The DMC-GM5 was my introduction into the world of mirrorless and micro 4/3 cameras. The reason for my choice was that it filled my main criteria at the time which were picture quality, portability and a viewfinder. This was because I had noticed that my Nikon DSLR had remained at home far to often recently because of the space and weight it took up. It often lead to me have to care an extra bag since it did’t fit in with the rest of the gear I often had to take with me when we went climbing, hiking or whatever else. Which made it sometimes feel like more of a bother than the joyous thing it should be. At the time the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 was the smallest available m 4/3 camera available, so I decided to check it out. After fiddling with the GM5 and several other options in the shop I noticed an aversion to parting with it, so it followed me home… But how does it stand up after the initial attraction has worn off?
This review will mostly be about the feel and usability of the camera. For more detail on image quality there are several in depth reviews around. And since this is my first camera review be gentle and if there is anything you would like me to add or want to ask me please leave a comment.
Specifications and features
- 16mp LIVE MOS Four Thirds sensor
- 3inch 923k-dot touch LCD
- Electronic Viewfinder
- 1080/60p video
- Hotshot with Bundled Flash
- Magnesium alloy body with aluminium top and bottom
- Usb 2.0 and micro-HDMI
- ISO 200-25600
- Shutter speed 60sec to 1/500 (1/16000 electronic)
- Flash sync speed 1/50
- Size 99x60x36
- Weight 211g (battery included)
It takes m 4/3 lenses which gives you a large range of options when it comes to lenses but be aware that it does not have internal stabilisation. Panasonic’s lenses have their stabilisation built in which for example most Olympus does not as their bodies had internal stabilisation.
For more detailed specs and features see here.
Price point and kit options
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is available in several combinations of black and silver as well as a red and black edition. I opted for the discreet black/black. As for lenses the usual kit lens is a Panasonic 12-32 but it is also available with the Panasonic 20 1.7 or with both the 12-32 and a Panasonic 45-150. For a beginner I would recommend the 12-32 kit lens which is one of the best kit lenses I’ve owned and covers a nice range. Although the 20 1.7 is a great lens which you should consider further down the road.
It retails a the moment for about 525 USD with the 12-32 kit lens here here at Amazon.
Design and build quality
The design of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is almost of a classic type and is both discreet and functional. The one hesitation I had about it early on was that is might be to small to handle comfortably, but it has never been a real issue. I always use a wrist or neck strap as a precaution since I am accident prone but I have yet to drop it. There is a slight thump grip on the back which gives you a firm hold. The build quality feels solid and I have yet to have any qualms with the camera or the kit lens. In terms of weight it is a light camera, only 211g, but due to its small size it still fells rather sturdy. Whilst reading up on the camera I feared that it might feel flimsy or toylike, but once I picked it up it was not an issue. If you are used to a DSLR then you might feel that the viewfinder is on the small side but it works fine. The 16:9 screen format is perhaps not the best for shooting 4:3 since it gives you black bars on the sides, but when filming it does cover the entire screen. The battery life rates only about 200 shoots (official 220), but it is to be expected since it is a small battery. But on the bright side replacement batteries are fairly cheap. Furthermore to fit the viewfinder in the GM5 Panasonic had to remove the built in flash that came with the GM1.
Feel and Ease of Use
The feel of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is great, it feels sturdy and like a quality product. The material choices are nice and it doesn’t hurt that it looks good. Coming from a DSLR it took sometime to get used to operating the camera, specially when it was a be quick or loose the shoot situation. But the camera is fairly logically designed and easy to learn. The command dial is clickable and alternates between to functions. Which functions depend on what mode you have it on, in manual it’s shutter speed and aperture. This helps by letting you retain the same grip when adjusting the main settings. There are also several function buttons, two above the display and five on screen buttons.
If you are in to street photography you will like this camera not only because of its discreet design and non-threatening demeanour but also its silent mode, which makes shooting completely noiseless.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 produces images with much higher quality than it’s point-and-shoot size might imply. The images the GM5 produces are really good and it performs well in higher ISO settings but I wouldn’t go above 6400 because the noise becomes much more apparent after that. But as for overall image quality check out page 2 and judge for yourselves.
In my opinion sometimes good thing do come in small packages. The Panasonic GM5 is a camera which encourages you to bring it with you wherever you go. It has become my daily companion and has made me take more photos. I almost never have that regret of not bringing a camera because I most often have. Of course there is a few drawbacks like the “poor” battery life and the slower flash sync speed, but in such a small body some drawbacks is to be expected. But if you are looking for a small interchangeable lens camera with good image quality the Panasonic GM5 is well worth checking out.
And to quote one of the most popular phrases I’ve heard in the photography community:
“The best camera is the one you have with you”.
Where to get it
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 is available at many vendors and a good deal is here at Amazon. For those who doesn’t find the viewfinder or hot shoe essential you can get the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 here at a very reasonable price.