Panasonic GM1 Review
Panasonic GM1 Review Conclusion
The Panasonic GM1 surprised us all upon first glance -- it's a Panasonic GX7, for the most part, all crammed into an insanely small, practically-pocketable body! Indeed, the GM1 packs a lot of horsepower, including the same 16MP Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor as the larger GX7, making it capable of an ISO range up to 25,600 and up to ~5fps burst shooting (~10fps with electronic shutter, or a whopping 40fps at 4MP). Furthermore, it includes other niceties like built-in Wi-Fi for easy sharing and remote control, as well as a host of creative modes and full PASM exposure modes for more advance photographers.
Performance-wise, the GM1 proved to have excellent chops. Panasonic has done a great job honing the performance of their contrast-detect AF system on this and their other recent cameras to really make it fast with minimal hunting. We found the GM1's AF performance to be excellent. Plus, features such as Pinpoint AF, for fine-grained focusing on small subjects, and the easy to use touch-to-focus capability make it simple to compose and focus quickly (note: Touch AF felt slow on its own, however tapping to move the focus point and then half-pressing the shutter button was quick and accurate).
Furthermore, JPEG image quality from the Panasonic GM1 was excellent with good color rendition and dynamic range at low ISOs, plus outstanding high ISO performance for a Micro Four Thirds camera -- even beating the flagship Olympus E-M1 in fine detail resolution as well as ranking very well against some APS-C cameras, too.
It's not just its physical size that makes the Panasonic GM1 a great camera to use; the body construction is equally excellent with a solid-feeling, magnesium-alloy chassis. While it may look like a dainty "fashion" camera, it's actually a very well built, solid little camera, yet one that can easily fit in a jacket or cargo pocket.
However, as with many cameras, especially one this small, the GM1 is not without its compromises. The physical size of the GM1 is both a blessing and a curse, at times. With the included kit lens, the GM1 feels great in the hand and is easy to hold, with or without Panasonic's optional grip-plate attachment. However being an interchangeable lens camera, chances are another lens or two will be mounted to this camera, and the GM1 doesn't handle well with larger lenses, especially without the grip attachments -- Panasonic's grip or otherwise. While it's comfortable to use small-to-medium-sized lenses such as the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 or Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8, larger lenses, like telephoto zooms, can get a bit awkward. Furthermore, its physical size can also make it difficult for users with larger hands or those wearing gloves, as the buttons and rear dials are quite small.
There are other compromises to the GM1 apart from physical handholding quirks. Due to its small form factor, Panasonic really had to manage the heat generated by the processor and sensor, and therefore scaled back video recording to only 1080/60i and eliminated Bulb exposure mode for stills as well. Also, the shutter mechanism was completely redesigned limiting maximum flash sync to only 1/50 second, and the fastest shutter speed with a mechanical second curtain is 1/500s which can lead to artifacts at higher speeds in certain situations. (All-electronic shutter speeds go as high as 1/16,000, though!)
Overall, though, Panasonic squeezes so much good stuff into the lightweight, trim and slim GM1, that its compromises are altogether quite minor. It offers great image quality, great performance and the ability to use great lenses (for the most part -- this is not the wildlife shooter's camera), all in a package that fits in your pocket. The Panasonic GM1: it's an easy Dave's Pick.
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.