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Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 Camera Phone Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 Camera Phone Review - Reviewed: The Panasonic Lumix CM1 Smart Phone, a serious compact camera in a smartphone.

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Panasonic Lumix CM1 in Camera Phones

Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (3)

The Panasonic Lumix CM1 is a new smartphone that Panasonic are calling the "World's slimmest communication camera" - it is designed and made by the digital camera division of Panasonic, and features the Lumix branding, as well as slotting into the "Premium compact camera" section on Panasonic's website. The camera is the first smartphone to use a large 1inch 20 megapixel sensor, and the lens is a 28mm f/2.8 Leica lens, the first time a Leica lens has been found on a smartphone.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Features

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (8)

The 1inch 20 megapixel sensor can be found in other serious compact cameras, such as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III, and Canon Powershot G7 X. With such a relatively large sensor (7 times larger than those normally found in smartphones), the Panasonic Lumix CM1 should offer noticeably better low light performance, as well as better noise performance, giving images good levels of detail and dynamic range. 

The lens is a 28mm equivalent Leica lens with an f/2.8 aperture. There is a Panasonic Venus image processing engine, as well as full manual control, letting you set the aperture, shutter and ISO speeds if you want to or you can use manual focus with focus peaking. The camera also shoots raw images as well as JPEG. 

There is a dedicated shutter release button, as well as a sliding switch to activate the camera, and when pressed the lens extends from the camera's body. There is a control ring around the lens that can be used to alter a number of settings. 4K video recording (3840x2160), is at 15fps and from this you can take still images, giving you 8 megapixel photos. 

The smartphone has a 4.7inch touch-screen with 1080p resolution, and runs Android v4.4.4. There are a number of Panasonic apps pre-loaded onto the smartphone when new, including: Photo search app, helps you find the best photo opportunities around you. Swipe and share to social networks. As well as a 4K pre-burst mode designed to take photos before the shutter release button is pressed. 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (4)

Key Features

  • 20 megapixel 1inch CMOS sensor
  • 28mm f/2.8-f/11 Leica DC ELMARIT ASPH. lens
  • 4.7inch touch-screen, 1080p resolution
  • 4K video (3840x2160), at 15fps, FullHD at 30fps
  • ISO100 to ISO25600
  • 16GB internal memory, MicroSD card slot
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • HDR / panoramic modes
  • LED flash
  • 2.3GHz Quad-core processor
  • Android v4.4.4
  • Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, GPS

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Handling

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (9)

The CM1 is quite chunky for a smartphone, 15.2mm thick, with a 21.1mm thick section where the lens protrudes from the smartphone. The CM1 feels well built with a combination of plastic and metal parts. The textured plastic helps give a decent amount of grip, and the control wheel around the lens is usefully textured making it easy to turn as well as hold on to. 

Sliding the side camera lock button switches the smartphone directly to the camera mode, making it quick and easy to start the camera. Sliding it again will turn the camera off and then take you to the android home screen. You then need to press the power button to lock the phone. There is a two-stage shutter release button giving the feel of a real camera. 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (6)

A number of modes can be selected with an on-screen mode dial, this includes: P, A, S, M, Scene, Creative control, Panoramic, iA+, iA and 2 custom modes. The control wheel surrounding the lens can feel a bit difficult to turn with one finger. The large touch-screen can be used to set the focus point as well as change settings using the Q. (Quick) menu or the full menu system. The screen looks good, with a high resolution, and text is easy to read. 

Panasonic Camera apps:

  • 4K pre-burst
  • 4K photo
  • Photo search

Panasonic Lumix CM1 (12)

Battery life - The Panasonic Lumix CM1 features a 2300mAh battery, and battery life can be quickly drained when using the camera on the smartphone. As with other smartphones we'd recommend daily charging. 

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.1secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.35secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 30secs / 2.0secs (from standby)
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.9secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
10fps (5 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash 10fps (5 shots)
Continuous Shooting - RAW 10fps (4 shots)


Shooting JPEG images it is possible to shoot at 10fps for 5 shots before the camera slows down, or 4 shots when shooting raw before slowdown.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Images have good levels of detail, as well as bright saturated colours, particularly in good weather. The Panasonic Lumix CM1 uses an LED flash which is reasonably good at lighting a subject, although the camera does increase the ISO setting used or the shutter speed is lowered, this can result in blurred photos or photos with little detail compared to cameras with a dedicated xenon flash. 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Lens test images

Lens Performance - The lens is quite resistant to flare, even when shooting into the sun. Some vignetting is visible at times, when shooting bright blue skies. The camera can focus on subjects 10cm away from the front of the lens, which can help produce images with greater bokeh and blurred backgrounds. Dynamic range is good, and can be extended using iDynamic or the HDR option. Images are a little softer into the corners. 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - For the lowest noise and best detail possible we would recommend using ISO100 to ISO400, as images have low levels of noise and good levels of detail. For lower light situations ISO800 to ISO3200 still provides good results, although noise increases and detail is reduced. At ISO6400 noise levels become strong and we would recommend avoiding this setting if possible, although results may still be useful if resized and used on the web. ISO12800 and above is best avoided as noise is extremely high, and detail is very low.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs very well under tungsten lighting, with the tungsten preset giving a warmer result. AWB performs very well under fluorescent lights, with no fluorescent preset option available.

