Panasonic Lumix G5 review: Panasonic Lumix G5

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good

Average User Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Image quality; Range of available lenses; Movie performance; Firmware and build quality.

The Bad Price.

The Bottom Line The excellent Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 produces consistently high-quality output and joins an ever-expanding range of lenses and companion models. It's a joy to use, but the price is high, particularly when compared to mainstream dSLRs. The score reflects this (prices below are for the body only).

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The Lumix DMC-G5 marks something of a rebrand. Up until now, Panasonic had called cameras with interchangeable lenses 'compact system cameras', or CSCs. It was a term picked up by the rest of the industry that stuck.

With the launch of the G5 though, it's looking to change all that, and in recognition of the fact that these cameras share more in common with a dSLR than a compact, it's starting to use the term dSLM, or 'digital single lens mirrorless'.

You can pick up the G5, body-only, for £600, and for around £100 more you'll get a manual zoom lens. If you want it with the 14-42mm powered zoom lens, as reviewed here, it's yours for £800.

Lens and sensor

This is one of the most dSLR-like compacts I've used. It's larger than CSC siblings like the Lumix DMC-GF5 and GX1 . But while you won't be slipping it into a pocket, it still feels fairly light and very well balanced, with a chunky battery wedge at one end providing good grip and the powered kit lens adding just 1 inch to its overall depth when shut down.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 test photo
The G5 shares much in common with a dSLR, including a larger sensor, but it has no internal mirror.

The complete line-up now comprises an impressive 20 lenses and converters, including fish-eye, 3D and prime options, priced between £99 and £1,324.

The powered lens I used in my tests is a kit option, which you can swap for a manual unit of equivalent focal range. It's a 14-42mm arrangement, equivalent to 28-84mm on a regular 35mm camera. The zoom control sits on the side of the barrel, along with the manual focus rocker. There's a duplicate zoom control on the body itself, just behind the shutter release, which frees up your thumb for focusing if you choose not to leave that to the camera.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 test photo
The powered kit lens adds little to the overall camera size when powered down, and it zooms in silence.

Maximum aperture at wide angle is f/3.5, and it stands at f/5.6 at full telephoto. Minimum aperture is f/22 and it has a closest focusing distance of 20cm.

That means you need to stand back a little when shooting macro images, but that's no bad thing as it keeps your shadow off the subject. The results are as good as anything shot at closer quarters. The subject itself is pin-sharp, with an appealing fall-off in the level of focus surrounding it.

The actual focal area is extremely tight, allowing you to accurately isolate the exact point you were after. Indeed, in the shot below, while the snail's shell -- my target -- is sharp, its eyes sit a little closer to the lens, so are thrown slightly out of focus. The length of its body was around 1.5 inches.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 test photo
Minimum focusing distance is 20cm, but you can still get a good shallow depth of field in macro shots (click image to enlarge).

It sports a 16-megapixel sensor, with sensitivity ranging from ISO 160 to 12,800, and a broader than average compensation of +/-5EV in 1/3EV steps.

Its low-light performance is nothing short of excellent, with barely any noise evident, even at sensitivities as high as ISO 800. At this level, flat colours showed a tiny amount of digital spotting, but it's no more than I'd expect to see on other cameras at far lower sensitivities. Halving it to ISO 400 produces a result that you would be hard-pushed to tell apart from that achieved at its lowest setting, ISO 160.

You have to push it to extremes to introduce what I'd consider an undesirable level of noise, and certainly at its maximum level -- ISO 12,800 -- there is considerable dappling of the results. But even at this setting, colours remain true to their originals.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 test photo
The G5's low-light performance is excellent. The frames above show 100 per cent enlargements of the section indicated in the top image. Even as high as ISO 800, the results were fairly free of noise.

Performance

The G5 has four burst modes for continuous shooting, ranging from 2 to 20 frames per second. At 6 and 20 frames per second -- the two highest settings -- you don't get to use the live view. But the other two options -- 2 and 3.7 -- keep it active. Using a Class 4 memory card, it shot 10 frames in succession at 3.7fps before it needed to slow its rate to allow it to offload data from the cache. It continued shooting thereafter for as long as I kept the shutter release held down, at around 2fps.

It's very quick to find focus, highlighting the focal point almost immediately in auto mode. If you prefer to specify what it should be looking at, then a simple tap on the 3-inch (7.5cm) LCD screen sets your chosen point. Combine this with manual focus and that's the point that it enlarges as you tilt the focus rocker.

The screen is articulated through 180 degrees on each plane, so you can use it to take overhead, low-down or even around-the-corner shots. It's used for far more than just setting the focus and framing your subject. Fly-out menus let you control various settings and there's a handy horizon indicator to show when you're holding the G5 perfectly level. It works in both landscape and portrait modes, and also indicates tilt.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 test photo
The articulated screen makes it easy to take exactly the shot you're after, no matter how tricky it might otherwise be to frame (click image to enlarge).

It's used in the scene and creative control modes too, where tapping the screen selects the effect you want to achieve, with several replicating the style of retro image tools in apps like Instagram.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Lumix G5

Part Number: CNETPanasonic Lumix G5

Typical Price: £800.00

See manufacturer website for availability.

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