Panasonic Lumix GM1 Review

Camera Reviews > Panasonic Lumix Cameras > Lumix Compact System Camera i Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
Resolution: 16.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: Four Thirds
Kit Lens: 2.67x zoom
(24-64mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 125-25600
Shutter: 60-1/16000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in.
(99 x 55 x 30 mm)
Weight: 9.8 oz (279 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $750
Availability: 11/2013
Manufacturer: Panasonic
Micro Four Thirds mount Four Thirds
size sensor
image of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
Front side of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 digital camera Back side of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 digital camera Top side of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 digital camera Left side of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 digital camera Right side of Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 digital camera

GM1 Review Summary: Panasonic finds a way to squeeze the power and performance of the GX7 into a lightweight, slim and well-built body. With fast AF, excellent high ISO performance and the vast flexibility of the Micro Four Thirds lens system, the necessary compromises such as reduced video framerates, lack of body-based IS and slower mechanical shutter speeds and flash sync are altogether minor quibbles. The GM1 really feels like the first truly "micro" Micro Four Thirds camera -- it's the pocketable point-and-shoot camera for photographers who hate point-and-shoot cameras.

Pros: Large Four Thirds sensor is impressive for a camera this small; Shares sensor and processor of GX7; Excellent image quality with class-leading high ISO performance; Responsive all-around performer; AF system is fast and accurate; Easy to use and responsive touchscreen; Built-in Wi-Fi with remote control and sharing features; Lightweight and pocketable design makes it easy to carry everywhere.

Cons: Can be awkward to use with larger lenses; Rear dial is easy to accidentally press; Lacks a hot-shoe for EVF or external flash; Weak built-in flash; 1/50s flash sync; No 1080p60 video; No external headphone jack or mic input.

Price and availability: The Panasonic GM1 started shipping in November 2013 for around US$750, including the compact 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens. Body colors include two-tone silver/black or silver/orange, but other colors such as all black are available depending on the region.

Imaging Resource rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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Panasonic GM1 Review

Overview and Shooter's Reports by with Hands-on and Tech Insights by
Preview posted: 10/17/2013
Review finalized:

11/25/2013: Image Quality Comparison Analysis
12/05/2013: Shooter's Report Blog Part I: Initial thoughts
12/20/2013: Part II: The devil's in the details
02/07/2014: Part III: Big lenses, reader requests & final thoughts
02/27/2014: Shooter's Report addendum

Panasonic GM1 Review -- Beauty shot

If you're a photographer who wants a camera that's the size of a point-and-shoot, but with the flexibility and larger sensor of an interchangeable lens camera, then the Panasonic GM1 might just be the camera for you. Panasonic has introduced the “micro-est” of Micro Four Thirds cameras with their diminutive yet powerful Lumix GM1 -- the latest addition to their already healthy lineup of Micro Four Thirds cameras.

The Panasonic GM1 shares the stage with its bigger brother, the GX7, featuring many of the same specs and performance capabilities. It shares the same sensor (minus sensor-shift IS), image processor and AF capabilities as the GX7, and Panasonic says the GM1 therefore has the same still image and video quality as the GX7.

The entire camera had to designed from the ground up; it's not just a shrunken GX7. Of course, in shrinking a camera down to this size, some compromises and trade-off had to be made, but it's not as drastic as one might think. For instance, due to the smaller size, issues with heat dissipation become much more critical, and as such more sensor- and processor-intensive features had to be dialed back. In the case of the GM1, there is no bulb exposure mode nor is there 1080/60p video resolution -- it tops out at 1080/60i. Also, it's not surprising that the smaller GM1 uses a smaller battery, and therefore has less battery life than a larger camera.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- GM1 vs GX7
The GM1 vs the GX7: Yes, these cameras have the same sensor and can use the same lenses!

Another interesting compromise is in the shutter design. The GX7 uses a 2-curtain mechanical shutter, but in the GM1, the newly designed shutter is 80% smaller and is a hybrid mechanical and electronic shutter with the first curtain being electronic only, followed by a mechanical second curtain. In the GM1, the fastest shutter speed for the mechanical shutter is only 1/500 second, however the electronic shutter can be set to an astonishingly high 1/16,000! With the new shutter, the other big compromise is with flash sync - only 1/50th of a second.

Wondering how Panasonic managed to fit so much camera into such little space,
and what some of the technical drawbacks are?
Visit Dave's Tech Insights: Making it smaller, and the consequences thereof page for all the details.

The big story, however, is simply its size. The Panasonic GM1 should appeal to a wide range of shooters, from people who want to an interchangeable lens camera without the bulk and weight of DSLRs to seasoned Micro Four Thirds owners who want a small, secondary camera that provides the image quality they're used to and the flexibility to use all their existing m4/3 lenses. The GM1 should also make a excellent choice for step-up users looking to upgrade from their compact camera, but who aren't sure if a heavy DSLR is the best fit for them.

In fact, we shouldn't really consider the larger mirrorless cameras like the GX7 to be the competing cameras to the GM1, but rather the high-end compacts like the Sony RX100 MkII. Users who have been considering the RX100 and RX100 II should now give some serious thought to the GM1. The size of the GM1 is strikingly close to the RX100 pair of cameras, however with the Panasonic you get a much larger sensor and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses all for -- and here's the kicker -- the exact same price. Both the RX100 MkII and GM1 have an the same price tag: $749 (and that's including the new 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens).

The Panasonic GM1 is currently available with an MSRP of US$749 (€699) with the kit lens. There is no body-only configuration. The optional grip plate attachment is priced at US$99.

Place your order with trusted Imaging Resource affiliates now:


Panasonic GM1 Review --  in hand

Walkaround. The fit and finish of the GM1 strongly resembles the GX7 with a metal top plate and large rubberized, textured material across the front. Panasonic is releasing four different color options, but the availability varies by region. In the US, the primary colors will be the two-toned silver and black shown above and a silver and orange version, but there is also an all-black version that Panasonic says might be hitting US shores. They are also releasing one in white and silver, however it's currently not destined for the US.

Panasonic GM1 Review --  Front view

The front of the GM1 is dominated by the lens mount, the diameter of which spans the entire height of the body. Despite its small size, you are still able to mount the full range of Micro Four Third lenses, although some larger lenses with a larger diameter will protrude past the bottom of the camera preventing it from sitting flush on a flat surface. Panasonic is offering an optional grip plate that adds a little bit of extra height that can help compensate for the heftier lenses (and lets it sit flush on a table). The front of the camera is all but devoid of any buttons or switches save for lens release button on the left side of the lens mount and a small AF assist lamp in the top right (as viewed from the back of the camera).

Moving to the top of the camera, we see a nice, simplified layout of controls comprised of three rounded dials bunched toward the right side of the camera. Starting from the far right is a full mode dial with two customizable preset modes (down from three on the GX7). Off-centered and toward the front of the camera is the shutter release button surrounded by the on/off toggle switch. And lastly, we have the focus mode switch with Panasonic's standard AFS, AFC and MF options. Inside this dial is the sole customizable Function button on the entire camera (in-camera there are five customizable function buttons that make use of the camera's touchscreen, but this Fn1 button is the only physical customizable button).

Panasonic GM1 Review -- Top view

Just off-center from lens mount are a pair of triplet holes for the stereo microphone, and finally off to the far left we have the manually-released pop-up flash. The pop-up flash, which has been redesigned due the strict space constraints of the camera body, is activated by a sliding switch along the top rear edge of the camera. Notice the lack of hot-shoe, which of prevents the easy use or attachment of accessories like flashes or external viewfinders.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- Back view

When we get the rear of the camera, the large 3.0-inch LCD touchscreen leaves little room for controls, which have all been clustered on the far right-hand side of the camera. Going from top to bottom, we see along the top edge the pop-up flash release slider as well as the trio of holes that cover the monaural speaker. Despite the quite proportionally large LCD screen, there is still room for a small rubberized thumb grip pad.

The GM1 features a standard array of controls that should feel quite familiar to compact camera users. Right next to the thumb grip area sits the movie record button, allowing users to quickly record video regardless of shooting mode with a quick thumb-press. Below this is the standard-issue playback button. The main controls utilize a rotating and directional push-button dial. The outer ring rotates allowing for adjustment of various settings like aperture, shutter speed or quickly scrolling through on-screen menus.

The control dial features the typical main functions in the 4 cardinal directions: north for exposure compensation, east for white balance, south for drive modes and west for AF point selection. When in manual exposure mode, the up direction toggles between shutter speed and aperture control, rather than exposure compensation. Inside the control dial sits the Menu/Set button for activating the menu system and confirming your selections.

