How small is too small? How about a micro 4/3 camera that is smaller than most any fixed lens compact sporting a 1/1.6″ or 1/1.7″ sensor (not to mention any of the 1″ sensor cams, or even most compact p&s cameras I’ve owned)? Well, I’d heard that the Panasonic Lumix GM1 was small, but I don’t think I was prepared for HOW small this thing actually is. Have a look…
It is kinda like taking a relatively large (compared to the body size, one could and should say Huge) sensor and wrapping it up in a slightly thick smart phone, then shaving off about an inch in length. Is it too small? Simply put, yes, and no. If you look at it from a system camera standpoint, there are about three or four lenses that even remotely make sense as far as balance for the from the hip, one handed shooting that will probably be seen when this camera is employed by most, but more on that in a minute. If you’re looking at it from a compact, take anywhere and everywhere pocket camera, then no, it has the potential to be (and arguably already has been) groundbreaking. There may be a system camera or two that will shave off millimeters here and there to claim the smallest moniker, but with an APS-C sensor, the lenses will be more imbalanced, larger and heavier, not to mention no where near as fast if trying to reduce overall size. The Nikon and Pentax 1″ sensor type MILC systems (even smaller than a 4/3 sensor) have shown me that with an even smaller sensor, the lenses aren’t losing a noticeable amount of bulk without compromising lens speed, so it’s a trade down in image quality for a lateral size move more or less. Hence, my constant pumping up of the micro 4/3 system as the best balance of size reduction, sensor size, quality and diverse optical offerings in a mirrorless interchangeable lens compact system.
So, how does it fit in the hand? It feels like a point and shoot body to be honest, and with a pancake or the new 12-32mm kit zoom, it feels just fine. Tiny, but fine, even for my gargantuan hands believe it or not.
The smallest micro 4/3 body yet created, and currently the smallest ever interchangeable lens camera body. By an absolute long shot from my experience. (The newly announced Sony “don’t call me NEX” A5000 claims to be the “smallest, lightest” but still won’t hold a flame to the GM1 when you start looking at lenses, and I don’t see how a camera with an integrated grip can measure thinner than the GM1… we shall see when the A5000 is actually released.)
I can already see that I will be wanting to setup a custom function button (one of the six available customizable function buttons, all but one are touch screen implemented) to adjust the ISO as there is no direct button for that, but having just said that, I just took thirty seconds to do so, and now it’s set up. Great, easy, intuitive interface. I know that the Oly E-PM series is small, but this little GM1 is bordering on ludicrous. I have large hands, as I’ve mentioned before and there’s no photoshop’n in that sweet shot of me palming a regulation NBA sized b-ball up there (high five sixth grade self, you did it!), so I never felt to be a good candidate for a camera this small and largely ignored it, until I started selling off and trading various bodies, realizing I wanted a back up body to my lovely GX7. I was of two minds on this decision… Go with a more expensive and larger, more “serious” body like the EM1 or (more than likely) a GH3, or, look to find a smaller, more compact option to play to what I see as one of the systems primary benefits, size reduction.
Well, I went into my local store and had a good play around with the GH3 and GM1. While it has sacrificed external buttons and overall external control, has a very limited amount of real estate from which to grip the camera and has various limiting settings or excluded features (ridiculous flash sync speed, ignored the recent GX7 IBIS to remain as tiny as possible, to name a couple) I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, and how well it did seem to fit into my hand when shooting with a pancake or the kit zoom. I will say that the external controls that are included are rather handy, and well thought out. The custom, assignable function button (1) is located on top of the camera, surrounded by a focus mode selection wheel (AF-Single, AF-Continuous and Manual Focus which includes focus peaking!). The mode dial has the usual suspects, AND has two custom assignable modes which is very cool. The video record button is recessed near the thumb grip which is a nice touch as it is difficult to accidentally depress it, and the scroll wheel, used to adjust settings and navigate menus also is a directional button pad. I’ll go deeper into the bells and whistles in the review, but I feel that overall, this is a well thought out and nicely designed, tiny camera.
Now, time will tell if this is more just giddiness due to the sheer amazement of size, having fallen for such a small camera with such a relatively large sensor and the subsequent marketing hype, but I will certainly be reporting back on what I do and don’t like about it in the near future.
Now, if only I were about a quarter the size of my current self, like I’d been put in the dryer for too long, I could stand on the sideline of a sporting event with this setup and fit right in! Okay, so I’d be a minuscule person, with a tiny camera and imbalanced lens, but as long as nobody stood beside me, I might pull it off.
I chose the GM1 because I saw what it offered, a light weight, compact camera that was capable of remarkable image quality when looking at anything even remotely sized in the same neighborhood. This camera is going to be with me everywhere. I just got back from brunch with the family and I had the GM1 with a lens attached in one pocket of my sweatshirt and two other lenses (the two Lumix pancakes) in the other pocket and I could hardly tell that any of it was hanging from my person. This camera for me is more about replacing the need for a compact point and shoot, or my camera phone, to have around at any given moment than it is about competing with my full frame cameras for work. I don’t want, nor need a huge camera, or even decently sized camera with me all the time, but I do enjoy having a quality camera with me, and this new little guy is just that.
No, this camera is not a replacement for a more serious body in that it has removed the hotshoe (too bad), minimized external control (forced into menu diving and touch screen interface for most things) and will not do too well to balance a larger lens (although I’ll be debating this in a later article). But, in my opinion this is the future of and replacement for the compact point and shoot sector for a more discerning shooter I feel.
Sure, smart phones are fun to have, allow kitschy apps to create on the fly filtered images, and I do enjoy shooting with my phone, but anyone who has looked at the files from even the highest end smart phone cameras vs a larger sensor system knows that they are remarkably limited comparatively in resolution, dynamic range, fidelity and certainly struggle in lower light. We’ll even ignore the fact that it is near impossible to control any function of the exposure manually on a phone, so while each has their place, I feel that those who want to actually interact with photography in any meaningful capacity outside of basic composition and one button pushing auto mode, these system cameras are always going to offer something and have a place when considering the image quality they’re capable of.
