Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 Review

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Improved handling over the G3
  • Impressive image quality

Cons

  • Touch-screen could still be improved
  • Launch price a bit expensive

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £699.99
  • 16.05MP Live MOS MFT sensor
  • 3in, 920k-dot free-angle touchscreen
  • 1080p HD video capture
  • 6fps burst mode
  • ISO 160-12,800

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Compact system cameras have been with us for around four years now, with
Panasonic kicking off the genre with its launch of the Lumix G1 back in
2008. Since then, Panasonic has expanded its range with a host of
different CSC models tailored to different segments of the market. The
current range includes the GF5 for those looking for a compact form with CSC quality; the GX1 for enthusiast-level photographers
looking for a smaller and more portable camera to complement their
DSLR; the somewhat long in the tooth GH2 for video enthusiasts; and the
year-old G3 with its clever mix of entry-level and enthusiast features.
Panasonic Lumix G5
Viewed
strictly in terms of naming convention, the G5 might initially appear
to be a direct replacement for the G3, however Panasonic actually intend
it as an extension of the range. As such it’s positioned above the G3
and GF5 and is intended to tempt potential entry-level to mid-range DSLR
buyers – think Canon 650D or Nikon D3200. In addition, the new G5 also
offers enough incremental upgrades to tempt G3 and GF3 owners as well.
For those wondering why there’s no G4 in between the G3 and G5, the
simple answer is that in Japan the number four is considered unlucky.

The
G5 is built around an all-new 16.05MP Live MOS sensor. This is further
complemented by a redesigned Venus Engine 7 FHD image processor that’s
able to shoot at a relatively speedy 6fps while also delivering a top
sensitivity setting of ISO 12,800. If you don’t mind a drop in overall
resolution it’s also possible to shoot at a super-speedy 20fps utilising
at electronic (as opposed to mechanical) shutter. If you’re shooting in
a noise-sensitive environment (such as a wedding ceremony) then the
additional benefit of the electronic shutter option is that it can be
set to silent.

Autofocus performance has long been one of the
strong points of the Lumix G-series range and the G5 continues this
trend with Panasonic’s impressive Light Speed contrast-detect AF,
offering a generous range of AF options including Multi-area, Selective
single-point, Tracking and Face Detection. In addition the camera can
also be set to Single-shot (where focus is locked by half-pressing the
shutter release button) and Continuous (where the AF module remains
active).
Panasonic Lumix G5 5
On
the back of the G5 you’ll find a 3in, 920k-dot LCD vari-angle monitor
that offers touch-screen functionality. This allows the camera to
benefit from Panasonic’s tried and tested Touch Focus and Touch Shutter
technology; the former allowing you to set a point of focus simply by
touching the relevant point on the rear screen and the latter taking
things one step further by firing the shutter once focus has been locked
on to your desired point. As with the G3 the G5’s vari-angle design
also allows it to be pulled away from the body by at least 180-degrees
as well as rotated though 270 degrees. If you’re a fan of shooting from
high of low angles, this will make things much easier. The jump to
920k-dot resolution is also a step up from the 460k-dot screen on the
G3.

Should you prefer to use the camera at eye-level then the
G5’s 1.44m-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) is one of the better EVFs
we’ve seen on a compact system camera. It also offers a 100% field of
view along with an automatic eye-sensor that’ll automatically switch it
on when the camera is raised to your eye. Should you want you can even
set the camera up so that the autofocus will activate itself once the
eye-sensor has been triggered which can be helpful for grabbing snatched
shots.

As well as being able to shoot regular JPEGs at a range
of resolution and quality settings, the G5 can also record lossless Raw
images for enhanced post-processing. For those who’d prefer to let the
camera add its own digital effects there are a total of 14 Creative
Control effects to choose from including the usual stalwarts such as
Miniature, Cross Process and Dynamic Monochrome.
Panasonic Lumix G5 7
As
one of the developers of the HDTV-friendly AVCHD format, Panasonic has
built a reputation for delivering cameras with excellent video
capabilities and the G5 continues this trend. The G5 can record
high-definition AVCHD video at a top quality setting of 1080p Full HD at
either 50 or 60fps. Should you wish to shoot in the more
computer-friendly MP4 format then you can still shoot at 1080p Full HD,
albeit at a maximum frame-rate of 25 or 30fps.

In terms of design
the G5 initially looks very much like its predecessor, the main
difference being a more pronounced handgrip. In the hand this gives the
camera a more DSLR like quality than its predecessor. In addition the
shutter release button has moved forward slightly, which again makes for
a slightly more comfortable grip overall.

All new for the G5 is
the addition of a Function Lever which sits just behind the shutter
release. With it you’re able to control a number of camera operations
including exposure settings, menu navigation and operation of the image
zoom while the camera is in Playback mode. If you’ve got Panasonic’s
14-42mm power zoom attached to the camera then you can also use this
lever to control the zoom with, which is pretty neat.
Panasonic Lumix G5 3
Button
layout on the back of the camera has seen a bit of a rejig since the G3
with most of the buttons now treated to a metal finish rather than
plastic. A useful new AF/AE lock button (which doubles up as a Function
button) has been added, alongside a dedicated Quick Menu button that’s
positioned next to the viewfinder. Our only real complaint concerns the
plastic command dial, which feels a bit cheap compared to the rest of
the camera.

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