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My GM1 review vs E-PM1

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Vivalo, Feb 18, 2015.

  1. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    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.

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    Tech specs and IQ


    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.

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    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.

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  2. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    What are the features that I don’t like compared to Olympus E-PM1?

    The biggest feature that I’m missing now with the GM1 is in-camera RAW conversion. Ok, I haven’t read the manual but I just can’t find that feature from the GM1. Now I’m forced to shoot RAW+jpeg and I have to get all the settings right (WB, contrast, sharpness, crop, aspect ratio…) before I shoot the jpeg. With Olympus cameras you can develop the shot with different settings from a RAW file when you need a jpeg. I don’t need jpeg files that often but when I do I need it on-the-go. Now I’m wasting SD-card space for RAW+jpeg just in case I happen to need a jpeg for sharing it to Facebook. I believe the latest Lumix cameras do have a RAW convertor built in, but the GM1 does not.

    Olympus cameras are known to be highly customizable and that is true for all of their DSLRs and mirrorless system cameras. With Olympus cameras you can set custom exposure compensation if you think your camera is constantly over/under exposing images. And that will be your new zero point from which you can dial more or less exp comp during shooting, as usually. You can even set it independently for different metering types. I cannot find such a feature from the GM1. Another big feature missing from the GM1 is copyright settings. I know I can do that in Lightroom, but again, when I’m sharing my images on-the-go via my smartphone, there won’t be my name in the copyright EXIF data now with my GM1. There are so many little things you can tweak in Olympus cameras that I don’t want to bore you by listing all of them now. But I can tell you the Panasonic isn’t in the same league. And for many users that is a good thing because the Panasonic menus are more user friendly with less options. The E-PM1 had annoyingly bright menu background and I couldn’t change that to the darker theme that all my other Olympus cameras had/have. That’s one thing you CAN do on the GM1. I like to use dark background and white text and on GM1 you have a couple of other options too.

    Everybody complains that Olympus doesn’t provide lens hoods, but I find it more annoying that Panasonic doesn’t provide even a rear cap for the 12-32mm zoom when it is sold in kit. The 12-32mm was a sweet lens though, but I sold it for 190€ because I have enough lenses, for now that is.

    One thing that I don’t understand is why the GM1 doesn’t allow me to use mechanical shutter with lenses that don’t have electrical contacts? The camera just defaults and stays on the e-shutter in those cases.

    One obvious limitation of the GM1 is its mechanical shutter. It can be used only up to 1/500 second, after which it uses e-shutter only for faster exposures. For fast moving subjects it can cause some distortions but I haven’t had any issues yet.

    So these are my quick observations after a week with the GM1. I really like the camera, for now it seems to be the perfect pocket camera for me. I’m using it mostly with my all black Panasonic 14mm f/2.5 pancake lens. They are the perfect match. The depth of the camera with 14mm lens and UV- filter is the same as the height of the camera: 5,5 centimeters or 2 and 1/8 inches.

    Edit: Here are some more pictures compared to E-PM1

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    Last edited: Feb 21, 2015
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  3. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    Well, you have sold me on it. Now if they would sell for $340 USD in the USA with 12-32.
  4. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Nice review, but apart from the covers the body is magnesium rather than plastic.
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  5. budeny

    budeny Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 4, 2014
    Boulder, CO
    Love GM1 portability - fits in my ski jacket pocket even with attached Sigma 60mm.
    My came with Flipbac G3 grip and I think they are good match.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. xdayv

    xdayv Color Blind

    Aug 26, 2011
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Nice write up! I have my GM1 as my EDC... love it!
  7. snaimpally

    snaimpally Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 31, 2012
    I paid full price for my GM1 last year and love it! My main camera is the EM5. For available light shooting (I shoot many Indian concerts) I usually have the Olympus 75mm on the EM5 and the Panasonic 20mm or 25mm on the GM1. I can take both cameras in a small bag.

    I like the 12-32mm lens as well. The 12-32mm on the GM1 makes it not much bigger than a point and shoot and provides a very compact camera that takes great pictures. I often take the GM1 + 12-32 as a pocket camera.

