The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 was announced last October and touted as the smallest among interchangeable lens cameras (ILC). I had read good things about the Lumix DMC-GM1.
The Lumix DMC-GM1 features a 16 megapixel µ4/3 sensor, low-light sensitivity to ISO 25600, contrast-detection autofocus, a focus peaking mode, an electronic shutter with speeds ranging from 60 sec to 1⁄16,000 sec, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It also has full HD 1080i/p video recording at 60 or 24 fps in the high-quality AVCHD format. I do not care about the video features.
After renting the Olympus OM-D E-M5 with M.Zuiko ED 12-50mm F:3.5-6.3 EZ and Olympus OM-D E-M1 with Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH, I was looking forward to using this compact interchangeable lens camera (ILC). But when I removed it from the camera bag and held it in my hands, I was disappointed. Measuring just 99mm x 56mm x 30mm, The Lumix DMC-GM1 is definitely "pocketable". I think it's TOO tiny.
The images above and below show the size of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 compared to my iPhone 5 and my Nikon D5100.
Using the little buttons and touchscreen controls while holding the camera is frustrating. I'm not a large man. I have small hands. Yet, I could barely use this camera. If it weren't for the $750 price tag, I might think that Panasonic designed this camera for children. Wealthy children.
The Lumix G Vario 12-32mmF3.5-5.6 is wonderfully compact and lightweight. However, it lacks a manual focus ring. I wanted to test the highly touted focus peaking feature, but without a focus ring, this is impossible. Lensrentals.com offers other µ4/3 lenses, for example, the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mmF2.8 II ASPH mentioned above, that do have a focus ring. I could have rented that instead bit it was more costly to rent. I suspect that using manual focus while holding this tiny camera would be frustrating. Did I already mention, I think the camera is too small?
The Lumix G Vario 12-32mmF3.5-5.6 is roughly a 24-64mm full-frame equivalent, a little short of the 24-70mm typical zoom range. I think this focal range works well for a compact travel camera. The 12mm end is wide enough to capture the requisite "on-holiday" scenery, and the 32mm end is just a hair shy of a 50mm portrait lens. The largest aperture is f/3.5 which for portraits may not provide enough separation between subject and background. Still, it's passable if your goal is a compact travel ILC. I think this is the ideal use case for this camera.
The Lumix DMC-GM1 has a wireless transfer feature, allowing the photographer to transfer a JPG image to a smartphone for editing or posting to social media. After about thirty minutes on the web reading about setting up the Wi-Fi, I was frustrated. Panasonic has three iOS apps in the iTunes store. At first, I couldn't figure out which one I needed. But after reading a few online forums, I had that sorted. Once I found the right app in the App Store, it took me a lot of attempts before my iPhone successfully connected to the camera. The software is slow. The performance was jerky. This wireless transfer feature is helpful, but it needs improvement.
I also tried to use the app to control the Lumix GM1 remotely. After an hour, I still didn't know how to remotely shoot an image and wirelessly transfer it to my iPhone or iMac. I had this figured out by the second day of the rental. Still, because of the frustration, over the weekend of the rental, I mostly used the Lumix DMC-GM1 and Lumix G Vario 12-32mmF3.5-5.6 as a compact interchangeable lens (ILC) point and shoot.
On the upside, though, I was impressed with the quality of images captured on the Lumix DMC-GM1. Over the week weekend, we attended the Just Jersey Gourmet Food Truck Festival and a pre-wedding family gathering, a meet and greet, for an upcoming wedding. I grabbed some photos on Sunday while Shaan and I picked up produce from the Honey Brook Farm CSA in Pennington. There is some cropping and minor adjustments to exposure to the images.
I had the whole weekend with the GM1, but my first impressions never went away. This camera is TOO small. I'm not sure why Panasonic made this. This ILC feels too much like a point-n-shoot and not at all like a compact systems camera (CSC).