Objects of Desire: Lumix CM1

The following review appeared in PDN January 2015 online. By Greg Scoblete.

Smartphones have dealt a body blow to the compact camera market, and Panasonic seems eager to twist the knife with its new Lumix CM1. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Camera, the CM1 fuses an Android smartphone with some serious photography parts. How serious? How about a 1-inch, 20-megapixel CMOS sensor (the same one found in the company’s FZ1000 camera) and a huge upgrade from the tiny sensors crammed into even the highest-end smartphones. It has a 28mm f/2.8 Leica-branded lens with a manual ring to adjust aperture, ISO, focus and shutter speed.

The CM1 sports a mechanical shutter and offers DSLR-style shutter-priority, aperture-priority and manual-exposure modes too. It can also record 4K video at 15 fps or 1920x1080p video at 30 fps. As far as its smartphone parts are concerned, the phone runs Android 4.4 (Kit Kat) on a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot for memory expansion. While the lens juts out of the phone body more prominently than on most phones, the overall package is just 0.8 inches thick, which is slimmer than the Galaxy Camera’s 1.4-inch waistline. Panasonic plans to first test the waters with this phone/camera hybrid in Europe, but if you’re willing to pay the shipping costs (and the steep asking price), an unlocked version of the phone should work with GSM carriers in the U.S., such as T-Mobile.