Operation and Menus
The GM1 is light on controls compared to many other Panasonic Micro 4/3 cameras, but what it does have is fairly well implemented. The main controls included a top plate mode dial, along with the rear wheel that also acts as a four-way controller. This wheel is used to change exposure parameters, and the function toggles between parameters by pressing the top of the wheel. As such, in aperture priority mode, the wheel sets the aperture, and a click switches to exposure compensation. There is a focus mode switch surrounding a programmable function button on top of the camera, which is easily accessible by your right index finger while shooting. I set this button to change ISO, as I’d imagine most photographers would do. The four-way controller contains buttons for white balance, drive mode and focus point selection. The rear of the camera also has dedicated movie record, display and quick menu buttons. The Quick menu is implemented as in other Panasonic cameras, providing quick access to JPEG options, flash settings, movie record settings, metering mode, etc.
The result is a camera that can largely be operated without use of the touch screen or menus despite lacking many controls other cameras have. The touch screen is a big help in many instances, however. As with all touch screen cameras, I love being able to move focus points simply by touching somewhere on the screen. The menus, which are largely identical to those found on the GX7, are likewise very easy to navigate by touch. The menus themselves are well laid out into multiple sections and pages and make diving into the settings pretty straightforward.
Like many other Panasonic touch screen cameras, there is a slide out panel as well that can be activated with a swipe, and four additional software function buttons can be assigned to this panel. This makes good room of the available real estate on a camera like the GM1, providing extra controls in easy reach.
On the whole, I found operating the GM1 relatively painless. It isn’t as nice as using a larger camera in this regard, with more direct control and a more comfortable grip, but it operates quite well for a camera of its size.
Performance and Autofocus
The GM1 inherits the same (or similar) autofocus as other recent Panasonic cameras. I found the GM1 to be every bit as quick and precise as the likes of the GX7 and the GH3. Panasonic has wonderful single shot autofocus that locks swiftly and surely. The only lens that seemed to struggle a bit was the 20mm f/1.7 pancake, but that’s more to do with the lens’ slow focus motor than anything. As with other Panasonic cameras, the GM1 isn’t particularly useful for continuous autofocus, as the CDAF algorithms prevent predictive autofocus.
The GM1 is also a quite responsive little camera. It starts up quickly and has no perceptible lag in camera function. Write speeds were quick.
The GM1 features a very unique shutter mechanism to allow for its small size. This comes at the cost of a terrible 1/50s flash sync speed and a slow maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/500s. However, the camera seamlessly switches to its electronic shutter at speeds faster than 1/500s, and indeed can stop action all the way to 1/16,000s! The GM1 can capture images at 5 frames per second with the mechanical shutter or up to 10 frames per second with the electronic shutter for full size images. If you are willing to shoot JPEG at a reduced file size, it, like many other Panasonic cameras, can shoot at 40 frames per second in its super-high burst mode.
While one isn’t likely to use a camera like the GM1 for sports, it is a responsive camera that doesn’t get in the way.
The GM1, despite its super tiny body, manages to pack a small pop-up flash into its frame. While the flash is quite weak and, as mentioned earlier, can only sync to 1/50s, it can come in handy. Like the GX1 and GX7, the GM1’s pop-up flash can be tilted backward to provide for some bounce flash, though you will need to pump the ISO up a bit if using a slower lens. The shot below was taken with the GM1 and the 12-32mm kit lens with the pop-up flash bounced to the ceiling at ISO 1600.
14 thoughts on “Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1”
The kit lens is 1.4 inches deep collapsed and 2.2 inches wide – a ratio of 1.57 to 1 a- an extremely thick pancake.
The kit lens is not that deep it’s 0.94 inches deep, and I believe that includes the bayonet mount. When mounted it’s no more than 3/4 inch deep.
It’s thicker than the 14/2.5 pancake (and the same diameter), but it’s no thicker than the 20/1.7 and many other pancake lenses.
Another nice review! Thanks for preparing it and for the sample images. I’m very impressed by the high ISO quality and am quite tempted by this camera.
I am really torn between the GM1 w/ 12-32mm kit and the GX7 w/ 14-42mm kit as a “pocketable” replacement of my old Canon Elph. Without being able to see either one in person, it is hard to get a good feel for whether the GX7 is too big or heavy to put in the pocket of my shorts or a light jacket. I really have no fears of the GM1 fitting, but am concerned the tiny form factor will be frustrating after awhile — one thing I didn’t care for on my 10 year-old Elph, especially after using Canon 1D bodies for paying jobs. Since you have used both cameras, do you think the GX7 is passable as a pocket camera, especially, if I pair with a smaller prime? Thanks.