Panoramic
Panoramic

Panorama mode -The camera features an automatic panoramic mode, where you simply press the shutter release button and pan the camera from one side to the other. Results are reasonable, and well stitched together, with a low resolution image produced. Creative effects are also available for panoramic shots. 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Digital filters

Digital Filters - Colour options include standard, vivid, natural, mono, scenery, and portrait. There are 22 scene modes, as well as 18 creative effects, examples of these can be seen above. HDR shooting combines a number of shots for an image with greater dynamic range, although you do need to hold the camera steady. 

Video - The camera can record UHD (4K) video with a resolution of 3840x2160 at 15fps, an example can be found on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel. FullHD video can be recorded at 30fps. There is also a 1:1 (Square) video recording option, that records video at a resolution of 640x640 pixels. It's disappointing that 4K video is recorded at 15fps, as this results in quite jerky video, and for smoother results FullHD video recording is better at 30fps. If you just want to take stills from the 4K video, then the 15fps may be fine for your purposes. FullHD video quality is quite good, although the lack of optical image stabilisation means that you will need a steady hand to get the best results. 

Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix CM1 is available in the UK at a limited number of specialist stores, detailed here. We found it listed for sale, at £799 (sim-free). This makes it noticeably more expensive than other premium smartphones, such as the iPhone 6 (4.7inch, 16GB) at £539 sim-free, and the CM1 is also more expensive than premium compact cameras with 1inch (or larger) sensors, such as the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III, priced at £639. 

Some alternative smartphones to consider include the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, a combination of smartphone and 16 megapixel digital camera, the Nokia Lumia 1020 with 40 megapixel 1/1.5inch sensor, or the Sony Xperia Z3 / Z3 Compact with 20.7 megapixel 1/2.33inch sensor. Other digital cameras running Android are available, including the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 and Nikon Coolpix S810c although these can not be used as mobile phones. 

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix CM1 is very difficult to compare to other smartphones, and is even difficult to compare with other smartphone / camera crossovers such as the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, as the CM1 has such a large sensor (and no optical zoom). The price of the Panasonic Lumix CM1 is also going to be a serious issue for most, considering the excellent serious compact cameras available for less, such as the Panasonic Lumix LX100.

For those that want a seriously unique smartphone, with a very serious camera that is capable of shooting raw as well as giving full manual controls, the Panasonic Lumix CM1 is definitely it. For those that want a premium, and different smartphone with one of the largest sensors available, then the CM1 is it, and it also delivers bright, colourful, saturated photos. If you are a gadget lover that wants to have the latest and the best, and doesn't want to compromise, then the Panasonic Lumix CM1 is a smartphone camera that delivers.

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Pros

10fps continuous shooting
1inch sensor
Leica f/2.8 lens
MicroSD slot
Dedicated shutter release button
Control ring around lens
4.7inch touch-screen

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Cons

4K video only recorded at 15fps
Chunky / larger than most smartphones
Optical image stabilisation would be nice
LED flash
High price

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

 

Panasonic Lumix CM1 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8
35mm equivalent28mm
Optical Zoom0x
Image Sensor
Pixels20.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)5472
Pixels (H)3648
Sensor TypeLive MOS Sensor
Sensor Size1inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor4.7in
Screen resolutionFullHD (6,220k dots)
Touch ScreenYes
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Touch AF
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/16000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
ISO sensitivity100 - 25600
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 4K
Video FPS30p, 15p
Stereo SoundNo Data
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Interface
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiYes
Storage
Internal Memory16000MB
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium-Ion
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight204g
Width135.4mm
Height68mm
Depth21.1mm

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Comments


The Panasonic CM1 is an Android mobile phone with a good camera. This is the same as the Nokia Lumia 1020 being a Windows Phone with a good camera.

The very top of the range i-Phone 6 Plus with 128 Gig is around 900 and the Nokia 1020 around 500. On this scale, the Panasonic CM1 is way over-priced.

I will wait until the price drops to a more resonable 500 and is available on-contract with a mobile network before buying.

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