My GM1 review and thoughts compared to Olympus E-PM1 The unboxing The GM1+12-32mm kit package is small. And that is in the positive sense, because I feel most consumer electronics are packed in to so large packages that logistically and for the nature’s sake it doesn’t make any sense. The box is very minimalistic, just a black box with some text on it, no pictures of the camera nor the lens. Inside there are the usual suspects: - Paper version of quick manual, CD version of full manual and guarantee papers - Installation CD for Silkypix 4.1 and PHOTOfunSTUDIO 9.2 - Battery, charger, proprietary USB-cable and neckstrap - The camera with the 12-32mm kit zoom in place, there is no rear cap for the lens! The feel, the looks! Yes, I am one of those who can get excited about the looks or materials of some products, consumer electronics even. The very simplistic approach of the GM1 design is very attractive. It could be more comfortable to hold if it had a fore grip or thumb grip, but this way it is so good looking AND it is sleek, which helps if you need to get it out from a compact camera pouch. At least if you have a wrist strap to pull from. The choices of materials are excellent. The outer casing is made of high quality, nicely textured, black plastic. There are faux leather thumb area and front panel. The top of the camera is some sort of metal. Buttons are mostly plastic except the mode dial, which is of metal. I am not sure about the other dials, in any case they feel well crafted too. The outer side of the bayonet is painted black. I think it looks nicer than the one on E-PM1, which is just bare metal. The top plate of the pop-up flash is of slightly different shade of black than the rest of the top. It could be made of plastic but it’s hard to tell. Tech specs and IQ Good Why did I choose the GM1? My main camera is Olympus E-M5. Although it has small and squishy buttons I still like its handling, especially with HLD-6 grip. I have also E-P1, my original m4/3 camera from 2010, and I’ve had E-PM1 and E-P3 also. Before mirrorless I used Olympus E-520 DSLR. At first I enjoyed the small form factor provided by the E-P1 and the tiny Panasonic 20mm pancake lens. But then came the E-M5 with its superior sensor, weather sealing and built in EVF. I just had to get it. Then came the 12-40mm 2.8 with its constant aperture, great IQ and weather sealing. I just had to get it. Suddenly I was in a point where I had gone back to DSLR form factor. Of course I had my E-P1 still on the shelf waiting for those moments when I want to go out with minimal gear and not look like a pro or even photo enthusiast. But the E-P1 isn’t that much smaller than the E-M5, it is still quite heavy and the output isn’t that great in low light. So the E-M5 came with me most of the time when I wanted to take a camera with me. But too many times I left both of them at home since I felt it would be too uncomfortable to carry them in a coat pocket. So that’s why I started to look at smaller alternatives. I bought a used E-PM1, because I got it so cheap and it had still almost full warranty left. I think it is the perfect size, maybe still a bit too heavy, but the handling was great. The greatest thing about that camera was that I got it so cheap that I didn’t have to handle it too carefully. Pretty quickly I realized that I wasn’t ready to give up on the low light performance of the E-M5. I like to photograph people, especially my kids and relatives. I like to be as unobtrusive as possible, so I don’t like to use flash or tell people to stay still. Actually, usually I don’t even want them to know they are being photographed. Many times I need at least 1/50 sec shutter speed. At such a shutter speed I get no advantage from the IBIS. All I need is usable ISO3200, ISO6400 even. That’s what the E-M5 can provide me, but the E-P1/E-PM1 can’t. This is where the GM1 appears on my radar. It’s cheap: 299€ (340$) brand new from local retailer with 12-32 zoom. It’s smaller than the E-PM1. The sensor is as good as the one on E-M5. It is very quiet even with the mechanical shutter, and dead silent with the electronic shutter. It has better controls and better screen than E-PM1. Over all it feels like a no-brainer, especially at that price point. E-PL7 would have been 599€ with the EZ pancake zoom. It is also larger than the GM1 and doesn’t have the e-shutter. So what’s better now with the GM1 (compared to E-PM1): The screen is way better. The resolution, refresh rate, less lag, color and contrast are all better. The 3:2 aspect ratio suits better to 4:3 format than 16:9 ratio screen on E-PM1. With GM1 you gain a touch screen too, a really well executed one. It is almost as fluid as modern smart phone touch screens. Menus are much faster to navigate with touch screen. It is so fast to review images when you just push the