The Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 - Specifications and first experiences

The German weblog  FotoCommunity.de shares some very important specifications from the upcoming Panasonic DMC-CM1. Also, they asked no less than 10 of their community members to test the new Panasonic and give their feedback. In this post you'll read about the specs first. Next I will translate some of the experiences members of the test panel shared at  FotoCommunity.de. There you will find lots of shots captured by the members of the test panel - with the Lumix DMC-CM1.

First the technical specifications as you'll find them here:

Specifications
Size: 135.4 x 68.0 x 21,0 mm (ohne vorstehendem Objektiv)
Weight: 204 g
Display: 4.7 inch, Full-HD (1920x1080), Touchscreen
Camera Sensor: 1 inch, 20 Megapixel, MOS Sensor
Lens: F2.8/ 28 mm LEICA DC Elmarit
Aperture: F2.8-F11
Manual Exposure: A / S / M
Video: 4K (UHD) with 15 B/s or 1920 x 1080 with 30 B/s
Camera processor: Venus Engine
Smartphone OS: Android 4.4 (Kit Kat)
Prozessor: Qualcomm MSM8974AB 2.3 GHz Quad-Core
Connectivity: LTE(Cat4) / 3G(HSPA+) / GSM / Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS
Internal memory: 16 GB, slot for microSD up to 128 GB
Battery: Li-Ion Akku (3.8 V, 2600mAh, 9.9 Wh)

A few remarks based on these specs. The Panasonic is a bit heavier than Samsung's Galaxy K Zoom and has just about the same weight as the Nokia Lumia 1520 - coming in a smaller package, that might feel quite heavy indeed. A full HD screen is good enough - QHD really is quite overrated although it would improve the possibility to zoom in on your shots. 4.7 inch is already "normal" these days. It's the size from the iPhone 6 for instance, or the Nokia Lumia 735, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy Alpha - et cetera.

With Android 4.4.4. it's completely up-to-date for now (Lollipop is right around the corner). The quadcore Snapdragon 801 2.3 GHz processor is the same as in HTC´s One M8 and Sony's Xperia Z2 and should really be fast enough, although I have no idea how much Panasonic's own Venus Engine will ask. And I do miss the specs on available RAM memory, my guess is it will be 2GB - it shouldn't be less anyway. Internal memory is average with 16GB, probably leaving about 10GB for storage on the device. 

The sensor is impressive: 1 inch is even larger than the one on the Nokia 808 PureView (1/1.2 inch). I'm not familiar with Panasonic's Venus Engine I must admit. It's very interesting to read it will be able to capture video in 4K, allowing the possibility to save 15 frames per second at high resolution, although I don't see how large they will be. It's very similar to what Nokia/Microsoft is promising for the Lumia Icon/930 and 1520 after the update to Lumia Denim, so my calculated guess is the high-res stills will be 8MP. I do understand however the Lumix can capture 30 frames in 2MP.

Before I will share the first experiences from the German test panel from FotoCommunity.de, I will share six screenshots I captured here. They already reveal a lot about the camera user interface:






First experiences
The experiences from the test panel range from positively surprised to quite critical, especially about missing accessories. I made a few screenshots of their work to lively up this post - I seriously hope the photographers involved don't mind me sharing their work here as well (if so, please get in touch: marc@smartcam dot club). I will loosely translate quote from some of the testers involved. 

Alfons Gellweiler, member of the community since 2004:
"Not only does it say Leica on the lens, it does look a bit like a flattened Leica from analogue times. Build quality is great and the lens even better: it's a DC Elmarit 1:2,8/10,2 Asph with a focal length that's similar to a 28mm wide-angle. I could be perfectly happy with this device, if only it had a viewfinder next to its high-resolution display. I do understand that it's a bit too much to ask though. I was surprised to be able to change aperture, ISO, white balance and exposure - all very easy using the touchscreen.

Thanks to the large sensor you can change the aperture even using wide angle, you can underexpose or overexpose, change the white balance, manually change the focus and you can even shoot RAW. I shot a concert under extreme bad light conditions at ISO 1600 and I was quite happy with the result. All in all, the device might offers too much for point-and-shooters, but not too little for more aspiring photographers."

(picture by Alfond Gellweiler, resized screenshot from FotoCommunity.de)

Next up is Andreas Altenhoff, community member since 2011:
"At first, I looked upon it as a smartphone. It runs really well on Android 4.4.4. But you'll notice directly it's bigger and heavier than the average modern smartphone. And the lens is sticking out, with a ring that can be used for several settings, like aperture, white balance, ISO, exposure and digital zoom. I was really looking forward to work with the different aperture settings and I wasn't disappointed. It was very easy to focus by touching the screen, and the autofocus works like a charm as well.

