sweeping shots… I’ll have more criticism and praise soon🙂

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      • Hi Tyson and thanks for your wide ranging review. I’m just wondering how good IQ of the GM1+14mm f2.5 setup is compared to, say, a Fuji XQ1 at F28mm in twilight conditions. The XF1 has OIS built in and may give around 3 stops advantage handheld (Fuji claim 4 but I don’t believe it). If you look at DPR’s comparison system with the GM1 at ISO 12800 and the XQ1 at ISO 1600, the IQ is comparable, though both images are fairly heavily flawed. However, the XF1 also has its ‘pro low light’ mode, which combines 4 shots to reduce noise (and no doubt blur some detail).

        I guess the judgement comes down to what size you will be reviewing your images at. At these settings, we are definitely talking more about documentation than saleable prints after all.

        Given the better IQ at brighter times of day, the GM1 certainly has the edge photographically, while the XF1 is the clear winner in terms of pocketability.

        Like

      • You know, I can’t compare as I’ve not personally shot with the XQ1, but the GM1 does as well (or better) than any of the micro 4/3 cameras as far as low light/high ISO performance goes. I think the biggest potential issue one would come up against would be the rather pedestrian max aperture of f/2.5 which is plenty fast for most applications, and with a wider angle lens, allows for a bit more latitude in handholdability, but I think one of the faster, wide lenses would of course provide one with a better success rate if handholding. If on a tripod, and assuming you don’t have too much in the way of environmental movement (wind, carbon based subjects, etc) it would do really well.

        Regarding any in camera processing (HDR modes or Pro Low Light modes, et al) I find them to be more gimmick than useful. Not to say that they don’t have their uses, but I feel starting off with a compressed JPEG file will always limit the ability to get the most out of the file. If this was your goal, I think a burst shooting run with an HDR processing in post (in RAW) would blow the pants off of any in camera file blending. In body or in lens image stabilization is great, and I love having it when I do, but remember it does absolutely nothing for any subject or environmental movement. If a leaf blows, or a person breathes, IBIS or OIS won’t do a damn thing to combat that. Useful for handholding, but really if we’re talking low light shooting I think that more often than not, a good tripod (or even a bad tripod) will do so much more than IBIS or OIS will do. For run and gun, stabilization is great, and I do feel that every current camera should be employing it to some extent myself, but of course that isn’t the case.

        Anyhoo, in short, a larger sensor is going to give you a much better file to work with, especially if you shoot RAW than one that comes out of a smaller sensor camera, regardless of the in camera processing, but then most of these larger sensor cameras are priced accordingly, so everything has its place. Purely talking about low light performance on a pixel level though with cost a non factor, I think the GM1 + 14/2.5 would beat just about any comparably outfitted compact camera with equal or smaller sensor out there right now.

        Cheers,

        t

        Like

  6. Pingback: New reviews of Panasonic GM1 - Blog for mirrorless and premium compact cameras

  7. This is what I call a very detailed and in depth review, full of informative writing and beautiful pictures to illustrate all the points mentioned. Excellent!
    And, coming back to the camera, I also feel that it is the perfect second body, the one that always stays by your side, unnoticed in your handbag, even though it’s capable enough to be your main and only camera in most instances, if necessary. I recently wrote my own hands-on review in my blog, you can check it out here:
    http://gonzalobroto.blogspot.com/2014/02/gm1-me-review-of-how-we-met-each-other.html

    Like

  8. Hi Tyson, thanks to your reviews, I finally did it, got a GM1🙂 with the Panny 14-140mm and a 20mm f1.7 lenses. Surprisingly it felt alright with the 14-140mm. Now, I wonder if it’ll hold the rather heavy (and expensive but versatile) Voigtlander 25mm… lol.

    Like

    • Congrats! I’ve been shooting the GM1 today, finally really looking at the RAW files which so far are awesome.

