DPReview Gear of the Year - Part 2: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
16MP sensor | 3.0-inch touch screen | Built-in Wi-Fi | 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 collapsible kit lens
Most cameras find their way to our office in a medium-sized cardboard box. The Panasonic Lumix GM1, rather stealthily, arrived in a small, rectangular FedEx box usually reserved for point-and-shoot deliveries. And that alone says a lot about the GM1, a Micro Four Thirds camera so tiny that we asked ourselves more than once while preparing the preview, "Does this really have a Four Thirds sensor in it?"
Panasonic Lumix GM1: What I Love
- 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- 3.0-inch touch screen
- Great companion to compact primes like the 20mm F1.7
- Mode dial and other external controls
- Textured leather-like finish, magnesium alloy frame and aluminum hardware
It struck a chord with me particularly, since it seemed to be a weird mashup of each of the cameras I’d previously reviewed for DPR. If you took the concepts behind the Pentax Q7, Sony RX100 II and Olympus E-PM2 and threw them in a blender, the GM1 might be the thing that comes out.
Like a lot of hobbyist photographers I know, I’m in a struggle with my DSLR. I love the better high ISO performance and dynamic range it provides, but I hate lugging it around when I’m out and about. Consequently, it gets left at home a lot when I’m not Going Shooting. In different ways I enjoyed shooting with the Pentax Q7, Sony RX100 II and Olympus E-PM2, but for me personally, none of them quite hit the target of what I wanted in terms of size and capability.
Lo and behold, the Panasonic GM1 crossed my desk in its point-and-shoot sized box.
Micro Four Thirds cameras are no doubt smaller than their DSLR counterparts, but until recently none have been truly pocketable. The GM1, with either a 20mm pancake or its 12-32mm kit lens, actually fits into a jacket pocket. Even better, it fits into one of the larger compartments in my purse. It’s at my side and ready to shoot at a moment’s notice, and when I’m not shooting I don’t notice it.
It doesn’t hurt the GM1’s case that it’s a stylish little gadget. It fits easily in my purse, but I’m happy to attach a strap and carry it over my shoulder when I’m out and about. And though it doesn’t have the fancy dials of more advanced ILCs, it has what I need for casual shooting. The touch screen is responsive and I have everything I need organized in the Q.Menu. I can quickly get to exposure compensation, white balance and ISO, and make adjustments via the rear dial to aperture or shutter speed. Game, set, match.
Here’s where the GM1 is set apart from other cameras I’ve tested: I want to have it with me, even when I’m heading out of the apartment to run errands, or go to the coffee shop, and I don’t have any specific intentions of Going Shooting. I might just see a nice shot and the GM1 will get it. When I take my DSLR out on these kinds of trips, I'm acutely aware that it's there the whole time.
A good camera is not hard to find. Most any camera in the GM1’s peer group is good, and will take good images in a lot of conditions. It's the way you intend to use a camera that makes a difference in how well suited it is for you. What sets the GM1 apart for me is that it’s good and it fits into my life and the way I take pictures on an everyday basis. Editor Barnaby Britton put it well in his Gear of the Year article when he said starting a camera review is like agreeing to take a trip around the world with someone you just met. The GM1 and I are at the beginning of our journey and there's still a lot of ground to cover, but so far we're getting along swimmingly.
This is part 2 in a series of articles where DPReview staff will be highlighting their personal standout products of the year.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Sample Images
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Samples Gallery|