Below the control dial sit the display information toggle button and the delete button. The delete button does double duty depending upon the mode you're in. If you're not in playback mode, this button activates a quick menu option or acts as a back function when your deep-diving into the menus.

Panasonic GM1 Review --  Bottom view

Moving down to the bottom of the camera, things are pretty standard fare with a 1/4-20 (1/4" diameter) tripod socket as well as the door for the rechargeable Lithium-ion battery pack and SD memory card slot compartment.

Panasonic GM1 Review --  Right side with lens extended

Lastly, along the sides of the camera sit the camera strap mounting lugs, which use the same coiled triangle lug design like the GX7. On the right-hand side is the door covering the USB and HDMI ports. There is also labeling denoting the built-in Wi-Fi radio.

Panasonic GM1 Review --  Keft side with lens retracted

The left side of the camera is devoid of any buttons, switches or ports, though you can see the lens release button on the front of the camera from this view.

Panasonic GM1 review -- LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S

New kit lens. Announced alongside the Panasonic GM1 is the new LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S. This new lens is included as part of the GM1 kit and is a very small, compact 2.7x zoom, coming in at just 24mm (0.94 in.) in length and only 70g (2.47 oz) in weight. The lens features eight elements in seven groups with three aspherical lenses and one ED element, and has a seven-bladed, circular diaphragm. To keep size to a minimum, the lens manually retracts, and has no focus ring. (Manual focus control is via the left/right buttons on the back of the camera.) The stepper motor focus drive system should make for fast and quiet AF performance.

As the name suggests, the new lens features Panasonic's MEGA O.I.S. image stabilization system, which is controlled via the camera body (no external switches). The new lens uses a 3-element group for the moving optical image stabilizing system as opposed to the single element in the older 14-42mm kit lens. The manufacturer says their newly designed actuator is more powerful to move this heavier lens grouping for the stabilizer system.

The 12-32mm focal length range equates to a 35mm equivalent of 24-64mm, which is a nice, wide, versatile range and perfect as a walk-around, general purpose lens.

Panasonic GM1 review -- Ports

Connectivity. In addition to the previously mentioned built-in Wi-Fi radio (which supports IEEE 802.11 b/g/n but does not include NFC functionality), wired connectivity consists of USB 2.0 High Speed data, Type-D Micro HDMI high-def video output compatible with VIERA Link remote control, and NTSC standard-def audio/video output via the combined USB/AV port. There's no external microphone connectivity -- audio is only recorded from an onboard stereo mic located on the top panel above the lens mount. And unlike the GX7, there's no wired remote control jack, and no flash hot-shoe.

Panasonic GM1 review -- Battery and card

Storage and power. The Panasonic GM1 stores images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including SDHC, SDXC, and UHS-I types. (SDHC and SDXC cards boost capacity over standard types, while UHS-I cards are faster than standard ones. Hence, with the GM1 you're well-covered for both types.)

Power comes from a 7.2V, 680mAh lithium ion battery pack. It's CIPA-rated for 230 shots on a charge using the bundled H-FS12032 kit lens. Switch to the H-HS020A optic, which is a prime lens, and you should be able to take about 220 shots on a charge. That's pretty meager battery life, but not surprising given the size of the GM1. An optional DC coupler and AC adapter are also available.

A truly micro Micro Four Thirds camera! Hands-on with the Panasonic GM1

by Dave Etchells

While most Micro Four Thirds cameras are smaller than many SLRs, there are plenty of smallish SLRs that give them a run for their money. When I was first briefed on the Micro Four Thirds (MFT) concept in Japan several years ago, I was expecting some seriously small cameras, but the actual products turned out to be not all that small. That's just changed, though, with the introduction of the Panasonic GM1. Finally, a truly "micro" Micro Four Thirds camera. I had an opportunity to spend a little time with a prototype sample of the GM1 recently; here's what I thought of it.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- with SD card

Obviously, the first thing that strikes you about the Panasonic GM1 is its size. It's tiny. In fact, the first sentence I wrote when taking notes at the briefing for it was "MAN, this thing is tiny!" The shot above, posed next to an SD card gives you some idea of just how small it is.

The shots below show another useful comparison, this time against a classic enthusiast "pocket" camera, the Sony RX100 II. (Equipped in this shot with one of Richard Franiec's excellent after-market grips.) As you can see, the two cameras are virtually identical in size when their lenses are extended, although the RX100 II wins the pocketability contest with the lens retracted. That said, the Panasonic GM1 will certainly fit into most reasonable-sized pockets when its lens is in the retracted position.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- GM1 vs RX100II
The Panasonic GM1, seen here with optional grip plate, and kit lens are nearly the same size, and price, as the Sony RX100 II.

This perhaps leads to a discussion of what's a proper size for a camera. Panasonic told us that when they first released the original and significantly larger Micro Four Thirds cameras, many people complained that they were too small, too hard to hold, etc. So won't the Panasonic GM1 be even more so, prompting even more complaints?

I don't think so, and here's why. When the first MFT cameras were introduced, they were clearly too large to fit into a pocket, and were sold as alternatives to conventional SLRs. Essentially, they were marketed as somewhat smaller versions of "full-sized" SLR designs. In that context, the most important ergonomic characteristics had to do with how comfortable a camera is to hold and operate, as long as its bulk isn't such as to make it awkward or inconvenient to use. Hence, the complaints about some MFTs being "too small".

On the other hand, if the primary attribute of a camera is pocketable portability, ergonomic issues like the size of the grip or controls become secondary. The Panasonic GM1 clearly fits into this second category, and I think people will find it enormously appealing for what it offers in such a compact package. I don't think many people at all will complain of it being too small.

That said, there will be an optional grip available for it that I think many, if not most users will go for, either with the initial purchase or as an accessory purchase later. It's pretty subtle, and adds almost nothing to the bulk of the camera, but makes a huge difference when holding it. It's slated to be pricey, at a projected retail price of $99, but I'd buy one in a heartbeat if I owned a GM1.

Panasonic GM1 Top Buttons

Handling. So let's talk about handling. Like we mentioned in the walkaround section above, as you'd expect on such a tiny body, the controls are in fact very close together. The top panel controls are pretty tightly clustered on the right side of the body.

There are two ways to hold the Panasonic GM1, and which way you use it will probably depend a lot on whether you have the accessory grip or not. Without the grip, the only really comfortable way I found to hold the camera was two-handed, with my thumbs on the bottom and index fingers on the top. This is how I'd use a lot of smaller point & shoots, so it's pretty familiar, but it does require me to shift my grip to adjust the mode dial setting.

On the other hand, if you're using the accessory grip, it's pretty feasible to loop your middle finger over it, put your thumb on the back, and your index finger over the shutter button. In this position, it's fairly easy to pop your thumb up a little to adjust the mode dial, although you'll obviously want to support the camera with your other hand in the process. Likewise, it's much easier to get to the rear-panel controls in this position, without requiring a major grip-change. I found the rear-panel buttons very tiny indeed, but discovered I had no trouble using them, without accidentally pressing the wrong one or two at the same time.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- Right Angle with Lens

The other advantage of the grip is that it provides just enough added depth to the body that it will sit level on a tabletop with a conventional Micro Four Thirds lens attached. The telescoping kit lens is actually smaller than conventional MFT lenses, so it won't project beyond the bottom of the camera body when attached. With a normal MFT lens on the front, the camera/lens combo will sit tilted back slightly, because standard MFT lens barrels will stick out past the bottom a little.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- GM1 with grip

The GM1 shown here with the optional grip and larger Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens.

The grip does have one downside, though, in that it uses up the GM1's tripod socket, and has no provision on it for tripod mounting. This makes sense, as they'd either have had to use a really ungainly tripod-mounting screw with a 1/4-20 threaded hole on the bottom, or have introduced an unsightly bulge elsewhere on the grip to accept the tripod thread. Either approach would have meant that the camera wouldn't sit level on a table, regardless of the type of lens attached. For my part, I'm fine with the trade-off of losing the tripod socket. The grip is very handy, and it's a matter of seconds to put it on or off.

On the top panel, the shutter button is pretty darn close to the right edge of the camera. Even with the accessory grip, I found myself wishing that perhaps the shutter button and Fn1 button's places were exchanged, or if the shutter button itself were somehow just another 5-10mm further left. Exchanging it with the Fn1 button would be a longer reach, but I think even people with fairly small hands would find it comfortable. Bottom line, though, I didn't feel this crowding was a show-stopper of any sort, just a minor annoyance.