      While small, it does seem to do surprisingly well with some of the larger, heavier optics. Yes, it’s a little imbalanced, but I think for the tradeoff it is totally workable. I shoot the GM1 with the Oly 75mm f/1.8 which I’d guess is similar enough in size and weight to the Voigt’s and for me, while again not perfectly balanced, it is totally usable and having the ability to plug one of the smaller pancakes on there to gain a high performance pocket camera, it is an entirely workably trade off.

      Enjoy it!

      t

      Like

  9. Pingback: *Panasonic Battle, GX7 vs GM1 | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

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  11. Can GM1 shoots with a non-system lens for long exposure (say 10 seconds) while ISO is set above 3200(say 6400)?

    I don’t have a GM1 to prove it. But according to the user manual, when non-system lens is attached, electronic shutter is forced to be used, with that, if you try to set shutter speed for 10 seconds, ISO will be limited under 3200. And here is my theory, when non-system lens is attached, flip up flash (that will force GM1 to use EFC, the mechanical shutter), but when flash is used the ISO will be limited under 1600, and then you set “forced flash off” in [rec]->[flash] menu to eliminate the ISO 1600 restriction. So you can have GM1 + non-system lens + mechanical shutter + ISO 3200(or above) but with a flash sticks out, just in theory.

    Like

  12. Hello from Australia. Love this review, and wish that this camera was around when I bought my NEX-7. I bought my NEX 7 about 1.5 years ago, intending to use it during my grand tour of europe. But from the outset I guess all the amazing things about the NEX – 7 began to seem insignificant because carrying it around had started to become a chore. I realized a few days into my 2 month odyssey, that while it was an amazing camera, I kept wishing I had purchased the Sony HX50V or RX100, or another similarly specced camera that was pocket sized, but without the ability to change lenses. I tried to find all sorts of solutons. First I tried putting the Nex-7 in my pocket without the lens, which was the 20mm pancake, and while it fit, it was an extremely tight fit, bulging out a mile and incredibly uncomfortable! Plus it looked like someone had shoved a bag of walnuts in my pocket! LOL.

    Then I spend hours and days, weeks and months researching a practical camera bag or shoulder sling to house just the camera and the pancake. I just could not let go. Could not accept that I had made a mistake. That it would be better to cut my losses and get something that might not be as good, but it will be more portable and and pocket sized.

    So I started to resent the camera. Not the camera’s fault at all.

    I sold the Nex 7 last week for peanuts, compared to what I paid for it and all the accessories such as spare batteries and so on that went with it. The fellow who purchased it literally got it for 1/3 of it’s purchase price. Good luck to him. I hope it brings him great job.

    So I have spent most of the last 1.5 years resigned to the fact that in in June 2016 when I explore South America, I will need to buy a compact digi camera no bigger than an RX100, as that seemed to be the thickest high end digital camera I was willing to put into my pocket or that would fit into my pocket!

    Until now.

    To my surprise the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is smaller than the RX100 by a good 10%!
    So requirement “Numero Uno” of fitting into my pocket = A BIG FAT TICK.
    I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am because now I get to stick to my desire of having an ILC camera, that can fit into my pocket without a lens attached. I could then keep any one of the pancake lenses you have listed in my other pocket!

    The ability to have a pocket sized camera also would help me feel at ease when travelling, and less prone to worrying about being a target for thieves and gypsies!

    There are other ILC Camera’s that are fairly small of excellent quality but none of them come close to being as thin as the GM1. Most begin at 4cm in thickness, compared to the 3cm of the GM1. I think Panasonic are on the right track and have found the magical sweet spot in terms of measurement here. 3cm is like a packet of cigarettes in your pocket. 4cm is getting a bit bulky!

    I have also found this neat little lens and this hilarious review!

    It means the camera and lens are 100% pocket sized, and it looks like a lot of fun.

    I have 2 years though before my trip. I am hoping that this Camera is a roaring success so that by the time I am ready to fly over to South America a newer improved version is out.