image review button then double tap to the part of image you want to zoom in and now you are at 2x zoom at that part of the image. From there you can zoom in and out with the control wheel or pinch to zoom. You can also move at the zoomed picture with the four way dial or by moving the picture with the tip of your finger. If you need to delete multiple images, just select the ones straight from the screen and then hit ok on the screen, simple. Unlike E-PM1, the GM1 has a tripod mount that is centered with the lens mount. Unfortunately it is very close to the battery/SD card compartment door. There aren’t many tripods that would allow you to open the battery door when the camera is on it. The on/off switch is great. First of all it is placed around the shutter release button, it’s obviously the best place for it. Another benefit from the physical switch is that you can feel if the camera is on even before you pull the camera from your coat pocket for a quick shot. It’s great for street photography. E-PM1 has just a dedicated on/off-button and a blinding blue led indicator. The GM1 has also a led indicator on the top plate but it is much more discreet. I like the AF/MF-switch on the top plate. You can feel with your fingers the focus mode you are at. When the textured part of the dial is towards the left side of the screen you have MF, when it’s perpendicular to the screen you have AFC and when it’s towards the right side of the screen you have AFS. With the dedicated switch it is so fast and easy to override autofocus when needed. Many times in situations where I know the CDAF will struggle, I pre-focus and then switch to MF to shoot as many photos I want and know I will get every shot with no focus delay. Especially with wide angle lenses which have plenty of DOF even wide open. The mode dial is great. It was only after not having it on the E-PM1 that made me realize how handy it is to have one. But not only that, with Panasonic cameras you get the custom slots to save your “own modes”. In this case you get the C1 and C2 slots. Under the C2 you can change between C2-1, C2-2 and C2-3 from the menu. E-PM1 also has “my sets” but you can access them only by diving in the camera menu. I’ve set the C1 to be aperture priority with all of my favorite default settings. C2 is the same but with the touch screen disabled and C2-3 is for time lapse shooting. With larger lenses it is easier to handle the camera when your thumb is resting over the corner of the screen. The GM1 movie quality is very good compared to the E-PM1. You get much more control over the settings too. You can even change shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation and mic level during recording. You also have the volume level indicators alive on the screen for both audio channels even before you start to record. The electronic shutter is so sweet. The only sound you get with it is when the aperture blades are closing. But when they are wide open for the shot or when you use lenses with no electrical connection, you get absolutely no sound when taking a picture. Another good thing about the e-shutter is that you don’t shorten the lifetime of the mechanical shutter by taking thousands of photos for time lapse videos. Also the 1/16000 second e-shutter is handy in bright light with large apertures. Finally I have a camera with WiFi. I have used a Toshiba Flashair WiFi SD-card with my E-PM1 and E-M5. It is very handy for transferring jpeg images to smartphone. And that is the main feature of the WiFi that I use on my GM1. It’s for those occasions when you want to share something to social media right there right now, but you want to have more control and quality than any smartphone can deliver. The remote control feature seems to be very versatile, but I’m not sure if I’m going to use it that often. In-camera CA removal (for Panasonic lenses) is a cool feature that I don’t have on my Olympus cameras. I know the latest Olympus models do have that feature for Olympus lenses. Although the GM1 doesn’t have a hot shoe, it does have a small built-in flash. I really don’t like to carry a small clip-on flash with me everywhere just in case I happen to need it. I usually shoot with available light and it is one of a thousand shots when I wish I had a flash with me. Now I have it. I know there is the very slow 1/50 second sync time, so the flash isn’t good for fill-in flash against a bright sky. But it is good enough for me when shooting indoors or at night. The flash is also tiltable unlike the Olympus’ clip-on flash. GM1 has motion sensors so it can automatically detect which way should be displayed up on computer, even my E-P1 has that feature but the E-PM1 doesn’t. I’m not a huge fan of focus peaking but now I have it and for video it is quite useful. I like the PIP focus box more for still photography.