Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 camera review

With the market for compact system cameras (CSC’s) seemingly saturated, Panasonic has gone back to the drawing board with its G series range and come up with a compact that is truly, well, compact. The 16 megapixel GM1 matches a playing card for height and length, though it’s a thumb’s width in depth. This makes it the manufacturer’s smallest interchangeable lens camera ever, and of a similar size to Pentax’s competing ‘Q’ series, though Panasonic wins out with a physically larger imaging sensor. Indeed, its manufacturer states that this camera boasts the same innards, and by association image quality, as its flagship GX7 model.

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Whilst pocket sized if you remove the lens, the GM1 has a premium feel thanks to a lightweight yet sturdy aluminium frame and a magnesium-alloy finish. This makes its £629.99 asking price less of a shock, especially as it comes with a specially compact 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom to match its diminutive frame. Available in black or a really quite gorgeous tan version (albeit only if buying in Dixons Travel), pictures and Full HD video are composed and reviewed via 3-inch back screen with a life-like resolution of over a million dots. The LCD is also touch sensitive, though it cannot be tilted or swivelled, and there’s no eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF). Still, this being a Panasonic, we get hard keys alongside it, so there’s a choice of how you operate the camera. Whilst the physical buttons are small, so are their virtual equivalents on screen. This may dissuade the fatter-fingered, but then again anything else would have been out of keeping with the scale of the camera. In fact this is one device that you need to truly hold in your own hands to appreciate just how small it is.

Fortunately the one area in which the camera punches above its weight – and size – is that of image quality. Performance hasn’t been compromised to ensure a fashionable camera, and the GM1’s images are surprisingly detailed, whilst colours straight out of the camera are engagingly warm and contrast-y, which gives the images real ‘pop’. Anyone shooting video will also be pleased to know that auto focus manages to keep up; this is usually the area in which the performance of CSC’s and even DSLR’s falls down, but with the GM1 our subject either retained its crispness when altering framing or drifted into focus a mere second later.

OUR VERDICT

As our general impression is a very positive one, it feels like nit picking to describe the battery life as so-so at just over 200 images, which is no better than a humble snapshot costing a quarter of the price. But the images thankfully speak for themselves, and for many people the GM1 will mark the point where they decided to park their DSLR in the back of the cupboard for something more accessible.

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