Quick Field Report for the Panasonic GM1
The second of my new travel cameras arrived just before the holidays — the micro-sized Panasonic GM1. Took it down to Portland for time with the family and immediately fell in love with this little pocket fellow. Here are a few notes.
- Don't believe the reviews that quote 230 shots on a battery charge. Trying to catch the fleeting expressions of our 1-year-old granddaughter, Lauren, before and after her dedication ceremony, I shot in 10fps burst mode using the electronic shutter, JPG normal quality, and didn't run out of batteries until I clicked off — literally — exposure #999. I suspect the big battery consumer is the LCD screen, not the capture/write process. Nonetheless, I have ordered two extra batteries to have on hand.
- Speaking of burst mode, 219 exposures at the restaurant to get the expression I wanted to capture in Lauren's smiling face. I know, some will claim that if I was better at timing my shots — Cartier-Bresson-like — I wouldn't need to take so many. What do I care if the skill lies in me or in the technology? I could simply delete the other 229 images and claim superior timing skills, but I'd rather be honest.
BTW, this was exposure #214 in the sequence. Ask me if I care that it took me so many to capture this sweet and innocent expression of joy.
- Below is an image from inside the church, available light, ISO 6400, handheld at 1/15th second. Not photographically perfect, but I'd rather have the shot with the camera I had with me in my pocket — even though it's a bit high-ISO mushy — than have missed it with a bigger, better camera I left at home.
- As to serious work (not that family snaps aren't serious!) with an art photo in mind, I played around there, too. The theory with this camera is that by having it with me all the time, I'll be able to capture some images that would escape me if I relied on having the bigger camera at hand — which I often don't. So, I was waiting in the parking lot of the grocery store when I observed some interesting winter trees and a flock of birds above me. I opened the moon roof of our car, held the camera overhead, and made a few hand-held exposures — RAW, ISO 200, using the kit 12-32mm lens racked all the way out to 32mm. Post-processed to make a b/w print, which looks really great, I might add.
Here is a 100% crop of some of the fine branches . . .
For my needs, the GM1 is a keeper. It'll be my second camera for serious work, but a great first choice for having with me all the time. As my travel back-up camera, I won't hesitate at all to use it for critical artwork images. Where I need to be relatively inconspicuous and work fast, this will be a first camera I will delight in.
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