If all you do is take pictures of your lunch to share on Myinstafacespace, then sure, your money is best saved by not buying into a system camera, but I think that even many of the smartphone generation of young, budding photographers or newly minted hipsters, are going to want to grow as they begin to realize there is more to photography than pushing a button and applying a filter, and cameras like this offer quite a bit more in quality and control while not adding much in the way of bulk in the purse or pocket. An image is an image, but an image captured with a better camera, better sensor and through a higher quality optic will be a better version of that image. When all of that can also fit into your pocket, it becomes a very interesting conversation. This type of camera enables very little need to compromise, and that is pretty cool.
You can see the Panasonic GM1 here at B&H.
Until I have the time to do some real comparisons, here is the tiny GM1 attached to the back of some of the micro 4/3 system lenses. I’d love to hear your thoughts, or would be happy to answer any questions in the comments.
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i need to see the results!
I need to make them 🙂
ok, gargantuan buoy!
we will wait
I’ve been giving this body a think. I photograph a lot with my iPhone in places where the GH3, as my smallest camera body, will not easily go, but low light is a problem. Even though it might not be perfect with the GM1, it will likely be better and I could still transmit JPEG images to the phone to upload quickly, as is possible with the GH3.
While the price of the GM1 is up there, the GX7 still seems a bit too big to stuff in a pocket, and even the Olympus E-PM2 seems too large but certainly not so expensive.
I wonder about having the GM1 attached to the Olympus MMF-3 adapter, attached to my Olympus ZD 35-100mm f/2.0. If I struggle with that lens balanced on the end of my GH3, imagine the combination with the GM1.
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Like most Pana cameras, I think the GM1 will come down in price a little bit, but I do think it is more of a hit than some of the previous cams, so I doubt we will see the steep discounts a couple months in as we have in the past, but I may be wrong.
There are certainly arguments for the EPM2 vs the GM1, and vice versa. Either is going to provide superior IQ to a compact cam or phone, all circumstances being equal.
I am going to play around with the GM1 with adapted, and just generally larger optics. While it looks ridiculous, I actually think that as long as the lens being used balances well in the left hand, it could be a really cool way to capture images with adapted, larger optics. Almost too small being the right size so to speak in that situationally, assuming the shutter speed is fast enough, having a very light camera allows for easier handholding ability where we’re merely using the camera as a shutter button on the back of a lens essentially. Entirely a half-baked theory at this point, but one I want to play around with a little bit.
Thanks as always for the comment, I hope everything is going well!
Reed here. I am also a Micro 4/3 enthusiast, and owner of the GX7. I currently use the DMC-LX7 as my pocket camera, and find it amazing. It would be really interesting to see how image quality compares with the GM1. Obviously, the GM1 will win, but by how much? The fast (f1.4) zoom on the LX7 is amazingly versatile.
I don’t have access to an LX7 unfortunately, but I do have access to an LX5. I’ll try to get a little comparison in there. I shot an LX3 extensively a few years back and love the series. I have no doubt that the current micro 4/3 sensors will blow the 1/1.7″ sensors out of the water at or above about ISO 400 though. The fact that the LX7 has such a compact f/1.4 optic is nothing to sneeze at and to me is a beautiful engineering feat, no doubt about it, but if we can then accept a little size increase (and cost) to go with the Pana-Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens attached to any of these compact (or other) m4/3 cams, the sensors, and pixels just do so much better at handling the light, especially in lower light situations.
I think in good light, near base ISO, most any current camera is capable of great image quality. The screws get turned in less than good lighting, and this is where sensors really start to become challengeable. All about tradeoffs, and this is where I think the GM1 has made some pretty substantial gains in that it isn’t much larger than an LX series cam with a lens attached, and can arguably handle ISO sensitivities up toward 3200 or even 6400 with a little post NR through my experience.
I’d think that as long as you had the GX7 for the low light stuff, the LX7 could certainly still provide you with a wonderful tool in most situations, remaining the versatile tool it is and always will be 🙂
Thanks for the comment Reed!
All the best,
this is a nice little camera…and from what I understand the video is pretty amazing…look forward to you reviewing this more…the 12-32 looks nice on this…I had to laugh when you attached the 100-300. Cheers !
I wish I weren’t an absolute neanderthal when it came to video, but from what I can tell, it does a respectable 24mbps at 24p or 30p in AVCHD. Like so many things, I think the quality will be determined by technique and execution. Handholding this thing is tricky without a stabilized lens for sure, which is always more pronounced, or at least more immediately apparent in video capture.
Yeah, the 100-300 might not be the best mate to this little guy, but because the lens is so easy to get your hand around, it might not be as odd a couple as we think. I’m gonna try to challenge this little camera by adapting the largest lenses I own to it to see just how weird I can get with it.
Thanks for the comment!
I’d agree that even the giant 100-300 pana lens might not be a bad match – thinking of the GM1 as just a shutter button on the lens.
You said this camera feels like a point and shoot? Well, it LOOKS like one, too. That is just ridiculous. If I didn’t already own 2 pana MILC’s, I’d be sorely tempted by this. As it is, the GH1 and G5 will have to serve – not a bad thing, tho.
The more I shoot with this little camera, the more I both like it and wonder why. It is harder to hold, and I find myself using it single handed, outstretched in front of me, like I might do with an actual point and shoot. Its design just seems to ooze a single hand held operation, or maybe it’s just so small, with a small lens on it, it’s hard to get another hand on there anyway.
That said, it’s far and away the best point and shoot I’ve ever used 🙂 I think this is more what this camera aims to be, an absolute killer P&S, not necessarily an enthusiast, full featured model, and as long as I’m looking at it like that, and then realize I can fit a variety of high quality optics to it, I’m really happy with it.
I hope all’s well and I’ll try to give a more complete assessment when used with the larger lenses.
Tyson, it’s going to be fun to see your future posts on this little baby. I was totally considering (and still may in the future) this camera for the exact reasons you posted. I really like the idea of having a pocketable camera that can take the lenses I already have in my bag. I know also about the giddy feeling your speaking of – I had the same when I first held my Pentax Q. Ultimately though, the Q is really only useable in good light so, that kind of took the shine off pretty quickly. I don’t see the same happening with the GM1 since is has a ‘huge’ sensor. Have fun with your new toy and we’ll see if you end up getting me to buy one =).
