Is the GM1 a game changer?

Started Jul 18, 2014 | Discussions thread
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MOD Tom Caldwell Forum Pro • Posts: 33,918
Is the GM1 a game changer?

Many years ago the Leica 35mm film camera changed the way people,took photographs and virtually reigned supreme until the slr style camera was popularised.

The Leica RF style was very popular because it was a very compact camera in its day and highly efficient and it spawned a huge number of clones.

Come the slr many chose to follow that path as in many ways it made photography easier and although the lenses were larger and the camera itself larger as well it came very near to wiping the RF style camera off the map.  But Leica survived simply because of its reputation for impeccable build.

Now we are well into the digital camera age and people follow styles of cameras as if they are clutching to voices from the past. In truth film camera bodies evolved over a long period of time and were mechanical marvels that they worked at all.  there is nothing wrong with their design basics.

We are approaching some sort of blind alley where digital camera manufacturers are finding it ever harder to put out killer advances and therefore refinements are more the big issue.

However cameras also seem to have shrunk until users complain that they cannot comfortably hold them as a result large cameras that look like dslr bodies still hold sway and most especially if someone is paying a fee based on how big your camera might be.  One might therefore wonder less on why cameras other than Leica held sway for fee paying work and Leica's themself were more used for street photography where no one cared about the size of your camera and the fee did not come from the subject of the exercise.

Nevertheless the other pole in current camera design remains with cameras loosely based on the RF design.

However is there merit in a camera, like the original Leica RF once was, as small as practicably possible to take great images.  One that excellent lenses can be fitted to and where photographers do not care let alone complain about cramped control surfaces to revel in compact power.

I have been using a GM1 over the last last few weeks with a couple of great lenses - the Nocticron 42.5 and the Olympus 12mm f2.0 normally I would take my dslr kit and my huge but exquisite Canon EF lenses.  Two trips to the waggon and a lot of huffing an puffing - very impressive to the "natives" who use only a mobile phone for photography.  A sort of "must be good as it is so huge, can I pay your fee by instalments?" stuff.  With the GM1 I hardly knew I was carrying it and luckily "they" knew I had the big gear in reserve to terrify them if they dared to say anything.  That certainly stifled the smirks.

The results were quite good, perhaps not quite as good and the big gear might do at the pinch, but acceptable enough for my clients.  Wonder oh wonder they actually liked them.

I wonder if the GM1 should be the tiny "Leica RF" model for modern photography.

Right at the moment it seems to be regarded as a standby camera, second string, one for the wife, how small can I make it, fit the smallest lens to do so - no regard for the fact that a great lens makes a great camera greater.  To buy a GM1 and then shackle it with a less than excellent lens is to shackle it in chains.  Do the same to your Leica and it would be a tragedy.

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Tom Caldwell

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1
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