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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

The G5 slid out of the review basket just as this baby fell in!

Talk about comparing apples with oranges. More like comparing melons with mandarins. Or, sizewise, potatoes with peas.

Panasonic Lumix DMC GF5 front

Panasonic Lumix DMC GF5 angled

Panasonic Lumix DMC GF5 side

Panasonic Lumix DMC GF5 side 2

Incredibly tiny, even for a mirrorless digicam, the review DMC-GF5 came equipped with the same lens as the review G5: the Lumix G Vario f3.5-5.6/14-42mm pancake lens, a lens that I came quite to like over the few days that I used it, notwithstanding its not-so-wide end of 28mm as a DSLR equivalent.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Features

Using the Micro Four Thirds System, the CMOS sensor can capture a maximum image size of 4000×3000 pixels, or 34x25cm as a print. Effective pixel count: 12.1 million.

Movies: again, like the G5, this one can take Full HD 1920×1080 video with 1920×1080 pixel resolution in either AVCHD or MPEG: the latter has many followers who indulge in post production. You can shoot video and capture stills at the same time without interrupting the movie’s flow.

Menu 1

Menu 2

Menu 3

The 7.6 cm LCD is the same size but does not swing out, up or down. A pity. But the $$ saving is significant.

External controls are minimal: top deck has the shutter button, power on/off, video record, Intelligent Auto; rear has the four way control dial (white balance, burst shooting, exposure correction, AF area); plus replay, display options, Q menu/trash. And that’s about all. Unlike the G5, I found it quite easy to get around in my early hours with the camera.

The Contrast AF system is quite fast and, via the touch screen, quite accurate. Once you get used to it.

I missed the on-body zoom lever. Ho hum, guess I’ll have to make do with the lens-mounted lever, set just above the lens’ manual focus. But having said that, I discovered that when you shut the power down, the lens retracts. And … you can drive the zoom via the touch screen.

Continuous shooting is on tap: 4 fps at full size, or two other speeds: 2 and 3 fps.

As with the G5, the Scene Guide helper has 23 sample pro quality pictures to help you choose the one closest to your current needs: the settings will be made automatically by the camera.

In Creative Control mode there are now 14 filters: soft focus, monochrome, art, etc. Each is adjustable. Additionally, in iA or iA Plus modes there are recommendations as to what filters to use.

To my mind these features make the GF5 an excellent camera for the photo beginner.

I have to admit that, at first, I had a little difficulty in wrangling the various ISO settings for my ISO Tests and, I never thought I would say this, the touch screen came to the rescue: made it dead easy!

A level gauge detects the horizontal/vertical angle of view while shooting and shows this on-screen, as well as indicating a camera tilt forwards or back.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 ISO Tests

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 160

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 400

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 800

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 1600

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 3200

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 6400

Panasonic DMC GF5 ISO 12800

I figure you could (just about) use ISO 6400 if you had to! But avoid ISO 12800! I’m sure this spec is in the camera just to please the marketting people!

Trimmer ISO 800

Trimmer ISO 12800

Then, by chance I shot this lawn trimmer at ISO 12800. Wow! The noise.

Compare it to the same shot taken at ISO 800.

Cactus 2.JPG Statue.JPG

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Verdict

Quality: Excellent quality, far above many fixed lens compacts.

Why buy it: if you can make do with just 12.1 megapixels of capture, this is a great camera.

Why not: too simple for some.

An excellent starter camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple, centre-weighted and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: Four thirds 17.3×13.0mm CMOS.
Lens Factor: 2x.
Compatible lenses: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 60 to 1/4000 second.
Burst Speed: 4, 3, 2 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 1440×1440. Movies: 1920×1080, 1280x720p, 640×480, 320×240.
Viewfinders: 7.6cm LCD screen (920,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, AVCHD/MPEG4, MPO (3D).
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 108x67x37 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 267g (inc battery).
Prices: Get a price on the Panasonic DMC-GF5KK DMC-GF5 or Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 with 14-42 Power Zoom Lens.

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Canon Powershot SX500 IS
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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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