My life in cameras: Part 8 Panasonic GM1 the great commute companion review

How to find more time for photography

I had nice setup with my Olympus camera and lenses but I found less and less time for photography. I had to commute to the office two hours a day and worked 8 hours for five days a week. In the afternoon I was simply too tired to do something. When I went out on the weekends it would sometimes be impractical to carry my camera bag with me.

I then saw that Panasonic had released the smallest interchangeable lens camera to date. The Panasonic GM1. This tiny camera was with its matching lens small enough to carry around in a large pocket. It weighed around 350g. It had no viewfinder, a small display, no image stabilization or other advanced features. But it had the same image quality as my larger camera.

I also hoped to spark some interest for photography in my wife. Her old camera took worse pictures than a smartphone. While she took the camera on two vacations in the end she preferred to take pictures with her phone. No copying images onto computer drives, no sorting, just everything a finger scroll away on a phone.

Nevertheless I enjoyed this camera for a while. I usually carried it with me during my daily commute so all the picture chosen have been taken while commuting to and from work. I had to commute through a good part of the city and had a choice of several routes that would each take me through a different area.

Panasonic GM1 examples:


Escalator shot with the Panasonic GM1
Escalator (2015) Panasonic GM1 + Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm/1.8@F5 1/100s ISO 200

I don’t remember exactly where I took this picture but while waiting for a late train (German trains are not punctual despite all the stereotypes) I was fascinated by this orange light. It’s sole purpose is to illuminate the edge of the escalator and to ensure a safe ride. Everyone hates waiting for a late train but sometimes the wait time can be used to explore the small things around you.

Morning Commute

Morning Commute shot with the Panasonic GM1
Morning Commute (2015) Panasonic GM1 + Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm/2.8@F2.8 1/60s ISO 6400

This must be at around 5:30 in the morning. I used to start work early so I can at least have half of the afternoon for me. Especially in winter. There is nothing worse than getting to work in the dark, staying in an office all day and arriving at home when it is already dark again. By starting early I at least had two hours of daylight left that I would not have to spend in an office.

This picture of a grey and cold day pretty much encapsulates how felt about work at this particular time. Even though the picture is slightly blurry (it was handheld after all) most of the “blur” came from the fine misty rain. An especially dreadful winter day this was.

Motorway Houses

Motorway Houses shot with the Panasonic GM1
Motorway Houses (2015) Panasonic GM1 + Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm/2.8@F4.5 1/640s ISO 200

Every time I wait at this station I am fascinated and shocked by how urban planners could let this happen. There is a “Autobahn” right next to the houses (and do not forget the train line as well). Nevertheless I like the weird angles and the reflections from the other side. You can see the elevated road mirrored. But in the end this is a terrible station to wait for your train due to horrible car noises.


Tunnel (2016)
Tunnel (2016) Panasonic GM1 + Lumix Vario 12-32 12mm@F3.5 1/60s ISO 2500

I took this picture handheld at ISO 2500. I am astonished how sensitive and clean modern camera sensors are. In the film days this shot would be impossible without a tripod and some very grainy high speed film. But today I just take out my camera, take a snap and be done. No planning or setup necessary. I do like serendipitous photography.

This tunnel connects a commuter train station with the residential area nearby. Keen observers can see the washed and coarse concrete plates lining the walls identifying this tunnel as part of East German architecture. Thankfully cameras do not record smell.

Wall of Light

Wall of Light (2015)
Wall of Light (2015) Panasonic GM1 + Lumix Vario 12-32 16mm@F3.9 1/60s ISO 320

This picture was taken at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. To give the underground area more natural light they installed these frosted windows which give off light that has been reflected downwards from the surface. Quite an ingenious solution although I do not remember if they installed electrical lights as well for night time.