First Impressions: Panasonic GM1

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (7 of 7)ISO 64001-40 sec at f - 2.5

When the rumors of the Panasonic GM1 first emerged and talked about the camera being smaller than Pentax’s Q series, we laughed and thought that it really couldn’t be possible. Then when it was announced, our jaws dropped. Panasonic not only managed to create a camera smaller than the Q, but they also packed a larger sensor into it while making the build quality absolutely freakin’ spectacular.

Though I’m not very much a fan of small and cutesy cameras, the GM1 isn’t cutesy. In fact, it’s still very much so a serious snapper in a size almost comparable to some point and shoot cameras.

At a Panasonic party during Photo Plus Expo 2013, we had the chance to play with the GM1 for just a little bit.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from the B&H Photo listing

  • 16MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
  • Venus Engine Image Processor
  • Micro Four Thirds System
  • 3.0″ 1,036k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080i AVCHD Video at 60 fps
  • Built-In Wireless Connectivity
  • Light Speed AF and Focus Peaking
  • ISO 25600 and 5 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Highly Compact Magnesium Alloy Body
  • Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

Ergonomics

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (3 of 7)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 2.8

 

Panasonic’s GM1 is a small thing; but instead of not thinking about it seriously, we’d prefer to liken it to Gimli from the Lord of the Rings series of books and movies–except that we’d grant the GM1 the prize for having significantly better looks. With that said, the GM1’s chassis on the front is incredibly plain and straight forward.

However, what we really need to comment on is its svelte leather feel to the gripped area. This is the first one that felt really right in a long time–even over Fujifilm’s offerings. Unfortunately, we can’t say exactly what’s right about it.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (2 of 7)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 2.8

 

The camera comes bundled with the 12-35mm kit lens, which when collapsed makes for an overall super compact package. What we loved even more is that this package reminds us quite a bit of all the great Micro Four Thirds pancake primes.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (6 of 7)ISO 64001-40 sec at f - 2.5

 

When the lens is unlocked, it expands outward a fair distance. However, it still isn’t overwhelmingly large and still manages to maintain balance with the camera.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (4 of 7)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 2.5

 

The top of the GM1 is where some of the action–though not all of it–happens. Here you’ll find the pop-up flash, the focusing control switch (a very unconventional spot for it indeed), on/off switch, shutter release, and the mode dial. There is no hot shoe, so don’t even think about trying to mount an EVF to this camera.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (5 of 7)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 2.5

 

Then there is the back. Apart from the really big LCD screen, you’ll find the pop-up flash control, video record button, directional controls, menu buttons and more. There is only one dial for exposure control, which means that you’ll be working with this one quite a bit if you’re shooting in manual mode.

With Panasonic’s new 15mm f1.7 lens though, the aperture control is around the lens–and is therefore perfectly paired for this camera to be working with in a serious capability.

Build Quality

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Panasonic GM1 first impressions Photo Plus Expo 2013 (1 of 7)ISO 64001-15 sec at f - 2.8

 

We’re still referring to this camera as a compact because of the size even though it is surely a large sensor camera with interchangeable lenses. And in our eyes there is nothing wrong with that as long as it is acknowledged that the GM1’s build quality is mind blowing. It just feels so great in the hand and is easily totable in a blazer pocket.

Seriously folks, get excited.

Autofocus

In the dark lanes of Bowlmor in Times Square, the GM1 focused fairly fast despite the low light conditions. It still performed faster than any Fujifilm camera that we’ve tested and also still faster than any offering from Sony, Canon and Samsung.

Ease of Use

We see folks picking up a camera like this and shooting in aperture priority all day and night. And for that type of shooting, you’ll be seriously pleased with the ease of use.

Image Quality

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a ton of time with the camera and didn’t get to stick a card into it to get sample images. But we’re going to try to change that.

First Impressions

So far, we’ve got nothing but good news about the Panasonic GM1. It’s small, sturdy, and we’re positive that the image quality will be up to our standards. For the first time, we believe that we’ve found a camera that will suit the enthusiast male and female appropriately that just wants to tote around a camera in a not serious fashion, but still want serious image quality.

But we could also be wrong. We’ll try to get a review unit in soon.

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