Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Review
Not quite a day after Sony made its announcement of two mirrorless cameras with full frame sensors, Panasonic unveiled something of a very different shape: the Lumix DMC-GM1, a pocketable camera with a 16 megapixel Four Thirds sensor. It uses the same Micro Four Thirds mount that its much larger Olympus and Panasonic siblings have been using for years, but at introduction will be sold with a specially designed 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 kit zoom sporting a smaller diameter for the GM1's especially diminutive form.
Panasonic GM1 specification highlights
- 16MP Live MOS sensor
- Built-in Wi-Fi (no NFC)
- 3.0-inch, 1036K dot touch-sensitive LCD
- 1080 HD video recording at 60i/30p
- Built-in pop-up flash
- 1/16,000 maximum shutter speed (with all-electronic shutter)
- Focus peaking
- Picture-in-picture magnification for manual focus
- Micro HDMI output
- Magnesium-alloy shell with aluminum top and bottom plates
Micro Four Thirds made its debut in 2008 with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1. The G1 was DSLR-shaped, with a handgrip and built-in viewfinder, but smaller and lighter than its other interchangeable lens peers at the time. Not long afterwards Olympus joined the party with the PEN E-P1, which was smaller and rangefinder-shaped. From there, the Micro Four Thirds platform split into roughly two camera styles - those that looked like DSLRs (mostly the preserve of Panasonic) and those that didn't (mostly those made by Olympus).
Understandably, in those early days neither manufacturer seemed entirely sure whether the platform would catch on more to step-up beginners or more advanced photographers looking for a lighter second camera, so they tried to appeal to both. Panasonic's first rangefinder-style model, the GF1, was a hit with enthusiasts, but Panasonic engineers quickly steered succeeding models away from that crowd toward the beginner set with simplistic control layouts and easy access to automatic exposure settings. The introduction of the button-and-dial-encrusted-GX1 marked a renewed focus on the enthusiast crowd, but by that time other manufacturers had a lot to offer that segment of the market.
So what's the 'State of Mirrorless' today? Rangefinder-style mirrorless cameras have enjoyed some popularity among enthusiasts, and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and E-M1 have proven MFT cameras have real potential as serious alternatives to mid-range and semi-pro DSLRs. Their smallness as compared to DSLRs is no longer Micro Four Third's sole selling point - they've just become really good cameras that happen to be smaller and lighter. At the same time, compact enthusiast cameras with large sensors are becoming popular too. A fixed zoom lens no longer denotes a major sacrifice in image quality in a post-Cyber-shot RX100 world.
This is the enthusiast camera market that the Panasonic Lumix GM1 enters, donning the title of smallest interchangeable lens camera to date (by Panasonic's reckoning). It boasts the same 16 megapixel CMOS sensor as the GX7, with muted retro design cues borrowed from the same camera. The GM1 uses the familiar Micro Four Thirds mount and it is introduced alongside a new 12-32mm F3.5-5.6 with a retractable design that is specifically designed with a small enough diameter to fit neatly onto the camera body, which is barely taller than the lens mount itself.
It would draw obvious comparisons to the Pentax Q-series, the other miniature interchangeable lens system, but the Q7 uses a definitely compact-camera-sized 1/1.7" type sensor. The GM1 could also be compared to the Sony Cyber-shot RX00 II, both priced at $750 US at introduction and targeting roughly the same group of users. That camera offers a 1" type sensor that's big for a compact but nowhere near the size of a Micro Four Thirds sensor, as well as a fixed zoom lens. However, the Q7 and RX100 II seem most similar to the GM1 in terms of size and target audience, despite their smaller sensors.
Specifications compared to Pentax Q7 and Sony RX100 II
|Panasonic GM1||Pentax Q7||Sony RX100 II|
|Sensor||16MP, Four Thirds||12MP, 1/1.7" BSI CMOS||20MP, 1"-type BSI CMOS|
|Sensor size (mm2)||225mm2||42mm2||116mm2|
|Lens Mount||Micro Four Thirds||Pentax Q||Fixed|
|Zoom range (kit or fixed, 35mm equiv.)||24-64mm||23-69mm||28-100mm|
|LCD||3.0-inch 1036K-dot fixed touch screen||3.0-inch 460K-dot fixed||3.0-inch 1229K-dot tilting|
|Viewfinder option||None||OVF accessory||EVF accessory|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi||None||Wi-Fi with NFC|
|Video capture max. resolution||1080 60i, 30p||1080 30p||1080 60p, 60i|
|Stabilization||In lens - Mega O.I.S.||Sensor-shift IS||Optical Steady Shot|
|Dimensions||98.5 x 54.9 x 30.4 mm (3.88 x 2.16 x 1.20")||102 x 58 x 34 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.34″)||102 x 58 x 38 mm (4.00 x 2.29 x 1.51″)|
|Weight||274 g (0.60 lb / 9.60 oz)||200 g (0.44 lb / 7.05 oz)||281 g (0.62 lb / 9.91 oz)|
There are any number of ways to slice and dice the information in the table above. In some respects, the GM1 seems to be miles ahead of the cameras we're comparing it against but in other ways there's an advantage to the Sony or the Pentax. The GM1 offers compatibility with a great many lenses (the Pentax Q 'system' is small and arguably not very 'serious' and the RX100 II's lens is fixed), but it lacks an accessory port or hot shoe. It offers 1080 HD video, but the specification falls short of the RX100's 60p offering. Such is the nature of the current enthusiast market - lots of options, and no clear leader in any single respect. And depending on how you look at it, the GM1 is poised to really shake things up.
