Panasonic Lumix GM1 vs GX7 vs GF6 vs G6 Comparison

October 21, 2013

Panasonic Lumix GM1, GM6, G6, GX7 side by side banner

In this article I will be comparing four Panasonic’s Compact System Cameras, including the Lumix GM1, GX7, GF6 and G6.  The DMC-GM1 is the latest camera which was released on October 17th, 2013—however all four cameras have been released in 2013. Panasonic. As the interchangeable lens market shrinks in favor of CSC, there is a strong battle for every piece of the pie.

The mirrorless to DSLR sales ratio stopped growing in most parts of the world. For example, Olympus officials has reported that its PEN camera sells fell 12 percent  in the first quarter of 2013. Panasonic had found out that the in the U.S. Market people find DSLR cameras more attractive regardless of those cameras bring heavier and larger. So the market starts getting more balanced, but mirrorless cameras are still a favorite among the general public for their smaller size factor, high-quality images and features.

Panasonic, Olympus and Sony are the world’s top three players in this mirrorless category. Panasonic is well known for its classic-look fully-featured cameras. When the GM1 was announced, I thought to myself that it’s a good time to see how the GM1, which is an entry-level offering will compare to some other popular models in the G-series.

Price Comparison

The first thing that we need to understand is where the DMC-GM1 stands in terms of price compare to the other models.

  • Panasonic GM1 + 12-32mm: ~$750
    12-32mm alone costs approx. ~$350
    (+ 14-42mm): ~$500
  • Panasonic GX7
    (Body) ~$1000
    (+ 14-42mm): ~$1100
  • Panasonic G6
    (+ 14-42mm): $750
  • Panasonic GF6
    (+ 14-42mm): $590

* approximation prices, based on B&H photos store prices as of October 21, 2013.

From what I’ve read on tested.com, the body-only kit will not be available. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 is the cheapest among the four, followed by the GF6, G6 and GX7 which is the most expensive one among the four. It seems that with the GM1 and its very small size, Panasonic opened a new niche for ultra-compact CSC. The other cameras will still offer some features that the GM1 lacks. This includes tilting screen as in the GF cameras, articulating display, EVF and many controls for its G cameras and compare to the GH cameras, the GM1 lacks weather sealing (splash/dust proof),advanced video function, double OLED display, etc.

So if you are searching for an affordable yet premium super compact when it comes to design, build quality and features — GM1 might be the perfect camera for you.  BUT before you rush ordering the GM1, let’s see how it compares to other entry-level and mid-range CSC offering from Panasonic.  After reading this article you’ll get a better idea which of the four cameras is the best camera for you.

Camera Body Design and Features

The first thing that I want to talk about is the camera size and design.  As you can see from the image below, the Panasonic Lumix GM1 is the smallest camera among the four, much smaller, even when compared to the GF6. This is in fact the world’s smallest Micro Four Thirds camera, and of course all four cameras belong to Panasonic Micro Four Thirds system.

Panasonic Lumix GM1, GF6, GX7 and G6 camera size comparison

Panasonic Lumix GM1, GF6, GX7 and G6 camera size comparison (via camerasize.com)

The GM1 is 11% (12.7 mm) narrower and 15% (9.9mm) shorter than the DMC-GF6, it’s also 21% (8mm) thinner and weights 37% (204 g) less than the GF6. Of course with ILC cameras the camera body doesn’t itself doesn’t tell us the whole story about its portability because its portability depends on the lens you attach to the camera. If you are not after a long telephoto zoom lens, you can stay with the newly announced Lumix G Vario 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 Asph. Mega O.I.S. Lens (H-FS12032) which is equivalent to 24-64mm and has a very small size factor—which is even slightly smaller than the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm lens.

With the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 Asph. Mega O.I.S it’s a completely different story, as this lens is much bigger than the 12-32mm and you lose that compact look and feel that you get with the GM1. Any pancake micro four thirds lens will certainly compliment the GM1, although you should choose the appropriate lens also based on its features, not only its size.

Panasonic GM1 with 12-32mm lens and 14-42mm lens size comparison

Panasonic GM1 with 12-32mm lens and 14-42mm lens size comparison (via camerasize.com)

The G6 on the other hand is completely the opposite and built with a DSLR look and feel. The size of the camera has a direct implications on the other external camera features. Let’s take a look at the specs first.

