Saturday, December 7, 2013

Lumix DMC GM1, First Impression

Why did I get excited with Panasonic Lumix GM1? I am sure I was not alone, thousands of Pany fanboys were hysterical when Panasonic launch this Itsy Bitsy "compact"!  But I am NOT a Pany fan boy, never was ;)

When I was young, I was a Nikon fan boy but when Nikon launch their retro Df; I didn't hold my breath! So what was it that made me excited over this little camera?

According to Panasonic, their latest miniature offering does not compromise on image quality, even with its remarkably compact body.

"It achieves this by incorporating the large Digital Live MOS Sensor based on the Micro Four Thirds System standard, together with the high-performance Venus Engine.

High-precision, high-speed AF also helps to capture even the most fleeting moments. All of this makes it an ideal camera for someone who truly cares about both image quality and style."

If you want to know more about this "small wonder", take a look at this Panasonic web site; DPReview also did a really comprehensive review about this revolutionary tiny camera, go take a look; I am not repeating them.

All these raving reviews only made me more agitated; I want the GM1 NOW, I want it YESTERDAY!!

Then on Wednesday I got a message from Ben of Photo Warehouse Wellington that a limited number of the small wonder are on their way from Auckland!

Come Thursday afternoon, I was looking at a black GM1!

My first impression was how ridiculously small the camera is!  I was starting to doubt if a tiny camera like that can deliver what Panasonic promised!  You really got to hold the camera to realise how tiny it is, my LG mobile phone is of the same length!!

I do not have time to test the GM1 on Thursday, I charged the tiny battery which according to all testers Panasonic could have put in one that allow more shots, but hello, for compactness sake, Panasonic have to compromise quite a bit. I can live with that ;)

Friday morning, we have an early breakfast appointment with our younger daughter; she is taking us to this relatively new eatery opposite her apartment.

According to their web site... "Prefab is a unique and unpretentious eatery space with extraordinary natural light, large North-West facing terrace and the Southern Hemisphere's longest espresso bar."

We like the place almost immediately, nice atmosphere; incredibly fast services and the food are simple, tasty and healthy :)

It also gives me the first chance to test shot the tiny Lumix GM1!

This is a very casual point and shoot of one of our breakfast, scrambled eggs with hot smoked salmon and two slices of gluten free toast. Take note of the vibrancy and accuracy of the colour, this is an untouched JPEG file straight out of the tiny camera. The new, tiny, kit lens was set to 12mm (24mm equivalent), f3.5 and 1/20 sec. I was impressed!

Cropping into the same picture reveling the nice separation of focus, even at f3.5!  I am sure my Coolpix P7700 will not be able to do that!  The beauty of a large sensor!

( All test were done in JPEG, the RAW file of the GM1 is still not compatible with the latest Adobe DNG converter)

The Nikon Coolpix P7700 is 20% wider, 32% taller and 66% thicker than the Lumix GM1.

Yet, the huge P7700 packed a tiny sensor that is 7 times SMALLER than the GM1!

After our nice breakie, thanks Ming... I went off to work.

Nigel, my work colleague was excited by the GM1 too. I let him take some test shots of moi... ha ha ha.  He was particularly interested to find out if you can actually get nice out of focus bokeh with a f3.5 24mm equivalent wide lens.

Nigel took a shot of me at 12mm (24mm eqv), f3.5; 1/200 sec, ISO 400. He focuses the lens at my eye, the touch screen allowed him to just tab where he wanted the lens to focus on; nice! Turn out that his exposure was 3 stops under exposed. I crank up the JPEG file in ACR and bum-up the "fill-light" to brighten up the shot. Lets zoom in to look at the two monitor screens at my back...

Yes, you can actually get nice out of focus blur at f3.5, even at 24mm equivalent! And was that kit zoom sharp?  Check out my white whiskers! Ha ha ha..

This is a quick shot of Heather, my colleague; with her funny glasses :) The very compact  LUMIX G VARIO 12-32/F3.5-5.6 kit zoom was shot at it's longest 32mm (equivalent of 64mm), at this focal length, the maximum aperture became F5.6. How is the resolving power of this tiny zoom?

Was that sharp enough for you?

That night we took our daughter to a Korean restaurant for her birthday dinner.

More food shots were taken with the GM1, what was this thing about me and food shots?  I find available light food shots really show you how good the lens on your compact camera is ;)

Look at that! The only light was from the window on the side. Yes, that Kimchi soup was as hot as it looks!