    Like

    • Hello from the US🙂

      I think, more than a single camera or lens, the micro 4/3 system is wonderful because it does offer a variety of options. If you want a pro-spec’d camera and optics, no problem. Remarkably high end video with professional production value? No problem. A camera and lens that will literally fit into a pocket? Yes. A huge network of proprietary and third party companies producing high end optics and accessories? Yep. The ability to adapt most any lens ever made via adapters? Yes again. Nothing against the NEX/E system, or any other for that matter as they all offer upside in certain ways, but I just can’t find a more diverse and complete system right now. Panasonic and Olympus have done really, really well I feel, and with the quality of the sensors in the last year or two coming up to the levels of much larger sensors currently, users of this system have to compromise very little while gaining quite a bit in my opinion.

      I recently commented in response to someone at 43rumors who said they thought the whole purpose of the micro 4/3 system was to be small, in which I said this system can both be small AND provide a fully professional system at the same time. If you want to go light and small, the GM1/GM5 or EM2 and a pancake (or lens cap lens as seen in your video) and you get quite possibly the best image quality per ounce or square inch available, or if needing to shoot anything else, the options for a larger, more feature rich body and multitude of high end lenses are also available, in many cases at lower cost than full frame equivalents. The system also has a great partnership with Leica, and has amazing third party support by companies like Zeiss, Rokinon, Sigma and Voigtlander (see the now 4 different f/0.95 lenses available for near $1000 each). Where else does this exist? And if it does, what is the price difference? While there are cameras, lenses and systems that will certainly handle specific scenarios better, I am very impressed with the micro 4/3 system as an overall, travel, everyday system and I am shooting less and less with my other systems.

      With the new GM5 just announced, which truth be told aside from the addition of the hot shoe and EVF, seems to be an incremental upgrade really, I’d guess we’ll see the GM1 and GM1 kits drop in price here really soon making it even better a deal.

      Cheers, and good luck!

      Tyson

      ***I should add that I have used the 15mm f/8 Oly lens cap lens and feel it isn’t horrible. It will certainly struggle in less than good light (as any slower lens would) especially when handholding and shooting moving subjects, and it’s not going to win any resolution shoot outs, but in all honesty as a pocket option for hikes or wanderounds, it could certainly be a viable option. It’s also dirt cheap, so the expectations can, and probably should be exceeded when taking all that into account.

      Like

  13. Hey Tyson, howre things? I could really use your opinion/advice. As you know I have the GX7 which I love but find I’m not using it at certain events due to size (gigs, festival, evenings out) and was wondering if the new GM5 would be a good swap and would I miss much? I have the 20mm, would get 12-32 and have the 45-150 which is a nice set up for me for when I need serious stuff but could just stick the 20/12-32 on when out and about. What put me off the gm1 purely was lack of viewfinder which the gm5 has.

    Thanks man

    Like

    • Hey man,

      What you’d lose:

      IBIS, tilt screen and general external function control (dual wheel, direct buttons, etc), on camera flash and in my opinion the ergonomic benefits.

      What you’d gain:

      Size reduction.

      I think the sensors will be close to a wash, so IQ should be at least equal. I’m sure the LCDs and EVFs will also be entirely comparable. There’s something to be said about the size of the GMs, and while I’ve not yet handled the GM5, it does look to be almost as small as the GM1, which is really, really small. Good and bad in my opinion, but like you’ve said, if the size of your camera keeps you from bringing it along, I think the GM5 would remedy that without having to give up too much in function and feature.

      The 12-32 lens is awesome in good light and is a great little everyday walk around lens. I think it’s the best overall kit lens either Pana or Oly have out. The higher end 12-50 Oly soda can is probably a “better” lens, and has the nice 1:2 macro feature, is weather sealed, etc, but it’s much more expensive and unwieldily for a kit lens honestly.

      I wouldn’t (and won’t) upgrade from the GM1 to the GM5 personally, unless it was my primary and/or only camera, but if looking to downsize from a larger camera, assuming you could live without the IBIS and external features, it would be a pretty easy justification I’d say.

