Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 review

The electronics giant offers two types of CSCs – those which are styled like digital compacts and those which ape DSLRs in looks and handling. It’s a calculated bid to win approval from both the mass market and the photo enthusiast respectively.

While we wait for Panasonic’s freshly announced GH4 to surface, which has opted for mini-DSLR styling, we’re including its smallest CSC to date in the GM1. It shares something with Pentax’s competing ‘Q’ series in being the size of a pack of playing cards, yet offering a larger sensor alongside the ability to swap the lens on the front. In fact this is one device that you need to truly hold in your own hands to appreciate just how small it is.

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What’s more, its manufacturer states that the GM1 boasts the same innards, and by association the same image quality as its flagship GX7 model, which we’ve previously rated as Panasonic’s best ever camera.

Pocket-sized if you remove the lens, the GM1 maintains a premium feel thanks to a lightweight yet sturdy aluminium frame and a DSLR-like magnesium-alloy finish. This makes its asking price less of a shock, especially as it comes with a matching compact 12–32 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

Available in black or a really quite gorgeous tan version, 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. Unlike the Sony A500 though, it cannot be tilted or swivelled, and once again because of the diminutive size there’s no eye-level electronic viewfinder (EVF) provided.

That said, it isn’t all bad news: we get the best of both worlds approach of hard keys alongside the virtual ones, so there’s a choice of how we operate the camera. Like the camera itself, both button types are small however which may dissuade the fatter-fingered. Fortunately the one area in which the camera punches above its weight and size is, as promised, that of image quality.

Performance hasn’t been compromised to ensure a fashionable camera either. The GM1’s images were surprisingly detailed, while colours straight out of the camera were engagingly warm and contrast-y, which made the images really pop when viewed back on our monitor, particularly when opting for the camera’s Expressive mode.

The same went for video, and filmmakers will be pleased that auto focus manages to keep up with adjustments in framing; this is usually the area in which CSCs and even DSLRs fall down – the image blurs for a few moments – but with the GM1 our subjects either retained their crispness or drifted into focus a mere second later.

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 makes the images really pop when viewed back on your desktop.

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 CSCs and even DSLRs falls down, but with the GM1 our subjects either retained their crispness or drifted into focus a mere second later.

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.

OUR VERDICT

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. What’s more the price has dropped since the £629 being asked pre-Xmas.

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