Entry-Level Mirrorless Camera Roundup (2013)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
16MP CMOS Sensor | 3.0-inch Touch Screen | Built-in Wi-Fi
What we like:
- Extremely compact
- Great lens selection
- Excellent images in good light
What we don't:
- Poor battery life
- Lack of command dial
- Most compatible lenses larger than camera body
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 underscores the 'Micro' in its Micro Four Thirds class as one of the smallest interchangeable lens digital cameras ever produced. It uses the same 16 megapixel sensor as the Panasonic Lumix GX7, the processor borrowed from the Lumix G6, and uses the same Micro Four Thirds mount as all of its G-series siblings. It's sold as a kit with a collapsible 12-32mm F3.5-5.6, the only lens at launch specifically designed to fit the smaller body.
The GM1's image quality, unsurprisingly, is much like the GX7's - excellent color in good light JPEGs, with good exposure and detail. Higher ISOs have typically been challenging for Panasonic's JPEG processing and, while they're better than they were, the GM1's high ISO JPEGS can still look a bit messy. Shooting Raw isn't a necessity, but is a good idea for low light work.
While the GM1 will function with any other M43 lens, they're a bit mis-matched in size. A separate accessory grip giving the camera a bit more height is sold to provide a better fit with these lenses. Being close in size to a point-and-shoot, it's no surprise that the GM1 handles a lot like one. It has a basic control panel with a rear compass dial, but lacks the command dials a more advanced user might like. Those with larger hands may find it slightly awkward to use, but the trade-off is maximum portability. With the kit lens or a compact prime, the GM1 fits into a large jacket pocket without much trouble. The GM1 is equipped with Wi-Fi and a 3.0-inch touch screen, useful in conjunction with Panasonic's 'Pinpoint' AF mode for focus point selection. Practically a requirement for the class, the GM1 also offers 1080p HD video.
The GM1 is truly small, and therein lies its attraction as well as its potential drawbacks. It will be uncomfortably small for some, and it lacks the direct exposure controls enthusiasts would like to use. However, if small is what you're after and you're concerned about image quality, the GM1 is one of the most enticing cameras in the class.