I’ll do my best to prepare a formidable case 🙂
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Nice overview. The visuals for size comparison were very useful. Need to work on the focus, though.
It appears that one of the closest competitors to the GM-1 will be the Sony RX100 / RX100 II pair. Their one-inch sensor can approach (match?) the MFT sensor in IQ and low-light capability. They also match up pretty well in other features.
The RX100 is more similar in body features (no hot shoe) and costs about US$200 less. While the RX 100 II has a hot shoe, tilting LCD with higher res and costs $50 less than the GM-1. Granted the Sonys have fixed zoom s (that start at f/1.8 and go out to 100mm), but they are much more pocketable. Both are very close to the GM-1 in width and height. But in the critical thickness dimension, the Sonys win hands down (they are about the same thickness front-to-back as the GM-1 body only without a lens).
So for pocketability comparisons, it’s the RX100s that are the GM-1s competition, not the LX-7 or other high-end point-and-shoots. The Sonys also stack up pretty well in IQ and low light.
In any case, it is great to have such capable choices.
Thanks Richard, and yes, my video prowess needs quite a bit of work.
I think that with a fixed lens compact, or really any camera, there will always be tradeoffs. While the RX 100 cams have a decently fast optic at the wide end, it gets really, really slow as you start to zoom which isn’t an issue in good light, but that lens is as fast as it will ever get. With any MILC camera, you have the ability to A) change lenses (normally with a size tradeoff) and B) have access to faster optics, and in the micro 4/3 realm, much faster optics. Again, you trade off on size, but this to me is a true benefit in that you HAVE the ability to. Nobody says you have to slap the 17.5mm f/0.95 Voigtlander on the GM1, but you can and from my early experience with some of the larger, heavier optics, it isn’t quite as imbalanced as I’d thought it would be. If wanting to stay compact, fix the 14/2.5 or 20/1.7 on there and you have a pocketable combo that is capable of (arguably) better IQ without much in the way of any compromise.
The cost, I think, is the largest factor, and I do think that the RX’s of the world, assuming they can get down below $600, will have a real place in the landscape, but at $700, I’d buy the GM1 at $750 any day of the week, knowing that I can grow and diversify the system. The LX7’s and the like are able to offer faster integrated optics at a lower cost which also makes for a decent argument, and whether this leads to too much crowding in an already packed segment, who knows. I’m sure there are also those looking for a good all in one package, and obviously, at it’s price point, each platform has carved out a corner of the market there, just as the X100’s and other APS-C fixed lens compacts have.
That an interchangeable system is able to offer the size reduction, coupled with what I see as the right sensor size resulting in the ability to minimize the footprint of certain optics, namely the fast pancakes, while offering very competitive IQ, it offers a lot of upside in a compact system, and like you’ve said, having capable choices is always a great thing for us consumers, it just comes down to what we want, need and are willing to pay for the combination of those desires and requirements.
Thanks for the comment Richard!
Ok…I will throw in from the other side… 🙂
You and I head in the same direction (kind of) …ie…apparently we both wanted smaller after getting bigger…LOL…I explain:
I think we both owned the GX1…then bought an EM-5, correct?
Then you headed into GX-7 territory and decided to leave the EM-5 behind and NOW you are getting even smaller, but I think that the GM1 is a camera that will compliment your GX7, no?…but who knows, everything is an fun evolution.
I, on the other hand, bought an E-P5 (& VF-4) to compliment my E-M5 and low and behold ….I liked the E-P5 soooooo much …that I stopped using my E-M5 and sold it off as I am NOT a hoarder!. LOL!….but I was having such a great experience with the form and function (I just love the clip in VF ….I know many do not…I find it to give me more choices..and the VF-4 just happens to be an incredible VF)…..I thought hmmm…this would be fun smaller as well….but I HAVE to have a VF…or it is not a camera I would use consistently. I absolutely love the idea (and the looks!) of the GM1 (especially with the little custom grip!)…but as tempted as I was …I just knew it was not the camera for me because it lacks an option for any VF….so I decided to import an E-PL6 Kit ($10 more than an E-PL5 body here in the US) from Hong Kong, then sold off the less-than-exciting kit lens to get a smashing deal on the E-PL6 body.
Now…this is small…but not as small as the GM1, Exhibit A:
I have to say…clipping in the VF-4, although it definitely looks kind of funny to some…but the camera is so small and giving me the options I need in a great little package…(take the VF off, put it in another pocket to travel…powerful stuff in small packages!!!!). I find myself grabbing the smaller set up for casual and/or more serious shooting…but if something means more I bring both or just the E-P5 (or heaven forbid, my FF equipment). I actually like the centrally located large VF so much on both cameras that I bough a second one …allowing me to go out and shoot with 2 great little bodies, with VF’s and primes and have the same (sucky) menu system as not to get my old brain too confused.
All of these cameras are fun…there is no right or wrong…but we can all get to a place where we are enjoying the process and coming home with the goods: great photos. Photography is so exciting right now…and just getting better!!!!
The little 14mm Panny still looks more perfect on the GM1…but is I attach the shade I have for mine it looks just right on my E-PL6!!! Enjoy.
I did follow a similar trajectory, and I’m in the process of finding new homes for the GX1 and EM5, leaving me with the GX7, GM1 and GF1 (which I doubt I’ll ever get enough money to make it worth selling it at this point, and it is to me, much like the original 5D, a groundbreaker in both fashion and function that while outdated, is still a great testament to design).
I think that the EPL and EPM series are more fully featured, and better overall system cameras in my opinion vs the GM1, and the hotshoe with accessory port is a feature that can go largely overlooked, yet provides a good deal of customizability and usability. While it may seem as if I am falling victim of fanboyism, I think that I just genuinely jive more with the Panasonic direction on interface and design.
With the GM1, i think one needs to understand that they’re going to have to trade much in the way of functional operability for pure size reduction, because this little camera isn’t going to compete with any other m4/3 body on an ergonomic or operational level.