GM1GF6GX7G6
MountMicro 4/3 Lens MountMicro 4/3 Lens MountMicro 4/3 Lens MountMicro 4/3 Lens Mount
LCD3-inch
1036K-dots
Touchscreen
Fixed
3-inch
1040K-dots
Touchscreen
Tilting (180°)
3-inch
1040K-dots
Touchscreen
Tilting
3-inch
1036K-dots
Touchscreen
Fully Articulated
ViewfinderNoneNoneLCD* EVF
2764K-dots
100% coverage
1.39x magnification (0.69x equiv.)

100% of the CIE 1931 x,y color space (better reds, blues and greens)
90-degree tiltable

*This LCD result in better sharpness and color reproduction than the G6 OLED, but has slower refresh rate.
OLED EVF
1440K-dots
100% coverage
1.4x magnufucation (07x equiv.)
10,000:1 contrast ratio
Pop-up FlashYes (4m)Yes (6.4m)Yes (7m)Yes (10.5m)
Weather SealingNoNoNoNo
Build QualityMetal alloy frame, with aluminum dials. Brushed metal finish with leather surfaces,Plastic body, but feels very solidMetal bodyMatt smooth Plastic casing and rubber finish
In-body StabilizationNoNoYes

As effective as the the MEGA O.I.S. (first Lumix camera to utilize a IBIS)
No

As you can see from the comparison table above, the Panasonic Lumix Gx7 and G6 have the advantage of having an electronic viewfinder. For some people this can certainly be a deal breaker. I personally prefer composing my shots via the viewfinder than the rear monitor, and it becomes even more useful when shooting in bright daylight. The GX7 has the better eye-level viewfinder when it comes to resolution, tiltable mechanism (first of its kind), sharpness and color reproduction—and although it doesn’t have fast response time as the G6 OLED LVF or high contrast, it will provide you with better viewing experience overall. Both have an eye sensor to turn off the LCD when using the EVF to compose your shots.

Between the Gx7 and G6, the Gx7 has much better build quality (metal), and although its smaller than the G6, it doesn’t fall back from offering lots of buttons and dials for fast access to frequently used functions than the G6. The GX7 is also the only camera among the four to offer an in-body sensor-shift image stabilization mechanism, which helps significantly reduce the effect of image blur when shooting handheld and when using a non image stabilized lens. The camera allows you to override the image stabilization and use the lens image stabilization when using an image stabilized lens.

GM1 and GF6 are smaller and lack an electronic viewfinder. Furthermore,  they offer less sophisticated button layout and lack the physical rotating wheel to change the camera settings. They are also less intimidating for novice photographers and they were built as such. The GM1 has the better build quality and I personally really like the meta-leather retro stylish design of the GM1.

Another thing that you can notice when comparing them side by side is that the G6 has the largest grip, GX7 has a smaller one, GF6 is almost non-exists, and GM1 doesn’t have a grip at all.  So the lower you get in size, the smaller the grip gets. A grip certainly has an important role when shooting with long telephoto or / and heavy lenses, because it helps stabilize the lens weight and results in steadier handling.

in terms of their rear LCD, the GM1 has the least impressive display due to its fixed design but in terms of size and resolution its roughly the same as the other cameras. The GF6 and Gx7 have a tilting display, whether the G6 has a fully articulated screen, which offers the most flexible solution for the video enthusiast. All screens have a touch-sensitive panel and boast a touch-oriented graphical user interface.

You need to ask yourself what’s most important to you. If you care about the size and build quality, the GM1 certainly worth a look. If you must have a viewfinder and build quality is an important factor, the Gx7 is the one to get. If you care about ergonomics, fast access to frequently used functions, intend to shoot a lot of views and need a fully articulated display, the G6 looks like an interesting offering.

So although we haven’t touched the other features yet,  the camera body functionality plays yet a very significant role for many photographers. Although we have just started, you might find out a camera or two that don’t comply with your strict shooting style and can be removed from your list.

Which one is best in each category?

  • Build Quality: GX7 and GM1
  • LCD: G6
  • Viewfinder: GX7
  • Built-in Image Stabilization: GX7
  • Buttons layout and functions: GX7 and G6
  • Ergonomics: G6
  • Size and Weight: GM1 (If you prefer a smaller camera)
  • Look and Feel: personal preference, I personally prefer the GX7 and GM1′s

As expected, the most expensive camera of the four (GX7) wins when it comes to its body features overall.

