Boasting a 16-millon-pixel-sensor, interchangeable lenses and Wi-Fi in a palm-sized body, is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 the perfect balance between image quality and pocketability? Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 review...
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 review – Build and handling
Undoubtedly, the most standout feature of the GM1 is the minuscule size of its body and kit lens. Even including the lens it measures just 98.5×54.9×54.4mm, which is about the same depth as a standard credit card and only just over 13.5mm longer. This incredible feat of engineering is the result of a redesign of many of the camera’s internal parts, including the shutter mechanism and main circuit board.
The GM1’s body is made from magnesium alloy, but is very lightweight. Weighing just 173g body only, and 274g with the battery, kit lens and an SD card, it is also one of the lightest micro four thirds cameras. It fitted comfortably into my coat pocket and I was able to take it with me wherever I went. The GM1 really is a camera you can carry with you all the time.
However, there is a disadvantage that comes with the downscaling of the GM1, which is that it has lost some of the handling qualities offered by larger cameras. For example, there is no substantial grip on the front, and the textured grip on the back is quite small. As a result, when using the camera with one hand I found that it did not feel as secure as I would like, although two-handed operation is OK. An optional handgrip is available, although it costs around £99. This screws into the tripod thread and offers better finger support at the front of the camera, which I suspect will solve this issue.
However, another slight annoyance is that the grip on the rear of the camera is very close to the large 3in touchscreen. On occasion, usually when I was shooting in portrait orientation, my thumb would wander towards the LCD screen as I searched for a grip. This would frequently cause a focus point to be selected in the corner of the frame, which I then needed to correct.
As this camera features very few physical control buttons, it relies primarily on customisable menus and the touchscreen. Thankfully, Panasonic has managed to create a control layout that prevents extensive menu driving and allows settings to be adjusted quickly. A quick menu button located below the D-pad allows users to control ISO, aperture, shutter speed and metering, among other settings, but it can also be customised to add or remove settings. A function menu in the form of a tab on the right of the LCD can be customised for other settings, such as focus peaking, picture style and Wi-Fi.
Due to the high power consumption and small battery size, the GM1 is rated to a lowly 220 shots. For light use it is fine for a couple of days, but heavy users would be wise to buy a back-up battery.
There are four different versions of the GM1 available, all in a ‘modern-vintage’ vein intended to appeal to a more style-conscious audience. These are black, white, silver and tan, all coming with complementary textured leather wrapped around the body. I particularly like the silver body and 1970s retro-vintage style of the tan leather.