I’ve been jotting down a few qualms that I have had with the GM so far and will certainly explain them once I’ve had a little time to both figure out how to work with them, and perhaps understand how and why certain things are the way they are through the design, because all said and done, with as small as it is, I do feel they’ve done well to get it to the functional level that they have, and the IQ certainly doesn’t leave me wanting, so it has a lot going for it.
No camera is perfect, and the GM1 is far from it when looking at it from a multitude of angles, so it again becomes a conversation of tradeoff and livable compromises.
Choices are one of the greatest benefits to the m4/3 system and I’m really glad that there are differences in opinion between the manufacturers, otherwise we’d just be looking at another Canikon, which in my opinion has pumped out slightly warmed over versions of most all their cameras for the last 5 years or so without any huge leaps in performance (okay the Sony sensors in the D800’s are pretty cool). While my 5DII still handles a majority of my interior and studio work, I haven’t purchased anything for my Canon kit in years as I’ve not felt any money spent would give me any kind of truly beneficial (or profitable) return (as the investment in upgraded bodies and lenses is far more expensive than it is in m4/3 land).
When looking to document the life of my kids and family, I’ve found the micro 4/3 system to be so much fun to use, and is so unobtrusive that it can be with us all the time. The quality these cams are capable of as well is just a huge bonus, and with the ability to cary a camera like an EPM or GM1 around in a pocket or my wife’s purse without even really noticing it is just awesome. The weight and bulk saved has also been just wonderful as a travel kit, and since getting the G3 back a couple years ago, I don’t think I’ve traveled once with my full frame kit (okay there was the one time in Europe where I did have to bring my 5Dii because the EM5 fried when I tried to use the stupid “free” Oly flash on it, but that was the only trip in the last two years, work or family related).
I’m excited that you’ve got the Oly side jiving for you. It’s all about personal interaction, and if I could just get over the mucked up UI, I think I’d actually prefer and benefit from, many of the bells and whistles of the smaller EP bodies (I do miss the tilt screen and IBIS on this GM1). Thanks for the thoughtful comment Bob, always a pleasure catching up.
Bob and Tyson, y’all are cracking me up with your commentary. Its deja vu here in my household as I started with the Oly E-M5 as my first digital system camera. I picked up an Oly XZ-1 point and shoot as a compact everyday shooter. While it was very well built and thought out, it wasn’t really that much of a size reduction benefit and I found myself always using the widest focal length to stay with the largest aperture so it just felt like I wanted a simple fast prime body/lens combo. I sold it off after taking less than 500 images in order to fund a Panny GX1 on fire sale as my backup MFT body and everyday camera. The image quality and ergonomics upgrade from the XZ-1 to the GX1 was very substantial and well worth the small size differences. Neither is really portable anyway so they both were carried in the same small shoulder/belt case.
Fast forward several more months and I sold off the GX1 and a couple under utilized lenses to make room for the Panny GH3 on fire sale as I want to get into more video work as well. Other than some minor complaints about the EVF smearing, I love the GH3. BUT…I kept missing my darn GX1 and 20mm pancake prime as a daily shooter. The E-M5, while not really much bigger than the GX1, just isnt as convenient as a daily shooter. It is bigger in the places that have the most negative effect on portability (e.g., the EVF hump) and thus require an inconveniently larger case.
So with some bday cash I caved and grabbed another GX1 for the same $199 fire sale price as before. I like the idea of the GM1 but the GX1 is so much cheaper and just feels right in my hand. The touchscreen, grip, actual control dial, focus speed, and intuitive Panny UI just make it so much better than a used Oly E-PM1 or E-PL (1,2,3) for similar price range. I dont think I would find the same comfort and usability with the GM1. I think the only other option for me would be a Ricoh GR. if I ever feel an urge to get the Oly 12mm prime, I would just opt for the GR instead…it now costs less and has a perfectly mated sensor and wide angle lens combo. The GM1 just seems like a bit of a tweener to me. Not quite as small as a point and shoot from a “box dimension” standpoint and not quite as pocketable and purposeful as a GR.
Either way we all seem to be cursed with a simultaneous love of technology and beautiful engineering as well as the art and craft of photography. If only I could view these mechanical boxes as mere necessary evils to photography instead of lust worthy objects of interest in their own right…argh.
Today I keep telling myself I am an MFT guy but that darn Fuji X-TI keeps poking my brain buttons. But its the balance of the system and the sensor size to lens size combo…right?…right?…
Focus Hal, yes literally go out and manually focus your mind via your current cameras and lenses in order to avoid stepping on the GAS and risking a speeding ticket or crash 😉
The GX1, assuming you can still find them around, are probably going to offer the best rate of return on investment. IQ is near and certainly comparable to the newer sensors and does have a wonderfully small form factor.
Honestly, the GM1 isn’t going to fit into many spaces that the GX1 won’t as well, so I think it is probably the smarter way to go for a reasonably compact body.
The Fujis are doing it right from my perspective. Well supported, great primes, and they’re doing well to address the shortcomings, namely the AF speed and the xtrans file conversion support. They will always have to have comparatively bigger optics though which isn’t an issue unless size reduction is an important factor.
Thanks Tyson! Good to know about the quick user comparison of the GX1 and GM1 sizes.
By chance do you have any recommendations on small camera belt/shoulder strap bags just big enough to comfortably hold a MFT body with mounted pancake lens (e.g., the GX1 and 20km)? maybe something like a Lowepro Dashpoint 30, etc.? Also do you know anything about the Peak Design Cuff, Leash, and Capture strap and bracket system? I am looking for something that can quickly an easily be exchanged across my MFT bodies.
As for the Fuji system, it definitely seems like a winner. A buddy at work is a Fuji user and I hope to do a photo walk with him sometime where we can’ve as r for
Small bags eh…? I don’t really know, nor should I recommend as I tend to buy the inserts and build my own shoulder bags out of non-camera branded messenger bags to stay inconspicuous.