      I hope all’s well! Keep me posted as I’d love to hear some first hand experience with the GM5 if you do go to have a look at it, or do end up with one🙂

      t

      Like

    • The GM5 is a wonderful camera and I don’t think you’ll miss much when you swap your GX7 for it. My experiences with the GX7 are not that good. It’s a nice looking camera but it suffers from shutter shock. I thought the Olympus E-M1 was bad, but the GX7 is even worse. I had to sell it. The GM5 on the other hand doesn’t show any sign of shutter vibrations at all. If you’re interested, go to the URL below and change the camera body to GX7.

      http://www.dxomark.com/Lenses/Panasonic/Panasonic-Leica-DG-Summilux-15mm-F17-ASPH-mounted-on-Olympus-PEN-E-P5__883

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      • I really like the GM series, and feel that the additions of an EVF and hotshoe are two big steps, along with the rear click wheel, to make the GM5 far more functional. For a large handed person like myself though, the GM series will always be compromised as far as ergonomics. I also have been moving further and further into using this system more seriously which has seen me buying larger, more high performance lenses for the system making the imbalance on smaller bodies more of an issue. The other thing that I think the GM series falls way short on is that pesky 1/50second sync speed which is just unusable in so many situations where I’m actually syncing lights, and now that they actually added the hotshoe, it is bizarre that they stuck with that remarkably slow sync speed. Seems to be a huge oversight in my opinion.

        I think again I’ll have to politely stray from your stance on the GX7. I’ve found it to be the best overall camera that I’ve yet used for the micro 4/3 system. Because I feel the interface, feature set, ergonomics and output are as good or better than anything out (aside from situational wins in video or fps, for the GH4 or EM1) I think it balances size, feature, function and fashion better than anything else I’ve shot with. I’d even stretch and say that because of its overall skill set, it might be my favorite camera I’ve ever used which is saying quite a bit as I have, and have used many, many systems and cameras in the past. I know my opinion is just that, but I have not seen, nor even heard of any shutter shock issues with the GX7 myself, and I’ve been shooting extensively with, writing about and researching others thoughts on this camera for a year and a half now. Not to say there isn’t a camera or production batch that didn’t have some component that led to a confined issue, but it is not the case with mine at all.

        I appreciate the time you’ve taken to read through and comment Dorothea, thank you. I really do value input from others, as do many readers. It’s always good to hear about others actual interactions with these machines as we’re all certain to have different takes.

        Happy holidays!

        T

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  14. What would your recommendations be lens-wise to take photo’s of the interiors of planes for Business Class Travel Reviews. I’d like to get the widest lens, preferably in pancake form as I love to carry everything in my pocket. I’d be taking seat pictures, cabin layout, up close shots of all meals and drinks served, video and photo’s of out the window of the skyline, scenery etc

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    • The widest pancake currently is the Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 (28mm equivalent) which just got an aesthetic update to a version 2. From all the literature I’ve read, there is no change to the optical formula, so IQ should be equal to the first version, which is above average. It is also a quick auto focuser, and does well for video in my meager experience. It is a good, affordable, wide lens that is currently the smallest lens available aside from the cheap lens cap lenses from Oly. It mates really well, I’d almost say mates better than any other lens for the system with the GM1 and creates the smallest (again aside from the lens caps) combo available within the system.

      t

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    • There are two options I can think of off the top of my head. First, a circular polarizer. By adjusting a polarizer it can significantly reduce reflection but comes at the cost of a loss in light, at least a stop. Second option is to position the lens close enough to the window to remove the angle of incidence for any offending reflections. This is easier if you’re shooting straight through a window by placing the lens nearly on top of the window surface itself. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but if so, you essentially use the window as a poor, dirty filter in front of the lens, but a reflection-less filter so to speak. Another way to aid in this is to use a lens hood, place the lens hood square on the window and that will help eliminate any environmental reflection from behind the lens’ position. The closer the window is, the less it will affect the image, especially if focusing on distant subjects as the plane of focus will be so far from the window, it will effectively throw it so far out of focus, you’re only real worry is the possibility that it will affect the overall color, contrast and saturation of an image due to its clarity, kinda like a cheap UV filter.

