The quality of pictures that smartphones take these days is pretty high but when you’re travelling or heading out somewhere you think might be photo-worthy, you probably still want to take your dedicated camera with you. As an antidote to this, Panasonic have released their first ‘communication camera’, the Lumix DMC-CM1; a high spec camera which also happens to be a fully-fledged smartphone too. In theory this is a great idea. It means leaving often hefty DSLRs and multiple lenses at home and being able to travel light without sacrificing high quality photos. We took one for a spin to see if it’s as good as it sounds.From the outset, the DMC-CM1 looks stunning. It has a simple, retro look to it with a black leather-look front and brushed metal finishing. The camera boasts a 1-inch 20 megapixel sensor which is considerably larger than what you’ll find on regular smartphones. The bigger sensor means it takes in more light which results in images with better clarity and better photos in low-light settings. It also has a 28mm Leica lens which definitely adds to the camera’s credentials and places it way above the camera in your normal smartphone.The back of the DMC-CM1 is a 4.7 inch full HD touch LCD screen, a relatively normal size these days, though maybe slightly smaller than what you’re used to depending on what phone you have. It runs Android Lollipop and in terms of the communication component, it’s all pretty standard. I didn’t find the camera phone to be as heavy as I would have expected it to be from looking at it and I also thought it might be slightly awkward to hold because of its protruding lens. Depending on how you usually do it, you might need to reconfigure where you place your fingers so as not to smudge the glass, but for the most part I didn’t think this was too annoying to do.One thing I found when using this Lumix camera phone was that since all of its many different features are controlled from the touch screen and the manual ring around the lens, if you’re pointing at something and trying to change settings, it can feel slightly precarious – especially if you’re as clumsy as me. This isn’t an insurmountable issue though and I did get used to placing my fingers a certain way when taking photos.On the whole, the photos came out at an excellent quality. There’s a bunch of different features and settings you can adjust yourself to get the best shots, or alternatively there are 22 pre-set scenes with automatically adjusted settings. These are pretty thorough and cover most different kind of shots people would probably use the camera for. They’ve even included ‘Appetizing Food’ and ‘Cute Dessert’ scenes to make sure every meal you eat is Instagram worthy.The camera performed quite well when I took some indoor, low-light shots of a pair of headphones using just the automatic mode. It adjusted perfectly and the photos ended up looking like they were taken in a well lit environment. It also did an amazing job when I took some outdoor, super bright shots with reflecting water. The photos ended up being pretty well balanced and didn’t look at all overexposed or washed out.I had fun playing around with the different settings the camera offers and found it pretty simple and intuitive to use, though I thought the manual control ring was a bit clunky and I ended up just adjusting everything on the touch screen. If you already know your way around a camera you won’t have any trouble with the way this one works. When venturing beyond the automatic mode and scenes, the DMC-CM1 offers aperture and shutter modes as well as manual to allow for total control over how your shots look.One thing I think can be improved is the battery which drained relatively quickly, particularly when using the camera component a lot. You’ll be charging it daily if you’re going to be using it quite a bit, especially as both your phone and camera, though that’s probably not largely different if you’re already quite prolific on your existing smartphone.At the end of the day the Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1 is a great piece of technology and is a great alternative to carrying around both a smartphone and a separate camera every day. It would be a great option to take travelling when you don’t want to worry about having too much stuff, or just in daily life. It’s ideal for snapping quick, high quality photos then sharing them easily on social media or just automatically backing up on your Google account.
All photos in this review were taken with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1.
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