The GX7, even with a small prime is considerably larger than the GM1. While I don’t have a picture of the GX7 next to the GM1, I can go close…here are pictures of the GX7 next to the GX1, and the GX1 next to the GM1.
The GX7 is just large enough to be outside of pocketable, unless you have a big pocket, while the GM1 is very easily pocketable. It’s not huge, though. The big problem for pockets are the grip and the protrusion of the rear of the EVF.
Of course, the GX7 will seem minuscule compared to a 1D series body. I shot Canon for years, and my last Canon was a 1DsII, so I know the size and weight well. The GX7 will feel light as a feather in comparison. While the GM1 is much more pocketable, the GX7 of course handles a lot better, especially with larger lenses…it also has a nice EVF and in body IS.
You could also consider the Olympus E-P5, which is a little in between the two in size, with similar IQ and great features. Well, it’s similar in size to the GX7, but doesn’t have those protrusions.
I have reviews of all of these on this site, to
Help in your decision. Good luck!
I don’t know much about the GM1 or GX7, but I use the similar Olympus EPM-2 as my travel , street photo and walk around camera.
I use almost exclusively the Panny 14 mm and Olympus 45 mm primeson this camera..
It has given me great results when visiting Stockholm and Barcelona, being fast, responsive, great Image Quality, small and handy.
I have no doubt that the Panasonic GM1 is as good or even better, than the the EPM.2, but don’t expect too much when it comes to manual control and handling compared to DSLR’s and bigger mirrorless cameras.
Tthey are in some way super point and shooters with great capabilities.
For more serious work I use the Olympus EM-1 but I also bring the EPM-2 for backup and general use, for instance shooting photos of audiences, bystanders and what ever might be of interest.
I recommend you should try both camera’s at at camera store and see how you feel about handling and build quality.
IF you like them ( and have the budget) buying both would be a great idea, I love my Combo !
Sometimes I found my GH3 big and I didn’t bring it along with me when I was going out, missing many pictures, so I started considering buying a capable compact camera to complement my bigger body and to carry it wherever I went for more casual photography; but then GM1 was announced, and I knew that it was exactly what I needed, so I preordered it (first time I do that) and waited.
I’m sure the person weighing the GX7 against the GM1 has already decided. I’ve got the GX7 and the GX1. I’m pondering the GM1 for travel, because I can use all my micro 4/3 lenses. But my point here will be a rave review of the GX7. It does in fact feel great in the hand. More than that, it is a miracle camera. I now shoot events entirely with the GX7. I used to use my Canon 60D, loving it, but it makes a big noise in church or in lectures. Now I’ve got the GX7, which can be perfectly quiet, and a couple of lenses which really pretty much equal my Canon primes in precision if not QUITE in DOF. (I’m using the 20mm pancake, the Olympus 45mm 1.8, and the Sigma 60mm 2.8.) This is one fabulous mind-blowing kit. The only thing I DON’T use it for now is sports. So here is a question for you all. The GX7 is a cut above the GX1. Should I just keep the GX1 body for travel, or upgrade to the GM1 sensor for travel? Any difference that you all are noticing?
I also possess a GX1 and a GX7 (main camera). I will keep my GX1 for safety reasons. Very often I use(d) the GX1 with the very nice electronic viewfinder, something that can not be done with the more compact GM1. I know in terms of quality the newer GM1 is a tad better than my GX1, but IMO the quality of the GX1 files is good enough, especially in RAW mode. And because I was never disappointed by the size of the GX1 I do not see the necessity to sell my old reliable companion in favour of the even smaller GM1. The only thing I really miss with the GX1 is this noiseless electronic shutter I can use with my GX7. Wow, that’s really great!
I’m afraid that you’ve not understood the GM1’s shutter correctly – which is hardly your fault because the issue is complex and Panasonic don’t explain. Yes, the GM1 does offer very high shutter speeds for exposure purposes – but they WILL not stop fast action as well as you think. This is because they are electronic shutter speeds and so prone to “rolling shutter” effects. The scene is effectively imaged a line at a time and if something is moving it can end up being captured as a series of mis-aligned slices. The result is that objects that should be straight can look bent like the cricket bat in this shot:
For similar reasons the front of a fast train might end up angled when it was really straight. You have to understand that eg 1/6000 is the time taken for a rolling shutter to expose a line of the sensor, not the full sensor. Misleading, I know.
So for action shots I’d stick to the mechanical shutter, which tops out at 1/500 sec.
Better explanation than mine:
…Great little camera, but not one I’d buy if I needed ultra-high shutter speeds to freeze action shots!