The Panasonic CM1 isn't a phone with a camera module, it's actually a camera with a phone attached. It looks just like a small premium compact camera and with it's Leica branded lens, 1" sensor, fixed 28mm (equivalent) f/2.8 lens, raw files and 4K video it's specs. convey that impression too. Because it's technically a smartphone it therefore can lay claim to produce the best quality files of any camera phone, at all ISO's. And for the most part that is true. It is a good lens and the raw files are capable of some pretty impressive results. However, it has three significant 'flaws'. Firstly, it's expensive, Secondly the screen is dark, dull and almost unusable in bright sunlight and thirdly it has the worst battery life of any camera / smartphone I've ever used, which can result in less than 50 shots per battery charge.
I've never used mine as a smartphone. I've never even put a sim card in it. I DO use it as an inconspicuous looking compact point and shoot camera. And I have to say I do enjoy that, because it is a very classy looking camera. And in the hand it looks as good as it does in pictures. Particularly when it's in my Japanese Cotta leather case. It has the same sensor as the Panasonic FZ superzoom bridge cameras, so it does create excellent files and the 4K video output is excellent as well. So, it's a very nice camera to use, providing I don't want to shoot a lot of images or video.
So, is it a photographers smartphone? Well to a certain extent. But I wonder how many photographers there are who want such a thing compared to smartphone owners who take photographs. And certainly neither the former or the latter would be particularly happy with it's attributes as a phone. Not with that appalling battery life. And the problem with the cost, screen and power drain is undoubtedly that 1" sensor. Yes, it delivers great quality but needs a bigger lens, more power and costs more. Because it still has to be aware of the size expectations of a smartphone user and the CM1 is more like a camera than a phone. It hasn't sold well as far as I am aware and ultimately I think that there are many better options utilising smaller sensors that work better for the camera / phone / app equation. However, I still like using it because it's stylish, takes great pictures and is useful for me, though I can see that I may well be in a minority on that.
OK that's the camera - how does it work for stock?
LOCATION - Henley-in-Arden Village UK
WHEN - Afternoon / Winter
GEAR - Panasonic CM1
As you can see pretty well, the gallery shows how 'photographic' the results are and the comparison image above (jpg. on top - raw + Photoshop underneath) shows just what kind of dynamic range is possible with a bit of post production work. Plus you'll notice the lens is excellent for controlling distortion. In fact it's better at that than the Fuji X100 series cameras I've owned. So all in all it's a bit of a curates egg. And I often think would I have bought it if I knew about those 'flaws' ? And the answer is probably yes. As I indicated I think it's pretty classy and it's nice to use something that pleases aesthetically. If I had a limited budget then I may well think again, but fortunately I don't and can afford the odd 'luxury' item. And yes, it probably is the Leica of smartphones, though I'm sure Panasonic would not be happy with that and imagined they would sell more. And while it has had a minor upgrade, Panasonic show no signs of persisting with the range, nor do other manufacturers seem inclined to replicate it. So it may well be a one off. But then for some of us that makes it even more desirable!!