Ah, but the mode dial: I said that the accessory grip positioned my thumb such that it could easily reach up to access the mode dial. It's true that I could access it easily, but operating it was a bit more difficult. The Panasonic GM1's mode dial was rather stiff, taking more force than I'd like to operate it. I could move it with my thumb, but doing so more than once or twice would have left me with a groove in my finger. It's obviously not going to get moved accidentally from a bump or jostle, but it could be a bit easier to move without worrying about accidental changes.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- GM1 vs Olympus E-PM2 front view
Panasonic GM1 Review -- GM1 vs Olympus E-PM2 top view

User Interface. As I was writing this, it occurred to me that it's a little amusing that the top-panel function button is labeled Fn1, since there is no second function button anywhere. I'd normally lament the Panasonic GM1's paucity of external buttons, but found that I didn't miss them very much, given the excellent and highly-configurable touch-interface accessed via the LCD screen.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- AF Menu

I've never been a big fan of touch interfaces on cameras, but Panasonic does an unusually good job with them, and I found the one on the GM1 very fast and easy to use. Both the touch-function menu and normal quick-menu are accessed via little tabs poking out on the right side of the LCD screen. Touching one or the other pops out a 5-element menu, from which you can select and adjust items just by touching the appropriate "soft button". When you're done, touch the tab on the left side of the pop-out menu (the original tab stayed attached as the menu slid out), and it'll collapse back. In practice, it's very fast and efficient for making settings changes, to the point that I felt it largely made up for the lack of external buttons. The Quick Menu is used for things like Zoom, touch shutter, touch AE, or peaking on/off, and the functions displayed there can be chosen from a total of 24 different options. The other (Fn) menu has five slots to each of which you can can assign any of 34 different control functions. Any of the same 34 control functions can be assigned to Fn1 button on top.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- Rear Buttons

The configurability of the Panasonic GM1's interface follows a trend I've been advocating for some time now. Once you're familiar with a camera, being able to assign specific, often-used functions to either buttons or special menu items like these is enormously useful. Rather than spending time fumbling through menu upon menu, you can make the changes you need and get back to shooting immediately.

If you really don't want to use either, all or some of the touch functions, though, you can turn the touch screen on or off entirely, enable or disable the tabs leading to the menus Quick and Fn menus, and Touch AF can be either AF, AF+AE, or off.

Hands-on Summary. The Panasonic GM1 is an enormously appealing little camera. Despite its tiny size, I really had no trouble operating its controls, and I really appreciate the extent to which Panasonic has supported user interface customization. I think you'll almost certainly want the accessory grip, despite its price, as it adds a lot to the comfort and usability of the camera.

We're obviously huge camera geeks here at IR ourselves, so our reactions to cameras are generally a pretty good measure of how the enthusiast audience will react. On that basis, we think the Panasonic GM1 is going to be a huge success. The idea of being able to get essentially all the image quality and capability (just a small collection of minor trade-offs) of a flagship Panasonic Micro Four Thirds camera like the GX7 in what's truly a pocket-sized package is really fantastic. And the idea that this tiny, pocket-sized camera can accept a whole range of truly excellent optics from not only Panasonic, but Olympus and Sigma as well puts the Panasonic GM1 into a class all its own. If others like it nearly as much as we did, it's going do very well for Panasonic indeed.

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Shooting with the Panasonic GM1

by William Brawley

Part I -- Initial thoughts
Posted: 12/5/2013

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
The Micro Four Thirds sensor is able to capture a lot of fine detail, and the AF on the GM1 is quick to capture active subjects. (12mm, f/5, 1/1000s, ISO 200)

If you've read any of my other reviews on the Nikon D7100, Canon 70D or Nikon D610, it's pretty obvious that I'm a DSLR guy for the most part. That kind of camera has been my preferred style for a long time. However, I recently experimented with the Canon EOS M -- being a Canon guy and all with a variety of EF lenses -- and just as many others have experienced, shooting with the EOS M is a little frustrating: slow AF, poor battery life, no EVF attachment and limited lens choices (without an adapter). The image quality was nothing to sneer at, but I was still left wanting in some ways.

I've taken on the task of our Panasonic GM1 review, and I can say, boy, this is the camera I wish I had bought instead of the EOS M! I've only recently begun my review process with this camera and have only shot with it for about a week, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some of my initial impressions -- both positives and negatives -- as well as a first set of gallery images. So, without further ado, let's hit the positives!

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
(28mm, f/5.4, 1/250s, ISO 200)

Size. This thing is tiny! I thought the Canon EOS M was small, but the Panasonic GM1 feels like a point-and-shoot camera in terms of weight and slimness, but with the added flexibility of interchangeable lenses and a larger sensor. Plus, thanks to the all-magnesium body construction, durability is surely increased over typical all-plastic point-and-shoots. The GM1 feels strong, light and sturdy, and the compact 12-32mm makes it a go-anywhere camera. I could easily slip this guy into a jacket pocket or a larger pants pocket like those on cargo pants (still a little on the wider side for smaller jeans pocket, for instance).

The Panasonic GM1 that I'm testing also came with the optional screw-on baseplate grip attachment, which is a fantastic accessory, and something I wish desperately was available for my EOS M. I found the 12-32mm kit lens to be small and light enough that using the grip wasn't necessary. And thanks to the standard Micro Four Thirds mount, you open up a ton of options for other lenses, but given the GM1's diminutive size, the grip is instantly appreciated as it gives you just a bit of extra purchase to help securely hold those less-balanced, heavier or larger lenses.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
Not critically sharp, as Jack the Dog was running very quickly (and the shutter speed was a little too slow), but the AF on the GM1 did a great job. There's also a bit of rolling shutter, so beware with fast panning shots! (16mm, f/3.9, 1/640s, ISO 200)

Fast AF. Manufacturers, please take note: This is how you do AF on mirrorless cameras -- it's amazing! The autofocus system on the GM1 was brought over from the GX7, and it's quite impressive. The AF feels near-instantaneous on all but the lowest contrast subjects. Half-press after half-press of the shutter button is followed by a quick little beep signifying confirmed focus. I found the performance to be great for both still and fast-moving subjects. Now, I didn't go out and attempt to shoot sports or birds-in-flight, for which a dedicated Phase-Detect AF system on a DSLR would be preferable, but for a fast-moving kid, or a dog running around in the backyard in my case, the GM1 did a great job.

Just how fast is the Panasonic GM1? Find out by clicking here to see our full battery
of rigorous, objective speed and operation tests conducted in the IR Lab.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
Pinpoint AF. (32mm, f/6.3, 1/250s, ISO 200)

I am also a big fan of the GM1's Pinpoint AF mode, which lets you autofocus on a very precise point. I found this great for shooting macro-ish photos or other subjects where I wanted to make sure I nailed the focus (i.e. flowers). The GM1 gives you a full-screen magnified view around the AF point for easy confirmation that your subject is indeed in focus. (As an aside, I really love the dedicated control dial shortcut (press left on the 4-way dial) to access the different AF point modes. I found this very handy when going back and forth between shooting various types of subjects.)

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
The color rendition on the GM1 was also very pleasing at default settings. (32mm, f/5.6, 1/640s, ISO 200)

Get a grip. Now for a few negatives, unfortunately, and they start with the grip attachment. ("But wait, didn't you say that you loved the grip earlier?") For the ergonomic benefit, the grip is a very nice addition, but there's one big issue: when the grip is attached, you not only lose your tripod mounting socket, but the plate also completely covers the battery and SD card door. This means that you have to unscrew the plate completely to change the battery and/or memory card. Now, if you're out for a day of shooting and don't use up a full battery charge or fill up a memory card, then this is less of a problem, but given that these smaller cameras have smaller batteries, they tend to eat through a full charge more often. And if you're out shooting for a long time, chances are you'll need to change the battery. If I was out for a long hike or any other kind of traveling where I'd be away from a charger, I'd want to bring along at least one extra battery. Having to remove the grip plate is just an extra hassle. However, given the svelte body-matching design of the plate, I don't see how Panasonic could have avoided this, but nevertheless I felt it was worth mentioning.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
(25mm, f/5.1, 1/60s, ISO 640)

Sensitive to the touch. The second little "gripe" with the GM1 that I ran into quite a bit was with the 4-way control dial on the rear of the camera. It doesn't take a lot of effort to press the buttons and given that the dial's edge is also used to scroll for various adjustments, like aperture and shutter speed, for example, I found myself accidentally pressing the buttons when I simply wanted to quickly adjust an exposure setting or magnify an image in playback mode. Instead, an accidental press activated a menu and I subsequently started scrolling through other settings that I never intended to change. Overall, a minor issue again, but one with which I got a bit annoyed.