If you don't want to work with all manual settings however, there are a few presets (M, S, A, P) and a Scene Guide offering 22 different programs, like Landscape, Blue Sky, Glittering Water, Night, etc. It's not easy to find disadvantages, but if I would need to I'd say it's heavier and thicker than a normal smartphone, the lens sticks out, it lacks an optical zoom and you can't change the battery."

(picture by Andread Altenhoff, resized screenshot from FotoCommunity.de)

Heinrich Geiger, member since 2010: "A smart camera with extraordinary versatile options, comparable with a good compact camera or even DSLR. Given the size of the sensor, sharpness is in fact amazing, even on the edges. It's easy to use, although the video button shouldn't have been so close to the ring around the lens."

(Picture by Heinrich Geiger, resized screenshot from FotoCommunity.de)

Jörn Hustedt is raving about the camera and the possibility to shoot in RAW. But he misses a few options as well: "Too bad you can't change the battery. I would have liked to have a charging cable and a protective case too." Karl-Bernd Skamper misses a few accessories as well: "an eye for a wrist strap would have been practicle, since you don't want to carry a large smartphone like this with you on a trip. A USB cable would have been good, too."

(Picture by Jörn Hustedt, resized screenshot from  FotoCommunity.de)

Kerstin Marsidis, member since 2007, is critical and not just about the missing accessories: "Working with the manual settings like I'm used to on my DSLR didn't work for me - I couldn't get the device to focus. The automatic and creative settings worked way better and focussing on the spot where I wanted to was easy with the touchscreen.

I'm thrilled about the lens, editing your shots on the device is useful. I found it a bit confusing that you can shoot in RAW, but not when using the auto settings. Moreover, Lightroom and Photoshop don't recognize the RW2 format - even Adobe Converter couldn't make anything of it. And it's a shame the lens is as unprotected as it is."

(Picture by Kerstin Marsidis, resized screenshot from FotoCommunity.de)

Ortwin van Eerd was disappointed in the beginning: "If you believe you can do without the manual, you're wrong. The device starts up in manual settings and starting with those can become pretty frustrating. It would have been better if it would start up in one of the auto settings. The manual is very limited moreover - if you don't know about aperture or white balance it might be complicated to understand the device.

For me it was hard to get used to work with the touchscreen. I really liked having my shots uploaded to my Google account. I would like to have a wrist strap though, for instance when you walk on a busy market. A proctective case would be good since I always carry a device like this in my back pocket. When you use it for a long time, the device tends to get uncomfartably warm."

(Picture by Ortwin van Eerd, resized screenshot from FotoCommunity.de)

Lars Ihring: "Absolutely remarkable is the extreme fast shutter time, up to 1/16.000 sec. Also, the "Highspeed"-shots in Pre-Burst Mode in 4K is very impressive - it captures even fast moving scenes in 15 sharp images per second."

(Picture by Lars Ihring, resized screenshot from MobileCommunity.de)

Summary
Apart from what you won't find in the package, it looks like the Panasonic DMC-CM1 is a very impressive smartcam you'll need to get acquainted with. But that's not a bad thing (I was quite clueless when I held the Nokia 808 PureView for the first time). I'm surprised everyone I quoted from the test panel is so enthusiastic about the manual settings - it's like they don't even know Nokia PureView exists at all, and shooting in RAW isn´t new to the Lumia 1020, 1520 and 930 either. Then again, it could very well be they agreed not to mention any other brand in their review.

The fact that even Lightroom and Photoshop didn't recognize the RW2 shots coming from the Panasonic will be worrying quite a few enthusiasts here, but it might be something the user overlooked (I'm not familiar with either program). I already wrote I think it's very interesting to know you can use 4K video recording to capture high-res stills, just like Nokia is promising for Lumia Camera with the Denim update (only on the 930/Icon and 1520). On the other hand, 1/16.000 shutter speed has been available on Nokia Camera for quite a long time now.

So will it be a real contender for the Nokia 808 PureView / Lumia 1020? Probably: yes, although its suggested retail price is dazzling with no less than €899. And I might add it will be sold in Germany and France only (!) for the time being. I can´t wait to test it myself though - I'm really doing whatever I can to get a review sample of the Panasonic DMC-CM1 but I haven't been lucky so far. That's why I'm very glad with a post like on MobileCommunity.de, and I'd like to thank Wolfgang Exler for sharing the site with me in a reaction on a previous post!

Meanwhile,if you like what I'm doing here, please consider making a donation since this club doesn't support itself. You'll find the Donate button on the right hand side of this page. Every donation is welcome and you will be added to the list of sponsors! :-)