Image Performance, Conclusion
The sample photographs were shot with the Panasonic GM1. The originals have not been post-processed, are saved in AdobeRGB, and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for full-resolution images.
Image quality is virtually identical to the Lumix GX7, which is to say very good. It is a tad noisier than the GX7 at higher ISO levels from ISO 3200 onwards, but nothing you’d spot unless you zoomed in close, meaning you can shoot up to that setting and still get reasonably good, clean results.
Auto-focus performance is fast and accurate in most situations, but if you need to shift AF points you can do so easily by tapping the screen. The best thing about having an interchangeable lens camera is that you can swap out the lens for different looks, and the Micro Four Thirds standard has the richest collection of native lenses available for mirrorless cameras.
While the GM1’s small size makes it impractical to mount bigger lenses like Panasonic’s 35-100mm f/2.8, there are a variety of small lenses like the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake and the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 which fit well with the GM1.
The Panasonic Lumix GM1 ticks a lot of the right boxes. Small body, large sensor. Check. Beautifully designed. Check. Easy to use touchscreen interface. Check. Competitive price. Check. It works great as both a camera for someone who wants a compact camera and for someone who already owns a Micro Four Thirds camera looking for a secondary body. Its AF speed and accuracy, coupled with its high quality images and responsive touch-screen are its highlights.
However, there are some caveats. The short 220-230 shot battery life is not enough for one intensive day of shooting. If you’re going to get this camera, you really should get an extra battery. Some might find the grip too small and slippery, in which case you’d need to shell out extra for the optional grip.
Lastly, the kit lens has a short 2.6x optical zoom, but keep in mind that most entry-level DSLR cameras come with a 18-55mm kit lens which offers 3x optical zoom. If you want a performance compact camera with a longer zoom range, you’re better off looking at the Sony RX100 II (3.6x), the Panasonic Lumix LX7 (3.8x) or the Canon PowerShot S120 (5x). None of them will let you swap out the lens for a gorgeous wide aperture prime though, and none of them will give you the image quality possible with a larger sensor.
In the end, would I recommend the GM1? Despite its shortcomings, the GM1 presents solid performance in a convenient size at a competitive price, so the answer is a yes.