Thursday, October 17, 2013

Panasonic GM1 -- The micro micro Four-Thirds camera body

The rumors said that it was coming, but nothing had prepared us for just how small it was.

Many people complain that a certain camera body is too big.  They must have tiny hands.  The GM1 is the cure.

It's about the size of the Sony RX100, but with a larger sensor--another product in the Sony-Panasonic war to win the hearts and minds of the Japanese people.

Panasonic GM1 Width 98.5mm x Height 54.9mm x Depth 30.4mm
Olympus E-PM2 Width 109.8mm x Height 64.2mm x Depth 33.8mm

Compared to the Olympus mini, it's a bit smaller--micro-ish.

The 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 lens seems too good to be true.  Sure, it's not much for low light, but apparently, it has very high optical quality for a kit zoom.  The lens with the body is US$749.99.  I thought that was high, but is there another magnesium alloy mirror-less system camera anywhere close to this small?

Panasonic also announced a 15mm f/1.7 lens that should arrive in 2014.  That lens has an aperture ring, which is likely the first on micro Four-Thirds.  Leica-labeled lenses on Four-Thirds had aperture rings and this 15mm is definitely labeled as a Leica lens.  Does this mean that Leica have an intention to use this as a basis for their own tiny camera, as they did with the Panasonic DMC-L1 that became the Digilux 3?
Leica 15mm f/1.7 with aperture ring

The weird bit about the 12-32mm lens is that it has the zoom ring, but no manual focus ring.  There isn't enough room for that since it's a collapsible design.  Manual focus is implemented through the rear display.  I suspect that it would be easier to put the camera on a tripod and use the Lumix app to control the camera from a smart phone or tablet.

It's strange, but I feel somewhat enthusiastic about this certain model.  I normally want something large enough to hold easily, such as the Panasonic GH3, but the GM1 looks easy to slip away, even with its pronounced grip.  They will have a grip available, but I would expect it to be tiny as well.  You can see from the photo that it's not entirely huge.

GM1 with huge grip

I was thinking that this would be a good camera to carry.  The other Four-Thirds models such as the Olympus E-PM2 and Panasonic GF6 aren't really pocket-able, and if it doesn't fit in my pocket, why bother?  I'll just continue to use my phone.

Update: 2013.12.04: I've seen a couple of great deals on the E-PM2 with two lenses.  One of the deals even lets you pay US$66.66 for each of 6 months.  It still won't make the E-PM2 pocketable but it will make the price more easily digestible.

Update: 2014.01.14: Tyson Robichaud takes a good look at the camera.  He seems to be thinking about what I've been thinking.

Also, they still haven't introduced the all black version here.  They have orange/silver and a black/silver versions available, but that's all for now.  It seems to be well-received overall.  I noticed that Panasonic is selling the 12-32mm kit lens separately for US$349.99, which seems a bit high for something that apparently doesn't have a manual focus ring.  Of course, if I complain about the 35-100mm being too small to easily manually focus, I suppose the 12-32mm is something I'd want on automatic.

Update 2014.02.18: The other day, I sent my Panasonic 35-100mm lens for repair.  I was considering buying a lens or this camera to keep me occupied--that sounds odd.  I have very little micro Four-Thirds equipment, so I'm down to the GH3, 45-200mm lens, and the Olympus MMF-3 adapter for Four-Thirds lenses.  I really like the all-black GM1, but I don't care as much for the black with silver and I really don't like the orange with silver.  The US$50 discount is great, but if I can't get what I want, should I bother?  Given that the lens by itself is so much, that leaves the body as US$350 with the current discount, about half the price of the set.  That isn't much for such a well-made, strong body.   However, US$699.99 is a lot when my GH3 could easily be replaced with the GH4, or I could buy an Olympus 12-40mm lens, or give up and move to the FujiFilm X-T1.

Update 2014.03.16: They must be having trouble selling these, as the price is dropping quite a lot.  It's almost US$100 cheaper lately.  I'd love to buy one, but my GH3 replacement has to be my priority, especially since I bought the Olympus 12-40mm lens.  I wonder if the Leica/Panasonic 15mm f/1.7 lens would be worth it.  The GH3 would still be big inside a restaurant, but a wide angle, bright lens would be useful.

Update 2014.04.26: So, the early word is that the lens is good but not great.  I thought they would have learnt their lesson after the 25mm f/1.4 lens turned out to be little more than average.  I really wish that they'd used more glass.  I've made mention in the past about the 46mm filter size but obviously, the front optic doesn't take advantage of all that space within the housing.  For US$599.99 it should use every optical means of resolving an image.  I can forgive that the 12-32mm f/3.5-56 isn't amazing, simply because it's a kit lens.

Still, the GM1 + 15mm f/1.7 looks like a potent package at US$999.99, and it is less expensive than the FujiFilm X100s.  The fact that I can put an adapter on my Olympus 35-100mm f/2.0 lens and connect the GM1 to it makes it extremely powerful--and a bit of a spectacle.  It's probably a funny reason to have a tripod.  Obviously, that is not a good combination for food photography in a restaurant, unless they hire someone professionally.

GM1 with Four-Thirds Leica/Panasonic 25mm f/1.4
Update 2014.09.15: About a week ago, I looked at the GM1 again.  It didn't have as good a price as I could have paid in June.  Plus, there was the possibility of the GM5 being real, so I didn't buy it.  I would like to have the EVF available and the GM5 has it.  The GM5 doesn't replace the GM1 but adds to the line.

Update 2014.11.14: I still haven't bought anything new.  The GM5 does look rather appealing, what with the viewfinder and the hot shoe.  There was a recent deal from Adorama on the GM1 that included a US$100 gift card and that made the effective price very inexpensive at roughly US$500.  It was appealing for about a minute, and I went back to thinking about the GM5, even though it still shows "Pre-Order" for October 2014.  US$900 seems high but not horrible.  I'm still wishing for a GM5/15mm f/1.7 kit.  I'm half-surprised that I haven't been back to the store to buy the 15mm lens, especially since I'm often across the street from there.

No comments:

Post a Comment