The Panasonic GM1 also features a touchscreen, which in some cases can be quite useful, particularly with the extra, customizable Function (Fn) Buttons along the right edge of the screen (those are awesome!). However, I found the touchscreen was quite sensitive, and when you enable the touchscreen, Touch AF gets enabled by default as well. I liked Touch AF for the most part as it allowed very fast adjustments to the focus point for quicker compositions, but I would often accidentally touch the screen between shots, either with the edge of my thumb or edge of my palm, and unintentionally change the AF point. Thankfully, you can disable Touch AF while leaving the "Touch Tab" enabled so you still have access to the on-screen Fn buttons, which is excellent -- a nice middle ground.

Panasonic GM1 Review -- gallery sample image
(32mm, f/5.6, 1/1000s, ISO 200)

Macro-ish. I noted above that I love the Pinpoint AF mode on the GM1 for fast and easy critical focus on small subjects. Naturally, this would be excellent for close-up, macro-type shots but, unfortunately, I found the close focusing distance of the GM1-specific kit lens, the Panasonic 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6, to be a bit too far with too little telephoto zoom to really take close-up shots. This is a pretty minor gripe, like most of my issues with this camera seem to be, but I constantly found myself framing shots of close up subjects only to presented with a little red AF box telling me that AF was not possible. Frustrating.

Want to learn more about how the Panasonic Lumix G 12-32mm kit lens performs?
Click here to see our optical test results.

Overall, though, my first experience with the Panasonic GM1 has been overwhelmingly positive. This tiny, practically-pocketable Micro Four Thirds camera is a standout piece of photographic equipment. It's big on image quality, AF and speed, but not on size, weight or bulk. I'm looking forward to more!


Part II -- The devil's in the details
Posted: 12/20/2013

This next installment of my Panasonic GM1 Shooter's Report won't be as long-winded as the first one, as this section is focused on two specific areas: macro and close-up shooting, as well as my experience with high ISO performance.

Panasonic GM1 Review
The GM1 + Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 M.ZUIKO PRO = a fantastic combo.

Up close and personal. If you go back to the first installment of my shooter's report, you'll see that I was a bit disappointed in the close-up focusing performance of the included 12-32mm kit lens. I would often find myself with an idea for a nicely composed close-up shot only to find that I couldn't focus at that distance using the 12-32mm. Of course, this is exactly why the camera gods made interchangeable-lens cameras, so I wasted no time in trying out some new glass with the GM1.

Panasonic GM1 Review
The close focusing distance of the Olympus 12-40mm lens let me get very close to the subject, and the fine detail from the GM1 is excellent. (40mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 1000)

We happen to have a lot of Olympus lenses here at IRHQ, and thanks to the Micro Four Thirds standard, I can easily use all of these great lenses on the Panasonic GM1. One of my favorite combos with the GM1, I've found, is the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 M.Zuiko PRO. Not only is it a fantastically sharp lens with a versatile zoom range and a constant f/2.8 aperture, but it also has an excellent close-focusing distance. (Note: I'll get more in-depth with using this and other, larger lenses with the GM1 and how they handle in my next shooter's report installment.)

Panasonic GM1 Review
(Olympus 12-40mm, 40mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 500)

Armed with the Olympus 12-40 on the tiny GM1 body, I took the camera out last weekend and got some nice close-up macro-ish photos. The Olympus 12-40 has a close focusing distance of 20cm (7.87 in.) for a magnification ratio of 1:3.3, making it a pretty nice close-up performer. As I suspected, the GM1's Pinpoint AF mode was very useful, offering more precise focusing and easier composition on smaller subjects, and making it easy to get the plane of focus exactly where I wanted it. The GM1 is so light and small that it's really fun to shoot, and it's easy to stick the camera close to small subjects. Coupled with the Olympus 12-40's nice minimum focusing distance, it's a great combo for macro of shooting.

Panasonic GM1 Review
(Olympus 12-40mm, 40mm, f/2.8, 1/100s, ISO 2500)

I also wanted to experiment with a true macro lens, though, and we also have an Olympus 60mm f/2.8 M.Zuiko lens here at HQ. I was hoping that the Pinpoint AF mode would help with focusing here as well, but with proper macro shooting, the depth of field is so razor-thin, that it was tough to simply point and autofocus on a subject using the full 1:1 macro magnification. If I held the camera close to the proper distance, both 1-Area and Pinpoint AF were useful for autofocusing on the subjects, though I didn't see a big benefit to Pinpoint AF mode in this scenario.

Panasonic GM1 Review

With a proper macro lens, the GM1 does excellent with fine detail, but using autofocus at 1:1 macro distances is very difficult due the extremely shallow depth of field. (Olympus 60mm f/2.8 Macro, 60mm, f/5.6, 1/125s, ISO 1600)

Let there be light, or a lack thereof. I've really been pretty blown away by this camera -- its size, its AF speed and overall image quality are really impressive -- and I thought that this camera could pretty much do it all. I've been really surprised by the excellent IQ of the latest Micro Four Thirds cameras in low ISO shots, and was expecting spectacular results from the GM1 at higher ISOs, like ISO 3200-6400. I realized my expectations were set a little too high, though, albeit perhaps not through any unusual fault of the camera.

Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
Worst case scenario? Shooting the GM1, not only at ISO 6400, but also under extremely warm high-pressure sodium vapor lamps really push the smaller Four Thirds sensor to the extremes. (Olympus 12-40mm: 14mm, f/2.8, 1/25s, ISO 6400)

To preface this, I've been a full-frame and APS-C DSLR shooter for a number of years now, and I've grown accustomed to pixel peeping those kinds of images. I'm aware of how fine details get diminished in very high ISO images even from those types of cameras. So, when I shot some photos at ISO 3200 and 6400 with the GM1, I was initially pretty disappointed in the lack of detail, particularly in the JPEG images. The camera applied pretty heavy noise reduction by default, but the GM1 does offer a lot of flexibility (11 levels) in how much NR is applied to JPEG images. I did find the noise reduction settings easy to miss, though, as they are stuck inside the "Photo Style" menu settings. My first reaction when seeing this menu option was to assume it was for applying filter presets or effects to your photos, however it's pretty similar to Canon's "Picture Styles" menu minus the noise reduction adjustment.

Panasonic GM1 High ISO crops
Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
These four crops from the photo above really show how the high ISO combined with the JPEG noise reduction take its toll on fine detail. However, in this class of camera, the GM1 is very impressive.

I brought the GM1 and the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens along with me to my brother's college graduation this past weekend, and took a handful of shots after the ceremony in a dimly lit Irish pub. I was pretty much pushing the GM1 to its limit with Auto White Balance, ISO 3200 and, in the case of JPEGs, heavy noise reduction applied by default. The lighting, however, was probably the biggest factor working against fine detail, with an intensely warm, ~2200 Kelvin color temperature (a 60 watt incandescent bulb is around 2600-2700 K, so this is crazy warm lighting, really a pathological case).

Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample
Again under extremely warm, yet dim lighting. (Olympus 12-40mm: 30mm, f/2.8, 1/30s, ISO 3200)
Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample Panasonic GM1 Review - High ISO Sample

The resulting images were pretty lacking in fine detail to my eye, particularly when considered against my familiarity with high ISO images from larger-sensor DSLRs. The GM1's default noise reduction is pretty heavy-handed and really flattened and smoothed out fine detail in the images. Even with RAW photos, adjusting the very warm white balance back to an acceptable color took its toll as Adobe Lightroom had to boost the blue channel pretty dramatically to get back to a neutral hue, thus increasing blue channel noise significantly. Applying my own choice of noise reduction in LR5 helped to remove the noise, but fine detail still suffered.

