The best Micro 4/3 camera.

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Astrotripper Senior Member • Posts: 4,481
The best Micro 4/3 camera.
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Panasonic GM5 might not be objectively the best camera in Micro 4/3 system, but it is nevertheless the best Micro 4/3 camera made to this day. And I do not leave my home without it (and when I accidentally do, I just feel awkward).

I'll be frank, I was not on board when it launched in 2014. A lot of people weren't apparently. The camera seemed too expensive considering some of its limitations. But I was always very curious of it and I had this "I want it" feeling in the back of my head every time I saw one. I finally got one last year, kitted with the 15mm Leica lens. I immediately fell in love with it.

During the course of that year, it basically became my main every day, general purpose camera. I took it to a friend's wedding, where it did great for a few candid snaps here and there, without being an annoyance to me or others. I took it to Iceland where it was my pocketable UWA kit (with Oly 9-18) that complemented my massive E-M1.2 with the 12-100. Every day, I have it on me with one of the tiny primes. It goes with me to every family gathering (FL-LM3 flash is very useful accessory for those occasions as well). Even when I take the E-M1.2 as a main camera for a strictly photo oriented excursion, I have the GM5 in my pocket.

For me, this is basically the distillation of the Micro 4/3 ethos. A very capable camera that's  pocketable with a wide range of lenses. And despite its very compact form, it sports shockingly good ergonomics. Coming from E-M10, I was expecting to pay the price in usability for that reduction in size and weight. Instead, I found that GM5 is actually easier and more comfortable in use than the E-M10. The only advantage of E-M10 was the tilting screen and EVF that is more comfortable to a spectacle wearing person like me. But that's it. GM5 is more intuitive and better thought out and makes an extremely good use of the touchscreen to complement the physical controls.

General performance of GM5 is excellent. It is perfect for every day camera that you might whip out when something unexpected happens. I just pull it out and switch it on in one go and it is ready to take a shot by the time I get it in front of my face, and thanks to blazingly fast AF I know I will get the shot I want. I could not do that with E-M10 and I cannot do that with my E-M1 Mark II either.

On all the lenses I regularly use with it, I replaced their lens caps with ultra slim protective filters so that the camera is always ready to take a shot. Works like a charm.

To sum it up, I pretty much stand by my first impressions . In the end I got the Sony RX100 stick on rubber grip to have a more secure grasp of the camera. I really wish Panasonic would make grip a part of the body instead of that slick flat front. You can see the Sony grip on my GM5 here , together with the Olympus FL-LM3 flash, which works great with GM5 after a minor modification. I wish Panasonic would have a similar compact flash and would bundle it with GM5. The one that came bundled with GM5 is rather uninspiring.

Oh, and the video capabilities are pretty nice as well. It's Panasonic after all. Actually, my only more serious attempt at video so far was done using the GM5.

Anyway, I hope that once the global electronic shutter era arrives, we will see the GM concept resurrected. It seems to me it was a bit ahead of its time.

The good:

  • well implemented touchscreen
  • adequate physical controls despite small size (including customisable buttons)
  • solid construction
  • sexy looks
  • EVF
  • easily jacket pocketable with quite a selection of small lenses
  • nearly inaudible shutter
  • great AF performance
  • image quality mostly in-line with bigger MFT cameras
  • touch AF works like a charm and is extremely useful
  • hot-shoe
  • very good video capabilities

The bad:

  • EVF is kinda small and doesn't do well in bright sunlight without the eye-cup - this is more of an issue for spectacle wearers
  • mechanical shutter limited to 1/500s
  • limited flash functionality and poor flash-sync rate (1/50s)
  • only 10-bit files with electronic shutter AND when using manual lenses with no electronic connection
  • a bit too slippery and not particularly comfortable to hold without additional grip
  • limited long exposure capability (60s limit and abysmal image quality without dark frame subtraction)
  • 24 fps video limited to AVCHD format
  • limited burst shooting capability

The ugly:

  • Panasonic's decision to put design over function (no grip on the body and fancy metal grip accessory that largely defeats the purpose of the camera)
  • that Sony rubber stick-on grip that will make your GM5 much more usable
  • a bit messy, poorly organised and hard to grasp menus (don't confuse with user interface that is not menus)
  • seeing it slip into oblivion with no successor in sight
 Astrotripper's gear list:Astrotripper's gear list
Sigma DP2 Merrill Olympus PEN E-PL1 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Olympus E-M1 II +17 more
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5
16 megapixels • 3 screen • Four Thirds sensor
Announced: Sep 15, 2014
Astrotripper's score
5.0
Average community score
4.6
bad for good for
Kids / pets
good
Action / sports
mediocre
Landscapes / scenery
great
Portraits
great
Low light (without flash)
okay
Flash photography (social)
excellent
Studio / still life
good
= community average
Olympus E-M1 Olympus OM-D E-M10 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Sony RX100
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