Saturday, this morning we went to the Wellington Airport to pick up our good friend from Malaysia.

At the main terminal building I saw the new Weta Workshop Great Eagles flying overhead with Gandalf. The birds have a 15 metres wingspan and weigh in at a tonne each! I must have a shot of this!

This was what happened, a vastly under exposed shot, but I can improve the exposure by dialing in + exposure compensation... there I was, trying to find out how the heck I can do that; I gave up after 5 minutes. I wish there is a + - dial on the camera, like my Nikon P7700, obviously that dial cannot fit onto this tiny camera ;)

What about the little, yes; little flash! I slide the release button and out came this tiny flash! How tiny?  Take a look at the picture below!

That is the built in flash of the GM1! A memory stick is much much larger!

Anyway, there is nothing to loose, I took another shot of the flying eagle with the flash...

 Wow!  I just could not believe what this little tiny flash can do!  How was this possible?  I check the EXIF data, the camera exposed this shot at ISO 400 f3.5 1/50 with flash and the whole place light up?  I will have to do more testing on this ;)

Here is another shot of the eagles at our Wellington Airport...

 Apart from the incredible amount of light the little flash pump out, this picture also demonstrates how useful and wide coverage a 12mm (24mm eqv") lens give you. Camera manufacturers should have realised that a compact "travel" camera with anything less is just not good enough. How many of you have experience the angst of "not wide enough symptom" on your travel?

On our way home, I realised I have not actually taken any outdoor shots with this small wonder!  The afternoon rain has stopped, a quick swing around to my favorite "lens test spot"...

ISO 400 f5.6 1/4000 sec at 32mm (64mm eqv), untouched; out of camera JPEG file.

Same exposure as above but at 12mm (24mm eqv) setting.

100% crop of the 32mm test shot. I cannot see any chromatic aberration here, but being a JPEG file; I suspect the camera did it's own correction.

Famous Last Words...

So what is my impression of this tiny Panasonic Great Miniture One (GM1)?

Love it!  Just cannot have enough of it!

Panasonic has created a solid, ultra compact camera that you can easily put in your pocket and take EVERYWHERE!  At the same time they also destroy the myth that a compact camera only come with a fixed lens and small sensor!

I believe the Lumix GM1 will soon starts a disruptive change in how compact cameras are made, Panasonic has taken away the thunder; this innovation could have easily come from the two giants in camera manufacturing... but Nikon and Canon are so conservative that they are actually trailing behind, in a loosing game.

** Special thanks to Ben of Photo Warehouse for allocating the early unit to me.



The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera is a highly compact and lightweight digital camera featuring a 16 megapixel Micro Four Thirds Digital Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor to produce high resolution imagery with notable low-light sensitivity to ISO 25600. The combination of these two technologies affords a wealth of detail and clarity in imagery and also supports full HD 1080i/p video recording at 60 or 24 fps in the high-quality AVCHD format. The Venus Engine also affords fast continuous shooting speeds; up to 5 fps in full resolution, 40 fps using an electronic shutter, and 4 fps with full-time AF. 

Product Highlights

16MP Digital Live MOS Sensor
Venus Engine Image Processor
Micro Four Thirds System
3.0" 1,036k-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
Full HD 1080i AVCHD Video at 60 fps
Built-In Wireless Connectivity
Light Speed AF and Focus Peaking
ISO 25600 and 5 fps Continuous Shooting
Highly Compact Magnesium Alloy Body
Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens

NZD 1,149.00  with the 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Lens.

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New Lumix GM1, Small Is Beautiful!

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Simon Gotlieb said...

It's definitely got the goods as far as results go CY. It feels so tiny compared to my 5D it's not funny! My biggest concerns in potential ownership would be twofold - 1) It's so small I would misplace it, and 2) I'm just too rough on gear - the flash in particular, but also the controls feel so light and delicate I would kill them in weeks. But for someone who can look after cameras this could be a great camera. And for candid photography I'd much rather have this unobtrusive little beauty than my hulking beast of an SLR and big lens. Great review!

cy.leow said...

Mity Visionz 7 Dec via Facebook...

Very good write up ...

cy.leow said...

Cheah Sin-Leng via Facebook

Oh no! Cy you got me drooling. Wonder it has reached Malaysian soil yet? Need to check it out when I get back. Thanks for a nice review
· 11 hours ago via mobile