Bought a lightly used GM1, first impressions and some questions.

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photofan1986
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Bought a lightly used GM1, first impressions and some questions.
5 months ago

A couple of months ago, I bought an E-PM2 for a good price as a backup for my E-M5.

At the time, I really wanted the GM1 but could not justify the price difference. Fast forward to yesterday, I could grab the GM1 almost brand new for 150€ less than shop prices, so around 500€ with kit lens, with warranty and all.

I was using the Pany 14 2.5 on the E-PM2 with very nice results, but some limitations.
First, obviously, the pancake is not a zoom, and I sometimes miss a bit of flexibility. I do have the 14-45, but I only use it on the E-M5, as I don't think it's comfortable on the E-PM2.

Then, I wanted the bigger screen (3/2 instead of 16/9 on the PM2), and was really looking forward to the first curtain electronic shutter to avoid shutter shock, something I experienced on the PM2.

So yesterday, I picked up the camera. First impression: wow, this thing is small! I know, I know, I read tons of review, even compared the cameras side by side on the web, but until you hold it in your hand, you can't appreciate how tiny the thing is. Too small maybe? Well, hard to say, but the E-PM2 feels really right in my hand, even though it's no gripped E-M5. This tiny Pany is so thin and there is really very little space for the thumb to rest that I simply do not fell comfortable holding the camera with one hand. So paradoxally, while it's smaller, I need two hands to use it. Maybe adding the Richard Franiec grip would help? My little Canon S100 is very easy to hold, while size is pretty similar (but it has a better thumb rest).

Second observation: build quality is superb. It's really a little jewel, and the PM2 feels like a plastic toy in comparison.

Powering the camera on, I realized immediately that I'll have to learn the Panasonic menus, as the only Panasonic I've used is an Old GH1 I bought recently but did not use a lot. Well, ok it's maybe something I'll get used to, but to me the Olympus Super Control Panel is so much easier to use than the Pany menu. It's no Sony Nex menu (thanks goodness!), but I don't find it as intuitive as the Olympus. Bah, I could get used to it.

Some things I don't like...

The camera is quick is some instances, and in some other cases, it leaves me waiting more than it should. It's not consistent. For example, focusing is blistering fast, I mean really really terrific. My OMD and PM2 used with Panasonic lenses are good, but not in the same league. That tells me somewhat that even though you can mount an Oly lens on a Pany camera, and the other way round, the compatibility is not 100%. I thought it was the new 12-32 lens, but my 14 2.5 is also blistering fast on the GM1.

So, focus is amazing (and that's the main thing to me), BUT...changing the aperture settings in A mode or exposure compensation ...or basically any setting that is changed with the spinning wheel is SO SLOOOOW! The PM2 is much quicker. And it makes the GM1 feel like it's falling asleep. The last time I had a similar feeling is when I was using a camera when it was freezing cold outside. The LCD panel suddenly started reacting slowly.

Also, take a landscape orientation shot, and zoom into the picture, scrolling in the picture is very smooth, nicer than the PM2. But take a portrait shot and the damn thing becomes laggy as hell. I mean, come on, you're not being serious, Panasonic?

Another thing, at that is more a question. Can you zoom into a picture, and scroll between the photos to check a detail? I can do this on ALL my cameras. On the PM2, zoom, press info and use the arrow keys to switch to the next or previous photo. I cannot find a way to do it on the GM1.

A word on the kit 12-32. I really wanted the lens, and would have even bought it separately for the PM2, but I found it more interesting price wise with the GM1. The lens is very small, barely bigger than the 14 pancake. Sweet. It's very well built also, the perfect companion to the Gm1. It even looks very nice on my silver E-M5. Performance wise, it's a mixed bag. Basically, it's very sharp from around 14 to 32 wide open, which is already quite a feat for such a tiny lens. In my experience, the Oly 14-42II is only good from 14 to about 28mm, after that it's soft wide open, and one has to stop it down to indecent number to get really sharp images.
Back to the 12-32, it's VERY sharp from about 14 to 32 (like in prime lens sharp), but the 12mm is soft on the left. I know there have been reports of sample variations, and no, luck and I don't get along very well. The lens is usable and it's very tolerably soft on the left side, but stopping down does not really improve matters. That's a shame. But all in all, I think it's a fair performance.

So that's it for my first impressions. While I'm not sure I will keep the camera and/or the lens, I am certainly impressed with what Panasonic has achieved with this one. Really tiny, yet really powerful. But maybe too tiny?

 photofan1986's gear list:photofan1986's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR Canon PowerShot S100 Olympus OM-D E-M5 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 +6 more
Kodak Pixpro S-1 Olympus PEN E-PM2 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
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