Panasonic's new baby CSC is the Lumix DMC-GM5, a camera that continues the theme of miniature styling established by the Lumix DMC-GM1 only a year ago. For those who need a refresher, the GM1 is the almost inconceivably small interchangeable lens camera bearing a 16MP Four Thirds sensor and Micro Four Thirds lens mount. The GM5 is an addition to the range, rather than a replacement for the GM1, bringing some small (that's the theme here) but notable new features to the lineup.

The GM5 offers the same imaging basics as the GM1, including that 16MP Live MOS Four Thirds sensor, but adds a 1.16 million pixel electronic viewfinder and a clickable rear command dial. It's a slightly bigger camera, but in the scale of the GM-series that means an extra 5mm here and there. They are both truly small cameras.

Panasonic GM5 specification highlights

  • 16MP Live MOS Four Thirds sensor
  • Built-in Wi-Fi (no NFC)
  • 3.0-inch, 921k-dot touch-sensitive LCD
  • 1080 HD video recording at 60p
  • Bundled 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

Minor differences exist between the cameras in terms of hardware. The GM5 uses a slightly lower-resolution 3.0-inch display (921k-dot vs 1036k-dot), but adds 1080/60p video recording where the GM1 tops out at 1080/30p. The GM5 also introduces a few more physical buttons to the rear control layout.

Less fortunately, the GM5 uses the same battery as the GM1, a DMW-BLH7 that's rated to 220 shots with the GM5. That's an extremely low number, even among cameras the same size as the GM5, and especially against other interchangeable lens cameras.

The GM1 offers a pop-up flash, which has been omitted from the GM5 in favor of a hotshoe. A small flash accessory is bundled with the camera, with a guide number 7 at ISO 100 and a pretty poor 1/50 second flash sync speed.

Panasonic GM5 vs. GM1 vs. Sony RX100 III

  Panasonic GM1 Panasonic GM5 Sony RX100 III
Sensor 16MP, Four Thirds 16MP, Four Thirds 20MP, 1"-type BSI CMOS
Sensor size (mm2) 225mm2 225mm2 116mm2
Lens Mount Micro Four Thirds Micro Four Thirds Fixed
Zoom range (kit or fixed, 35mm equiv.) 24-64mm 24-64mm 24-70mm
LCD 3.0-inch 1036K-dot fixed touch screen 3.0-inch 921k-dot fixed touch screen 3.0-inch 1229K-dot tilting
Flash Built-in Bundled Built-in
Viewfinder option None Built-in EVF Built-in EVF
Raw shooting Yes Yes Yes
Connectivity Wi-Fi Wi-Fi Wi-Fi with NFC
Video capture max. resolution 1080 60i, 30p 1080 60p, 60i 1080 60p, 60i
Stabilization In-lens In-lens Optical Steady Shot
Dimensions 98.5 x 54.9 x 30.4 mm (3.88 x 2.16 x 1.20") 99 x 60 x 36 mm (3.9 x 2.36 x 1.42″) 102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61″)
Weight 274 g (0.60 lb / 9.60 oz) 281 g (0.62 lb / 9.92 oz) 290 g (0.64 lb / 10.23 oz)

The key feature differences between the GM1 and GM5 are outlined above. What's hard to quantify in a comparison table is the impact of two added customizable Fn buttons, a clickable control dial and inclusion of ISO on the four-way control pad. These things can make a real difference to enthusiast shooters.

Comparing an ILC to a compact seems like an unfair fight, but the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III is close to the GM5 in terms of size, features, price and some of its target audience. Opting for the RX100 III would mean making do with a much smaller sensor and fixed lens. The RX100 III does offer something closer to true pocketability, a higher resolution sensor at 21MP, an articulated LCD and a faster lens.

Kit options and pricing

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is sold as a kit with a LUMIX G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S. lens for $900/£700. A kit with the Leica DG Summilux 15mm F1.7 ASPH lens has appeared in the UK for £950 but doesn't look to be available in the US. Bundled with all kits is an external flash.

It's no coincidence that the stocking-stuffer-sized GM5 is shipping in time for the 2014 winter holiday. Is it ideal for an enthusiast looking for a big sensor ILC with a small body? Or is an enthusiast better off committing to a slightly bigger or smaller camera?

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