|The above chart shows just where the GM1 stands in terms of sensor size. Its Four Thirds sensor is head and shoulders above the Pentax Q7, and larger than the RX100 II's 1" type chip.|
Enthusiasts also tend to be interested not just in the maximum aperture of a camera's lens, but also the size of its sensor, as depth of field control will depend on those two characteristics. Though the GM1 has a larger sensor than the Sony RX100 II, it doesn't really offer better depth of field control, and the RX100 II's ability to zoom out to a 100mm equivalent focal length gives it a little bit of an advantage in blurring backgrounds.
It is certainly true that the GM1 represents a new feat in Micro Four Thirds - not just smaller and lighter than a DSLR but truly pocketable. Does that dramatic size reduction compared to previous M43 offerings come at the expense of features or performance? And does the GM1 come up short in handling and user experience just to nab the title of 'world's smallest'? Read on to find out.
Google is holding a competition that could see your Pixel photos gracing millions of screens.
Nikon's 100th birthday party continues worldwide as a distributor in Italy organized a one-of-a-kind feat: assembling the world's largest 'human camera' from over a thousand volunteers.
Ricoh has dropped the price of its Theta SC 360 spherical camera by to $199, a reduction of roughly $50. The camera features two 12MP sensors and can record Full HD video in addition to stills.
Photojournalist Pete Souza served as the presidential photographer for both Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. In an interview with fellow photographer Marcia Nighswander, he discusses several of his most noteworthy images.
Photographer Michael Wolf has been documenting the crowded conditions of Tokyo's subway trains since the 1990s. The photos have gone viral regularly in the years since he started the project, and he just published the final edition in the series.
The just-launched OnePlus 5 is getting a minor update that should improve camera function.
A Belgian camera shop is showing off an extremely rare, limited 'Rex Edition' Nikon D500. The cosmetic alterations were provided by a customer's German Shepherd Rex, who got ahold of the camera within a day of its purchase.
Adobe says that many of its users have been relying on SkyBox for VR editing and it therefore made sense to make the plug-ins available to all subscribers through Creative Cloud.
The Pictar grip provides a number of customizable physical controls for your iPhone camera, but at its price point we would like to see better materials and build quality.
Peak Design's 'consider every detail' approach shines in the Everyday Backpack. While expensive, it's one of the best options out there for a photographer who needs to pack a lot of stuff in addition to gear.
If you're thinking of using Canon's sports glass on the Sony a9, think again. The ultra-fast camera slows way down when you attach off-brand glass.
The Polish town of Katowice is not famed as an area of beauty, but as all photographers know, that doesn't mean that beauty can't be found if you look in the right places. Mariusz Pietranek used a drone to look down on the colorful sedimentation tanks at an ironworks.
New York Times video journalist Ben Solomon spent a harrowing three weeks accompanying Iraqi Major Sajjad al-Hour as he and his men fought to retake Mosul from I.S. forces.
The 3D VR camera launched through a crowdfunding campaign in 2015 goes on sale beginning June 26.
Noctilucent clouds, a crescent moon and Venus were visible in the pre-dawn sky over Budapest yesterday. Photographer György Soponyai captured NASA's astronomy picture of the day.
Squirming pets won't sit still for photos? A Kickstarter campaign is looking to help.
Find out how Chris Burkard shifted from editorial photography to his true passions: landscapes, conservation and, of course, surfing.
The updated EyeEm app scans your camera roll and picks images that are composed particularly well, have the best quality, or highest chance of selling on EyeEm Market.
It's three years old but still a solid option for a Micro Four Thirds shooter looking for a high-quality, fast, wide-angle prime. Take a look at how we got along with it.
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.