Panasonic GM1
Panasonic GM1 Review
(Olympus 12-40mm: 19mm, f/2.8, 1/60s, ISO 3200)
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
Canon EOS M
Panasonic GM1 Review - Canon EOS M comparison
(Canon 22mm f/2 STM: 22mm, f/2.8, 1/80s, ISO 3200)
Panasonic GM1 Review - Canon EOS M comparison Panasonic GM1 Review - Canon EOS M comparison
Four Thirds vs APS-C. The GM1 does exceptionally well against other Four Thirds cameras, but compared to larger sensor cameras like the APS-C Canon EOS M, you can start to see a slight drop in fine detail due to the GM1's heavier default noise reduction. The EOS M does appear a bit more grainy in this JPEG image, while the GM1 opts for heavier noise reduction, degrading its ability to resolve finer details at higher ISOs.

On the other hand, it's not all bad news -- quite the opposite, in fact. When compared to other Micro Four Thirds cameras, even flagship models like the Olympus E-M1, the Panasonic GM1 is one of the best Micro Four Thirds out there for high ISO performance. Once I realized that I shouldn't be expecting APS-C, and certainly not full-frame high ISO performance from a camera with a much smaller sensor, I was much happier with the GM1's high-ISO results. And it's all relative to what you'll be doing with the images, too. As seen in our Print Quality results, the Panasonic GM1 does very well, indeed, unless you're needing to print ISO 6400 images at large sizes.

Panasonic GM1 (ISO 3200)
Olympus E-M1 (ISO 3200)
Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison
Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison
Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison Panasonic GM1 Review - E-M1 comparison
Apples to Apples. The Panasonic GM1 has fantastic low-light, high ISO performance when you compare it to other Four Thirds cameras, including the pro-level Olympus E-M1. The GM1 really is a stunning little camera.

The bottom line is that the Panasonic GM1 does indeed have a Four Thirds sensor, which is significantly smaller than both APS-C and full-frame sensors. If you're a photographer like me, who's used to full-frame and even high-end APS-C performance with high ISO, low-light shooting, then the GM1's images at ISO levels in the 3200+ range might look disappointing to your eyes. Unless you're trying to print at large sizes from your very high-ISO shots, though, the results are entirely adequate. Compared to other Micro Four Thirds cameras, the Panasonic GM1 is actually a stellar performer at higher ISO levels. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it's one of the best cameras in its class when it comes to high ISO performance, especially for a camera that small. When compared to other pocketable cameras, most of which have much smaller sensors, the Panasonic GM1 blows them out of the water at high ISO performance.

View the IR Lab's in-depth Panasonic GM1 image quality test results by clicking here, but be sure to read further on to see side-by-side comparisons of the GM1 against its top competitors.


Part III -- Big lenses, reader requests & final thoughts
Posted: 02/07/2014

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1 + Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5: A bit on the heavy side and slow to focus, but if the subject doesn't move, you can still capture great images. (147mm, f/3.2, 1/320s, ISO 1250)

One of the big advantages of an interchangeable lens camera is the flexibility offered by those lenses. You can go from an ultra-wide landscape perspective to an up-close telephoto shot of a bird in a matter of minutes. However, as cameras get smaller and smaller, such as with the Panasonic GM1, you run into issues of comfort, balance and sheer portability when you want to use longer (and inherently larger) lenses. However, the fun of an ILC -- the flexibility -- is that you can do it if you want to, or need to.

In this last Shooter's Report installment, I discuss my experience using larger Micro Four Thirds and even some Four Thirds lenses, just for fun. I also wrap up my Panasonic GM1 review with some reader requests and other small details, as well as my final summary. (Note: We'll be finalizing the entire review with test results, pros & cons and conclusions shortly.)

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1 + Olympus 150mm f/2 (150mm, f/2.0, 1/320s, ISO 200)

Going BIG. The Panasonic GM1, like we've said before, feels like the best truly pocketable interchangeable lens camera. With the included 12-32mm kit lens, the GM1 is indeed a high performance camera that's perfectly suited to photograph a wide variety of subjects, but that combo is quite limited when it comes to shooting that bird in the tree or your child across from you on the soccer field.

I've always been enamored with huge, long lenses, so I took the GM1 over the Christmas holidays along with a couple of long and beefy lenses: the Olympus 150mm f/2 Zuiko and Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Zuiko, and had a little telephoto fun. I was curious to see a) if the GM1 had usable autofocusing performance with Four Thirds lenses, like the Olympus E-M1, and b) what the handling was like using such a tiny camera with these large lenses. I should also note that we have a much more practical telephoto lens here at IRHQ -- the Olympus M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7, a Micro Four Thirds lens -- that I used on the GM1 and will discuss further down.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1 + Olympus 150mm f/2: While the lens is heavy and cumbersome, the quickly-adjustable AF points on the GM1 allows me to put focus exactly where I want. (150mm, f/2.0, 1/125s, ISO 3200)
Panasonic GM1 Review
Taken with the GM1 + Olympus 150mm f/2. (150mm, f/2.0, 1/400s, ISO 200)

Unfortunately, I'll have to start this shooter's report section with a negative. No, the Olympus 150mm f/2 Zuiko and Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Zuiko lenses are not practical to use on the GM1. At all. Particularly, the 150mm lens, with its massive size and weight -- 3.6 lbs. of it -- is definitely not suited for the GM1. It was hilarious to behold, however.

Panasonic GM1 Review
Do not try this at home. The Panasonic GM1 + Olympus 150mm f/2 with required adapter is quite a ridiculous combo: slow, heavy and unbalanced. No, I didn't carry the camera around like this.

I was quick to discover that Four Thirds lenses with the M4/3-4/3 adapter do not autofocus well. Like we saw on other Olympus cameras before the E-M1, focusing with the adapter is abysmally slow with a distinct stepping actuation as the camera attempts to acquire focus.

That being said, I had fun shooting with these lenses. Especially the 50-200mm lens, which was the more practical of the pair as it was significantly lighter and more fun to use. The GM1 and 50-200mm lens produced a 400mm equivalent field of view at maximum telephoto. When you consider using a DSLR to get a 400mm focal length with a fast aperture, you're talking about substantially more weight and possibly thousands of dollars. Using the GM1 and the 50-200mm lens was much lighter, and barring the terribly slow AF speed, was very useful to shoot wildlife (albeit only of the slow-moving variety) and other telephoto subjects.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1 + Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. (200mm, f/3.5, 1/500s, ISO 200)
Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1 + Olympus 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5. (147mm, f/3.2, 1/320s, ISO 1250)

On the more practical side, I also had a chance to use a more sensible telephoto lens with the GM1: the Olympus M.Zuiko 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II. This lens, designed for Micro Four Thirds cameras rather than larger Four Thirds DSLRs, is still rather large for the tiny body of the GM1. However, it's considerably lighter and smaller than the Four Thirds 50-200mm lens, making it much more comfortable to use. The autofocusing performance also was a night-and-day experience compared to the older Four Thirds lenses, focusing very quickly like most other Micro Four Thirds lenses I've used.

Panasonic GM1 Review
Large, but lightweight. The Micro Four Thirds-specific Olympus 75-300mm f/4.8-6.7 II is a much more appropriate telephoto zoom, however the lack of IS and the slow f/6.7 at full tele make it challenging to use on the GM1.

Similar to the comparison with the 50-200mm, the 75-300mm lens provides a whopping 600mm equivalent focal length, that, in typical DSLR-size lenses, would equate to significantly more weight and bulk, not to mention price. Taking this into account, the GM1 and the Olympus 75-300mm is an amazing combo.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Olympus 75-300mm: The lens provides a versatile reach, but the lack of IS makes precise framing at full tele a challenge -- the lack of an EVF makes it even more difficult as you have to hold the camera farther out from your center of gravity. (300mm, f/6.7, 1/640s, ISO 200)

However, the biggest downside to using these longer, and often-heavier lenses, is that the lack of a viewfinder, built-in or otherwise, making for an awkward shooting stance. You're forced to hold the camera farther out in front of your face to use the LCD, rather than centering the camera up against your eye in a more balanced shooting position, making it quite uncomfortable to hold the camera, especially for any length of time.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Olympus 75-300mm. (187mm, f/6, 1/3200s, ISO 200)

Now, this isn't an issue exclusive to the GM1, as both the Sony NEX-3N and Canon EOS M, for example, offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, but lack any form of viewfinder. However, it's an issue nonetheless with this type of camera.

Also, the lack of body-based image stabilization on the GM1 is another ding to versatility and flexibility of lens choice. While it's not impossible to shoot with super-telephoto lenses that lack IS, simply framing your shot is more challenging at these very long focal lengths, as any and all camera vibrations appear magnified the farther you zoom. Combining this with the viewfinder-less shooting position makes the GM1 a not-so-stellar telephoto camera when shooting handheld.