I did just talk with the Peak Design folks at OR last week and that system looks really cool, enabling you to clip a cam onto any shoulder strap or belt, et al. As for straps, I again build my own wrist straps. Mine aren’t quick release, but they’re comfortable, light and ridiculously strong 🙂
If only I had more money to throw at cameras, the Fuji system would be my next photographic system. As is, there’s no room, nor justifiable reason to buy into an APS-C system for me, already running a full frame and the m4/3 stuff, but damn it looks nice, and very well thought out.
Good to know about the super strong, handmade wrist straps from Sir Tyson! I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the blog post when you announce them for sale 😉
No worries on bags. I like your idea of tucking the gear in a padded insert inside a nondescript bag. I’ve got my backpack with me most days on my daily bike commute to work, so its easy enough to do the same on my side and I have a neoprene camera cover for m4/3 sized bodies with a small zoom. But I was thinking of something small enough for those impromptu photo walks or when out and about town with friends and family.
See, this is where this little camera comes in! I need no bag, and with any of the pancakes attached, it will fit into just about any pocket. Easily in the coat, and pretty easily in the back pocket of most any of my pants, so it’s helped to cut out some of the bag bulk as well 🙂
That’s a great point about the pocketability of the GM1 eliminating the need for a bag and its bulk! my darn text auto correct adjusted my previous comments about the GX1 to say it wasn’t portable when I was trying to say neither it nor my Olympus E-M5 are pocketable. That is a huge benefit to the GM1 and in my eyes makes it very unique indeed. I would love to see Panasonic add some of the street shooting speed features like snap focus to this tiny body! I am looking forward to your user report and images about town with that pocket rocket.
Sorry I hit post before I was done. I was saying so we can switch gear and test out the competitor’s systems. I think with my enthusiast needs being relatively modest from an ultimate IQ standpoint and with size reduction being a desirable system trait, I tend to agree with your feelings that MFT offers a nice balance of the system. The cameras are mostly a joy to use and the lenses are so small yet so well performing. Plus the diversity of video related bodies, lenses, and support gear (e.g., BMPCC, SLR Magic, etc.) is just icing on the cake!
Yeah, and I think we can also add to that, optical diversity in both offering and price point. While the new PanaLeica 42.5 has gone the ridiculous route and tried its best to top a full frame 85mm f/1.2 optic in price, that is the outlier with most all optics coming in under $800. We can, and should, certainly make the argument that certain optics are overpriced when looking at the actual materials being used, but we shouldn’t argue too much when most every Fuji optic is $900-1000, or the Sony’s lenses (that most anyone would actually want to shoot with anyway) are in that same neighborhood. So really, I feel it’s also a pretty realistically priced system all things said and done. If the APS-C sensors blew the m4/3 sensors out of the water performance wise, which they don’t, then I think the added size and cost would be much easier to justify, but as is, I just can’t see a logical reason to choose them over the current m4/3 camp for my compact system camera needs… personally anyway.
I totally agree on the Fuji X vs. m4/3 commentary. Today’s announcement is certainly exciting and its good to see the Fuji X system continue to expand and innovate. It’s good for all photographers as it will push all systems forward.
But I like the balance of the system for m4/3. After seeing some leaked images of the new Fuji X f/2.8 zooms on the X-T1, it just reinforces the small but powerful little lenses in the m4/3 system. The m4/3 sensors have already passed the point of sufficiency for my current (and foreseeable) needs and they’re likely to only improve over time as all sensors have done.
Happy snapping my friend!
That XT1 looks badass though doesn’t it? I’d be more inclined to fixing either the 23/1.4 or 56/1.2 on the front and calling it a day.
Badass indeed! Totally agree on that body begging for primes. In fact its almost starting to seem like a rule that the bigger the sensor the more logical it seems to stick to the wide to normal range primes. Zooms seem more appropriate on smaller sensor bodies like m4/3 or Nikon 1. Of course that also begs the question why interchangeable lenses on those larger sensor bodies at all? maybe the Ricoh GR and Sony RX1 are on to something with perfectly mated fixed focal length lenses and larger sensors while the Sony RX10 shows the perfectly mated fixed aperture zoom and smaller sensor?
I’ve always kinda seen a collection of primes as a faster, (singularly) smaller version of a slower, bulkier zoom anyhow. Having a wide, standard and tele prime, all at or faster than f/2 provides basically what I get from a zoom, albeit with better light gathering capabilities and the ability to shallow up the DOF. Whenever I’ve used zooms, I normally shoot them at the wide or tele end 90% of the time or so. I realized that I didn’t mind changing lenses, or carrying two (or three!) bodies with different focal lengths attached to them. I always had a backup or second body on any given shoot anyway, and most of the time, the 10 seconds it takes to switch out lenses isn’t an issue as long as it’s timed right. The quality we get from prime lenses at comparable aperture seems to be yet another argument for their inclusion and a zooms exclusion so, for me and the style I like to shoot, I vastly prefer primes. Now, a fixed lens vs an interchangeable lens system…? I still like the idea of having the ability to turn one camera into a multi pronged tool by way of changing lenses, but a the right price point (i.e.: the X100s perhaps) it can make sense when comparing it to the lens cost alone.
Yes…I agree…thank God ….all cameras are not the same…what is really cool about the MFT format is that there is such a diversity of camera bodies to choose from …and more innovative, economical, pro, small and everything in between.. It amazes me to read some of the blogs and all these people complaining about the feature that is missing..and only if…blah..blah..blah. I went out and shot with my FF yesterday and it was BIG..but so spot on for what I was doing and the captures were just GREAT (qualitywise)….but the experience confirmed yet again how much FUN it is to use MFT…and still get VERY good results especially with all of the prime we have ….that diversity is what ALL of the smaller systems lack…. The GM1 is at one end of the spectrum..and although it is not a camera I would buy I can totally appreciate the engineering and design that has gone into the camera. It just rounds out the system even more…so for now….yes…yours is smaller than mine…but…you just never know…things could change!!! LOL!
I have been shooting with the GH3 since it was released a year ago and I have recently purchased this little gem GM1 to complement it as my second camera. I bring it along with me in my small handbag wherever I go and it is the perfect companion for more casual shooting. The quality is up there with the GH3 and the sacrifices made are compensated by portability. Actually, that is the reason why I bough it in the first place, so I have no complaints at all.