Sensor and Performance

With each new generation of ILC cameras, we can see an improvement in the sensor and image processing technology, but it’s not always the case. Olympus certainly is among those companies that drive the technology innovation forward in my opinion, but Panasonic is not far behind. Panasonic ILC cameras are known for having tons of hardware and software features.  Panasonic’s micro 4/3 always felt much more “digital” compare to DSLRs and compare to other ILC cameras from other vendors.  Panasonic is also known for its lead in the video recording department, but most of the eyes of Videographers are actually aimed towards the GH3 which offers the option to choose between 72Mbps (ALL-Intra) or 50Mbps (IPB), seamless file generation, 60p progressive full HD video recording along side 30p and 24p frame rates, time code function, original hear-dispersing design and superb video quality.

GM1GF6GX7G6
Sensor16.00MP
17.3 x 13 mm
Live MOS

[4:3] 4,592 x 3,448
16.00MP
17.3 x 13 mm
Live MOS

[4:3] 4,592 x 3,448
16.00MP
17.3 x 13 mm
Live MOS

[4:3] 4,592 x 3,448
16.05MP
17.3 x 13 mm
Live MOS

[4:3] 4,608 x 3,456
ISO200-25600
125 extended
160-12800
25600 extended
200-25600
125 extended
160-12800
25600 extended
AFContrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
Contrast AF
AF Detective RangeEV -4 - 18 (ISO100 equivalent)EV -3 - 18 (ISO100 equivalent)EV -4 - 18 (ISO100 equivalent)EV -3 - 18 (ISO100 equivalent)
Light Metering System1,728-zone multi-pattern sensing system

EV 0 - 18 (F2.0 lens, ISO100 equivalent)
1,728-zone multi-pattern sensing system

EV 0 - 18 (F2.0 lens, ISO100 equivalent)
1,728-zone multi-pattern sensing system

EV 0 - 18 (F2.0 lens, ISO100 equivalent)
1,728-zone multi-pattern sensing system

EV 0 - 18 (F2.0 lens, ISO100 equivalent)
AF Points23-area23-area23-area23-area
Shutter Speed60 - 1/16,000 sec stills
1/30 - 1/16,000 sec video
60 - 1/4,000 sec stills
1/30 - 1/16,000 sec video
60 - 1/8,000 sec stills
(max. 120 seconds bulb)

1/25 - 1/16,000 sec video
60 - 1/4000 sec stills
((max. 120 seconds bulb)

1/30 - 1/16,000 sec video
Burstup to 5 fps (mechanical shutter with AFS)

7 RAW
Unlimited JPEG
4.2 fps (with AFS)
20 fps (SH mode, electronic shutter)

7 RAW
Unlimited JPEG
5 fps (mechanical shutter with AFS)
40 fps (SH mode / electronic shutter)

9 RAW
Unlimited JPEG
7 fps (mechanical shutter with AFS)
40 fps (SH mode / electronic shutter)

9 RAW
Unlimited JPEG
Flash X Sync Speed1/50 sec1/160 sec1/320 sec1/160 sec
Battery Life (CIPA)230340350340

All four cameras have virtually the same sensor resolution, with the G6 having extra 16 pixels to the width and 8 pixels height advantage, negligible needless to say.    The G6 ad GF6 enjoy a lower ISO 160 base ISO but doesn’t enjoy native ISO25600 as the other cameras. Both the Lumix GX7 and Lumix GM1 feature a slightly more sensitive AF sensor with one stop advantage over the GF6 and G6.

In terms of sensor performance, when comparing the Panasonic Lumix DMC- GX7 high ISO sample images to the DMC-G6, we can see an advantage in favor of the GX7. From what we know, the GX7 features a completely newly designed sensor which dramatically improving image quality by enlarging the light receiving areas of the sensor which boost the dynamic range and saturation of the image.

The use of a a faster and enhanced image processing also contributes to the better image quality and lower noise.

The G6 has the fastest burst in the group, followed by the GX7 and GM1 and GF6 at the bottom with 4.3 fps. The GM1 is the smallest of the four, and it is reflected in its below average battery life. That’s something that you need to consider when you buy such a small camera, as it can’t hold a large battery to gain better battery life.  Another thing that I was surprised to see is that the GM1 has a very low flash sync speed of 1/50 Sec.

It seems that overall the GX7 and GM1 has the upper hand when it comes to ISO range, AF sensor sensitivity (better in low-light) and decent burst — but nothing extraordinary for a particular model, except the GM1 having a very low flash x sync speed as I mentioned and the GM1 can shoot at 1/16000 Sec speed for stills and video recording.