Reader Requests. One of the best things about these episodic Shooter's Reports is that we can now have a dialog with readers and take suggestions for things to test or compare while we review a camera. In this case, I'm going cover a few things readers have asked about or wanted confirmed.

First off, Harald E. Brandt commented after purchasing his own GM1 that the embedded JPEG thumbnail when shooting RAW-only was much lower in resolution that RAW+JPEG, which most likely displays the corresponding JPEG photo. I tested this out, and yes, this does seem to be the case. When shooting RAW-only, the image of the shot, when magnified is noticeably lower in resolution. I wouldn't consider it a deal-breaker for the GM1, but as Mr. Brandt indicated, it does make it more difficult to discern the sharpness of images. See for yourself in the table below:


Panasonic GM1: Playback Review: RAW vs RAW+JPEG
RAW @ 8x Magnification
RAW+JPEG @ 8x Magnification
RAW @ 8x Magnification
RAW+JPEG @ 8x Magnification
RAW @ 16x Magnification
RAW+JPEG @ 16x Magnification

Another reader comment, from Jason Ushkowski, asked about video priority mode on the GM1 and the image quality of simultaneously captured still photos. The GM1, like many cameras, lets you start recording video from any still shooting mode, and vice versa -- you can take a photo while shooting video (though not in the dedicated Movie Mode, as the shutter button acts as a secondary recording start/stop button). However, the GM1 gives you two options for how to snap still photos while recording video: Motion Picture Priority and Still Picture Priority.

In Motion Picture Priority, pressing the shutter button silently snaps a photo without interrupting the recording process. As the name suggests, priority is on the video recording and not still image quality. As such, the captured still in this mode is a much lower quality (small JPEG) and in the 16:9 aspect ratio (1920 x 1080; even when recording 720p video). Up to 30 stills can be captured during video recording in this mode. However, in Still Picture Priority, video recording is briefly interrupted allowing for the capture of a high resolution image, including RAW (4592 x 2584 pixels), but the image (even the RAW) is in the 16:9 aspect ratio. Video recording is then immediately resumed, and the resulting single video file is shown with a brief pause where the still was captured. Unlike in Motion Priority, in Still Priority only up to 4 images can be captured during video recording.


Panasonic GM1: Still Picture Priority vs Motion Picture Priority
Still Picture Priority Mode
1920 x 1080, H.264, Progressive, 30 fps
Download Original (17.0MB MP4)
Motion Picture Priority Mode
1920 x 1080, H.264, Progressive, 30 fps
Download Original (15.9MB MP4)
16:9, 4592 x 2584 pixels (RAW)
16:9, 1920 x 1080
16:9, 4592 x 2584 pixels (RAW)
16:9, 1920 x 1080

Stay tuned for a more in-depth review of the Panasonic GM1's video capabilities and quality.

The last reader request actually came to me from multiple readers, as "Whayne" and "Geordon" were interested in how the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 lens performed on the GM1. If you recall back in my second SR installment, I described using the fast, high-performance Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, and despite being a little on the large size for the tiny GM1, I found it to be an excellent experience. Somehow, at that time, I never got around to using what I consider to be Panasonic's equivalent to the Oly 12-40mm. Now I have.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8. (18mm, f/3.5, 1/640s, ISO 200)

Right off the bat, I felt that the Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 was a much better fit on the GM1 than the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8. It's noticeably lighter and a bit smaller, making it more comfortable to use with such a small camera. However, one of best things about this lens is how easily and smoothly the zoom ring rotates. Despite being a bright f/2.8 lens, it didn't feel like it had to move a lot of large glass elements around. This was very pleasing given how tiny the GM1 is and how little grip you have on the camera itself. With other lenses, such as the Olympus 12-40 and the Olympus 75-300, the zoom action is stiff enough that it's hard to hold the camera in shooting position while zoom smoothly -- I'm often having to bring the camera down to adjust the focal length. The 12-35mm f/2.8, in contrast, is very easy to rotate; zooming is easily accomplished with only two fingers.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Panasonic 12-35mm. The Panasonic 12-35mm f/2.8 is a compact, lightweight zoom that feels great on the GM1. The constant f/2.8 aperture helps create some smooth background blur. (22mm, f/2.8, 1/2500s, ISO 200)

And of course, being a highly-rated lens, the images from the 12-35mm were excellent. Plus, the addition of built-in optical image stabilization is a much welcome feature considering the GM1 does not have the sensor-shift in-body IS like its bigger brother, the GX7. This makes the 12-35mm not only better for stills in low light, but also better for video recording.

Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Panasonic 12-35mm. (35mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 200)
Panasonic GM1 Review
GM1+ Panasonic 12-35mm. (27mm, f/9, 1/500s, ISO 200)

Final Thoughts. So, is the Panasonic GM1 an awesome camera? Absolutely. It's a fantastically small, lightweight and high-performance camera that's packed with lots of features much like a larger camera, such as the Panasonic GX7. The big story with this camera is, of course, its size. It's one of the best go-anywhere, carry-all-the-time, daily shooters out there today. While I wouldn't consider it "pocketable" in things like jeans or chinos, it's definitely small enough with the retractable 12-32mm kit lens to slip into a cargo pocket or jacket pocket with ease.

Panasonic GM1 Review - Richard Franiec grip

Get a grip. Panasonic GM1 with Richard Franiec's grip.

Unfortunately, its diminutive size can also be a downside. Especially when using larger and heavier lenses, the small, thin design of the GM1's body leaves little area for a secure grip (and the faux leather texture isn't all that "grippy," I found). Thankfully, Panasonic has recognized this issue and created a screw-on grip attachment plate that maintains the small size (no DSLR battery grip-like accessory here) while giving a more secure hold on the camera. Sadly, it's a bit awkward to use in some cases, as it not only uses the tripod socket but also blocks the battery and memory card door. As an alternative, the enterprising Richard Franiec has released a custom grip for the GM1 that does not use the tripod socket or block the battery door.

On the performance side of things, there's not much to complain about with the GM1. The autofocusing is amazingly fast. It feels near instantaneous when I half-press the shutter button and locks onto subjects quickly without a lot of hunting back and forth like I've seen with some other contrast-detect AF systems. And while it may not be as fast as a traditional phase-detect DSLR, the GM1 is certainly more than capable of shooting the majority of subjects most people tend to take, such as landscapes, portraits, travel and street photography as well as macro shots.

The big downside with the GM1 is if you're a fan of shooting telephoto shots like I am, this little camera may not be the best choice (not surprisingly). Longer, heavier lenses are quite awkward to use on such a small body (although the ability is there if you need it). Not only do you not have a lot of grip in the hand, but the lack of a viewfinder or optical viewfinder attachment also makes it uncomfortable to hold these longer, heavier lenses out in front of your face for any length of time.

I realize I'm probably trying to find a downside where there is none, as the Panasonic GM1 is clearly not designed for the telephoto wildlife or sports shooter. For 99% of the other possible subjects to photograph, however, the GM1 is an excellent camera with impressive performance and image quality all packed into an extremely convenient, compact and lightweight package. If you want a camera that's big on image quality with a large sensor and the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, but one that you can take with you everywhere, the Panasonic GM1 is that camera.


Shooter's Report addendum

Wi-Fi. The GM1's Wi-Fi capabilities are quite robust and useful, not to mention fairly straight forward to setup, though it can be a little quirky. Like many other recent Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, the GM1 uses a companion app -- in this case called "Image App" -- on your smart device (iOS and Android only) not only for remote live view, sharing and remote control, but also for GPS location tagging, as the GM1 itself does not have a GPS module built in.

Panasonic GM1 Review - Image App

The process for setting this up was fairly straightforward: turn on Wi-Fi mode, which by default is conveniently assigned to the Fn1 button on the top of the camera, and the follow the on-screen instructions. You can connect directly to the GM1's own Wi-Fi network or connect through your home or office wireless network. Like with other cameras I've used and tested, setting up Wi-Fi is a bit of a back and forth process: enable Wi-Fi on the camera, go to smart device and change the Wi-Fi network to the camera's, then hope the camera sees the connection, close Settings and open Image App, then wait for the device to pair. (Note that the GM1 does not support NFC, but neither does my iPhone.) On my first try, everything worked perfectly, but later on, I ran into some inexplicable issue where my iPhone and the GM1 just didn't want to connect. After a couple tries, including a forced quit of the app and power cycle of the camera, the problem was resolved.