    For an upcoming vacation, I bought the 35-100mm lens - I plan to take the GM1, the 12-32, and the 35-100. A very compact kit! I can't get over the size of the 35-100 - amazing that it is the equivalent of the 70-200mm yet so small.
  8. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    How does AWB under artificial light compare to E-PM1?
  9. DynaSport

    DynaSport Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jan 5, 2013
    I didn't know my E-PM1 does in camera RAW conversion. But when I was using the E-PM1 I shot JPEG almost exclusively and was pretty happy with it. I still have my E-PM1, but almost never use it. I'll have to charge the battery up and play with it to see how to do that. But overall, I was not happy with the handling of the E-PM1. I often had a difficult time getting it to focus on what I wanted it to focus on, if it was a fairly fast moving or busy shot. It was probably just me. But I have more success with my G5 in those circumstances. There are times when I'd like something more pocketable though, and I've been thinking about a GM1 or GM5 with the 12-32 or possibly a two lens kit of the P14 and P20 to have a small kit. But, I often dream about the next camera, but I rarely pull the trigger. We'll see.
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    In my opinion AWB is better with the GM1, but it is of course a matter of taste.
  11. plaatje

    plaatje Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 15, 2012
    I still use our E-pm1, now fitted with the 19mm sigma and an e-vf, and that's becoming a must for me. No more camera's without EVF. So maybe someday the GM-5 . . . .?
  12. Joon525

    Joon525 Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 24, 2012
    I had no idea this camera (GM1) was that small.
  13. SrPantuflas

    SrPantuflas Mu-43 Regular

    May 26, 2013
    Chile, South America.
    Where you brought it for $340?
  14. penfan2010

    penfan2010 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 12, 2010
    NJ, USA
    Thanks, good review. i have owned the GM-1 for almost a year now and use it far more frequently than my E-M5. It's a very good and versatile camera for sure.
  15. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012
    Both of the Lumix G models I've owned have autofocused better than my EPM1. I've also found the Panasonics to be more predictable with the images I get from them. With the EPM1, I'm either impressed or disappointed, I don't have the same level of confidence with it as I do the Pannys. Maybe because it's always been a second camera. That said, there is just something about the EPM1 that I really like and I keep going back to it. I love the retro look and the quality feel of the all metal body, plus the auto wb is far better than either of the Panasonics I've owned (not a big deal when shooting raw though)

    For now, my EPM1 is still serving the purpose for which it was purchased, a small, low value (though with the VF3, it cost more than either of my Panasonics) alternative to a point and shoot. The GM1 could be the right alternative for me to get that package with the Panasonic predictability I'm used to, but I'm not so sure about the 1/500 max mechanical shutter speed.
  16. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    PeeBee, I felt the same with my E-PM1: Sometimes I was impressed by the results (12mp Oly sensors colors!) but too often I was disappointed (12mp Oly sensor noise). I think the AWB was good on low ISO values but on high ISO values it was very tricky. GM1 is more consistent and neutral when it comes to WB.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  17. Danny_SWE

    Danny_SWE Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 30, 2013
    Sweden (Gothenburg)
    I also have the E-M5 and now bought a GM1. Fantastic camera. So small and light. Touch UI is wonderful. But I don't like the scroll wheel! Difficult to rotate it without pressing it :) 
  18. Vivalo

    Vivalo Olympus loser Subscribing Member

    Nov 16, 2010
    Yep, the scroll wheel is a pain in the ars* sometimes. [emoji1] ...but it is the same with all fourway scroll wheels. Some are just a little bit better than others.
  19. PeeBee

    PeeBee Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 17, 2012

    I think your excellent review gave me (and others members) a touch of GAS Vivalo, but I’ve cured it by digesting my daughters upcoming university fees. I’ve also remembered how much I like a viewfinder and with no way to attach one to the GM1, its probably not the right model for me afterall. There are other cameras that would suit my needs better, but they are generally at a price point beyond the low risk, ‘take anywhere’ factor that I want from it, so for now I’ll stick with the EPM1 whilst keeping an eye on clearance deals. TBH, I think I’d like the convenience of a high end compact like the LX100, but that convenience comes with a high price tag.

    As for the IQ issues I have with my EPM1, I think its a combination of shutter shock and /or my technique. Sometimes my images are tack sharp, other times soft and blurry across the entire frame, even when mounted on a tripod. I haven’t been able to figure out how to maintain the sweet spot. I keep IBIS switched off and anti-shock is usually on. I hold the camera like a compact which isn’t as stable as the DSLR like grip I have on the G2 / G5, so that could be a factor, but it doesn’t explain the soft shots when tripod mounted, so I assume that it is shutter shock. My Panasonics have been so much more predictable when it comes to the image output.

    My EPM1 is generally used in snapshot situations like family days out where the often good lighting allows for higher shutter speeds, where the problem is less frequent and I don’t tend to push the ISO. When image quality is more critical, I can usually take one of my other cameras, so for the time being its something I can live with.

    I have a similar problem with my G5
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