High ISO Performance – GM1 vs GX7 vs GF6 vs G6

magnifying glass on imageComparing the Panasonic Lumix GX7 versus GF6 sample images using imaging-resource comparometer tool yield slightly different results, with the GX7 outperforming the GF6 in terms of image noise and color reproduction. The differences are not too obvious when looking at low scaled images, but when enlarging to 100% scale, you can clearly observe the differences.

GM1 sample images are not available yet, so I couldn’t compare those to the GX7. I tend to believe that both the GX7 and the GM1 share the same Live MOS sensor and same processor, and we can expect the same superb results on the GM1 as well.

All four cameras yield an impressive high ISO results, but the GX7 (and I assume that the GM1) are the better performers due to more advanced new hardware and image processing capabilities.

It’s great to see that Panasonic works to improve upon its next generation cameras when it comes to image quality. Panasonic has chosen to use 16MP on all those cameras, as I assume that it’s the optimal balance between image quality and resolution.

Those of you who pay close attention to the high ISO performance, should probably be looking more closely on the GX7 and GM1. It’s also amazing to see that such a tiny micro four thirds camera like the GM1 yield very high quality photos.

photographyblog.com posted a few GM1 high ISO sample images. I was very pleased with what I’ve seen. ISO3200 images look relatively very clean, certainly a step above the GF6 and G6—really great image quality.

Video Recording

In terms of video recording functionality,  the G6 might rise as a good candidate due to its fully articulated display. Having said that, this is not the only feature that video enthusiasts look at. Let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table–in which we can get a better understanding of the cons and pros of each camera as a HDSLR camera.

GM1GF6GX7G6
Full HD Frame Rates1080p30
1080p24
1080i60
1080p30
1080i60
1080p60
1080p30
1080p24
1080i60
1080p60
1080p30
1080p24
1080i60
Built-in MicStereo

+ wind-cut
+ flicker reduction
Stereo

+ wind-cut
+ flicker reduction
+ mic level adjustment
Stereo

+ wind-cut
+ flicker reduction
+ mic level adjustment
Stereo

+ wind-cut
+ flicker reduction
+ mic level adjustment
External Microphone JackNoNoNoYes (3.5mm)
Headphone JackNoNoNoNo
Continuous Recordable Time
(AVCHD)
AVCHD: Approx. 80 min with H-FS12032, H-H020AAVCHD: Approx. 130 min with H-PS14042 / Approx. 140 min with H-FS1442A, H-FS45150AVCHD: Approx. 140 min with H-FS1442A / Approx. 130 min with H-H020A140 min with H-FS1442A / Approx. 130 min with H-H020A
Actual Recordable Time
(AVCHD, approximation)
40 min with H-FS12032, H-H020A65 min with H-PS14042
70 min with H-FS1442A, H-FS45150
70 min with H-FS1442A
65 min with H-H020A
70 min with H-FS1442A
65 min with H-H020A

The Panasonic Lumix G6 is the most movie-oriented camera in out comparison group.. It features the same full HD frame rate options as the GX7, but above that it adds an external microphone input, which allows you to connect a high quality stereo mic to improve the video sound quality. It also features a fully articulated display that further expands the video shooting angle available for the photographer. It’s easier to shoot low ad high angle scenes with much better flexibility compare to a tilting display.

The GX7 on the other hand enjoys a better sensor image output and overall better low-light performance regarding high ISO IQ and AF detective range, which should provide the GX7 an advantage when shooting video in low-light.

Panasonic Lumix G6 sample video (by Panasonic)

Panasonic Lumix GX7 sample video (by Panasonic)

The GF6 is the least impressive of the four, and with the GM1 I was quite surprised no to see 60p (60 fps progressive frames). The GF6 is the only one that lacks 24p (cinematic frame rate).

Panasonic Lumix GF6 sample video (By neocamera)

I will give my top score to the G6 in terms of features, but if an external mic is not a necessity,  the GX7  might offer a slight edge in terms of low-light performance and better IQ overall. I was also disappointed to see that Panasonic ditched the mic input on the GX7, considering the fact that the much cheaper G6 has one.

