It's impressive that Panasonic has managed to compress its excellent technology into a body as remarkably small as this. When you consider that this camera is smaller than the Pentax Q range, which features a compact camera sized sensor, that feat seems even more remarkable. We can see this appealing to a wide range of people, who are after something which offers fantastic image quality without the bulk of something larger (even by Micro Four Thirds standards).
We'll also be interested to know what kind of knock on effect the GM1 has on sales of cameras such as the Sony RX100 II. With the package being smaller overall, but with the bonus flexibility of changing lenses and a larger sensor, we can see many people being swayed by the GM1.
We had high hopes from the GM1, being as it has the same sensor as the GX7, and we're happy to report that image quality appears to be very similar, which is excellent news.
There's lots of detail, while colours are bright and punchy. The camera performs very well in lower lighting conditions too. It's interesting to note that the Sony RX100 II actually outperforms the GM1 for signal to noise ratio in our labs tests though.
This camera is primarily being marketed against premium compact cameras, of which the Sony RX100 II is the key target, but it also includes cameras such as the Canon G16 too. The benefit of a camera like this is that it can accept different lenses if you do decide to expand your collection down the line. The downside is that the maximum aperture of the kit lens is f/3.5, compared with the Sony's f/1.8 for example. That said, with a much larger sensor, that shouldn't have too much effect on depth of field, but it may mean you need to shoot at higher sensitivities in darker conditions.
Generally though, the kit lens is a good all-round performer, and it's nice to see that Panasonic has introduced a new lens along with the small-bodied GM1 to make it a neat overall package.
Undoubtedly the best thing about this camera is its remarkably small size, which is most striking when you see the camera in real life. It's a (jacket) pocketable compact system camera that you can take anywhere, but unlike some of the other teeny tiny contenders, it doesn't skimp on image quality.
What camera should I buy? your options explained
There's not much to dislike about the GM1, aside from its small size can make some of the operation a little fiddly – especially if you have larger hands. However, that's something you soon get used to. Fans of NFC may be disappointed to see only Wi-Fi connectivity here.
Move over Nikon 1 and Pentax Q, Panasonic has made a fantastic small compact system camera but managed to include a large sensor that produces excellent images. This seems like what the Micro Four Thirds range was intended for, and makes a fantastic addition to the already venerable G series line-up.
It's interesting to see Panasonic marketing this camera squarely at the likes of the Sony RX100 II, which up until now has had fantastic success, while Panasonic's own premium compact (fixed lens) cameras have taken a bit of a backseat. Will all that change now? With a similar price point, it'll be interesting to see. Stay tuned.