I will be posting my review in my blog soon, but you can see plenty of pics taken with the GH3 if you want!
I will check it out!
I’m a happy GX7 (and G5) owner. I doubt I’ll buy a GM1 unless it goes on a fire sale someday, but the tiny size is amazing. Have you considered adding a Franiec grip (now made for the GM1)? I really like the one I put on my Canon S90. I think it would be an ergonomic boost for the GM1, though it might detract a bit from the really cool, clean design. His web site: http://www.kleptography.com/rf/#camera_eosm
Thank you for the link (added below). I had just seen this the other day and will certainly put his grip on the short list as I start moving forward with the customization of this little bad boy.
I too have been very happy with the GX7, and feel it is the best m4/3 camera to date for my needs by far.
Hi Tyson, great review! Another option to consider on your shortlist is the Gariz half case http://garizen.cafe24.com/product/HG-GM1BK/SFSELFAA0000582/?main_cate_no=AA000000&display_group=1. Would be nice if Really Right Stuff had a grip like the one for the EM5.
The DPreview review of the GM1 indicated that the GM1 was awkward to use with bigger lenses, but you seem to have no problems with the 100-300mm! Another site mentioned the difficulty of mounting the GM1 on a tripod with traditional micro4/3 lenses, since these lenses extend below the bottom of the camera. What’s your experience so far?
The Gariz case looks nice, and I’d probably consider it before the Panasonic grip. Still a bit pricy for my blood at this point, and I would like to see a RRS solution certainly. Something is going to have to make its way into my reality sooner or later, but I’m going to hold off just a bit before buying anything at the going rates.
The tripod mount with larger lenses is an issue without some type of add on. I’ll have a better look and report back in the review. My initial feel is that this isn’t a great tripod camera. Workable, but not optimal. Handheld though, I’ve been having good luck with the larger lenses so far and while somewhat odd at first, the balance can be totally workable.
Thanks for the comment and link.
Please change link in my last post to just: http://www.kleptography.com/rf/
For the 100-300mm lens, there is this tripod adapter
This adapter would better stabilize any MFT camera. For smaller lenses, I’ve seen a couple of possibilities, but it’s not clear how big a lens you can use before the rig becomes unstable.
The Nikon TA-N100 tripod adapter was designed for the Vx/Jx series, but many have reported using it with other cameras after filing down the indents on the front
Panasonic also has an a possible option
No experience with any of these adapters though.
Thank you for the links. I’ve seen, and been interested in that collar for the 100-300 and may need to just pull the trigger.
I’ve found that I can get away with mounting the GM1 to my Sirui ball head with the little mount plate that came with this head:
It isn’t perfect as I have to mount it sideways which puts the tightening knob underneath the camera body, making for a tricky task sometimes, but it is usable so far.
I do think that the Panasonic DMW-TA1, or the accessory grip would be a necessary option for anyone who was going to be using the GM1 on a tripod often though if not a lens collar like you’ve linked to.
Thanks again for all the solutions.
I have gone through a number of Oly and Panny u4/3 solutions, currently with GH3 that splits video and still work, and GM1 for sheer portability. As reference i owned EM5 for a year or so (IBIS is great), have. 6d when I need a really big file and wide/tight interiors (hard to beat the 16-35/2.8 on FF for some things). I had the RX100 but found it wanting a. As noted, lens gets very slow very quickly, and the experience is uninvolving to me. gM1 is way more fun to shoot, and the touchscreen makes up for a lot of dedicated buttons. I’m actually enjoying shooting the GM1 as much as I did with my old DLux4. Took that thing everywhere and even printed large from it. Way better files, and I can slap a fast prime on the GM1 and get shots that aren’t possible with a smaller sensor. Not a perfect camera, but I was surprised at how much it like shooting it despite the tiny size and my fairly large hands. To me this is a death knell to small sensor cams and an ideal backup body (I’ve used it for B-roll footage when shooting alongside the GH3) and great take anywhere tool. Look forward to your review.
I think the comparison to the D-lux is right in line with my thinking. With the new kit zoom, while not as fast, it’s comparable in size, and of course one can always add a faster optic if needed. The more and more I shoot with this little thing, the more I see it as a killer point and shoot that happens to have an interchangeable lens mount, than I see it as a fully functional system camera. Coming at it from this angle has largely helped me ignore it’s shortcomings.
I am glad you also like the little camera. I have also been test the GM1 and it is wonderful. I am testing it with M-mount and L39 rangefinder lenses and getting wonder results. See the tests here:
My biggest issue is that when I attach a lens without electronic contacts, the camera is forced into electronic shutter mode that come with all those restriction of rolling shutter, fluorescent lighting banding etc. Only forcing the built-in flash on that will activate the mechanical EFC shutter. Did you encounter that and do you have any workaround? This applies to most adapted lens and the f0.95 Voigtlanders.
Love to hear your thoughts on it.
Thank you for the link and comment. I’ve not experimented much with adapted lenses on the GM1 yet admittedly, so unfortunately I cannot give advice from a place of experience, but I have found that with fluorescent light banding, depending on the current, you can sometimes minimize this effect by adjusting the shutter speed to match the current output (try 1/50 or 1/60 sec shutter speed, or variables of that 1/100 or 1/125, etc). It can help, but obviously isn’t a perfect solution depending on the exposure requirements for a specific scene. The only other thing I can think of is to avoid fluorescent lighting 😉
Thanks again and please let me know if you do find a good solution as it would be great to pass along to all of us who will surely appreciate it, and I will try to do the same.
All the best,
Just found your blog on a link from the rumors site. I too am rather tall with large hands and find the GM1 a pleasure. The touch screen is easy to use in “A” mode especially (and that comes from a senior citizen). As you mention a large lens cupped in your left hand balances quite nicely. Looking forward to reading more from you while I catch up. Alan
I have become very used to, and somewhat reliant on a touch screen interface. I love the ability to instantly and interactively move my AF point literally anywhere on the screen/sensor. That said, I do really wish that we had a better implementation of a disabling of the touch screen, especially on a camera as small as the GM1. I find my thumb often creeps onto the top right corner of the screen, inadvertently shifting my AF point, normally as I’m holding the camera while walking, between shots, etc. If I could have a touch disable command assigned to the Fn1 button (as much as I appreciate having my ISO adjustment set there) I think for this camera especially, it would make it immediately more usable and solve one of, if not the biggest annoyance I’ve yet had with it. Otherwise though, I am truly impressed with its size, handing it as a large handed human.