      I hope this helps a little bit🙂

      Cheers,
      t

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  15. Thanks for that. I have purchased the body cap lens and the 14mm pancake from B H Photo Video. Can’t wait to get it.

    I know a guy at the local electronics and second hand store. They have the lens below for only $200. I have asked him to keep it for me. I have a week to decide. He can sell it to me for $200. Do you think it would be a worthwhile purchase? From a price point of view its 3 times less than the price Amazon are asking for it. Will it work with the Panasonic GM1?

    I have enrolled in a beginners photography course in 2 weeks. Can’t wait. Really want to learn the fundamental basics.

    Anyway, this is the lens I can get for $200

    Worth while?

    http://www.amazon.com/Voigtlander-Super-Heliar-15mm-Mount/dp/B002CU6KIC/ref=sr_1_26?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1411172995&sr=1-26&keywords=15mm+lens

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    • That Voigt lens would be great at that price. You would need an adapter, and it is a manual focus only lens. If you have the budget, I think it would be worth while, but might not be the best lens as a first experience with more advanced photography, although many (myself included) started off learning with manual focus lenses. It’s a different experience, but one that can help you really look at composition and shoot more intentionally as it will slow you down a little bit.

      Good luck with it all and enjoy!

      t

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  16. The Panasonic GM1 was nice, but the GM5 really rocks! Many useful improvements like a build in electronic viewfinder, a hot shoe, more physical function buttons, four way controller buttons and a thumb wheel. I would love a tilting LCD. I hope Panasonic will not try to implement in body stabilisation. The Panasonic version is not very effective anyway and it would mean a rattling and more vulnerable sensor.

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    • I do wish that they’d have incorporated all of the newer features in the GM1, but I understand why they didn’t. Keeping the GM1 as small as possible was the primary goal, and it was a goal that they accomplished very well. It created buzz like Panasonic hadn’t had since the introduction of the system with the G1, or perhaps the incorporation of full HD video in the GH series.

      I too feel that having a tilt LCD makes for such a handy feature, and while it does require a few millimeters more in thickness, I hope to see it in the next GM model along with the IBIS. I will politely disagree with you regarding the Panasonic IBIS though. I have found, through A LOT of testing that it is as good, if not better in many scenarios than the Oly 5 axis. It does not stabilize the live view, nor function in video capture which are two big strikes against it, but as to the still, handheld results (which for me are the most important if I’m being honest) the GX7 handily beat the EM5 in all but one of my tests which was the exact opposite of what I’d guessed before starting to do the comparison. While it can certainly be improved upon, the 2 axis Panasonic IBIS is very good, and situationally better than the 5 axis Oly system while perhaps not as wholly useful overall.

      You can see my various tests between the GX7 and EM5 here if interested:
      https://tysonrobichaudphotography.wordpress.com/2013/10/17/the-gx7-vs-the-om-d-e-m5-battle-for-my-affection-round-1-ibis-evfs-lcds/

      I think the reason that the Pana 2 axis is assumed to be worse is because it is not visually apparent when composing like the 5 axis is (because it does a great job at stabilizing the live view feed). If you’re one to sway forward and backward, or roll the camera, then you’ll probably see the 5 axis provide better end results, but if shooting technique is worked on, and at extremely slow shutter speeds, I found the 2 axis did far better for me, far more consistently. I hear a lot of people say differently but I’ve still not seen a comprehensive, objective test to disprove my findings yet.

      YMMV I guess🙂

      Cheers and thanks for the comment Dorothea!

      T

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  17. Pingback: *The Mighty Might, Panasonic GM1 on super sale | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

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