Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good High-resolution screen. Compact, lightweight configuration. Fast autofocusing and response times. Good video quality.

The Bad No ability to use an external viewfinder. Controls are hidden away in the touchscreen and menus. RAW files contain much more usable detail than JPEGs.

The Bottom Line As an entry point to the world of ILCs, the Lumix GF5 is a nifty little performer. Just don't expect to be able to make the most of its manual controls in a timely fashion.

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Designed for those users who are looking for a step-up from their compact camera, the GF5 is a very compact and lightweight entry point into the world of interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs).

Design and features

Stylistically, the overall design hasn't changed much from the previous model, the GF3 . With a compact design, it fits comfortably in the palm of your hand, particularly when using the 14-42mm X Vario power zoom lens, which is provided in one of the kit configurations.

Over the top of the lens is a small hump, which hides the pop-up flash. An intelligent automatic button glows blue on the outside when pressed, which automatically overrides any of the manual or scene settings that you might have chosen from within the menus.

There are plenty of photo filters on the GF5 (called creative control). Choose from options such as expressive, retro, high key, low key, sepia, dynamic monochrome, impressive art, high dynamic, cross process, toy effect, miniature effect, soft focus, star filter and one point colour.
(Credit: CBSi)

Speaking of manual modes, the GF5 houses all of the standard PASM controls that you would find on a regular ILC or SLR. There's no mode dial to speak of; instead, thanks to the touchscreen, you can simply touch the top left-hand corner of the screen to find the mode selections. While this is fine for most point-and-shoot users who won't want to fiddle too much with manual settings, anyone looking for a bit more fine-tuned control has to go through a couple of extra steps.

Internally, the GF5 features a 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor and increased ISO sensitivity, which can be pushed to ISO 12,800. It comes with a 3-inch high-resolution touchscreen of 921,000 dots — finally! — as well as responsive autofocus that Panasonic claims can achieve focus in 0.09 seconds.

To make the transition from phone photographer to camera photographer easier, the GF5 comes with in-camera scene guides and filter recommendations. Video recording is available in 1080i in either AVCHD or MP4, with touch AF available during filming.

Compared to

EX2F vs
Sony NEX F3 Panasonic Lumix GF5 Canon EOS M Nikon 1 J2
16.1-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor (APS-C) 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor (Four Thirds) 18-megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C) 10.1-megapixel CMOS sensor (CX type)
3-inch, 921,600-dot flip-up LCD 3-inch, 920,000-dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 1.04-million dot touchscreen LCD 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD
25-area AF 23-area AF 31-area AF 73-area AF
Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080i) Full HD video (AVCHD/MP4, 1080i) Full HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p) Full HD video (MPEG-4, 1080p)

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • RAW shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.20.61.50.08
    Panasonic Lumix GF5

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 4.8
    Panasonic Lumix GF5

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Panasonic rates the battery at 360 shots. Autofocus is ridiculously quick, with Panasonic coming through on its promise to speed up response times. There's hardly a noticeable delay at all between pressing the shutter button and the camera capturing an image.

There are three continuous shooting/burst modes on the GF5: high speed, with Live View turned off; medium speed, with Live View; and low speed, with Live View. The figure measured above is with the highest possible setting, at full-resolution JPEG. In this mode, the GF5 can snap 10 photos in quick succession before slowing to process them, but still continuing to shoot.

Image quality

Although the sensor has been redesigned from the previous GF3 camera, the GF5 delivers similar results, with slight improvements in low-light and high-ISO performance. Photographers who just want to point and shoot in intelligent automatic mode won't be disappointed. On default settings, JPEG images have good colour rendition and contrast.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Part Number: CNETPanasonic Lumix DMC-GF5

Typical Price: $699.00

See manufacturer website for availability.