Once it's all good-to-go, the app works great and is very full-featured. Other than the inability to change exposure modes like P, A, S, or M, as those are manually controlled with a dial, you basically have full control over the camera via the app for both stills and video. You have a live view of the screen as well as the ability to change things like aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation (depending on the exposure mode). You can also adjust the focus point simply by tapping on the area of the frame -- just like on the LCD of the GM1 -- and it even works during video recording! There's also a magnified view with focus peaking, when you adjust focus (peaking is not shown on the app during video recording, however).

The GPS tagging feature is a bit on the convoluted side, unfortunately. You'll need to start the app and enable GPS logging, then go take some photos (with the app or not -- works either way), then go back and connect the app to the camera, and use the app to send location data to the camera. Then, on the camera, go into the playback mode settings and choose "Location Logging" to apply the appropriate location data to this recent batch of images. Whew.

However, once the initial batch of images have been tagged with location data, and you go back to shooting photos, you can't add location data again to these newer photos without first reconnecting to the app to send new location data over to the camera. To me, that's all a bit too much hassle just to have some geotags added to my photos.

Overall, despite some quirks here and there with connecting the app to the camera and the strangely complicated GPS tagging process, the GM1's Wi-Fi capabilities are robust and very useful. Having the ability to remotely control such a tiny camera like this could make for some very interesting images and videos. The GM1 could be put in some very small or unique places that would be impossible for a larger DSLR or video camera.

Ludicrous Speed. For fans of fast action, the GM1 carries over the GX7's Super High Speed burst mode. In this setting, the camera will capture a blazingly-fast 40 frames per second! In-camera, the images are strung together into a frame-by-frame image sequence, but you can see the individual images when hooking the camera or memory card up to a computer. This mode certainly has its limitations: no continuous AF (your subject's distance better not change), no RAW, and only 4MP JPEG images. However, if you want to capture say a runner passing by, the pitcher at a baseball game or a racecar, enable Super High Speed burst mode and dial down your aperture for a nice deep depth of field and fire away. Also, the sound the GM1 makes in this mode is absolutely bonkers -- like a machine gun!

Handheld Nite Shot. A new feature for the Panasonic GM1 is a multi-shot low-light mode called Handheld Nite Shot, which combines a burst of 6 photos for a low-noise low-light shot without the need for a tripod. Typically, to shoot in very low-light situations, a longer shutter speed and a tripod are needed to get an acceptable exposure. Otherwise, you're left with cranking the ISO sensitivity up and the result is a noisier image. With Handheld Night Mode, the 6-shot burst is combined in-camera to reduce high ISO noise. Note: some cropping to the image will occur in the frame aligning process.

I tested this out by shooting a night scene in standard Program Auto mode (with a tripod) and comparing it to the Handheld Nite Shot scene mode, as well as the "iHandheld Nite Shot" option from the Intelligent Auto mode. (Based on a side-by-side look at Handheld Nite Shot vs iHandheld, my take is that it's the same algorithm and processing, but simply activated -- when enabled in the menu -- in Intelligent Auto mode when the camera determines you're trying to shoot a night scene.)

Check out the comparison photos in the table below:

Panasonic GM1 Handheld Nite Shot mode
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
Program Auto
(on tripod)
Handheld Nite Shot Scene Mode
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
Program Auto (100% crop)
Handheld Nite Shot (100% crop)
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
Program Auto (100% crop)
Handheld Nite Shot (100% crop)

You can see that the standard Program Auto tripod shot produces noticeably more fine detail, as well as retaining more shadow detail compared to the Handheld Nite Shot. The GM1's Auto ISO system picked ISO 1600 in Program mode, whereas it chose a whopping ISO 5000 for the Handheld Nite Shot in order to avoid camera shake in such a dark scene.

The lack of fine detail is further reduced due to the multi-shot nature of this mode. It happened to be a bit windy when I took this shot, so tree branches and leaves moved from shot-to-shot and were blurred somewhat in the multi-shot combining process. I found the 6-shot burst to be slower than I would have preferred, which I later found out was due to the camera defaulting to the Electronic Front Curtain shutter type. If there are moving objects in the scene while the 6 shots are being captured, there can be blurring when the camera combines each frame into a single image. Switching over to all-electronic shutter, I was able to get the full 10fps burst speed.

However, in terms of reducing noise, the Handheld Nite Shot modes did great. Compared to the Program Auto shot above, you can see that the level of visible grain is quite similar despite one being at ISO 1600 and the other at ISO 5000. Even in the comparison below between a standard single-shot Intelligent Auto (ISO 3200) and multi-shot Intelligent Auto night mode image (ISO 6400), the single-shot image shows much more noise, although it also shows more fine detail.

Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
Intelligent Auto (iA)
(iHandheld Nite Shot on, handheld)
Intelligent Auto (iA)
(iHandheld Nite Shot Off, handheld)
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
iA (iHandheld Nite Shot on) - 100% crop
iA (iHandheld Nite Shot off) - 100% crop
Panasonic GM1 Review Panasonic GM1 Review
iA (iHandheld Nite Shot on) - 100% crop
iA (iHandheld Nite Shot off) - 100% crop

Bottom line: if you find yourself out at night and the mood to snap a cool night landscape shot strikes you, but you forgot your tripod, the Handheld Nite Shot mode works well and produces very acceptable results.


Panasonic GM1 Review -- Image Quality Comparison

We were really eager to see how the Panasonic GM1's image quality stacked up, given that it's basically a GX7 in a smaller body with just a few features missing, but selling for significantly less money -- and the GX7 had excellent image quality, arguably the best Panasonic has ever produced. So does the GM1 stack up? Check out our results below, but have your checkbook ready, this is a fantastic little camera!

Below are crops comparing the Panasonic GM1 with the Panasonic GX7, Fuji X-M1, Olympus E-PL5, Sony NEX-5T and Sony RX100 II.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Click any image to bring up the full test shot.

Panasonic GM1 versus Panasonic GX7 at base ISO

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 200

The GM1 shares the same sensor and processor as its larger sibling, the GX7, and as such we would expect these to be virtually identical in image quality. Both cameras look quite good and sharp here at base ISO, bringing out the subtle details of our test target. Since the GM1 is substantially smaller and less expensive than the GX7, the similarity in image quality should make it a very appealing option of advanced photographers.

Panasonic GM1 versus Fuji X-M1 at base ISO

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200
Fuji X-M1 at ISO 200

The X-M1, with an MSRP of $800, is the most affordable of the Fuji models to sport an APS-C-sized version of its highly acclaimed X-Trans sensor. In this comparisons, the Fuji produces sublime image quality in the first two crops, and brings out subtle details in our red fabric swatch while losing out in the pink fabric detail. The smaller-sensored GM1, while having just slightly less detail in some areas, takes a more even approach in handling all areas well.

Panasonic GM1 versus Olympus E-PL5 at base ISO

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200
Olympus E-PL5 at ISO 200

In this face-off between two Micro Four Thirds competitors, the E-PL5 has more aggressive default sharpening than does the GM1, and it shows here with sharper-looking edges and lines, especially in the mosaic tiles. But as we've seen in other recent image comparison tables, this aggressive processing often yields mixed results as ISO rises, and can actually obscure the finest detail in the subject.

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony NEX-5T at base ISO

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200
Sony NEX-5T at ISO 200

The NEX-5T has an APS-C sensor with roughly 63% more surface area on which to gather light with than does the GM1. Here at base ISO they look fairly similar in fine detail performance, both doing a great job, with slight nod to the NEX-5T for its slightly better rendering of the mosaic and red fabric swatch.

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony RX100 II at base ISO

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 200
Sony RX100 II at ISO 160

As opposed to the NEX-5T with its larger sensor, the RX100 II has a sensor about half the size of the GM1, and yet sports roughly 4 more megapixels of resolution. Sony's "backlit" sensor technology does a very good job here at base ISO, though the GM1 extracts more fine detail from the red and pink fabric swatches, areas that smaller sensors typically have a hard time resolving.


Most digital SLRs and CSCs will produce an excellent ISO 100 shot, so we like to push them and see what they can do compared to other cameras at ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400. Recent advances in sensor technology have made ISO 1600 look a lot more like ISO 100, but there are still cameras whose quality starts to fall apart at this setting. We also choose 1600 because we like to be able to shoot at least at this level when indoors and at night.

Panasonic GM1 versus Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

Once again, and as expected, these two siblings perform nearly identically in the image quality department. Both do a fairly good job for this ISO but show some noise processing artifacts in the bottle crop, lose some fine detail in the mosaic tiles and have a tough time resolving contrast and detail in our target's red fabric swatch.