Thanks again and I hope to have some more in depth reviews up within a week or two after I’ve had a good amount of time shooting with this little guy.
I have to say I rather like the GM1 and I do like the lens as well!
My first reaction one unboxing was HOW SMALL!!!
I’m not convinced how many lenses you’d want to mount on it but the 12-32 and the 20mm f1.7 is a nice light combo. That combo is handy for walking around a city, when you going to the theatre or on holiday in the evening, i also find it useful I’m out with the 100-300 on the GX7 and binoculars and I want something small to caputre landscapes etc.
for all that it looks and I guess feels like a POS I don’t find it that fiddly. I’ve assigned the function key on the top plate to ISO.
As kit lenses go I think the 12-32 is both sharp and a nice range. For me it is a better range than a 14-42.
if you’re a non m4/3 shooter I wonder how much sense it makes. Then the Sony might be a more sensibile option but as I am a m4/3 shooter it makes sense for me!
Pictures and video don’t do the size reduction justice do they? It really is a bit of a marvel that they’ve built this thing so small.
Yeah, I think when all is said and done, I’ll rarely mount anything but the pancakes on this thing, but I’m trying to use this camera as if it were my only camera for the system to try and give it a good run through for those who may look to this as a one size fits all body. It certainly isn’t as easy to handle as most of the other system offerings, but I feel can be worked with in most cases, even for those of us with large paws.
I too instantly utilized the hard Fn1 button for ISO as I tend to like changing it myself for any given situation, keeping it as low as I can, and not entirely trusting Auto ISO for many situations. A great implementation in my opinion.
The 12-32 has really impressed me so far. I’m not a kit zoom (nor even most ANY type of zoom) guy normally, but I have to admit that this lens gives me a very usable tool. I don’t think I would feel the same way if it wasn’t as wide. The 12mm gives me something that I don’t have in any other lens currently, and that it provides a very usable 24mm e-fov as opposed to the more traditional 28mm makes it that much more important to me. On top of that, that it is very usably sharp wide open is also a boon. Most usable kit zoom I’ve used for the system, with the Oly 12-50 a very close second with the pancake edging it out based largely on it’s overall size and weight reduction making it so easy to keep around where the Oly, while a good lens, is like placing a small pringles can on the front of the camera making it a bit unruly and bulky when all I really used it for (90% of the time anyway) was for that UWA 24mm e-fov.
Thanks for the comment and enjoy this little gem!!!
Where did you get those wrist straps? I’ve been looking for one kinda like those.
I actually hand make them. I’m going to be selling them very soon. Let me know if you want one and I can get one to you.
yeah, i’m interested.
let me know how to get one
Well, if you would like one, email me at photosbytyson at gmail.com and I’ll let you know my paypal account. I’m selling them for $30 which includes shipping in the US.
I have an 8mm (5/16″) green and white line or a 10mm (3/8″) black and white line.
Let me know 🙂
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I’ve just recently stumbled on your blogs (after googling GX7 vs OMD-EM5) and love the stuff you posted that I’ve even subscribed (and all these years I’ve never subscribed to any blogs, that’s how much I like the way you write) 🙂
I’ve got a Canon EOS 500D + Tamron 18-270mm setup. I hardly remove that lens, as it’s my favourite everyday lens. I’ve always thought that one day, I’m thinking exactly how you ended your 2013 camera recommendations i.e. pick a camera based on the lenses, which is why I always intended to get a Micro 4/3rd camera simply because then I have 2 brands (Panasonic and Olympus) of bodies and lenses to choose from. My intention is to replace my Canon EOS setup for a smaller more travel-friendly setup (though the Canon 10-22mm wide angle lens is my other favourite, and hard to beat)
Given my favourite setup, I’d definitely end up with one of those 14-140mm zoom lenses. One of the things I’ve been struggling with is deciding whether a Panasonic GX7 or a GM1 body would be best suited. It felt a bit weird having a 14-140 on a GM1 body, but boy the GM1 is truly pocketable with a prime lens. GX7 on the other hand, is just a little smaller than my Canon body (and almost the same size as the OMD-EM1) and doesn’t feel like too much of a downsize but yet it’s a super-capable camera.
How do you think the 14-140mm handles long term on the GM1? Currently I’m leaning towards the GX7 for all its features and future proofing… (I don’t intend to change cameras every few years!)
What are your thoughts?
Thank you for the read and the compliment 🙂
I think the first question to ask yourself would be, would you prefer to sacrifice overall size reduction/”pocketability” for a far more functional camera in the GX7, or would you choose to sacrifice functionality and external control for the ultimate size reduction in the GM1?
For me, and keep in mind I still use this as my secondary (although it has kinda become my daily primary) system so I come at it from a slightly different angle than someone who is looking at it as their sole system, but I would still choose the GX7 over the GM1 if I could only have one of the two.
The GM1 is an awesome little camera, but it lacks some key functionality and features that the GX7 has going for it. The handling on the GX7 is far better, and aside from it being the size of a small point and shoot, the GM1 isn’t close to being as much of a camera.
I would definitely try to shoot with both, even in store to see how they fit your hand and how they interact with you. To me, the GX7 is a far better replacement for a DSLR while the GM1 is far more a point and shoot replacement if that makes sense. Both have their benefits and drawbacks.
Good luck with it and have fun getting into this system. It really is awesome.
Thanks Tyson 🙂
Yeah, my gut tells me the GX7 is the one… if I bought the GM1 it’s simply because it is just sooooo cute, and pocketable. Will look at getting the GX7 in July.
Keep up the good work/blogs!
I really, really like the GM1, don’t get me wrong. I think it is a great carry around camera, but I think I would struggle to really jive with it as my primary camera. You’re right though, it is remarkably cute.