Other Important Features

GM1GF6GX7G6
Wi-Fi WirelessBuilt-inBuilt-in

IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Built-in

IEEE 802.11b/g/n
Built-in

IEEE 802.11b/g/n
NFCNoYesYesYes
Exposure Compensation±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)±2 (3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)±3 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
SpeakerMonoMonoMonoMono
HDMImicro HDMI Type Dmini HDMI Type Cmini HDMI Type Cmini HDMI Type C
GPSNoNoNoNo

Conclusion

The Panasonic Lumix GM1 has its unique style appeal that will be a magnet for many novice photographers who are searching to buy an interchangeable lens camera.

The GM1 main highlights are its next-generation sensor and image processor, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity (can also use for geotagging with a smartphone device), high-quality Full HD video recording, improved low-light performance down to -4EV low lit situations, great build quality and all that in a very tiny camera body. I also think that the GM1 is priced reasonably well and it will appeal to those who are searching for a compact interchangeable lens camera without an articulating display, eye-level viewfinder and long-lasting battery life which the GM1 lacks.

The Gx7 is the most expensive camera of the four. In return for your investment you get a newly developed sensor and next-gen processor, tilting display, best EVF in the group which is also 90-degree tiltable (one of its kind), metal body and in-body image stabilization, Wi-Fi + NFC and superb image quality.  The GX7 is my personal favorite when it comes to its overall features, and I especially liked the superb EVF offering.  That comes with a higher price tag, and you need to ask yourself if you actually need and will take advantage of the GX7 unique features.

The GF6 is Panasonic’s entry-level model and it’s equipped as such. You won’t find all the bells and whistles that you get with the GX7 nor you get a camera small as the GM1. What you do get is a camera which made of plastic (but feels sturdy), easy-to-operate (great for beginners), has Wi-Fi and NFC, has a very responsive touch operation, 180-degree tiltable monitor for self portraits and modern stylish design to complement the whole package.  If you are a novice photographer but one that cares about image quality and want to have an easy way to share your image online in social networks (e.g. Facebook) and you are on a tight budget, the GF6 might be the best camera for you.

The G6 is much larger and heavier than all the other three cameras. It’s more video-oriented camera and will appeal to those who care less about the size of the camera but do care about the video recording functionality. It has a fully articulated display (only in the group), high resolution OLED EVF, great ergonomics, good low-light performance and 7 fps speed burst shooting.

If you don’t care much about the video functionality, I find the G6 to be less appealing due to its hefty size and weight compare to the other models.

Whatever camera you choose, you should understand each camera cons and pros in regard to your particular shooting habits. I personally liked the GX7 and GM1. If you can afford buying the GX7, go ahead, it’s an amazing camera and I would buy it without thinking twice. It’s a camera the closes the gap that Micro Four Thirds cameras had versus APS-C based cameras. Having IBIS is a great plus, especially when mounting classic and non-image stabilized lenses. On the downside, I would probably wish that this camera would have an external mic port and faster burst.

The GM1 is really a gem. This tiny micro four thirds camera will sell like cupcakes, I’m pretty sure about that.  Its size can be a con  if you intend to buy and attach a large lens to it. As long as you are mounting a small lens, you will get to enjoy its compactness—and there are a few of them available, including some pancake lenses from both Olympus and Panasonic. The GM1 certainly has its place in Panasonic’s G-range. It offers superb image quality and low-light performance, great build quality and stylish design, great video quality and creative modes, time lapse shooting mode, touchscreen, built-in flash, silent mode, intelligent Auto for beginners, level gauge, Wi-Fi and many more cool features. Above all that, it’s just amazing how tiny this camera is. For me it’s the perfect compact camera, as long as you are mounting a small lens on it.

So I share with you my own personal preference, and I would love to know which one you prefer better and why. Please share your opinion in the comment section below—Thanks for reading!



Related posts:

  1. Panasonic Lumix LX7 vs Lumix LF1 Comparison
  2. Panasonic Lumix GF5 vs GF3 Comparison Review
  3. Panasonic Lumix GH3 vs Sony NEX-6 Comparison
  4. Panasonic Lumix GH3 vs G5 Comparison
  5. Panasonic Lumix LX7 vs Sony Cyber-shot RX100 – Comparison
  6. Panasonic Lumix G6 vs G5 vs GH3 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Comparison
  7. Sony RX10 vs Nikon D5300 vs Panasonic Lumix GM1 – Comparison
  8. Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs Panasonic Lumix GX7 Comparison
  9. Panasonic Lumix GF6 vs GF5 vs GH3
  • Luis Castro e Solla

    The GM1: would be the perfect camera if it just had a port for my GX1 viewfinder/EVF (I would not mind a few extra mm in height for that).