Panasonic GM1 versus Fuji X-M1 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600
Fuji X-M1 at ISO 1600

As predicted, this is where the larger sensor and X-Trans technology of the X-M1 pulls away from the GM1. The bottle crop from the X-M1 is amazing, and there is still some good detail in the mosaic tiles and the red fabric swatch. However, as it did at base ISO, the X-M1 curiously loses detail in the pink fabric swatch, which is an odd twist on an otherwise solid performance.

Panasonic GM1 versus Olympus E-PL5 at ISO 1600

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600
Olympus E-PL5 at ISO 1600

The aggressive sharpening at default cameras settings helps the E-PL5 display crisper detail in these images, but at the cost of some unwanted artifacts starting to show up -- such as the granular-looking noise in the bottle crop and the pink fabric swatch. The GM1's approach to default noise reduction is more even-handed, so it would be helpful to view the two compared in RAW format with manual sharpening applied.

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony NEX-5T at ISO 1600

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600
Sony NEX-5T at ISO 1600

With its larger sensor, we would expect the NEX-5T to perform better at this ISO, and it certainly pulls more fine detail from the mosaic tile. But it also exhibits more noise in the shadowy areas behind the bottle and splotchiness in the pink fabric swatch. These are unwanted artifacts, and somewhat disappointing.

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 1600
Sony RX100 II at ISO 1600

This is where the 1-inch-type sensor of the RX100 II starts to lose ground. It beats most other non-ILC compacts currently on the market, but can't keep pace with the GM1's much larger sensor as ISO rises.


These days, ISO 3200 is a very viable shooting option for most quality cameras, so let's take a look at some comparisons there.

Panasonic GM1 versus Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

And again, the same sensor and processor on these two cameras produce virtually identical results, both yielding significant noise reduction artifacts in the bottle crop and losing a lot of detail in the mosaic tiles and red fabric swatch.

Panasonic GM1 versus Fuji X-M1 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200
Fuji X-M1 at ISO 3200

Here the X-M1 doesn't outpace the GM1 nearly as much as at ISO 1600, which is curious to note. There's more detail in the mosaic tile, but in the other two crops, it doesn't really deliver anything beyond what the GM1 produced. Yet again, the X-M1 curiously loses outright on the pink fabric.

Panasonic GM1 versus Olympus E-PL5 at ISO 3200

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200
Olympus E-PL5 at ISO 3200

Splotchiness from default noise reduction starts to really take a toll here on the E-PL5 images, with the GM1 yet again taking a more even-handed approach.

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony NEX-5T at ISO 3200

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200
Sony NEX-5T at ISO 3200

As at ISO 1600, the NEX-5T has quite a bit more visible noise in the bottle crop than does the GM1. It also produces a much softer rendering of the pink fabric swatch. The GM1 is certainly not perfect here by any means, but kudos to it for standing up so well against two good APS-C cameras at ISO 3200!

Panasonic GM1 versus Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

Panasonic GM1 at ISO 3200
Sony RX100 II at ISO 3200

This ISO is tough terrain for a 1-inch sensor. The RX100-II does much better than many traditional compact cameras, but most people will be much happier with its results at ISO 1600 and below.


Detail: Panasonic GM1 versus Panasonic GX7, Fuji X-M1, Olympus E-PL5, Sony NEX-5T and Sony RX100 II.


ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
RX100 II

ISO 160
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. Fine detail is fun to look at, and often yields far different results than the comparison table above. As is often the case these days, Olympus cameras tend to dominate this table, thanks to their stronger default image sharpening. The NEX-5T also looks quite sharp but there are a few noise reduction artifacts, as is the case with the granule in the "U" of the Pure bottle letters. The RX100 II sensor size limitations are quite obvious here, while the two Panasonic's and the Fuji turn in reasonably good performances, though obviously losing ground to the E-PL5 for overall sharpness.


Panasonic GM1 Review -- Print Quality

Very good 24 x 36 inch prints at ISO 125/200; a nice 13 x 19 at ISO 1600; a good 4 x 6 at ISO 12,800.

ISO 125/200 prints are quite good at 24 x 36 inches, with nice detail and rich colors. Wall display prints are possible up to 30 x 40 inches.

ISO 400 shots look very good at 20 x 30 inches, retaining good detail throughout our test image.

ISO 800 prints are good at 16 x 20 inches. Typical softening in the red channel begins to occur here, as is the case for many cameras we test.

ISO 1600 makes a nice 13 x 19 inch print, with only mild softening in the red fabric and minor noise in flatter areas.

ISO 3200 tends to be the turning point for many Micro Four Thirds cameras, as is the case here, and requires a reduction to 8 x 10 inches due mostly to noise in flatter areas.

ISO 6400 prints a very good 5 x 7. 8 x 10s don't quite pass our official "good" standard, but are not bad for less critical applications.

ISO 12,800 yields a good 4 x 6 for this ISO and sensor type.

ISO 25,600 prints are not usable by our standards; this setting is best avoided entirely.

The Panasonic GM1 turns in a solid performance in the print quality department, and as expected, it yields prints similar to its acclaimed cousin the GX7, which shares the same sensor and processor. These sizes are what we have come to expect from good Micro Four Thirds cameras, and the GM1 certainly doesn't disappoint. Note that the biggest decrease in quality occurs at ISO 3200, so it is best to stay at ISO 1600 and lower if you want to print photos larger than 8 x 10 inches. For online use or small prints, feel free to snap away at ISO 12,800!


In the Box

The Panasonic GM1 retail kit with 12-32mm lens (as reviewed) contains the following items:

  • Panasonic GM1 body
  • Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH MEGA O.I.S. Lens (Silver)
  • DMW-BLH7 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack
  • Battery Charger
  • USB Cable
  • Shoulder Strap
  • Software CD-ROM
  • Limited 1-Year Warranty


Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 4 should be a minimum.
  • Spare Panasonic DMW-BLH7 Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 680mAh)
  • Panasonic DMW-HGR1-S Hand Grip
  • Small to medium camera case


Panasonic GM1 Conclusion

Pro: Cons:
  • Extremely small and lightweight design with large, Four Thirds sensor
  • Ultra-portable camera and lens combo
  • Incredible image quality for the size
  • Excellent high ISO performance for its class
  • Compact kit lens is sharp, even wide-open
  • Uses standard Micro Four Thirds mount; lets you use the full range of Micro 4/3rds lenses
  • Large 3-inch LCD touchscreen is bright and easy to see in bright conditions
  • Panasonic grip plate attachment for added grip (great when using larger lenses)
  • Autofocus speed is very fast, especially for a contrast-detect-only AF system
  • Electronic shutter allows shutter speeds up to 1/16,000s; includes a silent mode
  • Full-res burst shooting performance is excellent at ~10fps with electronic shutter (up to ~5fps with mechanical)
  • Super High Speed burst mode shoots 40fps! (4MP JPEGs only)
  • Touch-screen interface is easy to use and customizable on-screen Function buttons make for easy settings changes on customizations
  • Touch AF is nice to quickly change focus point or area
  • Wi-Fi features are straightforward to setup, work well, and are useful for stills and videos
  • Can use Touch AF in stills & video via Wi-Fi remote app
  • Can change nearly all shooting settings via Wi-Fi app (can't change PASM modes, however)
  • Two video codecs (AVCHD & MP4)
  • Peaking for manual focus in both stills and video
  • Handheld Nite Shot mode works well to create low-noise images in low-light scenes without the need for a tripod
  • Small body can be difficult to hold with larger lenses
  • Very weak flash
  • No hotshoe for attaching external flash, EVF or microphone
  • Poor macro performance with kit lens
  • Touch-AF is slow to re-focus by itself
  • No body-based, sensor-shift image stabilization like GX7; relies on lens-based OIS
  • Panasonic's grip plate attachment covers card slot/battery door and uses tripod socket without providing an additional socket
  • Rear 4-way control dial is very easy to press accidentally, especially scrolling quickly
  • Maximum mechanical second-curtain shutter speed of 1/500s
  • Electronic shutter artifacts
  • Maximum flash sync is 1/50s
  • No Bulb mode
  • Somewhat shallow buffers with RAW files (7-8 frames)
  • Dynamic range not quite as good as some competing models
  • Maximum video frame rate at Full HD resolution is 60i -- no 60p option
  • No headphone jack for monitoring sound levels during video recording
  • No external mic input
  • Meager battery life

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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