Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Review
In good light, the GM1 turns in very good JPEGs straight from the camera. At default processing settings colors look good. Landscapes are rendered with nice blue skies and healthy greens, though using Standard JPEG processing mode, yellows are sometimes a bit washed out. Switching to Vivid Photo Style mode boosts color across the spectrum, including yellows. Default sharpness is adequate, though processing Raw files can render slightly more natural-looking results.
|Original JPEG, ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, f/5.6|
|JPEG, 100% crop||Raw converted 'to taste' ACR 8.3, 100% crop|
In this example the GM1 has struggled to render the very finest detail, and ACR is able to produce slightly better results. Overall though, low ISO JPEG images from the GM1 provided nice levels of sharpening and detail with pleasing color rendition. Moving on to high ISO, the samples below are straight-from-the-camera JPEGs. There's more pixel peeping fun to be had at our studio test scene page, but the samples below show some real-world results with default noise reduction settings.
|ISO 3200, 1/40 sec, f/3.5, 12-32mm lens at 12mm (24mm equivalent)||100% crop|
|ISO 6400, 1/30 sec, f/2.8, 20mm lens||100% crop|
|ISO 12800, 1/160 sec, f/2.8, 20mm lens||100% crop|
In a way, the GM1's key feature might be its Micro Four Thirds lens mount. The camera is ready and willing to accept all MFT lenses, including those good prime lenses, and with an extremely small camera body it essentially becomes a compact and lightweight vessel for something like the 20mm F1.7 (have we mentioned that we like that lens?).
Panasonic Lumix G Vario 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 Mega O.I.S.
For a uniquely tiny camera, Panasonic developed a tiny kit lens. It's a collapsible, stabilized zoom covering a 24-64mm equivalent range on MFT cameras. It's a perfectly nice walking around kit lens that gives a wide enough angle of view for landscapes, while offering a moderate zoom reach too.
|ISO 200, 1/1250 sec, f/4.5 at 12mm.|
|ISO 200, 1/100 sec, f/5.6 at 32mm||ISO 200, 1/800 sec, f/5.6 at 17mm|
We have no major complaints to lodge against the 12-32mm. Like many kit lenses it will be too slow and too short for photographing sports, and there's some expected softness approaching corners, but it's a portable little zoom that's a good companion to this small camera.
Historically we've found Panasonic's high ISO noise reduction JPEG processing a little bit sloppy, leaving too much grain and false color behind, giving an overall 'mushy' look to images. The GM1 seems to have inherited some of this quality as the ISO 25600 JPEG below shows. The good news is that the camera's ability to record Raw files provides a lot of flexibility in post-processing.
|Original JPEG, ISO 25600, 1/100 sec, f/4.0|
|JPEG, 100% crop||Raw converted 'to taste', 100% crop|
The above example shows that there are real gains to be made in applying your own noise reduction. The GM1's noise processing leaves a considerable amount of grain and color noise behind, where ACR is able to take more out.
|Original JPEG, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f/4.2|
|JPEG, 100% crop||Raw converted 'to taste', 100% crop|
Even at lower ISOs, as the shadow area in the above image shows, the GM1's processing engine sometimes leaves behind color noise. The rocky surface is likely not helping, and it's relatively easy to remove in ACR. In general, Panasonic's processing for noise reduction takes a 'less is more approach' which leaves more color noise and grain in JPEGs than most of its peers. Noise reduction can be adjusted +/- 5 levels per each Photo Style.
Panasonic's bundled SilkyPix 4.1 software is capable of processing the GM1's Raw files, and this version promises better balance between noise reduction and fine detail. Like previous versions though, the software is slow and unintuitive. It will handle basic conversion but for in-depth editing, users will find it frustrating to work with.
Shooting Raw will certainly bring the best out of the GM1, but it doesn't necessarily feel like a Raw-only camera. If you plan to do a lot of low light shooting and you'd like to fine-tune your results for printing, investing in a more polished and capable raw converter would be a must.
On the other end of the spectrum is a user who doesn't want to change settings and fiddle with Raw conversions. For this user, Panasonic created iAuto. Though the GM1 holds plenty of enthusiast appeal and will behave accordingly, it offers fully automatic shooting for the hands-off photographer. We've found Panasonic's iAuto mode to be reliable in the past, and that holds true in the GM1.
It chooses exposures that will give a beginner good results, and will accurately identify most scenes. It found a couple of 'faces' where there weren't any, but it wasn't especially prone to doing so. There are two versions of this fully auto mode offered in the GM1: standard iAuto, and iAuto+ which offers exposure compensation and white balance tuning by way of an amber/blue sliding tuner.
|iAuto Shooting Mode||iAuto Shooting Mode|
As with the GX7's auto modes we occasionally saw it choosing smaller apertures rather than faster shutter speeds, introducing diffraction to some images and thus loosing a bit of sharpness. I only found it to be a problem in the GM1 with a handful of photos, but it's something to watch out for. This quirk aside, iAuto will serve a beginner well.
Using the electronic shutter can produce banding under certain types of artificial lighting, especially fluorescent lights. Throughout the course of the review the GM1 was used indoors in many different conditions, and banding wasn't a noticeable problem in the images we shot. Higher shutter speeds tend to produce more banding, so the long shutter speeds normally used under dimmer artificial lighting may not produce the problem noticeably. Mechanical shutter is available up to 1/500 sec, so the average GM1 user may never encounter it unless he or she uses silent mode.
The GM1's built-in flash is rated as a guide number 4.0 at ISO 100, with a 1/50 sec flash sync speed. In other words, it's a bit under-powered. It won't be able to freeze motion at 1/50 sec, so it's best used for fill or portraits in low light. Flash output can be adjusted +/-2 EV by thirds of a stop. Flash modes include force on, red eye reduction, slow synchro and slow synchro with red eye reduction. However, in electronic shutter mode, the flash is completely unavailable.
|The GM1's built-in flash unit does a nice job of preserving skin tones in our example to the left. There's quite a harsh shadow behind the subject, and experimenting with tilting the flash can help reduce shadows.|
It also does the neat Panasonic trick of tilting backward by about 90 degrees, which makes it possible to bounce the light off a ceiling for a little indirect lighting as long as you don't mind holding it in place with one hand and shooting with the other. With no accessory port (and really no room to support one) there's no option for mounting a more powerful flash to the camera or triggering an off-camera flash wirelessly, so what you get is what you get.
|Christine by JP Zanotti|
from Car wreck
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with a range of accessories including filters and diffusers. Read more
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more