Conclusion - Pros

  • Extremely small and lightweight camera body
  • Very good image quality
  • Reliable transfer of image files over Wi-Fi
  • Truly silent shutter mode
  • Good touchscreen
  • Nice level of Q.menu and virtual Fn button customizability
  • Compatible with all Micro Four Thirds lenses
  • Kit zoom is highly compact with collapsible design, good image quality
  • Reliable iAuto mode for beginner/hands-off types

Conclusion - Cons

  • Poor noise reduction
  • JPEG rendering of yellows a bit washed out
  • Low battery capacity
  • Small controls can be fiddly
  • Focus mode dial not especially useful
  • Electronic shutter can produce banding under artificial light
  • Video resolution tops out at 1080 30p
  • Default dynamic range settings produce slight highlight clipping
  • Slow 1/50 flash sync speed

Overall Conclusion

How well you'll like the GM1 probably depends on what kind of shooter you are. This camera is best suited for casual, every day shooting. Its natural companion is its kit zoom or a small prime, and though it's perfectly happy to accept a telephoto lens, it feels awkward to use for any length of time.

It will make someone upgrading from a point-and-shoot happy, offering better low light image quality and a good auto-only shooting mode for those who want the camera to make exposure decisions. Enthusiasts looking for a lightweight, carry-everywhere camera for casual snapshots will also like its portability and image quality, but should know that it doesn't have the physical controls or handling of something like the Panasonic Lumix GX7. Current Micro Four Thirds users might also consider the GM1 as a potential second camera to bigger Lumix GH- and Olympus O-MD bodies, as the GM1 will use their current lenses.

Features

To make such a small camera some concessions must be made, and the GM1 offers a few less hardware and firmware refinements than its GX7 sibling does. Most important to note is its 230 shot battery capacity – that’s enough to take you through a couple of extended shooting sessions, but won’t make it through a long day of shooting without some extra charge, let alone a weekend. For a casual snapshooter the battery life may not be a problem. If you plan to take the GM1 on vacation or for a long day of shooting, buying an extra battery to have on hand would be wise.

If you're considering the GM1, you already know you want a small camera. The benefits are self-evident, and there are a few drawbacks that come with the territory. There’s no accessory port, compatible lenses make for an awkward fit on the camera body, and the controls can be occasionally fussy. The GM1 is about the size of a compact point-and-shoot (ignoring the lens) so that’s a good benchmark to consider whether or not the ergonomics will work for you.

There are also a number of not-quite-smallest-in-the-world-but-still-small interchangeable lens cameras in this class that are also worth considering. The GM1 may well be the smallest but it's far from the cheapest. Beginners could also look at the Sony NEX-3N, which is nearly as small and uses an APS-C sized sensor. However, we prefer Panasonic's user interface and the selection of prime lenses available for Micro Four Thirds. The Olympus E-PM2 and Panasonic's own Lumix GF6 are other lower-cost alternatives, offering slightly more substantial grips, but neither feels as elegant a tool as the GM1.

All of the above cameras will serve someone moving up from a compact very well, but there's an appeal to the GM1 that they just don't have. The GM1 feels a little more sleek and refined. The others, while they're fine cameras, aren't as satisfying to shoot with and carry, at least for this reviewer. I can carry it over my shoulder and forget it's there, while its bulkier and slightly larger peers will remind me of their presence.

Image Quality

Overall image quality from the Panasonic GM1 is what we expected - very good. The kit lens is nice, especially considering its small size, and adding a lovely 20mm F1.7 prime takes the whole thing up a level. There are a few quirks in Panasonic's JPEG processing algorithm that some may find problematic, including messy high ISO images and somewhat lackluster rendering of yellows, but we were perfectly happy with the vast majority of images shot for this review. Those who want to devote the time and energy toward Raw processing will be rewarded, though we'd strongly recommend purchasing a Raw converter rather than relying on the rather clunky SilkyPix software that's included.

The GM1's kit lens is reasonably sharp and fast enough for everyday shooting, and keeps the camera compact. If you're looking for a little more in terms of reach or image quality, the Micro Four Thirds system has a lot to offer. For something a little longer, Olympus's 45mm F1.8 provides other options for portraiture and moderate telephoto shooting. They add bulk and cost, but they're options available to the GM1 user that a fixed lens compact like the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II (for all of its good image quality) just can't match.

The final word

Not everyone needs or wants the smallest, and if having an EVF or a more substantial control layout is worth carrying around a slightly bigger camera, then the GM1 probably isn't for you. However, if you're happy using a touch screen, and if fewer dials and controls aren't a deal-breaker, then you should take a good look at this camera. It's a good (and convenient) companion to have at your side.

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Good for
Street shooting, casual portraits, moderately low light.
Not so good for
Fast action, telephoto shooting, very low light.
Overall score
78%
The GM1 offers many of the features and image quality of its Lumix GX7 sibling in a much smaller, lighter package. A few concessions have been made to reduce the size so drastically, namely a lower-capacity battery, but it's an excellent option for casual shooting.

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Review Samples

There are 26 images in the Lumix DMC-GM1 samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Panasonic Lumix GM1 review samples gallery

26 images • Posted on Dec 18, 2013 • View album
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There are also 34 images in the Lumix DMC-GM1 first impressions review samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.

Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution. Because our review images are now hosted on the 'galleries' section of dpreview.com, you can enjoy all of the new galleries functionality when browsing these samples.

Panasonic Lumix GM1 first impressions samples gallery

34 images • Posted on Nov 4, 2013 • View album
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