Panasonic Lumix GM1 Review
Review Date : Tue, 26 Nov 2013
Author : Michael Topham
Panasonic Lumix GM1 Review – The Panasonic Lumix GM1 features a substantial 16MP Live MOS sensor in a body that's barely bigger than a pack of cards. Is this the perfect pocketable CSC? Read our Lumix GM1 review to find out
|Pros:||Robust magnesium chassis; Premium finish; Full Manual control; Wi-fi; Excellent functionality within the Panasonic Image app; Pin-point AF; Touchscreen functionality; Live preview of Creative Filters|
|Cons:||No viewfinder; Poor battery life; No headphone port for audio monitoring; USB battery charging not permitted; Lack of handgrip|
Ever since the first compact system camera arrived, we've seen virtually all the main manufacturers attempt to take hold of the market by releasing innovative models that are designed to stand out from the competition. Not only have we seen an entirely different take on the word ‘compact' with Pentax's diminutive Q-series, we've also witnessed the world's first fully waterproof system camera in the form of the Nikon 1 AW1.
Not to be outshone by its rivals, Panasonic seem to have their finger on the pulse when it comes to imaginative designs and the recent release of the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is a classic example. With a body size that's not dissimilar to that of a pack of cards, Panasonic have yet again demonstrated what is possible in terms of the technology that can be squeezed inside a tiny space.
The question is; has the GM1 been made so small that it has an adverse effect on the handling and performance?
Panasonic Lumix GM1 Review – Features
Interestingly, Panasonic sought inspiration from its premium GX7 before developing the GM1. Though there's a significant difference in size between the two, the GM1 inherits many of the GX7's innards, which can only be seen as a good thing having been so impressed by the GX7's performance earlier in the year.
Behind the GM1's Micro Four Thirds lens mount that makes it compatible with all Micro Four Thirds lenses, lies the same 16MP Live MOS sensor as found in the GX7. This is capable of a 4592x3448 pixel output with a standard output sensitivity range of 200-25,600, and is extendable to an equivalent of ISO 125.
Panasonic previously said the GX7 is capable of producing up to 10% better images than the GX1, and this is also true of the GM1 thanks to the inclusion of the latest Venus processing engine that's designed to have better light-gathering capabilities, an improved image noise performance as well as a broader dynamic range.
It's perhaps no surprise to find that the camera also inherits Panasonic's tried-and-tested Light Speed AF system which has a sensor data read out time of 240fps and focus speeds of around 0.06secs. For practical control of focusing, the GM1 also supports Focus Peaking in three levels (High, Low, Off). The purpose of this is to illuminate the in-focus areas of an image onscreen to make them more visible - an extremely useful feature that comes into its own when focusing manually, both on near and far subjects.
In addition to this, those who regularly find themselves shooting in low-light will appreciate the GM1's -4EV detection range (roughly equivalent to starlight), while there's also the intuitive Pin-Point AF mode that allows you to precisely select the area of focus within a magnified view of up to 10x on the screen.
On the subject of the screen, this is an area where the GM1 differs to the GX7. Rather than being the tilt type, the 3in, 1,036k-dot display remains fixed, however its 100% coverage of the sensor and touch functionality will prove popular for novice users and more advanced photographers who may be looking at the GM1 as a pocket-friendly alternative to a larger camera.
Another feature that'll appeal to the more experienced photographer includes an impressive shutter speed range that spans from 60 - 1/16000 sec – something that's made possible thanks to the GM1's electronically-controlled focal plane shutter. To help reduce the size of the shutter mechanism, the shutter itself is powered by a small stepping motor instead of having a sprung-loaded design.
The result is a maximum mechanical shutter speed of up to 1/500sec, after which the electronic shutter takes it up to 1/16,000sec. Other reductions in size have been made to the sensor unit and circuit board, both of which are said to have been reduced by 30% according to the manufacturer.
The key feature the GM1 lacks is a viewfinder. Unlike two of its rivals - the Sony RX100 II and Pentax Q7, there's sadly no option to attach one via an accessory port or a hot shoe, leaving users of the camera to rely solely on the screen for composition purposes.
There is a small popup flash that sits flush to the body when not in use and for those who'd like to rattle off a quick succession of shots, the GM1 can shoot at up to 5fps set to its AF-S autofocus mode with its mechanical shutter, or up to a spritely 40fps once the electronic shutter is enabled.
Despite its dinky proportions, the GM1 features Wi-fi connectivity, just as we've come to expect from Panasonic's G-series cameras.
To take full advantage of it users will be required to install the free Panasonic Image app (available for iOS and Android) from after which it's possible to transfer images wirelessly before sharing them with others, or alternatively there's the option to control the camera remotely and take control of settings without having to physically hold the camera.
To round off its feature set, Full HD 1920x1080 video is supported in variety of frame rates with an image sensor output of 50p,25p and 24p in the AVCHD format, or 25p in the more versatile MP4 format. As to be expected there is a stereo microphone, but the lack of a hot shoe to support an external mic is the giveaway there's no 3.5mm port.