Panasonic’s latest Lumix camera builds upon the success and versatility of the very likeable GX7, but packs those features into an even tinier package – arguably the smallest compact system camera you can get. It’s very easy to like the GM1, but the contortions Panasonic had to go through to pack all that functionality has resulted in a few, well, not quite corners being cut, but you do miss some features.
With such a good lens included in the kit, and a superb micro four thirds sensor, you do feel the lack of a viewfinder. Battery life is not great, but the small form factor does have to power a lot of advanced features you won’t find any other camera of this size; spare batteries are available, though they are a touch expensive. We’d certainly suggest one or two if you’re going to be frequently away from a charge while using the GM1.
But those niggles aside, the camera is quite remarkable. With the same Light Speed AF system as its larger cousin it’s fast to focus, and great in low light conditions. The included 12-32mm lens is made just for the camera, and is very versatile.
Backed up by a range of truly useful presets, and a lot of SLR-grade tweaking if you’re more serious about your shots, the GM1 simply doesn’t feel like a small camera to use. The UI is easy to navigate, and the touch display is responsive and very handy. There’s a single control wheel and a function key you can program, plus a control pad on the back, but the touch display does most of the heavy lifting for accessing and playing with camera features.
Also included is NFC and WiFi connectivity. We’ve used that in the larger GX7, and been impressed, but found it a little more cantankerous in the GM1. It wouldn’t connect to our home or office network, but the NFC functionality was flawless.
It’s a great camera, especially for its size, but sits in an odd niche. It’s nearly perfect for casual photographer looking for a bit of power and control, but it’s a bit too well-featured as a backup if you’re already using a DSLR. It’s an easy camera to fall in love with regardless, and one that we’re very happy to recommend.