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I have been searching for a single photo of the Lumix 14mm on the GM1 — Thanks for being the only one! Nice to see a we have a few lenses in common. My GM1 should be here next week and I intend to make the same kind of photos but with the camera facing up. Lenses include the 7.5mm (bower), 12mm (oly), 14mm (lumix), 30mm (sigma), 45mm (oly), 60mm (sigma), 75mm (oly), 300mm (tokina), 14-45mm (lumix), 14-140mm (lumix), 14-150mm (oly), 100-300mm (lumix).
Did you GM1 come with a kit lens, and if so, how does it perform? I have heard nothing but good so far. If you need any info on lenses I have let me know. I have been shooting with them for more than a few months.
Great cache of glass! Yes, the 12-32 has been a great performer to my eye so far. I will be doing a review on it soon.
Thanks for the comment!
I would have preferred that the GM1 was given in-body stabilization in exchange for it being a tad larger. For instance, something the size of the LX5 or LX7 would have been ideal if it had been given in-body stabilization. That’s the only thing that deters me from getting the GM1.
I think they minimized the GM1 to accomplish two things, firstly to make it the smallest MILC camera available and secondly to have the ability to add features to a GM2. I hope that IBIS is included in the next release, otherwise I think a lot of the buzz they generated with this cam is going to be lost in the shuffle. I’m not holding my breath, but I hope to see the next include IBIS, and honestly it will not add too much size. Look at the E-PM series or any modern compact camera (although most compacts employ a lens based stabilization, but still…)
Thanks for the thoughts, and I think many of us agree with you.
I think the GM1 is a nice beginning of a new line of ultra compact Micro Four Thirds camera bodies. However, I find it seriously lacking in several ways. It doesn’t have a hotshoe, the mechanical and electronic shutter are a a bit limiting, the controls are not very good, the LCD doesn’t tilt and a small electronic viewfinder would have been nice. The GM5 definitely is an improvement over the GM1 and I hope it keeps evolving into something more complete and useful. I’m not a fanboy, but meanwhile I keep using my trusted Olympus E-M10. Not only because of its features over the Panasonic GM series, but also because I don’t like the image quality and the overall look and feel of Panasonic MFT camera bodies. For me, Olympus often is a few steps ahead of Panasonic. Everything looks, feels and operates a little better and is more confidence inspiring. I do like some of the Panasonic lenses like the 15mm f/1.7 and the 42.5mm f/1.2 (although this last one will never find its way to my camera bag, because it’s too big and heavy).
If coming at the GM from the point of view of someone needing a fully featured camera, you’ll certainly be left wanting. While the GM5 has gone a long way to remedying what I also saw as a few shortcomings, it’s still going to be missing a few things compared to larger, more feature filled bodies.
In my opinion, this is the wrong way to be looking at this camera though. The GM series is all about size reduction period. I think with the GM1, what they did was strip it of just about everything to get it as small as they possibly could. This created a HUGE buzz which is what they were going for surely. When they were able to fit a relatively huge sensor in a camera that was no larger than most point and shoots, it created a snowball of publicity by merely being announced. Now, with the GM5, they’ve said, okay, we understand that folks want a hotshoe, and hey, we’ll even throw in an EVF without increasing the size by much, making it a much more functional little camera which to me is brilliant, but wouldn’t have been able to be called the smallest interchangeable lens system camera if they’d started off this way. If they didn’t go for an absolute size stripping the first time around, it would have merely been a better looking GF camera, or EPM camera, but instead they dominated internet forums and camera mags for a month or two with all the talk, and now they’ve created a mini sized platform which they’re building on.
Now, for me, it needs to have the IBIS. ALL Panasonic cameras now need to include the GX7’s IBIS as far as I’m concerned, but especially a camera this small. To me there’s no excuse for it seeing as most of even Panasonic’s lenses do not have OIS in some iteration, and we know they’re willing to include it a-la the GX7.
You mention controls regarding the GM1, but I have found it to have a wonderful amount of external control all things considered, and I’d even go so far to say that it’s interface has served me better as a camera than the customizable OMD EM5 did which to me was a mess, requiring far too much tinkering to assign key functions to non labeled buttons or certain CFn buttons. It has a click wheel to adjust aperture and/or shutter speed, or if in A or S mode, exposure compensation. Direct access to WB, drive and focus function, not to mention the AF-S, AF-C or MF dial, and the FN1 button can be set to adjust ISO, so I have one click access to everything I need for 99% of a day’s shooting. Sure, it doesn’t have the GH4’s amount of external knobs and buttons, but it fits in a tight pocket.
IQ wise, sure the Oly Jpegs will woo most folks, but the RAW files from the GM1 are as good or better than the Olys in my tests. I shoot RAW, so Jpegs mean very little to me (actually carry no weight when I decide on a camera). If you shoot solely Jpegs though, yes, I’d agree that the Oly’s in camera processing does a better job than the Panas. I think I could say the exact opposite regarding Olympus being a few steps ahead, and this shows how different an individual’s interaction with a particular brand can come into play. As a long time photographer, I’ve never had to think as much about my camera, and how to get my camera to do what I needed it to do as I have with Oly cameras. Some really like the tinkering and customization, but to me, it got in the way of shooting and ultimately became annoying to me. This is coming from shooting a lot of systems over the years. Again, my personal experience, but perhaps shows how one’s experience, and I guess opinion can greatly differ.
Is there room for improvement on the GM series? Absolutely. I think we’ve already seen them address a few shortcomings with the GM5, but having been shooting extensively with this little camera for almost a year now, I can say while small, it is not severely lacking in any way with the sole exception being external flash use or flash sync which is admittedly ridiculous. Otherwise, I’d say it’s on par or better than most any other comparably priced, mirrorless camera, and I’d prefer it over most of the Oly’s or Panasonic cams at this stage merely because it gives me the same IQ while being able to go nearly unnoticed in a bag or pocket when coupled with most of the system’s lenses that I own. Pretty cool little juggernaut.
Thanks for the comment Ton, I appreciate you taking the time.
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