Last year's Panasonic GM1 was an absolutely tiny camera with interchangeable lenses. It seemed like a curious design, because once you changed lens from the kit pancake to a normal-sized lens, it turned out to be not-so-tiny anymore. That hasn't stopped Panasonic from pushing out a similarly small follow-up, the souped-up GM5.
The GM5 is mostly the same as the GM1. It has the same 16-megapixel micro-four-thirds sensor and should perform similarly. There are four new features to distinguish it from its predecessor, though. On top is now an electronic viewfinder with 1.1 million dots. The new EVF sits beside a hot-shoe, on which you can mount the bundled external flash, standing in for the absent built-in flash. There's also a new control dial on the back, which is great because the only way to adjust settings in the GM1 was the screwy touch-screen interface. Lastly, video shooters will find a 60p mode for recording smooth video and slowing it down in post.
The only other addition is a software feature called Snap Movie. This allows you to shoot and edit videos in-camera meant for immediate social sharing. You can assemble clips and add dissolves right from the camera, so you don't have to fuss around on your computer before sharing. It's hard to imagine that using Snap Movie will manage not to be a nightmare, as is usually the case with complex user interfaces on a camera display. But we'll see!
Adding to the slim arsenal of lenses that actually make sense mounted on the minute GM1 or GM5 is a new 35-100mm f/3.5-5.6. It's pretty small and should be great for carrying in a coat pocket or handbag, but at $500 with that slow aperture, don't expect it to be extremely high quality.
The GM5 will cost $1099 in Australia, which is a small bump from the GM1, which was $999. Along with today's announcement of the LX100, Panasonic is presenting two very different options for compact micro-four-thirds. The GM5, while just barely pocketable, is only pocketable with one particular lens, the kit lens, and lacks the controls many enthusiasts seek. The LX100, while not pocketable, has a higher quality fixed lens and more options for video and control. It's a lot to ponder for potential camera-buyers, but more options are better than none.